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Winter Retreat Essentials

"Immediately on my arrival I felt safe and cared for. This feeling endured throughout the retreat. We were fortunate to learn from teachings of Venerable Chodron, as well as each resident nun, in such a restful, gracious, and accepting atmosphere. All the teachings were helpful and very down-to-earth. What a benefit to be able to discuss and meditate on all those thorny life issues in such a safe and contemplative environment."

  Lori Batina

Winter Retreat Instructions (en Español)

Solitary Hero Yamantaka Retreat or Manjushri Retreat

3-month Retreat: January 13 - April 13, 2015

1-month Retreat: January 13 - February 9,2015

(Click here for a retreat application)

Who May Attend

This retreat is for intermediate or advanced students; it is not for beginners. Yamantaka retreatants must have the Solitary Hero Yamantaka initiation and be familiar with the practice.

Retreatants should:

  • have a firm grounding in teachings on the stages of the path to enlightenment (Lamrim) and thought training (lojong)
  • be able to keep noble silence 
  • be able to guide their own meditations in their respective sadhanas
  • be in good physical and mental health

We have found that it is best if couples do not attend the Winter Retreat together.

No late arrivals or early departures except in case of emergency.


  • The daily schedule includes 4 or 5 meditation sessions—depending on which retreat you’re doing—and one individual study session daily.
  • Wake up time is 5 am. The last session ends at approximately 8:15 or 8:30pm
  • There is ample break time for reading, walking, and yoga, or other activities to keep the body supple for extended sitting.
  • Three meals are served daily except new and full moon days when we take the 8 Mahayana precepts together.

Preparation & Resources

Many conditions must come together for you be to be able to do retreat. You create these causes and conditions by preparing internally as well as externally for the retreat experience.

The value of your time in retreat is directly related to the level of your preparation beforehand

  • Read the Visiting section and especially note Guidelines and What to Bring.
  • It is essential to make yourself familiar with how to do the meditation practices before the retreat begins. 
  • It is beneficial to increase your sitting time as the retreat approaches. If you can set aside a day or two as full days of practice it will make the transition into the retreat schedule easier.

Retreat Resources

For the Yamantaka retreat, please study:

  • Yamantaka Cycle Texts, Vol. I, Part 1 and 2 (two texts by Tri Gyaltsen Senge)
  • Yamantaka Cycle Texts Vol. II, Part 1 and 2 (two texts by Lhundup Pandita), both published by Tibet House, New Delhi.
  • Meditation on Vajrabhairava, translated by Sharpa Tulku and Richard Guard, published by Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
  • Many other readings and teachings are available at

 For the Manjushri Retreat please study:

1) Manjushri front generation sadhana—text only

2) Introduction to the Manjushri practice— audio only
Ven. Thubten Chodron, Cloud Mountain Retreat Center 2004

3) Ven. Thubten Chodron leads the Manjushri front-generation sadhana—audio only, Cloud Mountain Retreat Center, 2008

4) Ven. Thubten Chodron leads the front generation sadhana with extended meditation on emptiness—audio & unedited transcript
Osel Shen Phen Ling, Missoula, MT 2008

5) Ven. Thubten Chodron explains the Manjushri practiceaudio & unedited transcript, Cloud Mountain Retreat Center, 2008

6) Additional teachings from the 2008-2009 Manjushri retreat are here..

For the both retreats, please study:

  • Jampa Tegchog, Geshe. Transforming Adversity into Joy and Courage: An Explanation of the Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2005.
  • Thubten Yeshe, Lama. Introduction to Tantra. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1987.

It is also helpful to read the following books because they contain explanations of similar meditation steps found in the sadhana:

  • Chodron, Thubten. How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator.  Ithaca, N. Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2003.
  • Chodron, Thubten. Cultivating a Compassionate Heart: the Yoga Method of Chenrezig. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2006.
  • Click here to read and learn the Abbey’s prayers, chants, and recitations.

Learning Lamrim—the stage of the path to awakening (gradual path)—is another important preparation.

Please read some Lamrim books and think about and meditate on their contents. A Lamrim outline used in previous retreats is in the Lamrim section of, as are audio and transcripts of Lamrim teachings Ven. Chodron has given. Various thought training teachings can also be found on this website.

In addition, you can get Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path, in which Ven. Chodron leads all the lamrim meditations. Please become familiar with these checking (or analytical) meditations; they will help you greatly during retreat.

In each session you will do some Lamrim meditation. This is a powerful way to gain insight into the Buddha’s teachings.

As you gain familiarity with all these practices—Yamataka/Manjushri meditation and the lamrim topics—your understanding will deepen as your readiness for retreat grow


There is no charge, but each retreatant is responsible for helping to gather the dana (donations) so that the retreat can happen. In this way, everyone works together as a group and contributes to creating the conditions for the retreat to occur.

  •  Dana for the 1-month retreat is $890
  •  Dana for the 3-month retreat is $2950

There will be an opportunity to offer additional dana for teachings at the end of the retreat.

(Read more about how gathering dana creates the conditions to do retreat under “Creating Merit" in a A Letter from Ven. Chodron.)

Your participation in gathering the dana to support the retreat shows that you are serious about doing the retreat.

One-half of the retreat dana is due upon acceptance of your application. The remaining dana is due January 3,2015

All amounts are in USD. Make checks payable to Sravasti Abbey, indicating indicating Winter Retreat on the memo line, and mail to:

Sravasti Abbey

PO Box 447

Newport WA 99156

Sending the dana by credit card is fine, but please add 3.3% to offset the processing fees that the bank charges. Note “Winter Retreat” (1-month or 3-month) in the comments box. If friends or family send dana offerings on your behalf, be sure they tell us they are supporting your gathering donations for the retreat.

Retreat Registration

The registration form can be downloaded and filled out electronically (if you have Microsoft Word), then sent to the Abbey. Or you can print the form, fill it out and mail to:

Sravasti Abbey

Attn: Ven. Thubten Chodron

692 Country Lane

Newport, WA 99156

You will be notified of your acceptance as a retreat attendee.

If you have any questions, please contact us by email. If you would like to talk by phone, call the Abbey at (509) 447-5549.

The benefits for you and for all sentient beings of your doing retreat are incalculable. May positive conditions ripen for you to join us this winter.

More information

Please read the other material on this website about the Winter Retreat (see below). You may also wish to look at the material about the previous Winter Retreats: Vajrasattva retreats (in ’05, ’06, & 11-12), Chenrezig retreat (in ’07), Medicine Buddha (in ’08), Manjushri (in '09), and Green Tara (in '10) on

Here are some links to photos of past Winter Retreats: Vajrasattva, Manjushri, Medicine Buddha, Chenrezig, and Green Tara. You'll find even more by scrolling through the titles in the Photo Gallery.

Important Information

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