Student Reflections on Gomde Cooperstown’s Virtual Retreats – May 23 to June 1, 2020
Are you curious about what an online retreat is like? What type of experience can you expect? Is it beneficial? Recently, over two hundred and fifty people from seventeen countries around the world joined in the Trinley Nyingpo or Mahamudra retreats taught by Tulku Migmar Tsering and hosted by Gomde Cooperstown. Though everyone’s impression is different, the consensus among the participants was that the retreats were expansive and fruitful.
Many people commented that the combination of teaching and practice made them more confident in their practice. We often postpone our retreat plans until sometime in the future when we hope to acquire the perfect conditions. But many of us discovered within the space of our own homes that we can make the commitment to practice seriously wherever we are! With so much uncertainty in the world right now, the opportunity to share a virtual sense of sangha community was quite inspiring.
We rejoice in sharing a few of their voices here with you.
An In-Depth Teaching
I would like to share some experiences of the recent Trinley Nyingpo retreat I had with you.
This was my third Trinley Nyingpo retreat or teachings that I have attended over the last four years. The first time was with Tulku Pasang, followed by one conducted by Lama Sherab Dorje.
Interestingly, I seemed to learn a little more than before, as Tulku Migmar went more in-depth in explaining the sadhana. This was my first virtual online retreat. And thanks to the organizing committee, Tulku Migmar and Oriane, the retreat was very successful! I imagine it is not an easy task to coordinate with so many participants in different parts of the world across a wide array of time zones. Moreover, access, materials and continuous information updates benefited the participants and ensured the smooth operation of the retreat program.
Tulku la, and Oriane patiently did their very best to relay the meanings of every line of the sadhana, and provide the essential guidelines for participants to successfully practice at home. This main purpose of the retreat was achieved.
I hope the participants will be able to practice alone or in groups regularly, as practice makes perfect. If not, one tends to forget and have doubts over long periods of not practicing.
Confidence to Practice on My Own
I was very grateful and thankful to have the opportunity to attend an online retreat led by Tulku Migmar. The community and support during the retreat were amazing. Moreover, everyone was helpful and thoughtful. For instance, Dharma friends would post notes in the Zoom chat which was very helpful.
Before the Trinley Nyingpo retreat, I would normally join a group practice and follow the pages that were being chanted. Most of the time, I had little understanding of what was actually in the text, what I needed to visualize and how to do so. Tulku’s teaching has given me much insight on this matter. As a result, I have gained a little more understanding and became less doubtful than before. I am grateful that I was able to gain the confidence to practice the text on my own.
Tulku Migmar’s teaching during the retreat has inspired me to be a little less fearful. Previously I was overwhelmed by the large context and volume of the text. Although, I am still not very certain of every detail in the text, I have gained a subtle assurance and confidence to practice with the right motivation and focus. This small acknowledgment shifts my perspective in the right direction which I am truly grateful for.
Integrating the Teachings into Daily Life
Due to the current global pandemic that we are experiencing, the annual summer retreats at Gomde Cooperstown have been facilitated online this year. Because the retreats couldn’t take place in person, I felt very fortunate that I had the chance to still participate in this year’s retreats even in this troubled time. At first, I was a bit skeptical of how such an online retreat would work. You cannot recreate the serene countryside that Gomde is located in that naturally eases your mind, nor connect with all the sangha members and the teachers personally.
However, I was absolutely amazed by the clarity and directness of Tulku Migmar’s teachings. Even though we only had three days for this retreat, Tulkula managed to give a good overview of the Mahāmudrā teachings and gave us pithy and concise instructions for our own practice. These genuinely opened my heart and inspired me to curiously question my mind and take more time to put the teachings into practice. Tulkula encouraged us by saying: “Joyful practicing is the key to diligence”.
Finally, doing this retreat online certainly had some perks. Because I wasn’t able to fully take time off for this retreat I had to switch between schoolwork and Mahāmudrā sessions. But being at home and working while also having these sessions really was great practice in maintaining presence in and outside of your regular sitting-meditation sessions. So, I felt doing retreat at home was a very special opportunity to integrate the teachings directly into my daily life.
It was also wonderful to see how this course was so accessible to people all over the world. That’s why I am definitely looking forward to more on- and offline retreats in the future.
New online retreat coming soon
From August 14th to 16th, Erric Solomon will be leading the retreat, Radically Loving: Transcending Anxiety and Stress. Click here to learn more, register, and enjoy another wonderful retreat experience.
Among its offerings, Samye Institute has two Mahāmudrā home practice programs: the Path of Meditation Level One and the Path of Meditation Level Two. In these on-line programs, Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche teaches the Mahāmudrā path of gradual progress.
If you’d like to experiment with creating your own shorter retreat at home you might also consider structuring a retreat around either our Training the Mind: An Introduction or The Noble Wisdom of The Time of Death Sutra programs. These short practice programs include teachings and contemplations for analytical meditation.
Share With Us
Please share your experiences of these retreats in the comments below. We would love to hear about your experience. And if you would like any advice from a Samye instructor about how to structure an at-home retreat, please message us below and we will be happy to offer suggestions.