Mark Nepo the Sophia institute teaching faculty

The Book of Awakening: having the life you want by being present to the life you have

At Sophia Institute we are pivoting because of the pandemic and learning to bring you programs that you know and love virtually in the comfort of your home.  We are pleased to announce that this program will be a VIRTUAL RETREAT.

Have you ever taken a personal retreat at home? If not, then doing so will be something worthwhile for you and a new, potentially lifelong, practice that will be beneficial ongoing.

With more than a million copies sold, The Book of Awakening, a New York Times #1 bestseller, has been the go-to guide for navigating the path to joy and freedom in the face of illness and hardship. Chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of her Ultimate Favorite Things, this classic spiritual daybook is a summons to reclaim aliveness, liberate the self, take each day one at a time, and savor the beauty offered by life’s unfolding. The book has been translated into more than twenty languages. And Mark and the book were featured with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday program on OWNTV.

This weekend workshop is based on the 20th Anniversary Edition (Red Wheel, January 2020) which includes a new foreword by Nepo-fan, actress, author, and activist Jamie Lee Curtis.

Beloved as a teacher, poet, and storyteller, Mark is a gentle guide on our journey to discover our personal truths. The workshop will explore our ongoing need to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships we encounter. It is an invitation to personalize the common and unrepeatable journey we all encounter in being human.

Using ancient and contemporary stories, poetry, journaling and dialogue, Mark will invite participants to befriend their own stories and listen for their own wisdom in this reflective and transformational gathering. This workshop is an invitation to engage with profound and life-giving material that will deepen the way you perceive and relate to the world.

“We travel so far only to land where we are. We imagine other lives, only to meet who we are. We seek out love in special ways, only to find everyone is special. Humbly, we can’t avoid this journey. It is precisely through it that, if blessed, we wake to the life we want by being present to the life we have. In this timeless, common way, we venture out into the life of experience, only to rediscover more deeply what lives at the center. In this way, as our soul meets the days, we are always beginning. In this way, our very lives are a book of awakening, just waiting to be read by our heart and lived on our path.”

−Mark Nepo

We suggest bringing a journal for note taking, if you wish to.


Mark Nepo is a Great Soul. His resonant heart—his frank and astonishing voice—befriend us mightily on this mysterious trail.—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of You and Yours, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, and Red Suitcase

Mark Nepo is one of the finest spiritual guides of our time.
—Parker J. Palmer, author of A Hidden Wholeness and The Courage to Teach

Mark Nepo joins a long tradition of truth-seeking, wild-hearted poets—Rumi, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver—and deserves a place in the center of the circle with them.
—Elizabeth Lesser, Cofounder, Omega Institute, author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

Nepo is a consummate storyteller with a rare gift for making the invisible visible.
—Publishers Weekly

Watch Oprah share from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening

The Book of Awakening: Schedule

Fri, Sept 18                6:30 – 8:30PM

Sat, Sept 19               10:00 – 4:00PM, lunch—reflective time 12-12:45PM

Friday Evening

6:30 – 7:15                   Welcome—Carolyn Rivers

Session 1: Heart and Path

7:15 – 7:30                   Journal Question

7:30 – 7:45                  Breakout Rooms (Dyads)

7:45 – 8:15                   Open Question & Answer

8:15 – 8:30                   Closing Thoughts, Story, Poem


10:00 – 10:50              Welcome—Carolyn Rivers

Session 2: Ten Thousand Hands

10:50 – 11:05               Journal Question

11:05 – 11:20              Breakout Rooms (Dyads)

11:20 – 11:50               Open Question & Answer

11:50 – 12:00               Closing Thoughts, Story, Poem

12:00 – 12:45              Lunch—Reflective Time

12:45 – 12:55              Welcome—Carolyn Rivers

Opening Reading

12:55 – 1:15                Open Question & Answer

1:15 – 2:05                   Session 3: On the Precipice of Growth

2:05 – 2:20                   Journal Question

2:20 – 2:35                  Breakout Rooms (Dyads)

2:35 – 2:50                  Break

2:50 – 3:20                   Open Question & Answer

3:20 – 3:50                  Session 4: Try, Accept, Begin Again

3:50 – 4:00                   Closing Thoughts, Story, Poem

Have a Journal with You



Hourly Schedule

9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday Program


Sep 18 2020 - Sep 19 2020


Friday Night $30, Full Retreat including Friday Night Lecture $195

Visitor Planning

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Mark Nepo

Presenting Faculty:

Mark Nepo