Openness Retreat

Deconstructing Yourself Openness Retreat

with Michael Taft at Mount Madonna Center

Friday, December 13th – Friday, December 20th, 2024

Come Join Us for a Nondual Meditation Retreat in the beautiful mountains overlooking Monterey Bay, California.

Join us for eight days and seven nights at Mount Madonna Center in the hills outside Santa Cruz, California meditating, learning, and practicing with Michael Taft and the Deconstructing Yourself sangha. We will focus on nondual meditation practice, with the particular theme of openness in meditation and in life.

The retreat begins Friday evening and ends the next Friday afternoon. Saturday—Thursday will be six full days of practice together.

What is it? Who is it for?

This is a (mostly) silent, residential practice retreat. We will be mainly practicing nondual meditation techniques, as taught by Michael Taft. There will also be some pranayama, visualization, mantra, etc., practiced as a support. Once a day there will also be an optional meditative movement session, taught by Laura Ward.

If you have studied with Michael Taft previously, in the Reversing the Stack or Vast Sky Mind Courses, or if you have followed his teachings at The Alembic or on Youtube, or are a one-on-one coaching student of his, you are the intended audience for this retreat (you know who you are).

If you haven’t worked with Michael in any way before, but have a strong background in meditation, particularly in nondual, Vajrayana, or Hindu tantric traditions, then you will probably be fine at this retreat, albeit with some additional learning of the framework, vocabulary, practices, etc., required. Familiarity with mantras, pranayama, visualization, etc., will help, but is not required.

If you are new to meditation, or have only practiced using apps and the like, we would not recommend this retreat for you, as it may be too challenging.

And a Hanuman Temple

Mount Madonna Center also has a unique feature: it includes a Hanuman Temple. Hanuman—the very popular monkey god of India—is actively worshiped twice daily and forms an integral part of the Mount Madonna experience. Michael’s background includes extensive Hanuman practices, and he encourages interested participants to take part in the some of activities (such as chanting and worship) around the Hanuman temple. Explanations of these activities will be provided, and questions are welcome. 

Sample Schedule

Here is a tentative SAMPLE schedule for the retreat. This is intended to give you a basic idea of the sort of schedule we’ll be on, and the details will certainly change by the time of the actual retreat.

Friday —Arrival Day Schedule

3:00 – 5:00 pm Arrive and get settled in

5:15 – 6:15 pm – Dinner

6:30 – 7:00 pm – Orientation from Mount Madonna

7:00 – 8:30 Introduction/Dharma Talk / Questions

8:30 – 10:00 Open Meditation

Saturday—Thursday Full Day Schedule

6:00 – 7:30 Meditation

8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast

9:30 – 12:30 Instruction/Meditation/Questions

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 Break / optional meditation / meditative movement

2:30 – 5:15 Instruction/Meditation/Questions

5:15 – 6:15 Dinner / Open Meditation

7:00 – 8:30 Dharma Talk / Questions

8:30 – 10:00 Open Meditation

Friday—Departure Day Schedule

6:00 – 7:30 Meditation

8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast

9:30 – 12:00 Instruction/Meditation/Questions

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 pm Departure

How it works

You pay for the retreat in two parts: part one here for the retreat itself, and then part two for the room and board on the Mt. Madonna site.

On this page, you can sign up for the retreat by paying for the retreat teaching. Once you have enrolled, we will send you a sign up link for the Mt. Madonna page. There you will choose your housing option, and pay for that there. All housing options include meals.

The prices for the teaching portion of the retreat are:
Basic – 1050
Supporting – 1550
Scholarship – 550

You can purchase these at the bottom of the page.

So the total cost of the retreat will be the teaching cost (whichever option you choose) plus the housing/meal cost (whichever option you choose). Obviously, any travel costs are not covered here.

Here are the housing options and the associated prices. They are simply listed here for your convenience. You will actually choose your preferences on the Mt. Madonna site.

Ram Cottage #2 – 3 bedrooms
1 full bath shared
Single occupancy per room
Ram Cottage #2
3 bedrooms, shared bath
double occupancy per room
Conference Center Only
Single Occupancy, Private Bath
Single Occupancy, Shared Bath1863
Conference Center Only
Double Occupancy, Private Bath
Double Occupancy, Shared Bath1443
Triple Occupancy, Shared Bath
(Conference Center or Seminar House Only)
Single Cabin, Shared Bath1653
Double Cabin, Shared Bath1373
Camp In Own Vehicle743
Camp In Own Tent743
Day Commuting673

Learn more about Mount Madonna here.

Begin Sign up for the Retreat Here


This is the standard fee for the retreat. Appropriate for most students.


This tier allows you to support other students to afford the retreat via a Scholarship.

The Supporting students generously choose to help support the Scholarship students. If you can afford this option, please consider helping out. Thank you.


A specially reduced rate for students who cannot afford the Basic level at this time.

There are a limited number of scholarships available, so please only choose this option if you really and sincerely need financial support!

Note: If even the Scholarship price is too much for you, please let us know. We may or may not be able to help, but it’s possible.

If you have questions, please send them to Krisztina Lazar.