Resting in Awareness

a spiritual retreat with Nicholas Bartoli

September 29 & 30, 2023

Friday evening 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Saturday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Sponsored by UU SpiritLife

Held at the United Church of Christ

134 Flagg Road, West Hartford, CT 06117

The program is open to members and friends of the three area Unitarian Universalist churches and to members and friends of the Flagg Road United Church of Christ.

Reservations and Fees  Friday evening is open to all (including the merely curious) via a freewill donation. Saturday has limited seating so reserve early. The fee is $50.00 and may be paid at the door by cash or check payable to David Gonci.  There is no provision for credit cards. Make reservations by email: Please reserve by 9/26/23. Someone will confirm your reservation within 36 hours using the contact information that you provide.

For downloading a one-page PDF flyer for this event: Click Here

Retreat Specifics and Schedule

In 2010, Nicholas Bartoli had a spiritual awakening that abruptly and permanently changed the way he sees himself and life. Eventually, he entered an urban Episcopal monastery where he was a monk for ten years. During his time as a monk, he preached regularly, provided spiritual direction, and led many retreats. This will be Nicholas’ first retreat since leaving the monastery in early 2023.

Amid the busyness, the striving and strain that are so much a part of our lives, Nicholas offers the radical practice of rest. On Friday evening, he will speak about spiritual awakening and how it continues to change his life. He will talk about what nonduality means and he will begin to define the nature of rest. There will be time for Questions and Answers. Friday evening is open to all, including the merely curious. The Friday session will be audio-recorded (no video) and  will be made available at at a later date. 

The Saturday session is in-person only and will not be recorded. The morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday will include talks interspersed with experiential exercises to help participants get a sense of the nature of radical rest and a glimpse of nonduality.

Nicholas will speak about the history of contemplation and meditation and how these practices affect the way we see the world. His teaching draws on ancient monastic practices and he will show how these easily adapt to fit a modern spiritual lifestyle.

We will reflect on questions such as:  Have you had times in your past when you have tasted the stillness that contemplatives describe as resting in the Divine? What conditions help bring you to that place of encounter and awareness? How might you draw near to that inner place again, wherever and however you find yourself in life today?

Learning from the contemplatives of different, time-honored traditions, we will explore resting in nondual awareness. In rest we may discover the grace-filled stillness at our core, and the True nature of our being.

In addition to ample handouts, participants will take away suggestions that can be practiced anytime, not just in formal times of prayer or meditation. We can practice during leisure, when we’re driving, when we’re waiting in line, when we’re out for a walk, when we’re at work, when we’re cooking or cleaning…anytime, really.  When we practice rest, we learn a new way of relating to ourselves and to life, just as it is, and such as it is.

The UU SpiritLife group will supply minimal refreshments and beverages. There will be no break Friday evening; 2 short breaks on Saturday and 1.5 hours for lunch and conversation. Lunch is on your own. There are many restaurants and a Whole Foods nearby. You may also BYO lunch and enjoy the church grounds.


Nicholas Bartoli, a native of Brooklyn, NY, is a former Episcopal monk whose ministries include spiritual direction, preaching, teaching contemplative prayer and leading retreats. A lifelong learner, Nicholas has a B.S. in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, an M.S. in Environmental Studies and an M.S. in Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. In addition to coursework toward an M.Div, he is also completing work on a degree in Interfaith Chaplaincy. Nicholas served two years in the Peace Corps in Fiji and has worked in a number of fields: teaching; IT for non-profits; as an environmental analyst with the EPA; and as a psychotherapist. His interests include contemplative prayer and meditation, nondual theology, writing poetry, modern dance, and interfaith dialogue. Nicholas resides in Hartford and is a member of the Universalist Church of West Hartford.


Judy Robbins holds a doctorate in transpersonal psychology, the area where psychology and spirituality intersect. She has worked as a teacher, fiber artist, and writer in addition to a long career as a psychotherapist, group facilitator, retreat leader and community builder. Judy is co-founder with David Gonci, Tom Gervais and Rick Tsukada of UU SpiritLife whose goal is to present programs where people can explore and deepen their spirituality in a non-judgmental space free of dogma. She is a mother and grandmother who lives in Glastonbury with her husband, Rick Tsukada.  Judy and Rick are members of the Unitarian Society of Hartford.