Winter Retreat 2022-23
Shamatha, Vipashyana and the cultivation of genuine happiness
With Alma Ayon
1 Dec 2022 – 25 Jan 2023
We are delighted to announce that Thosamling will be hosting another long term meditation retreat in this coming winter of 2022 – 23!
The Buddha—and the great commentators and mahasiddhas ever since—emphasized that the effortless stability and vividness of mind achieved with shamatha is essential before experiential wisdom can flourish. The serenity and solitude of Thosamling provides ideal conditions for an undistracted exploration of what Tsongkhapa calls, “the fusion of shamatha and vipashyana.”
The retreat is aimed at developing a strong understanding and practice of Shamatha meditation grounded within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
The course is therefore two fold, one side is aimed at developing a clear, concentrated mind through the gradual study and practice of Shamatha meditation. The complementing aim is exploring the practice of Shamatha within the Buddhist context: starting with an overview of the Buddha’s life and teachings and how Shamatha practice fits within the context of the three vehicles, the Four Noble truths, the three higher trainings and the six perfections.
The last part of the retreat is dedicated to a brief introduction to Dream Yoga and Dzogchen practice, and a whole overview of the path.
The retreat is structured to benefit both beginners to the practice as well as experienced students. It is open both women and men.
We ask the course participants to join us for the whole retreat, from 1 December 2022 until 25 January 2023.
The retreat is structured to progress in a gradual manner, starting with:
• The first week of the retreat is dedicated to slowing down and finishing all last errands. We give the mind and body time to relax and calm down as a basis for the practice. you settle in the routine of the retreat and begin with basic Shamatha practices.
During weeks 2-3 we will explore different Shamatha techniques, their benefits and progression stages.
• In the second week, you’ll receive an overview of the Buddha’s life and his teachings, and how Shamatha practice fits within the context of the three vehicles, the Four Noble truths, the three higher trainings, and the six perfections.
• In the third week, we’ll explore in detail the differences between Mindfulness, Shamatha and Vipashyana practices and how to do them correctly.
• In the fourth week, we’ll explore the Four Immeasurables and Bodhicitta as the next stages on the path, but also as a support for shamatha practice, which will be our main practice.
• In the fifth week, we explore the Four Applications of Mindfulness and Vipashyana, as next stages on the path but also as support for shamatha practice which will be our main practice.
• In the sixth week of the retreat, we will have a brief introduction to Dream Yoga and Dzogchen practice, and a whole overview of the path. During this week, we will make longer shamatha sessions.
• In the seventh week we prepare for the future. We’ll discuss how to set a daily practice and how to organize and prepare for a solitary Shamatha retreat, contemplate different locations, durations and conditions. Participants will have more time to practice Shamatha and the other practices on their own as a way to prepare and gain confidence for doing future solitary or group retreats.
In the last week you’ll come slowly, slowly out of the retreat, getting used to interact with others. It is important to take your time to do this, so that the impact of the retreat can integrate in your life in a healthy manner.
The gradual structure of the retreat accommodates both those who are new to the practice and would like to experience and explore Shamatha meditation practices as well as long-time practitioners, who would like to dive into a prolonged retreat and re-acquaint themselves with the practices in a quiet, supportive environment under the guidance of an experienced teacher.
This eight week retreat gives participants the opportunity to immerse in the full range of practices for cultivating shamatha, while providing a wide scope of the practice within the Mahayana philosophical world which acts as a support for the practice.
For this year’s retreat, we request all those who want to join to attend the full duration, which is eight weeks, of the retreat.
The eight weeks retreat is structured in a progressive manner allowing a “soft landing” into the practice.
The teacher Alma Ayon will not be present the first two and last two weeks, but wants us to settle in together in the first two weeks.
Weeks 3-7 are led by the teacher Alma Ayon. With her help we will get deeper understanding through the study and practice of Shamatha. As the retreat progresses meditation sessions will increase in length and the actual meditation practice will be complimented by exploring the integration of the practice within the vast Mahayana philosophy. The last week Alma Ayon will be not available but we can continue the practise on our own. Students will be able to enlarge their retreat for a longer time period, so that the practise will get very firm and stable. To do so, we ask everybody to inform us for how long they like to continue this practise.
The last week of the retreat is aimed at providing the participants tools to continue their practice outside the retreat by creating a daily practice and receiving advice and guidance on personal retreat.
Biography of the retreat teacher
Retreat leader Alma Ayon will guide us through a systematic progression of shamatha techniques based on mediation instructions and teachings she received from different spiritual masters such as;
HH Dalai Lama, Khadro Rinpoche and others. Alma is a close disciple of Alan Wallace from whom, she has received extensive teachings on the practices of Shamatha, Bodhicitta, Vipashyana, Dream yoga and Dzogchen.
During the Winter Retreat some of the sessions and practices can be done in one’s own room.
Participants in the course will be hosted in Single rooms (either with attached bathroom or with shared bathroom) to allow their practice to evolve with minimum distractions.
We will do our best to accommodate your wishes and provide you with your room of preference,
all subject to availability of rooms.
Conduct in a Buddhist nunnery
Info and Registration
For registration, please email us [email protected]