Gathering Community

The Pāli word araha (deriving from the Indo-European root ar-) means both fitting and worthy or deserving of.

We are inspired by araha to co-create a community that is as worthy of its people as the people are worthy of the community.

Through individual recruitment and an application process we will bring together a community with wisdom from practitioners in a variety of age groups and cultural backgrounds.

The program has the particular aim of supporting new generations of dedicated younger practitioners in a community in which all young people from the parts of the planet that we are serving will feel roughly equally challanged and at home in. We will need to speak a common language of communication (English) and all participants will need to have the resources to engage with online modules. There is no strict minimum or maximum age, and a central part of the acceptance criteria will be participants having the maturity and the energy to be mentored into roles in a collaborative leadership structure.

Check out the Program Q&A, fill out our Inquiry Form, or Apply for the program!

Our Community of Radical Friendship


I first began meditating at 13 as a part of my High School's curriculum. After having such an introspective experience, I wanted to continue to deepen my practice and I began doing workshops on Loving-kindness and Guiding practices. I then ventured out to a summer program at Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme),which elevated my practice to new height. From these experiences blossomed a love for meditation and mindfulness that inspires me to better my spiritual understanding each day. Now, after graduating High School, I am excited to explore the intellectual and emotional spaces of meditation even further than before.


I am from Karachi, Pakistan where I teach yoga; I also teach science, technology and society and media, communication and cultural studies, to undergrads at a liberal arts and sciences university. My Vipassana practise supports me in bringing all this together, and the practise in turn is supported by many teacher-companions that I am incredibly grateful for. I see my work on this program as an extension of my practice, as an opportunity to contribute to Dharma and build Sangha - to help and be helped in the journey. My hope for Attha is that it brings us all joy - life can be hard.


As a devoted student and practitioner of Tibetan and Theravada Buddhism, I value my relationships with my sangha siblings deeply. I am fortunate to have been a part of a ten-year mentoring program spearheaded and guided by my dear teacher, Michele McDonald, and the ripples of the practice that I cultivated during that time as well as the community that was formed there remain a daily treasure. While much of my time these days is spent with work, family and study, participating in Attha offers me the direct opportunity to share some of the gifts that being part of a rich spiritual community gives me.


I was introduced to what I consider my root training of Theravada Buddhism in 1996. Deeply drawn to the exploration of the inner-world, I spent many years in and out of intensive silent retreats, as well as two and a half years ordained as a Buddhist nun. Many other traditions and modalities have influenced my practice and teaching, and I am endlessly interested in the many ways people find freedom. I spent a decade bringing secular mindfulness training to students and educators, and am currently working with folks dedicated to deepening their understanding of the heart and mind.


I teach mindfulness and self-compassion classes to adults and young people in Karachi, Pakistan. My own daily meditation practice is my anchor, and has profoundly impacted me, allowing me to meet myself and the world around me with much more kindness and clarity. I feel grateful and excited for the opportunity to be able to contribute to the development of this wonderful initiative that focuses on the next generation of practitioners. The idea that all of us, including program participants, will be shaping all aspects of the program as it evolves is very exciting to me. I am already learning so much, and I look forward to seeing how it all continues to unfold!

Lan Anh

I am Lan Anh and am currently working at the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Cambridge Health Alliance (Massachusetts, USA). I have chosen to be part of the program because I have always wanted to find an anchor for myself and deepen my practice together with a community of like-spirited people. I hope that the program can provide a sustainable platform for young people to find their meanings in life and create life-long friendships, regardless of differences in nationalities, backgrounds, and cultures. My current contemplative practice is Insight Timer (a mix of everything, but I gravitate towards Vipassana).


I have been practicing meditation for about 20 years, first introduced to Insight Meditation as a teenager. I had the blessing of being part of an experiential mentoring group through my 20s which supported my practice and cultivated deep friendships with many profound impacts that continue to unfold to this day. My interest in supporting this program springs out of a deep appreciation for the mystery of what is possible in the unknown, and the benefits of long-term practice within community. My practice is ever evolving and includes daily sitting practice as well as communion with the earth, and a willingness to let go of what "practice" looks like as I enter into parenthood.


I started meditating on teen retreats at IMS at 14 and received incredibly generous ongoing support from mentors and teachers in my meditation practice and dharma study throughout my young adult life over 20 years. I feel enthusiastic to offer that support and commitment forward to future generations. I'm currently in the IMS 4 year teacher training. My contemplative practice involves deepening metta and concentration, familiarizing myself with the nature of awareness, exploring what enlightenment means, and how that consciousness actually shows up embodied in the world in relationship with social justice, conflict and the global environmental crisis.


I have longed to be part of a program like this - one that integrates quiet retreat practice with rigorous intellectual inquiry in an ongoing community of spiritual friends - for much of the past two or three decades. During that time, I trained extensively in mindfulness meditation in the Theravāda Buddhist tradition of Burma - as a yogi, scholar, interpreter, and teacher; I earned my PhD in philosophy and cognitive science; and I became a husband and father. My deep hope is that our collaborative energy can guide and carry this program beyond what any one person could envision or accomplish - with goodwill, care, and great joy - and with evenness of heart rooted in a peace that is beyond the shakiness of experience altogether.


I first came across buddha-dharma at the age of 20 and quickly recognized the radical nature of the contemplative path to address both personal and collective longings. For the last six years I have had the pleasure of developing curriculums for the dedicated study and practice of buddha-dharma-sangha through my work as Director of Programming at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, Massachusetts. In the fall of 2019 I will be enrolled in a doctorate program in Clinical Psychology at the New School for Social Research in New York City. I am thrilled to bring my love for relationality, pedagogy, emptiness, collaborative process, and accessibility to this community and have the opportunity to learn and evolve with everyone.


Darine Monroy has been a student of Michele McDonald and Steven Smith since 2011. She has taught for Mindful Schools and has completed the Hakomi Comprehensive Training. Since 2018, has been assisting Michele McDonald, Steven Smith, and Jesse Vega-Frey with their anual retreats in IMS, Vallecitos, Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Center, and Thailand.


As a student who will soon be leaving university, it is my hope to maintain continuity of study and practice as I transition into a new way of living. By attending to the context as much as the content of my contemplative experience and engaging with this community of friends, I hope to contribute to and learn from a collective greater than myself. Here is the environment—grounded as it is in community, in practice, in study—where I may dig my well deep enough to find water.


I have chosen to be a part of this project because I am interested in creating resources for spiritual practitioners that are simultaneously uplifting and conscious. I am currently studying Buddhism academically at the University of Oxford, and I wish to use my knowledge of Buddhist texts and history to contribute aspects of questioning and contemplation to this project. My hopes for this course are that we are able to create something that is heartening and beneficial for a group of people, as well as something that they are able to return to again and again as a source of inspiration and refuge. My current contemplative practice is a mix between basic mindfulness and metta practice, where I try to be mindful in everyday situations while also wishing wellbeing to myself and others.

The Gathering Community Team

Gathering: Cam

Collaborating: Taeya, Rahma

Consulting: Jake, Mira