What to Expect in Retreat

Retreat Philosophy                     

Every aspect of the retreat reflects the long retreat tradition of the Drikung Kagyu and His Holiness’s thoughtfulness applied to every aspect. The schedule, vegetarian diet, and silence have been proven effective for supporting deep concentration, mindfulness, and ethical conduct. We invite simple, modest, neutral/dark clothes with no patterns. Although we will not be creating uniforms, you will be given a Vajra Dakini T-shirt! You will also be given a copy of the Five Lay Precepts: no taking of life, stealing, lying, using mind-altering substances, and sexual activity. Although we are not formally offering precepts, we commit ourselves to this excellent conduct for the duration of the retreat. 

Daily Retreat Activities

The daily schedule was designed by His Holiness and reflects a traditional Tibetan Retreat, as done in three-year retreat centers and caves. We combine Dharma talks, extensive sitting meditation, yogic exercises, and walking meditation. Over the course of the retreat, Khenmo will guide students in a progressive understanding of meditation, leading to subtle investigation of our minds. Although we are in silence, you can write meditation questions for Khenmo at any time.




The retreat is conducted in Noble Silence

After the orientation we begin noble silence. If you need help or wish to ask a question before the last session, you can write a note. In cases of family emergency, your family will contact Pilgram Lodge, and the Retreat Coordinator will get that message to you and vice versa.

Noble Silence is more than not speaking. It is a practice of insight and compassion for ourself and other retreatants. Watching our minds and holding stillness, we become familiar with ways we distract ourselves and pull others out of their mindfulness.

Using Noble Silence, retreatants create an environment that supports focus on and absorption of the teachings.

Noble Silence includes a media pause—phones, smart watches, and all electronics are left with the retreat management and picked up at the end of the retreat. While on retreat, students do not communicate within the retreat or outside of the retreat. Hand signals, facial expressions, and mouthing language are all examples of unnecessary communication. 

Exception: If you have dependent young children or elders a daily check in call is allowed and supported.

Shared Rooms

The rooms are similar to a monastery as well. This is not a hotel. Pilgrim Lodge is affordable for many income levels. We will have shared rooms. (Only bottom bunkbeds!) There is a wood stove if the weather is cool. As we are in silence, there are no problems with roommates either.


Concentration is supported by light food in the evenings, so our main meal is served at lunch. Pilgrim Lodge is expert in vegetarian cooking. There will be sufficient varieties so that vegans and other special dietary needs are accommodated within the meals as prepared.  If you are following an unusual diet, you can store limited supplemental food in the dining area in plastic containers that you bring with you. At times, the facilities may be shared, and in this case, meals will be staggered so that we can maintain silence while eating.