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December 1 – 3, 2017
Unicoi State Park; Helen, GA
Introduction to the Retreat
In this retreat, we will learn special meditations, known as Mahamudra, to help us discover the clear nature of our mind. Mahamudra is a deeply relaxing, spacious, and profoundly illuminating meditation. By training in Mahamudra, your mind will become progressively more subtle and peaceful, causing you to experience a profound inner stillness and tranquility.
The retreat will be led by Gen Kelsang Mondrub, Resident Teacher of Kadampa Meditation Center Georgia, and Kelsang Tabkay, Resident Teacher of Kadampa Meditation Center South Carolina.
Read more about Gen Kelsang Mondrub here.
Read more about Kelsang Tabkay here.
Venue and Accommodations
The retreat will be held at the beautiful Unicoi State Park in the Upstate region of Georgia. Surrounded by lush mountains and waterfalls, the surrounding area is perfect for quiet walks and contemplation.
Retreat sessions themselves, as well as meals, will be held in the state park’s Beach House. The Center will be providing comfortable chairs and some meditation cushions. If you have your own meditation cushion that you wish to bring, please feel free to do so.
Participants will be staying in the cabins at the state park. Like a standard hotel room, cabins will include fresh linens and towels, along with a small living area and kitchenette. Both private rooms and shared rooms are available.
Please be aware that rooms are limited and available on a first-come, first serve basis. The rooms are expected to sell out. Should the rooms sell out, you can still attend the retreat itself but will have to make your own accommodation arrangements.
How to Prepare for the Retreat
This retreat will be based on the books Mahamudra Tantra and Modern Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. It is not necessary to read these books beforehand, but we do encourage you to try the guided meditations on the Meditations for a Clear Mind meditation CD and read the accompanying booklet. (You can purchase this CD or mp3 download here.) The meditations we will be doing will be very similar to the meditations on this CD. Especially if you do not have much meditation experience, we strongly encourage you to try this CD a few times prior to the retreat. You do not have to follow this advice, but if you do you will be glad you did!
Retreat Schedule and Format
Each session will last approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Sessions will include teachings, Heart Jewel chanted prayers, and meditations. As the weekend progresses, the meditations themselves will grow longer. Overall, the meditation portion of each session will range from 25 to 45 minutes.
During the retreat, we encourage you to maintain silence from the mornings through lunchtime.
Friday, December 1
7:30pm – Pure and Joyful: Mahamudra and the Mind
Saturday, December 2
8:30am – Clear Sky: Experiencing the Clarity of the Mind
11:00am – Ride the Wave: Using Mahamudra to Let Go of Painful Attitudes, Part 1
12:30pm – Lunch
2:30pm – Guided Mahamudra walk and meditation (weather permitting)
4:30pm – Ride the Wave: Using Mahamudra to Let Go of Painful Attitudes, Part 2
6:00pm – Dinner
8:00pm – Q&A and Meditation
Sunday, December 3
8:30am – Boundless Ocean: Mahamudra and Ultimate Truth
11:00am – Radiant Heart: Mahamudra and Benefiting Others
What to Bring
Breakfast: We will be providing vegetarian lunch and dinner on Saturday (meals are included in the pricing). Because each cabin has its own kitchenette, you are encouraged to bring your own breakfast foods. If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know.
Layers of clothing: With a large group, it is almost impossible to find a temperature that everyone agrees upon! We will try to make the meditation room as comfortable as possible, but it’s still a good idea for you to come with layers of clothing so that you can adjust as you need to. This also holds true for socks as we will not be wearing shoes inside the meditation room.
Blanket: The meditation room can be a little chilly in the winter and you may wish to bring a blanket or two to put under your feet and/or over your lap.
Comfortable walking clothes: We encourage you to enjoy some fresh air and the lovely park during your stay.
Dharma books: You may wish to refer to your favorite Dharma books during the course of the retreat.
Meditation cushion: If you have your own meditation cushion that you would like to use, we suggest you bring it with you. We will also be providing chairs and some cushions. We will not have enough cushions for every participant, however.
What NOT to Bring
Cell Phones: For the purpose of developing deeper concentration in your mind, we encourage you to take a break from cellphone use. It’s ok to bring your cell phone and check in with your family from time to time. However, we advise keeping your cell phone usage to a minimum and we specifically request that you do not bring it to retreat sessions with you. This will prevent the awkwardness of having your phone go off in the middle of a meditation session.
Music: During the retreat, it is a good idea to refrain from listening to music. For the sake of your own concentration and the sake of others’, please do not listen to music, even on headphones, while at the retreat.
Pets: Sorry, but due to pet allergies and the policies of Unicoi State Park, you will need to leave your animals at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this meditation retreat suitable for beginners?
Everyone is welcome to attend this retreat, regardless of experience level. If you prepare for the retreat by consistently practicing the Meditations for a Clear Mind CD a few weeks ahead of time, you will be adequately prepared for the retreat.
How much meditating will there be in each session?
Sessions last for 1.5 to 2 hours, but some of this time is taken up with teachings and preparatory prayers. You can expect the meditations themselves to be 25 minutes to 45 minutes.
Should I bring my own meditation cushion?
If you have a meditation cushion that you like to use, you are more than welcome to bring it with you. We will providing some meditation cushions but we will not have enough for all participants. We will also have comfortable chairs for everyone.
Is there a dress code?
Do I have to be a Buddhist?
No, everyone is welcome. However, you will want to know that each session will include some preparatory prayers, which you can choose to participate in or not.