Way of Shambhala

The Shambhala teachings combine the deepest wisdom from an ancient tradition based in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and psychology, with a completely contemporary body of practices, to bring the deep benefits of meditation into everyday life. These practices include a wide array of sitting meditation techniques, along with transformative tools for being more present and compassionate in all aspects of daily life.

These teachings, available to anyone of any background, can help us work with fear, build confidence, and be more present in relationships, at work, at home, and everywhere else.

The Way of Shambhala program of courses and weekend retreats offers an experiential overview of these practices, teachings, contemplative arts, and physical disciplines rooted in the ancient traditions of Shambhala and Vajrayana Buddhism.You are welcome to participate to the extent you wish. Sample a course or a weekend retreat—or a number of them—at any time. The full program is described below.

The Everyday Life series—five courses, with five weekly classes in each

The Shambhala Training series—five weekend retreats

The Basic Goodness series—three courses, with six weekly classes in each

Everyday Life Series

Man meditating in train stationA complete overview of the path of meditation and spiritual teachings.

Meditation In Everyday Life:
An introduction to basic meditation and how to develop a personal practice.

Contentment in Everyday Life:
Mindful appreciation and gentleness to oneself. Foundational Buddhist teachings.

Joy in Everyday Life:
Compassion, joyous discipline, and healthy energy. Buddhist teachings on aspiring and loving action.

Fearlessness in Everyday Life:
Transforming fear. Buddhist teachings exploring ultimate reality.

Wisdom in Everyday Life:
Playfulness, ordinary magic, and innate wisdom. An introduction to the vajrayana Buddhist teachings.

Shambhala Training

Weekend Retreats Levels I-V:

Incense BowlShambhala Training is a series of secular meditation workshops, suited for both beginning and experienced meditators. Levels I-V provide a strong foundation in mindfulness-awareness meditation practice. These five workshops include meditation training and practice, talks by senior instructors, personal interviews, and group discussions.


Level I: The Art of Being Human
Level I marks the starting point of the Shambhala path of weekend city retreats. It focuses on the basic technique of mindfulness meditation and the profound discovery of basic goodness in the world and in ourselves.

Level II: Birth of the Warrior

This weekend explores how meditation practice can help us observe and understand the way we create a “cocoon” of habits to mask our fear and anxiety. If this sounds at all familiar, you’re not alone. Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level I

Level III: Warrior in the World

This weekend poses the question: What would it mean to step beyond our habitual anxieties and dare to relate to the world more directly, free of our habitual filters? Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level II

Level IV: Awakened Heart

This weekend explores how we give way to our innate inquisitiveness by extending further beyond the boundaries of the “cocoon.” Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level III

Level V: Open Sky
Sharpening one’s awareness, one finds the open clear sky of mind—a source of wisdom and uplifted energy. Trusting our nature enough to let go into the present moment. Prerequisite: Shambhala Training Level IV

The Basic Goodness Series

Everyone has the right to feel his or her own goodness. SMR

The Basic Goodness series of weekly classes introduces the view of Shambhala in an experiential way. The primary practice is Shambhala Meditation. The key difference between the Everyday Life courses and the Basic Goodness courses is that the Everyday Life courses emphasize personal transformation in daily life, whereas the Basic Goodness courses emphasize the experiential study of view and meaning.

Course 1: Who Am I? The Basic Goodness of Being Human
This course asks the question, “Who am I?” and explores the sense of self. It includes teachings on selflessness, the arising of ego, and enlightened-nature. We practice contemplative investigations of the self, based on the foundations of mindfulness.

Course 2: How Can I Help? The Basic Goodness of Society
This course asks the question, “How can I help?” and explores our relationships with others and an aspiration to help our world. We ask what enlightened society may be. The course focuses on transforming four aspects of society: family life (household), professional life, entertainment, and economy. We learn the traditional compassion practice of “sending and taking” (tonglen).

Course 3: What Is Real? The Basic Goodness of Reality
This course asks the question, “What is real?” and focuses on a study of the phenomenal world. It emphasizes core Buddhist teachings, such as impermanence, the process of perception, the “mind,” and emptiness. It is oriented toward the experience of sacred world, the magic of the natural elements. The course also has an ecological emphasis.

Rigden: Unconditional Confidence

The Rigden weekend retreat is the culmination of the Everyday Life, Shambhala Training Levels I-V, and Basic Goodness series. The Rigden is a representation of our enlightened nature and embodies the principle of unconditional confidence. Historically, Rigdens were enlightened rulers— those who could “rule their world” based on their unwavering experience of basic goodness. This retreat is led by a Shambhala master teacher (acharya) and includes a transmission of “windhorse” practice and an opportunity to proclaim a commitment to basic goodness by formally taking the Shambhala Vow.

Prerequisite: Wisdom in Everyday Life, Shambhala Training Level V, and, if possible, The Basic Goodness Series.

The Sacred Path Series

The Sacred Path series is a sequence of advanced Shambhala Training weekend retreats based on the unique inner teachings of Shambhala. You may start the Sacred Path series anytime after completing the Rigden weekend retreat; however, we encourage you to attend Enlightened Society Assembly (ESA) before starting this series. Both the Sacred Path series and ESA are prerequisite for Warrior Assembly.

Weekend Retreat 1: Great Eastern Sun


Great Eastern Sun teaches us how to see the primordial energy and brilliance that is the basis of all that exists, and emphasizes the living context for building a sane society.


         Weekend Retreat 2: Windhorse

BVN176-2In Windhorse, one begins studying The Letter of the Black Ashe, a Shambhala text that gives the instruction for “raising windhorse,” which opens the heart and refreshes one’s confidence. The practice is a way to bring about skillful and heartfelt social engagement, enabling the warrior to go forward in the midst of whatever challenges occur. Prerequisite: Rigden: Unconditional Confidence

Weekend Retreat 3: Drala


Through exploring the depth of perception, one engages the elemental and magical strength inherent in the world. The principle of drala refers to the sacred energy and power that exists when we step beyond aggression. Prerequisite: Windhorse

Weekend Retreat 4: Meek and Perky

“The four dignities” are further explored as a path and a process, which describe a warrior’s maturing and widening sphere of benevolent engagement in the world. The training in the dignities allows one to maintain awareness and delight at each stage.

Meek (the dignity of the Tiger) & Perky (the dignity of the Lion) are studied from the point of view of The Letter of the Black Ashe text and commentaries. Prerequisite: Drala

Weekend Retreat 5: Outrageous and Inscrutable

These fruitional dignities refer to the extraordinary skill of a practiced warrior.

Outrageous (the dignity of the Garuda) & Inscrutable (the dignity of the Dragon) are studied from the point of view of The Letter of the Black Ashe text and commentaries. Prerequisite: Meek and Perky

Weekend Retreat 6: Golden Key

This weekend retreat is based on a Shambhala text that works with our relationship to the “material world” and our sense perceptions. It teaches the practice of enriching presence—the ability to instantly sense the inner wealth within oneself, phenomena, and the natural world. Prerequisite: Outrageous and Inscrutable