Blessings: Celebrating the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

Judith Simmer-Brown, Greg Smith, Janet Solyntjes and Susan Skjei

September 1–5, 2022

Tuition $108 + 4 nights
Whatever your connection is to the Great Stupa and Drala Mountain Center, we invite you to come together to practice and deepen your connection to community.  This land is full of the blessings of generations of dharma practitioners practicing together, invoking the magic of the ancestral and lineage dralas in our high mountain valley. The special focus of this retreat will be the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, celebrating the blessings of our Shambhala lineage and of Tibetan Buddhism.
In Asia, stupas are timeless places of community gathering and practice, magnetized by the power of sacred place.  Our own Stupa, built to honor the Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is imbued with the power of the dralas, the blessings of the lineage, and the love and devotion of all the artisans and patrons, practitioners, and the many visitors from all over the world who naturally feel the power of this place.
The land itself, which is within the ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute peoples, has naturally magnetized the blessings of many lineages, carried within the rocks, streams, trees and creatures who call it home.  Given the careful stewardship that Drala Mountain Center has brought to the land, its rocky outcroppings, sweeping meadows, lush lowlands, and gentle peaks remain beautiful, despite scars from the recent Cameron Peak Fire.
Our practice sessions will fill the meditation halls on the land, and daily we will gather in community at the Stupa for circumambulation, meditation, and lhasang, invoking the power of blessing.  There will be plenty of time for socializing and reminiscing over meals as well as acknowledging the many changes we have experienced.  Practice modules will include the choice between formless meditation (shamatha-vipashyana, Mahamudra, Dzogchen), Werma Sadhana, White Tara, and Vajrayogini.
All this will be held in the embrace of an inclusive practice container. Shotoku may be open with children’s programming throughout the day.  See below for further details.  Let us refresh ourselves and nourish our community by celebrating the blessings of Drala Mountain Center and the Great Stupa.

In the video below, the retreat leaders discuss their connections to the Great Stupa and the sacred lands it sits on, and how it channels the lineage blessings of Shambhala and Tibetan Buddhism. Note:  Loden Nyima is no longer leading a track for this program.

Practice Tracks and Prerequisites

Werma, Vajrayogini, or White Tara tracks require practice authorizations. When you register, please only select options for which you are qualified. Open Meditation, or shamatha-vipashyana, is open to all, no pre-requisite. No lungs or practice authorizations will be given during this program.

Open Meditation track. Led by Judith Simmer-Brown. Beginners as well as experienced practitioners (Mahamudra, Dzogchen) are welcome to practice shamatha-vipashyana sitting meditation.
White Tara track. Led by Susan Skjei
Werma track. Led by Janet Solyntjes
Vajrayogini track. Led by Greg Smith

See below for bios of track leaders. 

Daily Schedule

7 am           Optional Morning Practices (Movement or Stillness)
8 am           Breakfast
9 am           Program Talk at the Stupa, JSB
10 am         Practice at the Stupa
12:30 pm   Lunch
2:30 pm     Track Practice
4:30 pm     Enrichment Activities/Optional Track Practices
6:30 pm     Dinner
7:45 pm     Evening enrichment presentations



Enrichment Presentations

Feng Shui of DMC.  Michael Gayner has been the director of Drala Mountain Center
since the summer of 2012. He has had the good fortune to be introduced to the
feng shui of the land and area surrounding DMC on walks with Dr. Eva Wong. Dr. Wong
is an adept in the Taoist arts, especially that of Kanyu, the feng shui of reading energy in
the land.

Nature Walk. Alyssa Graziano, Land Steward for Drala Mountain Center, is a natural
resources professional with a passion for the conservation of Colorado’s natural
habitats. She has worked with federal, state, and private agencies to conduct native,
threatened, and endangered species conservation research, protect watersheds and
forests, and manage invasive species. Through understanding the science of natural
resources as well as her place in nature, she aims to protect and be of service to the
natural world by working to improve, maintain, and support ecosystem health.

Stupa Tour. Joshua Mulder is a longtime practitioner who has spent the last 26 years
designing, building, and creating the artistic expression and heraldry of the Great Stupa
of Dharmakaya, enshrining the relics of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. He continues to
deepen visitors understanding and connection to the Stupa through tours and dharma

Native American Sacred Outlook. Connie Rogers serves on the Governing Council
of DMC and is the immediate past chair. Connie is a regulatory lawyer and a nationally
recognized expert on federal Indian law. Connie regularly works with clients that have
business with Indian Tribes throughout the American West. The Governing Council
recently has tasked Connie with researching the indigenous history of the area around
DMC and crafting a process for re-establishing relationships with the human ancestors
of the land, including potentially adopting a formal land acknowledgement. That effort is
currently in process.

Tibetan Sacred Landscape. Amelia Hall, PhD, is an assistant professor of
Buddhism and department chair in the wisdom traditions department at Naropa
University. She gained her PhD. in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies from the University
of Oxford in 2012. One of her academic specialities is sacred landscape in Tibetan
Buddhism. She has practiced Dharma for 20 years and is currently working on a book
on the Four Noble Truths, forthcoming from Shambhala Publications.

Heart Gift

Toward the end of your retreat you will be asked if you would like to make a heart gift to the teacher. In Shambhala and other wisdom cultures, people often make heart gifts to those who have made receiving precious teachings possible. The heart gift is purely optional and based on personal inspiration and gratitude. The amount is not important, just your inspiration to give, connect, and explore the cycles of generosity and offering.

Attendance Requirements

Full attendance is required.

Requests for partial attendance will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If you are unable to attend the full program, please fill out this form by July 22 to request partial attendance. Decisions will be made by August 1st.



Please review our current COVID-19 policy before visiting Drala Mountain.

Judith Simmer-Brown

Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., has just retired as Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where she has taught since 1978. As Buddhist practitioner since the early 1970’s, she became a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974, and served as an acharya from 2000-2022.. Her teaching specialties are meditation practice, Shambhala teachings, Buddhist philosophy, tantric Buddhism, and contemplative higher education. Her book, Dakini’s Warm Breath (Shambhala 2001), explores the feminine principle as it reveals itself in meditation practice and everyday life for women and men. She has also edited Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies (SUNY 2011). She and her husband, Richard, have two adult children and three grandchildren.

Greg Smith

Greg Smith, a well known sangha artist and thangka painter, has lived and painted at Shambhala Mountain Center for many years. He has been a student of meditation since 1976, first with Chögyam Trungpa and later with his son Sakyong Mipham. Greg has taught meditation and Buddhist studies since 1982.

Janet Solyntjes

Janet Solyntjes, MA, is a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher and has been leading silent meditation retreats in the U.S. and internationally for over 30 years. She provides online study groups and individual mentoring to mindfulness teachers-in-training and has been on the faculty of Naropa University, the Center for Mindfulness, and the Engaged Mindfulness Institute.

Janet facilitates the annual leadership retreat: Leading with Genuine Care (formerly donothing retreat) for entrepreneurs and supports business leaders and teams in the integration of mindfulness into workplace settings.

Susan Skjei

Susan Skjei, PhD, PCC, has been an international educator, coach, and consultant specializing in leadership and transformative change for over 25 years. Formerly a Vice-President and Chief Learning Officer in the technology industry and Director of the Authentic Leadership Center at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, she currently provides consulting and leadershipcoaching through her company Sane Systems.

Program Details

Registration takes place from 2– 5 pm on your program start date. All participants and volunteer staff must check in at our Guest Registration house. Please arrive before 5 pm to check-in and settle into your accommodations. Your program begins with dinner, followed by an orientation. The Guest Registration house closes at 5 pm after which no one is available to provide information or orient you to your accommodations. All programs usually end at 12:30 pm on the program's departure date, followed by lunch. Further specifics regarding your program's schedule will be available upon arrival. If applicable, you will receive an email from the program coordinator in the week prior to your program with any additional information you may need.