All retreats begin at 5pm (supper), please aim to arrive after 2pm. Retreats finish after breakfast on the finish day.

Date: Jan 19 - 21, 2018
Title: A Return to Wholeness: Ayurveda ~ Yoga ~ Meditation Retreat
Teachers: Helen Altman

Helen returns to Dharmagiri with a wonderful retreat focusing on Ayurveda - the knowledge of life - which is a 5000 year-old healing/health system from India that offers integrated, balanced living and preventative medicine. The wisdom of the teachings of the ancients that maintain health from deep within our systems, of which yoga and meditation is a part. There are simple ways that we can bring our doshas (elemental constitutions) back into balance through daily lifestyle practices. In this retreat we will explore the fundamental guiding principles of Ayurveda. The daily retreat rhythm includes an introduction to the fundamental principles of Ayurveda, guidelines for personal application, movement class combining Chi gung and simple gentle dynamic yoga (for all levels), walking meditation, guided visualisation, yoga nidra and breathing practices (pranayama). No previous experience needed.

Helen - is a Yoga teacher and Remedial Yoga Therapist living in the small village of McGregor in the Western Cape. The central thread of life, beginning at an early age, has been the exploration of the relationship between the body, heart, mind and spirit. Moving from a Classical ballet training to Contemporary dance and choreography, Laban movement analysis and a decade as movement lecturer at UCT drama department to the path of Yoga, yoga therapy and Buddhism. Her deep interest in psychology and mind/body therapies influence her work and interest in transformation and healing. She has established two Yoga centres in Hout Bay and McGregor and continues to teach private students, workshops and retreats. You can find out more about Stillness Sanctuary, and Helen's focus on Ayurveda.

Cost - Daily Rate+ R300 Teacher Travel Contribution Surcharge + Dana for teachers and managers
Date: March 9 - 11, 2018
Title: The Moon at the Window: A Silent Retreat with Ryokan (weekend-only)
Teacher: Stephen Coan

The Zen hermit-monk Ryokan (1758-1831) remains one of Japan's favourite poets. An eccentric original (he is also known as the "Great Fool") his antics have endeared him to successive generations. After his initial Zen training Ryokan spent several years of wandering before settling in a mountain hermitage. However Ryokan was no world-hating recluse and was often to be found playing with village children or sharing a drink with farmers. According to one authority Ryokan's life "was a living sermon". In an atmosphere of contemplative silence this retreat will use Ryokan's life and his luminous poetry to reflect on our own relationship with the world and all the beings who inhabit it alongside us. Apart from a talk on Ryokan and a feedback session this retreat will be held in Noble Silence.

Date: March 9 - 15, 2018
Title: Playing a Lute with No String - A Practice Retreat
Teacher: Stephen Coan

This will be a simple no-frills, "bare-bones" Zen-style retreat consisting of sitting and walking meditation including a morning and evening dharma reading as well as time to experience the beautiful surroundings of Dharmagiri while listening to emptiness and capturing the rare sound of a lute played with no string. Held in the supportive space of Noble Silence this retreat presents an ideal opportunity to extend and deepen your meditation practice.

Though these are separate retreats their focus on practice means they could be combined into single retreat by those wishing to experience a longer period of sustained meditation.

Stephen Coan
Stephen Coan has been involved with Buddhism for three decades. His retreats draw on his life experience of moving between being and doing as a writer, journalist, film and theatre director. Stephen has led retreats at the Buddhist Retreat Centre at Ixopo and the Emoyeni Retreat Centre in the Magaliesberg. His retreats, inspired and informed by the Theravada and Zen traditions, place an emphasis on the centrality of practice in living a skillful and enlightened life.
Cost - Daily Rate+ Dana for teachers and managers
Date: March 30 - April 8, 2018
Title: Still Clear Water: Transformation through Mindfulness
Teachers: Chandasara & Nolitha Tsengiwe

The focus of this retreat is on experiencing transformation through mindfulness – releasing the grip of stress to rest in a still, clear, peaceful heart – in meditation and in daily life – using the Buddha's teachings as a guide. We will explore particularly the teachings on mindfulness, insight, and the four transcending states of being: compassion, loving-kindness, appreciation and equanimity.

This is a 9 day meditation retreat which will be held in noble silence with morning instruction and evening talks, periods of group sitting and walking meditation, some short meditative dialogue.

Nolitha Tsengiwe
Nolitha Tsengiwe - Nolitha, Catholic by upbringing, has always been, even as a child, curious about "what truth is." Her search for answers led her to become a practicing Buddhist. She is a Psychologist in private practice and an Executive Coach. In both roles her primary task is to create a holding space for people who are also in search of truth as a doorway to freedom. Nolitha is a mother of a 19 year old son, Singatha who is her teacher on how to be in the "here and now". She is a facilitator in Biodanza ( Dance ) which is food for both heart and body, and graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Centre CA USA. Nolitha is currently doing a four year Buddhist teacher training program under IMS in Barre, Massachusetts.

Chandasara - spent her early adult life in political exile and later worked as a political analyst at the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. Chandasara trained as a Buddhist nun in the Forest School for 9 years. She holds degrees in Politics, Linguistics and Psychology, is co-guiding teacher at Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat where she also offers counselling, and teaches mindfulness at Riverview Manor clinic.

Cost - Daily Rate+ R300 Teacher Travel Contribution Surcharge + Dana for teachers and managers
Date: April 26 - May 2, 2018
Title: A Retreat Focused on the interweaving of Indigenous Knowledge, Nature, Ubuntu & Dharma with traditional healer and peacemaker Mhondoro Mandaza Augustine Kandemwa of Zimbabwe
Teachers: Mandaza & Chandasara

Retreat description and more details coming soon.

Mandaza - More details coming soon.

Chandasara - from South Africa, spent her early adult life in political exile in Europe and America where she was recruited into Okhela, an Oliver Tambo initiative to facilitate and expand white involvement in the ANC. Following this, she worked as a political analyst with the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg for 14 years. During this period she was also involved in an esoteric spiritual school. Wishing to deepen her meditation experience, she undertook a 6-week self-retreat guided by Kittisaro and Thanissara at the BRC in 1998. Having discovered the revelatory power of sustained and focused meditation, she decided to enter monastic life. Chandasara resided at Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist monasteries from 2002 to 2010. She put down the robes in 2011. Since then she has resided at Emoyeni Retreat Centre in the Magaliesberg during which time she completed an Honours degree in Psychology. She moved to Dharmagiri in May 2015 where she offers supported self-retreats for individuals wishing to explore and engage more deeply with particular aspects of their life experience. Chandasara leads Underberg Meditation Group, and teaches mindfulness at Riverview Manor rehab centre and clinic.

Cost - TBD
Date: May 23 - 27, 2018
Title: Growing to Wholeness. Bringing Meditation Home
Teachers: Tsunma Tsondru
I came to realize that the mind is nothing but the sun and the moon and countless stars. - Dogen

Can we also realize Dogen's insight? How can we know that the sun and moon and stars are within, that the wilderness is within, that we are the whole of it? The Buddha meditated until he understood the Truth, and at that moment of freedom, he touched the Earth. At the moment of enlightenment he did not check out of life. He checked in. He had gone away, only to come home. The Buddha shows us that meditation brings freedom, and is a way back home. But what is meditation exactly? And is it a separate compartment of life? How do we check into life when often enough what we most want to do is to run away from it?

This retreat will take a look at all these questions as we find our way back home. Along with more formal meditation instruction and practice, the retreat will blend contemplative walking in the magnificent foothill of the Drakensberg with experiential practices from Joanna Macy's "The Work That Reconnects." Using all these skilful means we'll explore the meeting place of the outer and inner worlds to uncover our connection with ourselves, all beings, the sun and moon and the stars. We will check in to Life.

Tsunma Tsondru - from South Africa, is a nun in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, ordained by Tai Situ Rinpoche in 2007. She first realized that she must be a Buddhist in the early 1990s through Louis van Loon at the BRC. After studying and working as a lawyer and environmental scientist - OK, and a farmer (in Underberg!), she left it all behind to go to Spain with Lama Tsondru in 2003 to enter a traditional three and a half years closed retreat (reserved for Spanish practitioners, necessitating a rapid learning of not only Tibetan, but also Spanish!), followed six months after the end of that retreat by a second closed retreat, this one of four years. Leading up to and during this time she received the traditional teachings and transmissions of the Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist lineage from HH Karmapa 17th, Situ Rinpoche, Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Drupon Rinpoche, Akong Rinpoche, and the retreat Lamas, Lama Tsondru and Lama Jinpa.

Since returning to Cape Town Tsondru has served on the Board of the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI, a multi-faith NGO), and also been its Executive Director. Safcei is at the forefront of the efforts, and successful application to the High Court, to prevent the SA government from pursuing ill-founded, un-needed, and probably corrupt attempts to enter into agreements that imply spending a trillion rand on nuclear power developments.

In 2015, Tsondru spent a 10-day intensive with Joanna Macy in California, engaging with the Work that Reconnects (WTR). After returning, she began to offer the first Work that Reconnects workshops in Cape Town and South Africa. Tsondru’s journey at the moment is to bring her spiritual practice into the world. Her particular interest is eco-philosophy and activism and the role that spirituality and ethics must play if we are to transform our economic and social systems in protection of Earth. She dedicates her time to being of service to SAFCEI, helping people reconnect with inner wilderness through leading contemplative Wilderness Within trails in the iMfolozi wilderness area, and teaching WTR, weaving it into the practice and teaching of Buddhism and meditation.

Cost - TBD

Longer retreats are usually suitable for more experienced practitioners. For beginners we recommend starting with a weekend. Unless otherwise stipulated guided retreats at Dharmagiri are held in silence which we ask retreatants to agree to and respect. During each retreat there are times for meeting individually with the teachers, group sharing circles and some discussion. Before applying to attend one of these guided retreats please check the criteria below.

Our longer retreats are best suited for those who:

  • Have had some experience of meditation
  • Have psychological well being. Although the practice and context is a healing one, we are unable to offer rehabilitative or therapeutic care.
  • Are willing to enter into the communal life of the hermitage.
  • Are willing to engage in simple duties that enable the smooth daily running of the hermitage.
  • Are satisfied with simple, healthy food and accommodation
  • Are comfortable practicing in a Buddhist context. Respect for Buddhist precepts, (though not adherence to the Buddhist religion), is a requirement.

The 5 ethical Buddhist precepts:

  • To refrain from harming and the taking of life – to maintain respect for life.
  • To refrain from taking what is not offered – to practice generosity.
  • To refrain from misuse of the senses & sexuality – to practice renunciation.
  • To refrain from harmful, deceptive and harsh speech – to practice speech that promotes truth, accord and clarity.
  • To refrain from intoxicating drugs & alcohol – to respect the instrument of awakening which is consciousness