Tibetan hand drum


Dr. Lama Alta Brown and David Soucy

August 9–15, 2023

Tuition $0 + 6 nights
Registration requires completion of a questionnaire, please see Application section further down the page for link to questionnaire.

lThe English Version of the Surmang Chöd

Chöd is a practice of compassion. As Vajrayogini, meditators offer the visualization of their body to the beings they invite to three feasts. The feasts are the activity of the Buddha Vajrayogini. Through her activity, the energies of the “god-demons” are transmuted. The demons, whether negative emotions, illness, or hostile beings in other realms, are transformed into companions and friends. This is the ultimate practice of generosity. This is the magic of compassion.

This compassionate activity is so effective that it has been used for many centuries to heal mental illness in Tibetan communities. During periods of pandemic it was the Chöd practitioners who ministered to the sick and dying. You can learn more about Chöd practice at EverydayChöd.com.

Chöd is also a Mahamudra practice. It can be practiced from the perspective of mahayana or vajrayana. For this reason, mahayana practitioners and vajrayana practitioners can practice together in the same practice situation. These two groups will simply have different kinds of experiences. Both are welcome, provided they have taken Bodhisattva Vows or are willing to take them at the retreat. 

Covid Mitigation
DMC and the teachers are committed to the health and well-being of all involved in this retreat. As COVID mitigation is a dynamic situation given new variants and developing treatments, we will determine our retreat protocols in consultation with medical professionals as the time of the retreat draws near. We will communicate those protocols in advance of the retreat. We can share now that the retreat is scheduled to be held in an open-air tent, which we hope will preclude a need for masking during talks, discussions, and meditation practice.
Please note that the retreat’s ultimate mitigation protocols may be stricter than DMC’s center-wide protocols in place at the time of the retreat. Accordingly, during the retreat you may come into contact with others who are not subject to the same protocols. Please keep this in mind if you select a shared housing option.
Please review and understand Drala Mountain’s current COVID-19 policy before visiting.

Participants Can Expect

  • The opportunity to take Bodhisattva vows
  • The opportunity to participate in two sessions of the Daily Practice of Chöd
  • Q&A sessions about the practice
  • Explanations concerning the most important aspects of the practice, including the role of the “god-demons”
  • Instructions on the use of the Chöd damaru, bell, and kangling
  • Instruction on the abbreviated Chöd practice


This program is for experienced Chöd practitioners and those interested in becoming Chöd practitioners. Participants need to have an active meditation practice, such as with shamatha or vipassana meditation.

Participants must have taken the Bodhisattva Vow or be ready and willing to take the Vow at the retreat.  

If you are trying to decide whether this retreat is for you,  please contact Lama Alta Brown at alta@everydayChöd.com. You can learn more about Chöd practice at EverydayChöd.com.

Required Texts

Participants will need to have the full and modified abbreviated Offering One’s Body: The Daily Practice of Chöd practice texts with them during the retreat. Experienced practitioners should bring their texts with them to the retreat.

New practitioners will need to select the $25 materials fee during registration to receive the texts during the retreat.

Anyone registering less than two weeks prior to the start of the retreat will have the option to purchase copies of the texts upon arrival for $9. 

Program Preparation

Chöd damaru and bell

Tibetan hand drum

Tibetan Hand Drum (damaru) courtesy of Himalyan Art Resources item 3314345

It is recommended (but not required) that new Chöd practitioners purchase in advance and bring with them a Chöd damaru and bell. A personal damaru and bell is strongly recommended for those who have Chöd as their main practice. A Chöd damaru and bell can be found at the following locations:

  • Vajra Vidya Retreat Center–Crestone, CO
  • Tara Mandala–Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Tibet Gallery–Boulder, CO
  • Old Tibet–Boulder, CO
  • Dharmaware–Woodstock, NY
  • Potalagate.com– Eugene, OR
  • many others can be found online

Optional Suggested Reading:

  • Women of Wisdom, by Tsultrim Allione
  • Machig Labdron and the Foundations of Chod, by Jerome Edou
  • Machik’s Complete Explanation, translation by Sarah Harding

Bodhisattva Vow Preparatory Suggested reading:

  • Becoming Bodhisattvas, by Pema Chödrön
  • Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva, by Khenpo David Karma Choephel


Click here to learn more about Financial assistance and scholarships.  BIPOC individuals are encouraged to apply.  If you would like a scholarship, please indicate on the questionnaire (see link below). Once you have been confirmed, you will be instructed to apply for a scholarship.

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 and David Soucy directly. Cash or checks will also be accepted from participants at SMC.


You are welcome to apply for the following option. See below for information about the registration process. Click the link to apply:

Who Should Attend?

This retreat is appropriate for newer to advanced meditation practitioners, including those on the teaching path. It is not intended as an initial introduction to Buddhism or meditation, so some background is helpful. Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Lama Alta Brown at alta@everydayChöd.com for assistance in deciding whether this retreat is for you. You can learn more about Chöd practice at EverydayChöd.com. The retreat is limited to 40 participants. We encourage early application (see links above) to ensure you get a spot.


Registration Process

There are two steps to the registration process: 1) Completing the questionnaire (see link above) and 2) Registering for lodging. You may register for lodging once you have been notified of acceptance into the retreat. The purpose of the questionnaire is to ensure the suitability of the retreat for each participant and to help the teaching team tailor the program to participant needs. Participants will be contacted soon after receipt of your completed questionnaire. If approved, you can then register for the program and lodging.

Lodging Information

Lodging Recommendation

We recommend selecting lodging in the Red Feather Cabins or Tent options as these are closest to the Red Feather Campus, where the seminar will be held.

Please review the DMC COVID-19 policy before completing registration.

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. This program formally ends on the second to last day with the final day being a departure day only with no formal programming. 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.