Year of Mindfulness and Focusing

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Year of Mindfulness and Focusing

September 2018 - June 2019
with Marie Sheppard

The 2018-2019 Year of Mindfulness and Focusing is fully enrolled and currently underway. The 2019-2020 program will open for registration in Spring 2019. If you would like to receive information about the program as it becomes available, email

A Year of Mindfulness and Focusing is a nine-month program designed to help you develop two awareness practices—mindfulness and Inner Relationship Focusing—within a small, supportive community of women. Through this program, you will learn ways to free yourself from distractions, habits and conditioning that prevent you from living your life fully. You will also learn how to be gentle with challenging emotions, develop a strong self-care practice and find more ease and joy in your relationship with yourself and others.

Whether you are new to mindfulness and Focusing or have years of practice, you will build solid skills to integrate into your daily life.

Marie Sheppard Headshot
Marie Sheppard


To be mindful is to fully attend to what is happening in the present moment—where you are, what you’re doing, how you're feeling—and to have the ability to respond to that moment with wisdom and compassion. Mindfulness practices—called “practices” because they help us to practice for real life—include sitting and walking meditation, guided relaxation and simple techniques that enable you to experience more presence in your daily activities. Mindfulness can help you recognize habits that keep you caught in cycles of busyness, anxiety or over-thinking. And, with time, it can help you learn how to transform these habits and find more freedom in your life.


Inner Relationship Focusing, or Focusing, is a mind-body awareness practice in which we apply mindfulness to our present-moment emotional reactions. Throughout most of our lives, our attention is directed outwards. In Focusing, we turn inward and invite all aspects of our personality to be held in awareness and with acceptance. This allows new insights to emerge and healing to happen. Focusing is a simple, everyday tool that can help you tap into the positive energy within you and free you from old emotional patterns.

A supportive community

This program is intentionally designed to build community. You will part of a small group of women working toward a shared goal: finding more presence, ease and freedom in your lives. The 2018-19 program is limited to 16 women. Much of your time will be spent learning and practicing mindfulness and Focusing together, sharing your experiences with each other and building bonds that can help to support your practice over time. We welcome women from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Your sangha—family, friends, and co-practitioners—is the soil, and you are the seed. No matter how vigorous the seed is, if the soil does not provide nourishment, your seed will die. A good sangha is crucial for the practice.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

Developing a sustainable practice

The longer-term goal of this program is to help you establish a practice that is so useful in your daily life that you sustain it long after the last class is over. As a program participant, you will receive guidance that helps you develop or deepen your daily practice of mindfulness and Focusing. Through retreats, workshops, peer group sharing and individual inquiry, you will learn skills and techniques that are mutually reinforcing, and you will have support as you integrate them into your life. In addition, you will learn about the many local resources—such as sanghas, retreats and community gatherings—that can support you in the years to come.


The 2018-19 Year of Mindfulness and Focusing program schedule is as follows:

Two Day-Long Retreats
In Dickerson, MD
Saturday, September 15, 10:00am-3:30pm
Saturday, February 23, 10:00am-3:30pm

One Weekend-Long Residential Retreat
In Germantown, MD
Friday, May 31 - Begins at 4:00pm
Sunday, June 2 - Ends at 1:00pm

Friday Evening Workshops
At Circle Yoga in Washington, DC
November 2
April 26

Saturday Afternoon Workshops
and Peer Group Sessions
At Circle Yoga in Washington, DC
1:00-3:00pm - Workshop
3:15-4:15pm - Peer Groups
September 22
October 6
October 20
November 17
December 1
January 12
January 26*
March 9
March 30

Full Group Video Conference Call
Via Zoom**
Friday, May 10, 7:00-8:30pm

Additional Peer Group Sessions
Via Zoom**
In addition to meeting with a smaller Peer Group after the Saturday workshops, you will meet with your group once per month via Zoom. Peer Group members will set the schedule for these sessions based on the group members' preferences.

* The January 26th session will start at 12:45pm with a potluck lunch/mindful eating practice and will end at 5:00pm. 

** Zoom is a video conferencing system that is easy to use and makes it possible for you to connect with your fellow participants from the comfort of home. You will just need internet access.

Teacher Biographies
Lead Teacher

Marie Sheppard brings almost 20 years of mindfulness practice to this program, drawing primarily from teachings rooted in the Plum Village tradition, founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. She began practicing while pregnant with her second child and went on to co-lead a mindful parenting group and write stories to help young children be with difficult emotions. With a career spanning 25 years in international development, she is passionate about helping participants find practical ways to cultivate awareness in daily life—both at work and at home. A citizen of New Zealand, England and the USA, Marie feels at home in several countries, including Zambia, where she lived with her family for six years. Marie studied Inner Relationship Focusing with its co-founder, Ann Weiser Cornell, and now offers focusing sessions to clients across the country. She is the Board Chair of the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community and co-taught mindfulness courses at Circle Yoga for the last two years. Marie loves to be outdoors and recently moved to a farm in Dickerson, Maryland, where she lives with her family of people, horses, chickens, dogs and cats.

Guest Teachers

Kaira Jewel Lingo teaches Buddhist meditation, mindfulness, and compassion, with a focus on activists, people of color, artists, educators, families, and youth. An ordained nun of 15 years in Thich Nhat Hanh's Order of Interbeing, she is now a lay Dharma teacher based in Washington, DC, leading retreats in the US and internationally. In addition to her roots in the Zen tradition, Kaira Jewel practices and teaches in the Insight tradition and is an affiliate teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology and Social Sciences. Visit Kaira Jewel's website to learn more.

Annie Mahon is an author, ordained Buddhist mindfulness teacher and founder of the Circle Yoga Cooperative in Washington, DC. Annie has been writing about mindfulness, parenting, stress and yoga since 2004. Her most recent book, Things I Did When I was Hangry (Parallax Press, September 2015), documents Annie’s search for sanity in her eating disordered family life and reveals how mindfulness helped her go beyond the search for perfection and learn to love the moment as it is. Annie holds certifications in yoga, Focusing and massage therapy, and she dabbles in Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Learn more about Annie at

Fees and Registration

The fee for the Year of Mindfulness and Focusing is $1900. Payments will be made as follows:
$500 - Due upon enrollment
$500 - Due October 6, 2018
$900 - Due January 12, 2019

The initial payment of $500 includes a $350 non-refundable deposit. Any participant who withdraws from the program before September 7, 2018, will receive a refund of $150. No refunds after September 7.


Email for more information.