Introduction to Meditation
August 16 - 18, 2019
Who is it for?
This retreat is intended for beginners who are trying to develop a meditation practice and trying to figure out how to go about it. It will also benefit those who have a meditation practice and want to learn about other meditation techniques.
What is it?
Everyone wants happiness. Unfortunately, the faulty assumptions by which we live our lives do not afford us the pleasure of abiding in a state of perpetual happiness, peace, and contentment. Buddhism promises such a state. When successfully training our minds through various meditation techniques, happiness follows.
It is mind alone that determines whether we experience happiness or suffering from the events in our life. Because meditation directly addresses the mind, it is the key to creating a happier, healthier and more peaceful life.
In this lively weekend course, we’ll have an opportunity to taste various meditation techniques and to have a friendly interchange with one another on what supports our practice.
This retreat can be combined with the Deepening Your Practice retreat that follows immediately after on August 18th We encourage you to come for both and make it an immersive ten-day experience.
See below for a note from the teacher.
- Learn how to develop inner peace and greater emotional balance with the methods of concentration meditation.
- See how disturbing emotions and mental problems arise and how to counteract them.
Note from the teacher
Hello Dear Friends,
In my more than 40 years of meditation experience, as I watch the “busyness” and pace of everyday life escalate and see the epidemic of anxiety and depression, especially among young people, I want more than ever to share the sanity of Buddhist practice. Lama Yeshe called Buddhism “psychology of the mind” and encouraged us to become our own therapist. I’m looking forward to our next Introduction to Meditation retreat. I thought to share a little bit about it and why it is useful to develop a meditation practice.
Generally, when we think of meditation, we think of developing concentration through “JOK GOM” – placement meditation – placing our mind on an object, holding it there and bringing it back when it is kidnapped by a thought, a feeling or an emotion. Our object might be our breath, our mind, an image, or any number of possibilities.
The word “GOM” in Tibetan, which we translate as meditation, has the connotation of “becoming familiar with virtue.” Besides JOK GOM, also widely used are both SHAR GOM, which is review meditation and CHE GOM, which is analytical meditation. In fact, we are actually engaging in meditation as we contemplate our daily activity, or when we review and analyze any situation.
For meditation as a spiritual practice, the important addition to the definition is the word “virtue.” In Tibetan, virtue is defined as “that which brings happiness now and in the future.”
When we reflect on our own personal mental habits, it is useful to check: Is my everyday “meditation” leading to happiness? Perhaps we focus on our shortcomings, on what we wish we would have done, could have done or should have done differently. This “would-a, could-a, should-a done syndrome” is a close sister to the “if only syndrome.” These “meditations” keep us trapped.
When we become adept at placement meditation, we recognize that inner peace is available in each present moment. We practice letting go and letting be. We see mental activities as ephemeral, as illusory, as having no essence. This doesn’t mean that we lose our ability to think. What we experience is that it is possible to abide in a state of peace and to think more clearly. This is our birthright. Peace is available right now. Through meditation we learn to touch it, to taste it, and to return to it again and again until it becomes the habit of our mind.
In this retreat we will be gentle with ourselves. Our sessions will include sitting practice interspersed with walking meditation. We will have guided as well as silent practice and we will practice using different meditation objects. We will examine the obstacles that arise and discuss their antidotes. We will also take a look at Lama Tsong Khapa’s basic overview of Tibetan Buddhism – the Three Principle Aspects of the Path. This will give us a body of knowledge upon which to engage in review and analytical meditations.
I invite you to give yourself this gift of inner peace. Leave your phones and internet devices behind. Unplug from your ordinary “busyness,” sit in the Gompa or by the Stupa, walk in the forest along the “Peace Trail,” listen to the meandering creek, hear the welcome of the birds, marvel at the beauty. You will be well held as you immerse yourself in quietude, experiencing a peace that is truly available.
I look forward to seeing you there. Meanwhile may you be well and happy.
- Please plan on arriving between 3:00 and 5:00 PM on the first day of the retreat
- Please plan on departing approximately 2:00 PM on the last day of the retreat
- Consider reviewing our accommodations
- For more detailed information, please see our FAQ
If you are interested in serving as Course Liaison for this retreat, please apply here.
This is a Pay It Forward Retreat!
There are no fees for this retreat.
That’s right. No fees. The retreat is offered to anyone who participates. It’s an experiment we started at 2012’s Kopan West- Lam Rim retreat in the spirit of making the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) freely available to all.
If it is being offered, who pays for my retreat?
Your retreat has been sponsored by someone who came before you and by past benefactors. Because it’s a gift, you can’t pay them back – but you can pay-it-forward by making a contribution that will allow future retreatants to experience the same generosity.
How does this donation system work?
At the end of the retreat, you will have the opportunity to make a donation based on what feels right in your heart. 100% of the proceeds will go towards supporting future retreatants to keep the generosity going. No pressure or questions asked. Let your heart decide what you would like to offer.
Is there a deposit?
A $150 deposit is required to reserve a space. Your deposit will be refunded as long as you attend the retreat in full. No refunds for cancellations.
How do I choose the accommodation?
Once you start the registration process, you’ll see details of the accommodations that are available from camping, dorms, or private rooms. All accommodations are made available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Is partial attendance allowed?
In order to provide the most conducive conditions for retreat, we hold full time, residential retreats only. This allows the group energy to build and minimizes distractions, so you can gain the full benefit of retreat. See our FAQ for more information. Some exceptions can be made for special circumstances and will need the approval of the teacher and our Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) before the retreat begins. Please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traditionally, spiritual teachings are considered priceless; remuneration of our teachers is not included in the fee information detailed on this page. Instead, we invite you to consider bringing a cash donation with you to express your gratitude for the teachings. Participants get a chance to present a cash offering to the teachers on the last day of the retreat and this is supplemented by a donation from Vajrapani Institute. Please note that we don’t offer a credit card option for teacher’s fees.
Elaine Jackson is a founding member of Vajrapani Institute and has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1977. She has studied with many of the greatest Buddhist teachers of our time including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and many others too numerous to list. Elaine is known for the warmth and humor with which she teaches. In particular, she loves sharing the wealth of practical insights she has gained from her years of retreat and service within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Elaine served as Executive Director of Vajrapani Institute for over five years and has also completed a three-year meditation retreat. She lives a contemplative life off-the-grid in the Santa Cruz mountains while offering Dharma teachings and meditation support. Testimonials about Elaine: “Elaine’s teachings touched me deeply. She embodies the spirit of the teachings.” (Andrea – New Years Retreat 2018) “Elaine has changed the trajectory of my life.” (Jamie – New Years Retreat 2018)
Learn more about Elaine Jackson