Have Faith: Body, mind, and spirit

Dr. Elliott Dacher will offer a weeklong fall retreat.

Ellliot Dascher in his home in 2016. —Sam Moore

More than 500 Vineyarders have gone through Dr. Elliott Dacher’s meditation training program at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and he’s about to offer a completely new version of the eight-week sessions. This fall, Oct. 22 to 28, he’s offering a weeklong retreat that will follow a schedule of two hours of training in the morning and another two hours in the afternoon, with a break in between, along with some evening activities.

“Many summer visitors ask how they can do the program, but they can’t come for eight weeks,” Dr. Dacher said. “As a result of that, I developed a one-week program, so that people can come back to Martha’s Vineyard for a weeklong program.”

He says the Island is a place of healing. “This offers people who have come and touched the Island, this allows them to come back in a quiet time of year.”

Dr. Dacher will see people individually during the weeklong retreat, and will follow up the training with online group meetings every three weeks afterward.

He said that meditation, centering prayer, whatever the faith tradition calls it, has been around since recorded history. “The basic concept is the same,” Dr. Dacher said, “turning one’s attention inside rather than outside in a way that one becomes more familiar with one’s authentic self.”

What has happened over the past several years, he explained, is a deeper scientific understanding of the benefits of meditation. “We’ve begun to look at what happens to long-term meditators when we examine their mental activity with an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] or extensive brain-wave testing; we begin to see that meditation can result not only in psychological change, but also can result in a change of the morphological structure in the brain,” Dr. Dacher explained.

He says that the brain can be trained by training the mind, and that meditation opens up one’s mind and diminishes inactivity.

“We’ve begun to see what our ancestors have known for a long time: There is a strong relationship between mind and body,” he said. “In modern times, we’ve been able to document that relationship. When we work with the mind and spirit, we are at the same time working with the body; they are seamlessly interwoven.”

Dr. Dacher said he has seen the connection time and time again as people come to his meditation training sessions. Some come with problems such as headaches, insomnia, pain, chronic disease, and others just want to learn how to meditate. The course helps people tap into their own resources. Dr. Dacher said as one learns to meditate and grow through the stages of meditation, they can look at the obstacles in their lives and better manage them. “That’s why people keep coming back and bringing their friends and families,” he said. “Meditation can lead to some really rapid changes, a quieting of life, slowing down of the mind, and serenity. These things can happen in a few weeks.

“We see these things very early, people with lifelong chronic pain, people with cancer, people who just want to grow a larger life,” he said. “All these people take something from it. That’s why we’ve had 500 people come through the program.”

Dr. Dacher said through meditation, he teaches people about the mind, answering questions such as, Where does the mental chatter come from, how do we access a quieter part of the mind that was really there before the chatter, and how do we exist in this part of the mind, without creating suffering and struggling? And when you affect one person, they become more in charge of their mind, and it affects the people around them. The weeklong retreat offers the opportunity for the extended community to come back to the Island for a week and participate.

For more information on the retreat and on Dr. Dacher’s programs, visit centerforhumanflourishing.org.



St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church community celebrates summer at the rector’s house with its annual parish lawn party on Thursday, August 3. They’ve also hosted Vacation Bible School all week, with Carrie Caldwell in charge.




Good Shepherd Roman Catholic parish offers a special First Saturday Mass on August 5 at the chapel at the parish center in Oak Bluffs. It’s in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima. The sacrament of reconciliation is offered at 7 am, the rosary is at 7:30 am, and then Mass follows at 8 am.

The parish is also trying out a new lobster roll program. The rolls will be for sale following the 5:30 pm Saturday Mass at St. Elizabeth’s in Edgartown on August 5. Cost is $20 for a lobster roll, chips, and a water. If all goes well, they’ll do it again later in the month.

The parish has embarked on a capital campaign to raise $77,000 for a much-needed lift in St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven. St. Augustine hosts community suppers and the homeless ministry in the off-season, as well as the wrapping portion of the Red Stocking Fund endeavor at Christmas in its lower level. A lift would make the building truly accessible to everyone. To find out more information about how to support adding the lift to the church building, call the parish at 508-693-0342.




The Federated Church in Edgartown hosts a repeat performance of “For All the Saints,” a musical/spoken show that covers Island and church history from 1642 to 1945. The production commemorates the church’s 375th anniversary, and takes place on Monday, August 7, at 7 pm at the meetinghouse at 45 S. Summer Street. Everyone is welcome to come.


Send news from your faith community to connie@mvtimes.com.