Date: 18th – 24th September 2020

Retreat Leader: Paula (Nyingje) Chichester

Requirements: As this retreat is now happening on zoom, Paula has opened the class to anyone who has received the Vajrayogini empowerment from a qualified master.

Cost: Generosity Model – Donation only (via the donation form at the bottom of the page; no suggested amount).

Start and Finish times: Zoom sessions will be from 3pm BST (7am PDT) to 4:30pm/5:00pm BST (8:30am/9:00am PDT) each day.

Please be prepared that all or some sessions might go on for 2 hours in case there is a longer discussion.

About the Retreat

This will be the third year of offering this popular retreat based on Lama Thubten Yeshe’s experiential teaching on Lama Je Tsong Khapa’s commentary on Naropa’s 6 Yogas given in 1983 at Vajrapani Institute. Paula will mainly focus on preparation for tummo practice; introducing breathing/body energy awareness exercises that enable our gross and subtle bodies to receive, with ease, the hollow body of light, the channels, the chakras and the drops. These practices enhance any and all meditations.

Paula will demonstrate the traditional preliminary physical exercises for tummo once and then attendees can review the exercises again, using the recordings of the Zoom session. Each day of instruction will build on the previous day’s intention to gradually approach gentle vase breathing. The point is to encourage a serviceable body/wind/mind, as well as to foster inner yoga exploration at a safe level of intensity and duration.

As we meet once a day on Zoom together, to get the most benefit out of these 6 days, Paula would prefer if you could make this week an at-home retreat and could do 3, 2 or at least one additional session per day. Best would be 4 sessions. Of course, however you set up the retreat is your choice. If one zoom session is all you can manage, then, that is acceptable.

Recommended home retreat schedule:

First session in the morning would be a guru yoga practice of your choice prior to the long or the short sadhana of Vajrayogini up to and including the final inconceivable yoga. In this session, at the mantra recitation part, you would review the instructions from the previous zoom meeting.

If you choose to do the short sadhana, please take time, at least 15 to 20 minutes, to stabilize the generation stage visualisations and the completion stage breathing/body awareness/imagination exercises which Paula will be sharing with you.

Second session before lunch would be the traditional physical exercises plus reviewing the breathing and posture instructions. Make sure you arise properly as the deity before you begin the exercises.

Third session will be meeting on zoom. This meeting will be instruction for 1hr up to 1.5 hours, with half an hour for questions. You can also email questions to me in the morning and I will address them in the afternoon zoom.

In the fourth or evening session, again review the instructions within a short sadhana and then offer the tormas and the monlam prayer from the long sadhana. If you can do the self-initiation, then use that final monlam prayer because it has extensive dedications for completion stage realizations. You can do any variable of these recommendations. Although Paula does recommend you to offer the tormas in the evening to eliminate obstacles to your success in the practice. Best if you can do the short self-initiation every day in the evening as well.

We will make all the exercises diagrams from Lama Yeshe’s course and other relevant documents for the course such as the opening prayers for auspiciousness; Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha and The Heart Sutra which will be available on a separate resource page. We will send you the link to this page a week before the retreat starts. Please recite these preliminary prayers at home before the class starts to save time during the zoom sessions..

Recommended reading: The Bliss of Inner Fire by Lama Thubten Yeshe, Wisdom Publications; The Melodious Drum of Dakini Land by Yangchen Drupai Dorje, translated By David Gonzalez, Dechen Ling Press.

The Six Practices of Naropa by Lama Je Tsong Khapa, translated by Glenn H. Mullin


Recommended practice: Review the Lam Rim – Three Principal Aspects of the Path – before the course. Without Lam Rim, all these exercises have very little value. Recommended books for Lam Rim: The Easy Path by Khensur Lobsang Jampa Rinpoche and Step by Step by Geshe Namgyal Wangchuk; both published by Wisdom Publications.

If you can attend Getting Grounded on September 12 and 13, this will give you more in depth experiential preparation for this retreat. We will cover all this in just the first VY session, so much better if you can attend those 4 preparation sessions prior to the retreat. Because our modern lives habituates our self-experience primarily in our thoughts and heads, we need extra help to tune into and expand our awareness of our bodies and the energies that flow in and out, around and through them. The VY retreat will be deeper and more beneficial with this foundation — helpful to any meditation practice. See our program site for more information.

About the Teacher

As a teenager studying Buddhism in Berkeley High School, California during years of political unrest, Paula concluded that the way to heal our planet and its inhabitants was to liberate egocentric delusion.

A decade later, inspired by the example of the meditators in Dharamsala and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, she devoted the next 38 years to following the guidance of amazing teachers, primarily H.H. Dalai Lama, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche and Kyabje Ribur Rinpoche. — which included 24 years preparing for and completing long retreats — 2 of which were 4 year solitary great maha-anuttara yoga retreats.

Her earlier years of university study in systems theory and ecology prepared her to apply a wholistic approach of integrated body/mind/culture/environment to this ancient contemplative discipline of Buddhist Sutra and Highest Yoga Tantra. — which gave her the unique skills required for living in extended wilderness retreat isolation.

She studies with teachers from all 4 schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Her goal in life has been steady since childhood: to realize Mahamudra and do all she can to bring peace and environmental justice to our world.

Find out more about Paula and many other materials and resources which can support you in your practice on her website:

A Way to Say Thank You

As we don’t receive any subsidies from other organisations we rely solely on the kind generosity of others. If you would like to make a donation (including offline) to help us cover our considerable monthly costs, please choose the amount you would like to offer below (or enter a custom amount) and click ‘Donate’. Your generosity will help us continue to offer beneficial services to yourself and others, including future retreats.

You may also like to make a regular contribution to the centre by becoming a Branch of Joy. This kind of support gifts us a steady and ongoing income, which in turn provides the confidence and means for us to continue to flourish for many years to come.

Thank you and may you be happy.

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