Tibetan hand drum

Dancing Through the Dark Door: A Practice of Compassion

Dr. Lama Alta Brown and David Soucy

March 31–April 2, 2023

$300 supporter,200 regular,108 subsidized

In order to heal our hearts we need to enter our personal place of exile and befriend the “demons” we have banished into the darkness; our fears, pain, anger, denial, and trauma. These are the deep forms of pain that become encoded in our body as physical and psychological illness. In this retreat, we will use our bodies to express what we have exiled as dance, movement exercises, meditation, the crazy wisdom songs of Tibet, and mask making. As our demon springs to life, this becomes a visceral experience, a form of active meditation practice, that pushes us beyond our conscious control. Unlike therapy, this is not a safe experience, since we do not know what we have pushed into the darkness, but it will enable us to transform the pain that distorts the expression of our compassion. This retreat can be understood as a secular version of Chöd.

Retreat Objectives

  • To Sing the Crazy Wisdom songs of Tibet and experience the meditation practices that ground and focus the exploration of our deepest heart.
  • To encounter the face of our “demons” through mask making and the energy of authentic dance movement.
  • To enter the dark places in our heart and to befriend the forms of pain we find there.
  • Celebrating the transformative power of compassion through dance.
  • To share our experiences and insights.
  • To discuss the ways in which we can integrate our experiences into our ordinary lives.

If you are trying to decide whether this retreat is for you,  please contact Lama Alta Brown at alta@everydayChöd.com.

Please review and understand DMC’s current COVID-19 policy before visiting DMC.

Tentative Schedule

Friday March 31st

2-5pm                    Registration

6:00-7:00pm         Dinner

7:00-8:00pm         Intro talk

8:00-10:00pm       Mask making


Saturday April 1st

7:30-8:30am           Breakfast

9:00-10:30am         Meditative compassion practices, sitting/walking/movement/singing

10:30-10:45am       Tea break

10:45am-12:00pm Talks and practice of compassionate action

12:30-1:30pm        Lunch

1:30-2:30pm          Tonglen practice and authentic dance

2:30-4:15pm          Mask decoration

4:15-4:30pm          Break 

4:30-6:00pm          Dancing through the Dark Door. Individual dances and possible responses

6:00-7:30pm          Dinner and rest break

7:30-9:00pm          Responses, discussion and sharing


Sunday April 2nd

7:30-8:30am           Breakfast

8:30-9:00am           Honoring your demon

9:00am-12:00pm   Discussion/taking our commitment home.

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.

A Paypal link will be provided to make a heart gift to Lama Alta Brown directly. Cash or checks will also be accepted.

Dr. Lama Alta Brown

When Trungpa Rinpoche arrived in Boulder CO, Lama Alta immediately connected with him and studied as his student. After Trungpa died she studied, and continues to study, with Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. She was introduced to Chöd by Khenpo Tsültrim at the monastery in Pullahari, Nepal. He supervised her practice while she did an individual 3-year Chöd retreat. Eventually, he began to send her students. She has been practicing Chöd since 1996 and has been teaching this practice since 1999.

Dr. Brown completed her doctoral work at the University of Southern California, specializing in Buddhist Ethics. She wrote her dissertation on Mediation as a Bodhisattva’s Practice of Peace. She subsequently taught at the University of California at Berkeley through The Graduate Theological Union where she emphasized aspects of Buddhist ethics. She also taught for The Semester in India program through Antioch University and, for five years, taught weekend retreats through The Immaculate Heart college center at The Retreat Center La Casa De Maria. Dr. Lama Alta Brown currently leads an international Chöd sangha. Much of her training in compassionate activity developed out of her experience as the mother of six children.

David Soucy

David Soucy has a BA in Sociology from Rutgers (1970) as well as an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa (2006). He has a long time (50 yrs) interest in comparative religion esoteric practices and has been a Chod practitioner for 10 yrs. He has studied Modern Psychoanalysis at CCMPS and has worked with patients in extreme states.

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.