2019 Fall Mindfulness Retreat: Connection Through Presence


with Laurie Cameron and Andy Shallal

Presence. Poetry. Nature. Connection. 

We all need space in our lives—space to breathe, to connect and to feel the energy of being alive. Yet for most of us, space and real connection get pushed to the sidelines in our busy, highly scheduled lives. Whether you are experienced or new to mediation, this meaningful weekend will allow you to deepen and cultivate mindfulness while enjoying the relaxed environment in beautiful Virginia wine country.

Join Laurie Cameron, National Geographic author, artist and founder of PurposeBlue, and Andy Shallal, poet, artist, social change leader and founder of Busboys and Poets, for a unique weekend that is designed to nourish your mind, body and heart while cultivating well-being, meaning and connection.

This grounding and uplifting mindfulness retreat is a first of its kind – held at the country home of Andy and Marjan Shallal in the midst of expansive meadows and fall foliage, next door to a winery in the Shenandoah valley. Along with our chef-in-residence and food ritualist Jodi Balis, we have co-created a meaningful weekend that will enliven your senses, cultivate calm, unleash joy and help you get clarity on what matters most.

Laurie, an international mindfulness teacher and emotional intelligence leader, will guide you through a journey infusing mindfulness meditation, wisdom teachings and experiential practices with elements from retreats with her own teachers Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. Allow your body to unwind, heal and be nourished with seasonal, comforting meals and mindful walking in wine country in the crisp autumn air.

Presence, self-awareness, nature and connection – this is how we come alive, feel our best, and intentionally generate well-being and joy.

Over the two days, you will:

  • Experience being guided by a seasoned teacher that will hold the space for you to unwind and connect with yourself and others
  • Nourish your mind and body under the vast expanse of the stunning sky, nestled in the Shenandoahs in the beauty of autumn
  • Expand your understanding of how to deepen mindfulness, self-awareness, connection and meaning
  • Explore practices that shift your perspective to openness, curiosity, wonder, awe and compassion
  • Enjoy fresh, locally sourced, conscious, communal meals from DC-based chef Jodi Balis who specializes in foods that elevate the body, mind and spirit
  • Make new connections with entrepreneurs, authors, artists, and life-long learners
  • Take home tools to navigate life’s challenges and bring more ease and joy into every day


Andy and Marjan Shallal’s Country Home. Located 5 miles north of Mt. Jackson, Virginia.


Saturday, October 19th 10:00 am to 9:00-ish pm

Sunday,  October 20th 9:00 am to 4:00 pm


$725.00 plus Eventbrite fees.

*Registration now open. Space is limited.*

For questions, send an email to info@purposeblue.com. Space is limited – secure your spot today.

Meet Andy Shallal:

Andy is an artist and social entrepreneur. He is the founder of Busboys and Poets and Eatonville Restaurant. Both restaurant concepts create an environment where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted. Spaces to feed the mind, body and soul and where art, culture and politics take center stage. With 6 locations in the Washington Metropolitan Area, Busboys and Poets has become home for progressives, artists and intellectuals. Shallal’s businesses adhere to sustainable business practices becoming a leader in food sourcing, employment practices and environmental stewardship. He has received numerous awards including the Mayor’s Arts Award, Employer of the Year from the Employment Justice Center and the Mayor’s Environmental Award.

Meet Laurie Cameron: 

Laurie is the National Geographic author of The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm and Joy from Morning to Evening, March 2018. As a TEDx speaker, leadership consultant and senior mindfulness teacher, Laurie is known for her energy and insight sharing the science of human performance and development. Laurie integrates emotional intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness, compassion and neuroscience into practical strategies for flourishing in our modern world.  As a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for over twenty years, Cameron is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, a Senior Mindfulness Teacher at the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute born at Google, and a Guest Professor of Mindful Leadership at the R. H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. As the founder of PurposeBlue Mindful Leadership – Cameron shares the science of mindfulness, compassion and emotional well-being in the US, Europe and Asia, and serves on the board of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.

Meet Chef Jodi Balis:

Jodi worked in the food insecurity and hunger space for 15 years via food banking. Cooking and sharing meals with communities fueled her passion for connecting with humans across the table and getting to know families through tasting and storytelling. Over the past five years, Jodi has slowly pivoted towards nourishing individuals and groups using food and cooking as a mindfulness practice.  Accessing body memories via the senses primes us for deep shifts. She strives for the food she brings to be in healing places, to allow those engaging with the food to feel nourished, grounded and uplifted at the same time. Jodi is also chef instructor at GWU, and through the course “Culinary Medicine,” helps to teach the next generation of doctors how cooking and community are so strongly linked to health

Sample Retreat Schedule

Saturday October 19th

10:00-11:00 Gathering Together and Breakfast

11:00- 12:00 Morning Session: Mindfulness and Becoming Present to Life

12:00 Mindfulness and the Senses

1:00 Special Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Marjan Shallal

2:30 to 4:30 Afternoon Session: Becoming the Observer: True Freedom

5:00 to 6:00 Mindful Walk at Magic Hour with Winery Visit (see Laurie and Marjan on a site visit in photo below)

6:30 Nourishing the Mind, Body and Spirit Dinner with Chef Jodi

Fireside Gathering to ignite the heart

Sunday October 20th

8:00 – 8:45 Cultivating a Mindful Morning Routine (Movement, Meditation, Intentions, Journaling in Nature)

9:00 Breakfast

10:00 Morning Session: Awakening the Heart: True Connection

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Afternoon Session: Meaning, Choice and Intention

3:30- 4:00 Retreat Closing

If you are interested or have questions –  reach out to our team  here.  

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