Fall Workshops and Retreats

Workshops and retreats offer fresh insights and spiritual refreshment in a gentle, meditative atmosphere.

Saturday workshops begin at 10 AM and conclude at 4:45 PM unless otherwise noted, and they include a vegetarian buffet lunch. Workshops are open to all levels of students unless a prerequisite is specified.

Workshop articipants may arrange to stay overnight in one of the Institute’s comfortable guest rooms for an additional $45 per night. As a retreatant, overnight workshop guests are offered complimentary Sunday morning meditation and Tibetan Yoga class.


Fall 2015 Workshops And Retreats


October 16, Dream Lotus Evening (NPR401), 7–9 PM*

“The images which emerge from dream awareness will intensify our waking experience, allowing us to see more of the nature of existence.” Tarthang Tulku, Openness Mind.

Although we spend many hours dreaming, we may awaken with only vague memories of our dreams. Specific meditation and visualization exercises from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition bring a special awareness into the dream state that helps us not only remember our dreams, but also to become conscious that we are dreaming. With practice, we can even gain control over our actions in dreams.

More importantly, these practices highlight the similarities between our dream and waking states. We sense more clearly the fabricated quality of our waking states and see that small shifts in awareness can dramatically change the quality and outcome of the events in our lives. All experience becomes more open and more responsive to our true needs.

This workshop introduces practices that relax body, mind, and senses, especially focusing on releasing tension in the neck. The main practice is a short visualization from the Tibetan tradition to perform before going to sleep.

Cost: $30. Instructor: Sylvia Gretchen. Based on Tarthang Tulku’s Openness Mind. Suitable for all levels of students.


October 17, Activating Joyous Feeling (NPS406), 10 AM–4:45 PM*

“By stimulating and directing positive, joyous feelings we can change the essence of our inner patterns and experience. When positive or joyous feelings and attitudes pass through each organ and circulate throughout our whole system, our physical and chemical energies are transformed. In other words, we have the opportunity to recreate our bodies through positive energy.” Tarthang Tulku, Gesture of Balance.

Meditation, awareness, and movement practices awaken and expand joyous feelings. You will learn exercises that distribute deep feelings of joy through both body and mind.

Cost: $80. Instructors: Sylvia Gretchen and Santosh Philip. Based on Tarthang Tulku’s Gesture of Balance and Kum Nye Relaxation. Suitable for all levels of students.


October 24, Transforming Personal History (NPS407), 10 AM–4:45 PM*

“In every time and place throughout history, people have been lifted out of their daily routines by moments of beauty when they sensed the wonder of being alive in this world.” Tarthang Tulku, Knowledge of Freedom.

Habits and patterns intertwined with painful memories often prevent us from enjoying the freedom and beauty offered by our human body and mind. It is possible to skillfully touch memories in ways that cut through their power to restrict us. Practices from Tarthang Tulku’s Knowledge of Freedom help transform personal history from a source of pain into a wellspring of renewal.

Cost: $80. Instructors: Sylvia Gretchen and Jack van der Meulen. Suitable for all levels of students.


October 30–31, Path of Prayer to the Land of Bliss (DHS415), Friday, 7–9 PM; Saturday, 10 AM–4:45 PM

The pure land of Buddha Amitabha is known as “Sukhavati,” the Land of Bliss. A realm free from suffering where the highest teachings resound everywhere, Sukhavati is an open refuge for all who seek to transcend suffering. This workshop presents a Tibetan prayer for rebirth in Sukhavati, connecting us to vast goodness, beauty, and spiritual attainment.

Cost: $95. Instructors: Sylvia Gretchen and Barr Rosenberg. Friday, 7–9 PM; Saturday, 10 AM-4:45 PM. Based on Karma Chagmed’s “Path of Prayer to the Land of Bliss.” Workshop participants will receive an English translation of this revered Tibetan text. Prerequisite: sincere interest in the Buddha’s teachings.


November 7, Living without Patterning (SKM404), 10 AM–4:45 PM

Rigid patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior dim the vibrancy of our lives. The goal of this workshop is to dissolve these patterns into the dynamic movement of time and growth. Students will learn innovative interpersonal practices that reveal habitual patterns as pure awareness.

Cost: $80. Instructor: Barr Rosenberg. Based on Skillful Means teachings and unpublished manuscripts by the instructor. Suitable for all levels of students.


November 13–14, Power of Buddhist Symbols (DHS416), Friday, 7–9 PM; Saturday, 10 AM–4:45 PM

"To appreciate Tibetan art [and symbols] we must appreciate ourselves, the nature of awareness, and all that is manifested within it. Tibetan art is part of a miraculous process of manifestation, not a comment on it or something separate from it. A beautiful creation of the human mind, this art precisely reveals to the contemplating mind its own true nature. By appreciating the beauty of the art, by concentrating on its gestures, forms, proportions, and colors, it is possible to activate a process of inner development that produces a new dimension of consciousness. As the object of symbolic art introduces us to our true nature, our subjective world is transformed.” Tarthang Tulku, Tibet in Pictures.

Tibetan sacred art leads us to beauty beyond images, to wisdom beyond concepts, taking us to the very source from which the creative process springs. Intended as vehicles that move the viewer towards enlightenment, the colors, images, and forms of Tibetan art awaken states of consciousness and insights that are normally inaccessible.

This workshop introduces some of the major forms of Tibetan sacred art, their symbolism, and the meditative practices that bring their value to life.

Cost: $95. Instructors: Sylvia Gretchen and Mark Henderson. Friday, 7–9 PM; Saturday, 10 AM–4:45 PM. Prerequisite: sincere interest in the Buddha’s teachings.


November 21, Inner Alchemy: Transformation through Tibetan Yoga (KNR412), 10 AM–4:45 PM*

Remarkable transformation occurs through Tibetan Yoga (Kum Nye), mobilizing the body’s natural healing as Kum Nye literally remakes the physical body. The movement exercises introduced in this workshop stimulate subtle flows of energy that can lead to lasting changes in body and mind.

Cost: $80. Instructors: Jack van der Meulen and Donna Morton. Suitable for all levels of students.


November 27–29, Cultivating Compassionate Love Retreat (NPR402), Friday, 10 AM–Sunday, 3 PM

We can learn to love ourselves and others more deeply through actively cultivating compassionate love. This kind of love heals the painful divisions between living beings, allowing us to forgive others and to cleanse ourselves of ill-will. The retreat introduces gentle visualization, mantra, and meditation practices given by the Buddha.

Cost: $235 (non-residential); $350 (residential). Friday 10 AM–9 PM; Saturday, 10 AM–5 PM; Sunday, 10 AM–3 PM. Instructor: Olivia Hurd. Suitable for all levels of students.


December 5, Touching Pure Experience (MED416), 10 AM–4:45 PM

“A thought is born in the open expanse of mind,

But thought and openness are not apart:

Like water and ice, they are the same.

“Without realization,

Grasping at truth through thoughts:

Endless running around.

“With realization,

Knowing openness free from thoughts:

Release from suffering.”

--Written by the twelfth-century Tibetan master, Godtsangpa.

Our thoughts and emotions may now seem as unyielding as ice, but, with patient exploration through meditation, they are recognized as inseparable from the pure nature of mind itself. With this realization, the struggle between thought and meditation disappears. “This understanding is true integration, a genuine connection of our whole being with the reality of experience, with the ‘now’ which is unlimited by time or space.” (Tarthang Tulku, Openness Mind.)

This workshop presents meditation and awareness practices that can bring us closer to pure experience. It includes sustained practice of Kum Nye and meditation practices that illuminate the nature of mind.

Cost: $80. Instructors: Sylvia Gretchen and Hugh Joswick. Based primarily on Tarthang Tulku’s Openness Mind. For advanced meditators. Prerequisite: three years of meditation experience or consent of the instructors. Note that this is a good companion workshop for the December 12 “Nectar for Refining the Mind.”


December 12, Nectar for Refining the Mind (MED411), 10 AM–4:45 PM

“The wider our concept of mind becomes, the more experience we can accept without making judgments. This acceptance itself becomes meditation, and we realize that meditation is an integral part of our experience… Whatever we see, hear, taste, or feel—whatever comes to us in life—becomes rich and alive.” Tarthang Tulku, Hidden Mind of Freedom.

Advanced meditation techniques focus on contacting clarity and bliss, allowing us to extract a special kind of inner joy and meaning from all kinds of experiences. This workshop presents practices that utilize the power of mind to reshape itself through visualization and mantra. Through these meditative techniques, we shift away from interpretations and images, remaining with the pure energy of mind. Then, like a raindrop falling into the ocean, mind merges with Being.

Cost: $80. Instructors: Sylvia Gretchen and Hugh Joswick. For advanced meditators. Prerequisite: three years of meditation experience or consent of the instructors.


December 12, How to Meditate (MED401), 10 AM–1 PM

This half-day workshop provides basic instruction in meditation and allows time to discuss how to sustain or renew a regular meditation practice. You will learn how to sit and focus the mind in silent meditation. You will also learn techniques from Tibetan Yoga that help quiet mind and calm the senses. This workshop is a good introduction to the unique Nyingma approach to self-development, which emphasizes individual responsibility and freedom.

Cost: $45. Instructor: To be announced. Includes lunch at 1 PM. For beginners and those wishing to reinvigorate their meditation practice.


December 28–January 2, Tasting Relaxation Retreat (KNR501)

Tibetan Yoga (Kum Nye) practice opens the senses to feeling. This flow of feeling can loosen even chronic tension. In this retreat we learn to relax so deeply that we can ‘taste’ the healing nectar of relaxation as it flows through body and mind. Gentle movement, breathing, and awareness practices help us to discover this relaxation.

Cost: $470 (nonresidential); $700 (residential). Instructors: Santosh Philip and the Nyingma Institute faculty. Retreat begins Monday at 10 AM and concludes on Saturday at 4:45 PM. Includes the “Renewing and Refreshing the Senses” workshop on January 2. Suitable for all levels of students.


January 2, 2016, Renewing and Refreshing the Senses (KNR401), 10 AM–4:45 PM

Celebrate the New Year with a day of restorative Tibetan Yoga to relax and refresh body and mind.

Cost: $80. Instructor: Jack van der Meulen. Based on Tibetan Relaxation. Suitable for all levels of students.

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*Courses or workshops marked with an asterisk meet the qualifications for continuing education credit for MFT’s and LCSW’s as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Provider: Nyingma Institute #2513