Open Heart Circle
"I am a therapist and help people with many areas of challenge in their lives. It is remarkable how many difficulties can be improved when communication is improved. It is also amazing how this can happen if even ONE of two (or more) parties can communicate more clearly, respectfully and patiently. This is no small thing to master! I have taken two classes with Miles over the last decade and have read his book, “Conscious Communication”. His approach has made a tremendous difference in my life personally, and I have passed his ideas on to my own clients.
I highly recommend Miles Sherts’ classes or private sessions if you would like to develop more harmony and understanding at home, at work or in the community. Miles is a kind teacher who is also quite brilliant in his ability to understand and guide this learning process.""
"I came away from Miles’ Conscious Communication workshop with a keener realization of how life-enhancing 'conscious communication' can be, for individuals, couples and, in fact, all relationships. Not only is Miles very knowledgeable about the subtle and multi-layered dynamics involved in interpersonal communication, he is also deeply devoted to advancing consciousness in others, as well as in himself, and does so with exceptional skill, generosity and grace."
Miles has a way of forming a deep connection and holding a safe space that enabled us to hear the truth below the surface. His guided questions and gentle coaching in this class allowed us to also practice these listening skills with each other."
Intern and Staff Testimonials for Sky Meadow
My experience at Sky Meadow has transformed my life and continues to transform me every day. I came for 4 months and have been here for 8 months now. As the seasons change I feel like an onion being peeled. Layers and layers of constructed realities continue to fall away. I found a home, a teacher and teachings that are alive and unscripted, challenges and growth opportunities, a community and a silence like none I’ve experienced. I have been learning to homestead and live from and with the land, to live in community, to stop, notice and constantly choose my path.
More than a lifestyle Sky Meadow has been an awakening to reality that is never ending. Just when I think I get something, that too is questioned and falls away. Embracing not what is easy, but what is real and what is simple, this place has healed me and shown me my self. I have received unmeasurable support on my quest, not the kind that holds you up, but the kind that gently pushes you to your limits and shows you that you can hold yourself up.
Having traveled the world and lived as many lifestyles as you could imagine, arriving here to chop wood and carry water, I found an incredible peace in needing and ultimately desiring nothing more. Everything is constantly changing and you must be willing to move with change. At the same time, I found a sense of stability here like nothing before experienced,.. The work in sometimes very physically demanding and if you thrive working outdoors you will love it. The work varies daily and the main thing I have taken away from it is the joy I find in presence regardless of the job at hand, that is something Sky Meadow cultivates in me daily. The land is magical and vast. The community is intimate. The opportunities for inner work are never ending and the community meditation and classes have worked in perfect conjunction to break down barriers to truth. My boundaries have been tested, my walls melted when I let them, and my integrity brought to the forefront.
This place has the ability to give you so many distinct experiences, and it seems it only depends on what you are looking for, needing and ready to receive. It could be a summer internship in farming, a supportive community to learn communication skills with, a steady meditation practice, a place to stop and go inward or a place to connect to people and nature. For me it has been a place to wipe my slate clean of who I thought I was or was supposed to be, and instead of recreating it, just let it be unknown. In the unknowing, when I let myself stop trying to do, create, and be anything I find myself overflowing. I play more music, create more art, speak more authentically, connect more deeply, do what I love more freely than I have in all my years of trying. For me it has been a perfect mixture of monastic life with community connection and connection to the earth.
I chose this life perhaps because it does not allow you to not show up. You will be constantly asked to show up; mentally, emotionally, physically. While is may seem like a retreat from the world at large, it is not a retreat from yourself. Sky Meadow has allowed me to thrive, not because there are no outer challenges, but because through the challenges, and wounds opened, I was given tools to deal, heal, and become more resilient.
I felt like words would fall short when trying to describe my experience here, but when everything else falls away what I am left with is the closest I could ever get to describing the gift this place has shown me. It will only ever be a mirror of your own heart.
-Kiva - 2018-2019
Testimonials from CC Workshop for Couples 2015
One of the things I have known about my self (and my wife reminds me) is that I don't listen well.
But, when we were going through the Supportive Listening exercise (with Miles), and I asked my wife if there is anything I could do to help her, she said “you have already done it by listening to me”
The amazing thing is that the listening exercise took about 3 minutes, and one of my arguments for not listening in the past has been that I'm just too busy, and have too many things going on. And the outcome when I say don't have time to listen is that we remain two separate individuals, she's worrying about her problems, and I'm off doing something else.
Whereas when we sit down for three minutes (using the Supportive Listening skill), we can clear the air and find a common connection. It is a very efficient and quick way to resolve things.
- Scott Pierce
This whole thing of staying away from getting involved in somebody else's issue – staying independent and reflective- in the end, very quickly, it really brings two parties together and creates a solidarity or a union that is much stronger. It has been a great training and thank you Miles very much for providing the expertise and wisdom.
- Scott Pierce
You know, I have a dentist appointment every 6 months, my car is in the shop getting fixed, and I go to the gym several times a week. We take care of those things, but it seemed like we felt bad or ashamed for coming here this weekend (to a retreat in Conscious Communication for Couples). Perhaps other's felt that way too, and those feelings shouldn't be there. This should be a very natural, normal, repetitive thing (to learn skills for maintenance of relationships), and you shouldn't wait for 24 years to go by before you notice some things (that we were learning here).
- Scott Pierce
I was in it for the fun weekend away, and I wasn't disappointed – beautiful area, excellent food, nice people. I feel like a lot of these concepts I have had somewhat of an understanding of, and have put some into practice over the years, but you have done a very nice job of outlining it and framing it. It has been very beneficial that we have been here together (my husband and I) and more beneficial that it was his idea to come.
- Cynthia Pierce
Testimonials for Miles' Teaching
Conscious Communication Skills
As a facilitator, Miles brings with him a graceful balance of intuition, sensitivity and practicality to the art of conscious communication. His style is clear and directive as well as empowering and caring. I have attended several workshops and trainings in the area of communication and empathic listening, and I found Mile's workshop to be one of the most helpful and balanced thus far. The simple and useful communication tools Miles teaches and shares are invaluable for helping to improve the quality and depth of all relationships and facets of life--- both personally and professionally. This work he teaches in the area of conscious communication creates a powerful opening for more caring and connected relations.
-From staff workshop participants - Omega Institute
-From Meditation retreat participants:
"Excellent instruction and support - excellent food - wonderful silence - total comfort and clarity."
I have been honored to call Miles my spiritual teacher for over six years, since I attended my first Insight Meditation Retreat at Sky Meadow. It was my first experience in meditation and his gentle, simple guidance to breathe and notice the uniqueness of what comes from being still changed my life by the end of the three days. Through his inspirational talks and personal interviews, I was able to recognize the invaluable gifts of letting go and being in the present moment. I continued to attend retreats at Sky Meadow, but what became more precious to me was the on-going mentoring that Miles provided me for using this practice in everyday life.
My intention for a meditation practice was not only a formal daily sitting; I wanted it to support me in becoming a more peaceful and authentic person in the world. Miles has continuously supported me on my spiritual journey by openly hearing my life experiences and offering straightforward explanations as to how they all relate to the practice and how I can use them for growth, development, and compassion for the world. Knowing Miles as a teacher has been a priceless gift in my life that keeps on giving.
-Meghan Mulvenna (Founder, Special Travelers LLC www.specialtravelers.org)
"The teaching was refreshingly free of Buddhist jargon. I cherish the traditional language and concepts, but found their absence truly revolutionary. This is the most supportive and lovely meditation environment I have encountered. I hope other meditation teachers follow your example."
Miles held a two hour insight meditation workshop for Omega staff in May 2008. At the end of the session, as we each had a chance to share about our experiences, one of the staff was having a strong reaction. He had just arrived at Omega and was obviously going through profound changes in his life. He burst out in tears, and seemed uncomfortable as he was trying to hold back. I was deeply touched by the way Miles opened up a safe and secure space for him to let out what he was experiencing. He guided the participant who was in distress to accept the transformation he was going through.
Miles helped us realize that he was growing instead of simply falling apart. I appreciated the guidance and assistance Miles offered to him and to the group in such an intense moment. It was a teaching in itself to witness how Miles handled the situation in such a nurturing way. Miles has an ability to effectively contain deep personal transformation and help us go to the places within, were we are afraid to go.
-Eric Baribeau (Manager of Campus Support Department at the Omega Institute)
Miles has been generously offering all-day retreats at UVM every semester for the past 5 years. His retreats always fill up quickly with students, and other community members. Miles brings a sense of gentleness and grace to his meditation instruction that is supportive of beginning and experienced meditators alike.
Many students who come to the all-day retreat have little or no meditation experience, and are intimidated by the idea of spending an entire day in silence. Miles has a gift of making students and new meditators comfortable in the retreat situation, and easing them into a space of silent presence. He likes to tell of his own first experience of meditation when he was struggling during his college years – his story is clearly evidenced in his compassion and empathy for students who attend his retreats. Post-retreat evaluations have been glowingly positive. Most participants end the day feeling a sense of gratitude, accomplishment, and commitment to incorporating mindfulness into their lives.
-Miv London, Ph.D., Coordinator, UVM Mindfulness Practice Center
I learned from Miv that you will no longer be facilitating the all-day retreats at UVM as you had been doing for many years. Although I am sorry to hear this, I respect your decision, especially as you balance running the retreat center at Sky Meadow.
I also wanted to express my appreciation at your participation in our mindfulness programming at UVM. I have heard from many of the participants of those retreats how much they appreciated it and, I believe, your guidance had a lot to do with people's positive experiences. I know, personally, that I have taken a lot from your facilitation.
I wish you continued success and blessings with Sky Meadow and hope that our paths will cross again in the future.
Peace be with you,
Mark Reck, Psy.D.
Counseling & Psychiatry Services
Redstone Office, Wright Hall 113
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405
I did the 5 day Insight Meditation Retreat for Experienced Meditators in November of 2018. For the duration of the retreat, we refrained from talking or making eye contact. We meditated for about seven hours each day, alternating sitting and walking every half hour. In the morning we had a silent yoga/movement session. The helpers served two beautiful vegetarian meals each day. During free hours, we had plenty of time to explore the property. Each evening, the teacher gave a 45 minute talk. On the last night of the retreat, we broke silence and shared our experiences.
As a meditation center, Sky Meadow is unusual in that it can only house up to fifteen guests at a time. With such a small group, we connected intimately as a community despite our silence. Miles, the teacher, is a passionate channel. He speaks in a way that anyone can understand - he based an entire talk around a passage from Lord of the Rings! His talks ranged from somber to hilarious, and each time I felt ready to give up, he inspired me to hone my concentration and push deeper into the practice.
Although I had meditated daily for the past year, the Sky Meadow five day was my first formal retreat. Sitting through the retreat was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. In the same position hour after hour, I was physically uncomfortable from beginning to end. Mentally, I came face to face with my discontents. I understood how terrified I was of going beyond the realm of thoughts. Afterwards, I felt as if I had done a deep clean of my mind. The days felt twice as long, everything around me had a new lustre to it. I was fulfilled by activities as simple as taking a walk down a dirt road. Miles urged us not to characterize the retreat as “good” or “bad”, so I won’t. But I will say that the retreat was intense, profound, and a formative experience in my spiritual life, and I hope to return to Sky Meadow for more.
"The teachings were a perfect blend of Buddhist ideas presented in a practical, easily understood manner"
I wanted to send my sincere thanks to you and the staff at Sky Meadow Retreat. My time there this last weekend was much needed. You and your staff helped make the experience one that I will carry with me for a long time. The time that you spent one on one with me provided me valuable insight into furthering my practice. I was saddened when the time came for me to depart Sky Meadows and look forward to returning in the future.
Peace, light and love to your path.
The insight meditation retreat Miles leads had a very distinct feeling to me, from my previous Vipassana retreats. I thought it useful to offer this perspective as someone drawn to what was described as a gentler practice. Something incredible that came from the gentleness of this meditation was how I felt it stripping my mind of identifying so strongly with everything I would think I was enduring. I had watched so many people leave halfway through a meditation retreat, or have mental breakdowns or panic attacks from the intensity, myself included. On this particular retreat, I did not sit though physical or emotional pain in the same way, but was given enough understanding to let all those ideas of me fall away and really surrender to the actual feeling of the suffering not being real.
Everything I believed was brought into question. If I think its a cure, isn’t that just another mental perception? What if you were offered a space that felt so safe, within a community of people that felt so connected, with just enough support to allow you to completely fall apart and surrender to the beauty of your own heart? Because of that, this retreat showed me so much unknown territory. I found a joy I felt I had desperately been searching for in everything outside of me.
What I loved about this experience is that it came with a teaching that to me was really alive and connected. Many times I would get frustrated going to meditation leaders and getting the same scripted answers to my questions. I didn’t want someone who quotes other teachers, but would not give an authentic heartfelt answer to what I was asking. While there was no question and answer session in this retreat, it felt unnecessary because the nightly lectures spoke directly to me. I received insights from a teacher who sat with us, experienced with us and felt with us.The talks were from present moment awareness and there were real life lessons that resonated on many levels. I was not given a technique to quiet my mind, but what felt like an actual connection to what that means in life.
Through this retreat and previous teachings from Miles, the concept of meditation has been broadened to something so much more than a technique I practice to arrive at a certain goal. It has been melted into meditation in life itself, what it feels like to be present, fulfilled and in love with life.