• $695.00 – Tuition (Meals and Lodging charged separately)

Members discounts apply to tuition only. Use your membership discount code at checkout. Regular Tuition is $695 and begins July 1st. Late Registration Tuition is $745 and begins August 1st.

Date & Time Details: Tuesday, Aug 14th at 4pm through Sunday, Aug 19th at 3pm

Location: Mount Madonna Retreat Center

Address: 445 Summit Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076

Email us about program

Santa Cruz Mountains: Annual Dzogchen Retreat

With Pema Khandro

August 14 - 19, 2018

Join Pema Khandro Rinpoche for a five-day meditation retreat in the redwood forest. This retreat is an immersion in restorative practices to awaken peaceful stability to mind and body, heighten clarity and open the gateways to intrinsic wisdom.


Meditation can be a practice that is profoundly restful, restorative and heart-opening. This five-day retreat offers a supported space to access peaceful stability of mind and body.

This is a precious opportunity to experience the methods taught in Dzogchen meditation, Tibetan Buddhism’s most treasured path. Dzogchen means ‘Great Completion’ because it focuses on the natural wisdom at the heart of every person. Even though each person has intrinsic goodness, states of chronic tension and fixation can impede its expression.  Meditation in Dzogchen is a method of awakening to this wisdom. It is a path of allowing intrinsic wakefulness to manifest through letting go, settling in and supporting the body and mind to discover natural calm.

Meditation Retreat is practice-oriented, with three sessions of sitting meditation a day interspersed with restorative yoga, meals and group activities. It will also include teachings on Buddhist philosophy based on the teaching of the great fourteenth-century master, Longchenpa’s work called ‘Finding ease in the nature of mind.’

Meditation is not just something that happens in our minds. Dzogchen practices engage body, speech, and mind, known as the three gateways to awareness. By introducing multiple approaches to the meditative state, these methods demonstrate that everyone can access meditation, given the appropriate support. These practices utilize breathing, visualization, postures, and other techniques. Their goal is to allow spacious, expansiveness and clarity to emerge from within. Therefore, some Tibetan Yoga practices will be taught as an adjunct to help access meditation. Athletic ability is not required for these practices, they are mild and adaptable to any body.


This Meditation Retreat is taught by Pema Khandro Rinpoche who is a teacher and scholar in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Her specialty is Vajrayana and Dzogchen practices as done by Tibetan Yogis, also known as ngakpas and naljorpas. This is a tradition that emphasizes engagement with deep spiritual practice while remaining integrated with work, family, and society. For more information about Pema Khandro visit www.PemaKhandro.org

The Meditation Retreat will be held at Mount Madonna Retreat Center, in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California. This area is appreciated for its profound beauty. The filtered sunlight of the redwood forest overlooking ocean views offers a scenic repose away from the hustle bustle of city life. The cabins, campsites, and decks make retreat life simple but comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I have to be a Buddhist to attend this retreat? A: No, this retreat is open to anyone.

Q: Does this retreat require prerequisites? A: New students are welcome to attend this retreat without previous training.

Q: Does this retreat require silence? A: This is not a silent retreat. There are a mixture of periods of silence and periods of socializing. Vajrayana Buddhism tends to offer dynamic settings, however there will be an emphasis on simple meditation in this retreat. There is also a period of chanting meditation and some lectures on Buddhist philosophy.

Q: Is Dzogchen meditation secret? A: The most advanced cycles of Dzogchen meditation are restricted practices. However there are a wealth of practices done in the preliminary and intermediary stages, as well as practices common to both advanced and beginning levels. Additionally there are many approaches to Dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism. Historically speaking, different Tibetan lineages approach particular Dzogchen meditation practices at different times. Some are done only after ‘ngondro’ the extensive preliminary meditation series for training the mind in Vajrayana. Some are done before preliminaries and others interspersed with preliminaries This retreat offers a series of particular meditation techniques known as ‘holding the mind.’ They are practiced before, during and after preliminaries because they are the main part of the path from the beginning to end in Tibet’s Nyingma lineage’s contemplative tradition. These particular practices are only taught in retreat settings because they require a deeper introduction.

Q: What kind of lodging is available? A: Single rooms, dorms, and camping are available. Lodging is limited and available only on a first come, first serve basis. Commuter rates are also available but we ask that commuters attend the full daily schedule from either 7am to 9pm or 10am to 9pm depending on which day – in order to help keep the momentum and energy of the group practice stable.

Q: What other activities are offered at the retreat? A: All program participants are welcome to enjoy all parts of the land and center, including hiking trails, hot tub, practice spaces, and freshly prepared vegetarian meals.

Q: What diets will be accommodated at the retreat? A: The meals are all vegetarian. Non-gluten and non-dairy options are available at every meal.

Q: What should I bring to the retreat? A: Notebook, paper, sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, bathing suit if you want to swim in the lotus pond, hiking shoes, comfortable clothes for sitting meditation and yoga, non-toxic bug spray, one nice outfit to dress up for the Tsok on Saturday night. If you are camping, bring your camping gear.

Q: What is the weather like? A: Prepare for heat or cold, the mountains can be unpredictable. It is likely to be quite hot.

Q: Is there anything I should not bring? A: Please, no food, drugs, alcohol, pets, incense, candles or other flammables. Mount Madonna Retreat Center requests us to not wear strongly scented body products, as these cause severe toxic reactions in some people.

Q: Is there financial aid or scholarships available? A: The costs of the retreat are set at the lowest possible rates to cover the expenses of the retreat. Membership discounts are available – see below. Additionally, two financial assistance rates are available by application. Email info@buddhistyogis.org

Tentative Schedule

*This is the approximate schedule based on last year’s retreat. The daily schedule is approximate and subject to change.


Tuesday, August 14th

4:00pm  Arrival, registration and check-in at Seminar House

5:00pm  Dinner

7:00pm  Opening Ceremony


Wednesday through Saturday

7:00am     Optional Yoga Class

8:00am     Breakfast

10:00am   Class

12:30pm   Lunch and free time

3:30pm    Class

5:00pm    Dinner (5:30pm on Friday)

7:00pm    Class


Friday Evening

7pm Celebration


Saturday Evening

7pm Tsok


Sunday –  Last Day Schedule

8:00am    Breakfast

9:00am    Yoga and Meditation

10:00am  Pack out lodging

11:30am  Class

12:30pm  Lunch

1:30pm    Final Transmission and Closing Ceremony

3:00pm    Group Picture and Meetings

4:00pm    Departure


Member Discounts

*Membership discounts apply to Tuition Only

**Use your membership discount code at checkout.

10% discount  – Supporter Members

20% discount  – Mandala Holders

50% discount  – Snow Lion Members (with a 6-month commitment)

100% discount  – Sustainers and above (with a 3-month commitment)

Click Here to Learn More about Membership



Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, humanitarian and scholar specializing in the philosophy and practice of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Her mission is to make in-depth Buddhist education accessible, to open the doorway to the great treasures of philosophy, meditation, medicine and art contained in Tibetan Buddhism. Pema Khandro is the spiritual leader of the Community of Buddhist Yogis in North America, she is the founder of Ngakpa International, the Yogic Medicine Institute, the MahaSiddha Center in BerkeleyCalifornia and Ngakpa House, a charity which supports the education of children and elders in the Himalayas. Pema Khandro is an authorized Lama…
Learn more about Pema Khandro