The First Free Women: A Retreat into Poetry
August 13 (Sunday)

The First Free Women: A Retreat into Poetry

In person in Blaine (Semiahmoo)

1-day retreat

Waking Up Together with the Poems of the First Buddhist Nuns

In this quiet day of supported practice, Tim will lead us in a series of meditations, reflections, and exercises to help us dive deeply into reflection on the deep purpose of meditation as shown by the nuns whose poems about their practice were recorded in an ancient Buddhist text called the Therigatha. This more than 2,000 year-old text was recently re-imagined in The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns by Matty Weingast.


Tim Burnett, Lead instructor, sits with legs crossed and his hands on his torso as he explains something with deep feeling. Tim's wearing a black button down shirt and khakis,
Practices will include several sitting meditations, body awareness, kindness cultivation, and reflection and visualization. The sequence of practices is inspired and supported by the teachings of these early Buddhist writings.

We’ve found that participants deeply appreciate Tim’s ability to translate ancient teachings into modern accessible language. Students also find that their ability to understand and integrate these practices in their lives is deepened and strengthened when they become more familiar with the Buddhist roots of mindfulness and compassion.

Look forward to:

  • A quiet, peaceful day in a beautiful park on the water at Semiahmoo Spit in Northern Whatcom County
  • Exploration of the unique lives of the first Buddhist nuns through their inspired writings
  • Clearly guided practices, inspired by the beauty and teachings of these ancient poems
  • Traditional teachings from Buddhism adapted and explained in an accessible way
  • A greater sense of connection and clarity around the practice of mindfulness


When the whole world is your friend,

fear will find no place to call home.

And when you make the mind your friend,

you’ll know what trust

truly means.

– the nun Mitta


Sunday August 13, 2023
9:00am – 4:00pm


Tim Burnett


Semiahmoo County Park Cannery Lodge (Whatcom County)

View of the orange sun setting over the calm Salish sea from Semiahmoo


$80 - $135 (or $20 – $34/month)

  • Sliding scale: Choose what’s right for you.
  • Payment plan option: 4-months, no-interest.
  • Limited scholarships available: No need to apply; just choose a scholarship tuition during registration.
portrait of tim burnett, mindfulness northwest bellingham wa

Rev. Tim Burnett

(he/him) Executive Director, Founder, Guiding Teacher

Tim founded MIndfulness Northwest in 2011 with the hope of offering the transformational practices he’d learned as a student of Zen Buddhism much more widely to the community. He is a certified teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), and Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). A meditator since his teenage years, Tim’s background in traditional Dharma practice informs his mindfulness work. Ordained as a Soto Zen priest in 2000, he apprenticed with Zen teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer and is the Guiding Teacher of Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham. Former jobs include educator, carpenter, software developer, and scientist. When not in the classroom, you might find him hiking, paddling, or birding.

Tim has been leading multi-day retreats in both the mindfulness and Zen Buddhist styles for many years. For these retreats Tim loves offering a universal (“secular”) mindfulness retreat experience while also plumbing the depth of Buddhist texts and philosphy that form one of the deep roots of this work. You can explore an example of Tim’s teachings at a prior retreat.

 I had such a wonderful experience at the retreat day. Tim is an immensely good guide & I was so impressed at how seamlessly he integrated Buddhist influences and trauma-informed care in a way that honored the secular & the roots of the Buddhist ethics and principles. There is also something in Tim’s voice that puts my brain into awakeness, as well as deep relaxation. I can’t wait for the next one!

Tonya Pepper

Seattle, WA

View of the orange sun setting over the calm Salish sea from Semiahmoo

The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist nuns

Composed around the Buddha’s lifetime, the original Therigatha (“Verses of the Elder Nuns”) contains the poems of the first Buddhist women: princesses and courtesans, tired wives of arranged marriages and the desperately in love, those born into limitless wealth and those born with nothing at all. The authors of the Therigatha were women from every kind of background, but they all shared a deep-seated desire for awakening and liberation. In The First Free Women, Matty Weingast has reimagined this ancient collection and created an original work that takes his experience of the essence of each poem and brings forth in his own words the struggles and doubts, as well as the strength, perseverance, and profound compassion, embodied by these courageous women.


A class participant in a green shirt lays on the floor in silent meditation on a yoga mat.
Four students standing with hands in the prayer position and eyes closed.

Register for this program

Registration is closed for this program.