Fierce Compassion Womenʹs Retreat
May 24 - 26, 2024

Fierce Compassion Womenʹs Retreat

In person in Clinton

Weekend retreat

The steps up to the main building at whidbey institute, a dark brown wooden structure with flowering trees around it and fir trees behind it.

Now more than ever, we need compassion: for ourselves, for each other, for the world. Compassion can be tender, like offering kindness. But it can also be fierce, like holding healthy boundaries, saying no, and standing up for ourselves and others. Developing this essential quality takes time, intention, and practice — especially given that females are often rewarded for doing the opposite.

Join us in cultivating both fierce and tender compassion with a warm community of women*. Be nourished by stepping away from your busy life, and by quiet, contemplation, and beauty.

This retreat is held primarily in silence, and device-free. This environment offers a rare and precious opportunity to turn inward and meet what we find there in fresh ways.

A large blue-green bell hangs in an awning amongst the flowering garden bushes at Whidbey Institute.


The Whidbey Institute is a beautiful center for transformation. Located on a beautiful 106-acre conservation forest, the property features a spectacular meeting hall, 4 miles of trails, lush grounds, fresh organic meals, and comfortable rustic accommodations. This tranquil center is the perfect setting to discover the richness of the present moment.


Refreshing. Not only were Carolyn and Karen wonderful guides throughout the weekend, but the community built by all the women at the retreat was extremely special. As my first multi-day retreat, this was the perfect mix of silent practice, engaging dialogue, thoughtful instruction, and relaxing movement. I cannot wait to make this an annual refresh for myself!

Becca F.

Attended the 2022 Women's Retreat

This retreat features:

Gentle Yoga
Sitting Meditation
Walking Meditation
Stunning Scenery
Delicious, Organic Meals
Private or Shared Quarters
Warm Community & Discussion

*All who identify as women are welcome. 


Friday, May 24 at 1pm – Sunday, May 26 at 12:30pm, 2024


Carolyn McCarthy & Karen Schwisow

This was an absolutely divine weekend! I’m grateful for the opportunity to practice in community. Thank you, Karen & Carolyn, for the safe space you create.

Bethany D.

Attended the 2023 Women's Retreat



  • SOLD OUT Single Occupancy: $900 (or $225/mo x 4 months)
  • SOLD OUT Waitlisting-  Camping: $400 (or $100/mo x 4 months)
  • SOLD OUT Waitlisting- Double Occupancy: $700 (or $175/mo x 4 months)

SOLD OUT $500 scholarships (Double Occupancy)  No need to apply ​​– just select this tuition level when you register.

Includes nutritious meals, lodging, and teachings.

A circular labyrinth walking path made of rocks in the grass.
A piece of flat wood engraved with the words "you are welcome here"
The exterior of a large meeting house made of pale wood at Whidbey Institute.

Cancellation Policy

For retreats at Whidbey Institute:

  • Cancel up to 15 days before the event begins: Refund all but a $50 non-refundable registration processing fee.
  • Cancel between 14 days and the event start time: Receive a refund of 35% of the total tuition paid.*

*Note: If the tuition is paid on a payment plan, payments will continue to withdraw until the amount equaling 65% of the total tuition is paid.

Three images: a warm cozy bedroom with two beds with pink blankets; wooden cabins in a small stand of trees; another warmly lit interior bedroom.


Karen Schwisow

Karen Schwisow

Karen has been a teacher of yoga and meditation since 2005. She continues to deepen her understanding of these ancient wisdom traditions and how they are relevant to our lives today.  Through compassionate listening, authenticity and humor she empowers you to experience your own innate ability to heal and thrive. She is a Certified MBSR teacher through UMass Medical Center, and Co-Founder of Three Trees Yoga & Healing Arts Center in Federal Way.

Carolyn McCarthy

Carolyn McCarthy

Carolyn is a lifelong writer and performer who cultivates attentiveness and joy. With a degree in Latin American Studies and Women’s Studies, she uses mindfulness to support the work of social justice, turning toward the difficult within and without. Zest, warmth, and wit enliven her teaching. Carolyn is a certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. Her core practices: sitting meditation, time outside, solo living room dance parties. Visit her online at

I appreciated the permission to always do what felt right for me in the moment. Very enriching, supportive practice of mindfulness.

Dr. Cherese Combs

Attended the 2023 Women's Retreat

More Details About this Retreat


All are welcome! We are honored to support each participant in their meditation practice regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, age, physical ability, political affiliation, or religion. Our retreats are suitable for beginning through experienced practitioners.

We are committed to offering support for any accessibility needs you have as we are able. Please contact us with any questions or requests related to accessibility prior to registering for a course.


IS RETREAT RIGHT FOR YOU?  Meditation retreats are not right for everyone. If you have a history of trauma or acute psychological issues consider checking with a mental health professional to decide if intensive retreat practice would be supportive. If you have questions or concerns about whether a retreat is right for you, please contact us at



  • There will times of silence built into the schedule.
  • Participants are expected to follow guidelines around silence and participation:
    • not speaking to other participants including close friends or partners you are attending with
    • not using technology of any form
  • Necessary communication with the retreat teachers can be done via a notes station or by taking them aside.

The intention of silence on retreat is to settle deeply into your own experience and to not interact with others, allowing everyone space to have the retreat they need to have — including you!


Participants are expected to be sensitive and responsive to these guidelines and the needs of fellow participants as fully as possible.

  • Please do not take photos or make recordings of other participants or the teachers.
  • Do not use alcohol or mind altering drugs of any kind.
  • Emergency contact information to share with loved ones will be included in the confirmation email upon registration. Venue staff and Mindfulness Northwest instructors will make sure you receive incoming messages promptly while your phone is off. If you are expecting an urgent message please let your instructor know.
  • Instructors are available at all times to offer support, including conversation if needed.



  • What to wear: Plan to be in stretchy, comfortable sweats or work out clothes for the entire weekend, including our opening session. 
  • Seasonally appropriate layers (sweater, jacket, raingear etc.)
  • Shoes that are (1) fine walking in damp grass and (2) slip-on if possible. We take shoes on and off frequently. Slippers for the practice room can be nice to have.
  • Toiletries and overnight things. Bed and bath linens will be provided. 
  • A flashlight can be helpful though the grounds are generally reasonably well lit. Sometimes there is walking between buildings in the early morning and evening.
  • A yoga mat if you have a favorite. We have a limited number of mats to share.
  • Meditation cushions – if you have a meditation cushion(s), a bench or other sitting gear, feel free to bring it. We are able to bring a limited supply of cushions. Note that there are plenty of chairs available.
  • A blanket for the meditation hall – nice for body scans and resting.
  • (optional) We recommend bringing face masks and COVID tests, in case you develop symptoms during the retreat.


ACCOMMODATIONS: Rooms are generally shared (two single beds per room) with a mix of shared and private baths. There are limited options of a single occupancy for a fee. Campers have access to a shared restroom with showers.

Register for this program

This program has reached its registration limit.

Please contact us at to be added to the waiting list.

In your email, please include the program name, location, and date along with your name and phone number.