Wisdom, Compassion, Peace & Laughter
Since the first Dzogchen Center retreat with Lama Surya Das in 1989, we have evolved a rhythm that creates an experience that is relaxed but focused, quiet but joyful, intense but expansive.
When you look at the daily schedule posted on the bulletin board each morning you will see the day broken up into sessions with these labels: Group Practice, Individual Practice, Teachings, Yoga, and Meals.
Relaxed but Focused
On our retreats, nothing is compulsory. Our expectations are that retreatants are mature individuals who know how to use their time productively. For some, coming to retreat is a precious opportunity to sit in silent meditation for many hours a day. For others, it is important to get outside, embrace sights and sounds, walk the trails around the retreat center and relax into the natural world. For most, it is the combination of these elements.
At Dzogchen Center retreats we keep “noble silence.” For many participants, this turns out to be one of the most powerful aspects of the retreat. It is of utmost importance the this time honored tradition be honored while on retreat. To quiet the mind, to let it settle, words have to stop. When we stop the chatter of constant conversation, we reduce the mental chatter that distracts us from seeing the natural state of mind.
Every Dzogchen Center retreat offers powerful morning sessions of Tibetan Energy Yoga, a method to prepare the body for meditation. These simple and relaxing postures are led by senior students of Lama Surya Das who have developed personalized methods of integrating these ancient Indian exercises with present awareness.
Lama Surya Das is an extraordinary teacher who is able to synthesize a vast amount of spiritual knowledge and experience. Many find his teachings poignant, humorous, and enlivening.
The rhythm of Lama Surya Das’ sessions involves chanting, guided meditation, oral pith instruction, teachings, and an extended question and answer session. Lama Surya’s methods transmit essential insights of the Dzogchen view in a direct and accessible manner. He uses the question and answer sessions to tailor the discussion to the particular needs of the students in the room, and he encourages everyone to bring their questions so that others can share in the benefit of the dialogue.
There are at least two teaching sessions each day: mid-morning, afternoon, and some evenings. Lama Surya Das will teach most of those sessions. The balance of teaching sessions are are taught from invited guests and his senior students.
These are meditation sessions, about 45 minutes each. A practice leader will open the session with a short dedication prayer or some chanting; then silent meditation, practicing the methods that Lama Surya has taught. While most people sit on cushions on the floor, comfortable chairs are also available.
Sometimes called “free time”, here on retreat, we don’t want to waste time. We do whatever we need to do during this time — take a walk in the woods, exercise, lie down and rest, sew on a button — but we do it with the clarity of present awareness.
In chant, the power of sound connects us with ourselves, one another, and the divine. It is an ancient, tried and true form of meditation and prayer. One of the most transformative and nonsectarian spiritual practices, chanting almost immediately takes us out of our heads and beyond the mind, into realms of pure spirit and bliss. It helps us discover the spiritual breath and cosmic energy (prana in Sanskrit) inside the physical breath. Monks and nuns, shamans, yogis, dervishes, chant masters, pilgrims, cantors, singers, and musicians have long known this universal secret.
Chanting involves the body, mind, and spirit; it utilizes intention, concentration, the breath, the heartbeat, chest, lungs, voice, tongue, mouth–our entire being. It is both relaxing and therapeutic, while providing direct access to meditative states and higher realms of subtle spiritual experience. It awakens our energy and can stimulate energetic and spiritual breakthroughs. It helps us open our throat and heart chakras and access the inexhaustible treasury of awareness and wisdom to be found there.
We offer plenty of vegetarian options and can accommodate vegan diets. Since we eat in noble silence, you can really taste and enjoy it.