The Innermost Heart of Freedom: Dzogchen Meditation Retreat

  • Ngakpa International Ngakpa International
  • PO Box 2396, Nevada City, CA 95959
  • Aug 20 - 25, 2019 (6 days)
  • $830.00 - Full Retreat Aug 20-25 - General Tuition, Meals and Facilities Fee $290.00 - Full Retreat Aug 20-25 - AAP Member Tuition, Meals and Facilities Fee $560.00 - Full Retreat Aug 20-25 - Snow Lion Member Tuition, Meals and Facilities Fee $722.00 -

About This Event

Join Pema Khandro Rinpoche for a five-day meditation retreat in the lush meadows and scenic rolling hills of Northern California’s Tahoe National Forest. This retreat is an immersion in Tibetan Buddhism’s restorative practices to awaken peaceful stability in mind and body. This is a precious opportunity to experience the methods taught in Dzogchen meditation, Tibetan Buddhism’s most treasured path to awakening.

Retreat Details

The Annual Dzogchen retreat generally includes three practice sessions, one session of teaching as well as a class in Tibetan Yoga or restorative Bliss Yoga. The retreat schedule is set to support a rotation between meditation practice, learning Buddhist philosophy, free time, social time and rest. 

For the first two days, none of the classes are mandatory, every person is encouraged to listen to their body and attend what they can. Then on Friday and Saturday, the group practices together in strict retreat, attending each session including chanting and meals together as a group. Saturday night includes a celebration after dinner. Sunday is a combination of chanting, meditation, discussion and the closing circle of the retreat.

Pema Khandro Rinpoche teaches most of the sessions, along with senior students leading Yoga and other optional classes.

The meditation sessions are generally taught in 24-minute cycles with Tibetan Yoga practices in between, with no more than three meditation cycles per class. The emphasis of practice according to Pema Khandro is quality – not quantity. Thus, many short sessions are favored over long extended sessions of poor quality. Tibetan Yoga practices help to awaken vivid clarity and make meditation more accessible. Preparatory practices open up the state of expansiveness and calm to facilitate deeper meditations.


At the Annual Dzogchen Retreat, generally the first part of the day is focused on meditation cycles, the evening is focused on lecture, question and answer, and discussion. There is some variability in schedule from year to year, depending on the setting and the practices to be covered. However, breakfast is generally at 8am, lunch at 1pm and dinner at 6:30pm. There is an afternoon break after lunch with free time for rest or hiking.

Retreat Entrance points

Tuesday 4pm to Sunday 3pm

Friday 10am to Sunday 3pm

*All fees are non-refundable. however if after registration, you cannot attend all or a portion of the retreat, you will receive up to 50% credit towards a future retreat.


4pm Arrival and Registration

5:30pm Dinner

7pm Opening Ceremony

Weds – Sat

7:30am Heart Sutra

8am Breakfast

10am Class

1pm Lunch

3pm Free Time or Bliss Yoga

430 Class

630 Dinner

8pm Most nights free

Friday 8pm Chod

Saturday 8pm Tsok & Celebration


8am Breakfast

10am-1pm Class

1:30 Lunch

3pm – Packing up & Departure


For meditation practice, students may sit in chairs or upon meditation cushions, according to whatever is most comfortable for them. If you need special accommodations, please let us know in advance. If you are not sure how to find a comfortable meditation posture, don’t worry, our expertly trained teaching assistants will help you.

Karma Yoga

The retreat is run by the entire community in attendance. Everyone participates in daily “karma yoga” which is service activities, collaborating together to hold the ideal space for deep practice and connecting with other students.

The Practices

The meditations are in the distinct style of Dzogchen which is based on the body, the senses, visualization, and perception. Each year Pema Khandro Rinpoche gives instructions from Zhine, calm abiding and Lhatong, higher seeing. But the heart of this retreat are the instructions for the practices of 21 Semzin – Holding the Mind – practices of Dzogchen, three of which are given each year. 

There are also Tibetan chanting meditations which may focus on Tibetan prayers such as the Heart Sutra, Chod or Calling the Hundred Thousand Dakinis. Tibetan prayer chanting is a profoundly calming and inspiring practice. It is a way of contemplating Buddhist philosophy as well as transforming identity. Though meditation is stereotypically a silent practice – in Tibetan Buddhism, chanting meditations are far more often practiced. In the Annual Dzogchen retreats most of the meditations are silent practices however, sessions of chanting meditation are offered either once a day or two to three times throughout the retreat.


The meals at the retreat will be catered. We are radically committed to embodying practice by observing the highest standards of a healthy diet. At the retreat, the meals are vegetarian, organic, sugar-free and gluten-free. We can accommodate vegan diets as well. If you have additional special needs, please let us know, we are happy to accommodate you. Because of the presence of bears on the land (who will rip off car doors if you have food in them!) we ask that you do not keep food in your tent or cars. If you have special dietary needs please let us know, we are happy to accommodate you.

Travel to Dakini Mountain

A full address will be given after registration is completed, in a welcome email closer to the date of the event. When in cell service range, GPS gives directions all the way to Dakini Mountain.

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) to Dakini Mountain ~ 1.5hr drive and est $100 Lyft ride

SMF to Nevada City ~ 1hr drive

Amtrak in Colfax to Dakini Mountain ~ est $40 Lyft ride

Downtown Nevada City to Dakini Mountain ~ 20min and est $25 Lyft ride

Full Retreat Tuition:  Tuesday, Aug 20th 4pm – Sunday, Aug 25th, 3pm

Includes tuition, 15 meals @$16/meal, and facilities fee @ $10/day. Lodging and teacher donations are separate.  Member Discounts Apply to Tuition Only.

For More Information on Membership: Info@(contact info blocked)

Full Retreat

Aug 20-25


General Tuition


AAP Member


Snow Lion Member


Mandala Holder Member


Supporter Member


Partial Retreat Tuition:  Friday, Aug 23rd 10am – Sunday, Aug 25th, 3pm

*Includes tuition, 7 meals @$16/meal, and facilities fee @ $10/day. Lodging and teacher donations are separate. Member Discounts Apply to Tuition.

For More Information on Membership: Info@(contact info blocked)

Partial Retreat

Aug 23-25


General Tuition


AAP Member


Snow Lion Member


Mandala Holder Member


Supporter Member



$21/night – Available for Members Only

Our retreat center is in the early phases without the dorms built yet. Members may bring their own tent, van or RV if staying on the land. Or you may wish to book lodging in nearby Nevada City, California and commute to the retreat site. Campers have access to rustic outdoor showers and portable toilets.

*Camping accommodations are limited and on a first come first serve basis.

Places to Stay Nearby

Washington Hotel California ~ 10 min drive down a very curvy road to Dakini Mountain

Harmony Ridge Lodge ~ 12 min drive to Dakini Mountain

Outside Inn ~ 20 min drive to Dakini Mountain

Airbnb’s in Nevada City ~ 20 min drive to Dakini Mountain

Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley ~ 23 min drive to Dakini Mountain

Camping Nearby

White Cloud (US Forest Service) Camping  ~ 6 min drive to Dakini Mountain

Scotts Flat Lake Campground ~ 23 min drive to Dakini Mountain

About the Teacher

This Meditation Retreat is taught by Pema Khandro Rinpoche who is a renowned teacher and scholar in Tibetan Buddhism and founder of Ngakpa International. She specializes in teaching Vajrayana and Dzogchen practices as done by Tibetan Yogis. This is the lively Buddhist tradition that emphasizes engagement with deep spiritual practice while embracing work, family, and society. Rinpoche’s style is educational, gentle, humorous and down to earth. The retreat will include daily classes with Rinpoche include a session for Questions, Answers, and Dialogue.

To learn more about Pema Khandro visit (contact info blocked) or see the (contact info blocked) FAQ page at (contact info blocked)

To learn more about our community visit:

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I have to be a Buddhist to attend this retreat?

A: No, this retreat is open to anyone.

Q: Does this retreat require prerequisites?

A: New students are welcome to attend this retreat without previous training.

Q: Does this retreat require silence?

A: This is not a silent retreat. There is a mixture of periods of silence and periods of socializing. Vajrayana Buddhism tends to offer dynamic settings, however, there will be an emphasis on simple meditation in this retreat. There is also a period of chanting meditation and some lectures on Buddhist philosophy.

Q: Is Dzogchen meditation secret?

A: The most advanced cycles of Dzogchen meditation are restricted practices. However, there are a wealth of practices done in the preliminary and intermediary stages, as well as practices common to both advanced and beginning levels. Additionally, there are many approaches to Dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism. Historically speaking, different Tibetan lineages approach particular Dzogchen meditation practices at different times. Some are done only after ‘Ngondro’ the extensive preliminary meditation series for training the mind in Vajrayana. Some are done before preliminaries and others interspersed with preliminaries This retreat offers a series of particular meditation techniques known as ‘holding the mind.’ They are practiced before, during and after preliminaries because they are the main part of the path from the beginning to end in Tibet’s Nyingma lineage’s contemplative tradition. These particular practices are only taught in retreat settings because they require a deeper introduction.

Q: What diets will be accommodated at the retreat?

A: The meals are all vegetarian. Non-gluten and non-dairy options are available at every meal.

Q: What should I bring to the retreat?

A: Notebook, pen, sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses, bathing suit if you want to swim in the Rigdzin pond, hiking shoes, comfortable clothes for sitting meditation and yoga, yoga mat, non-toxic bug spray, one nice outfit to dress up for Saturday night. If you are camping, bring your camping gear. You may also wish to bring a blanket for laying out in the meadow and a camping chair.

Q: What is the weather like?

A: Prepare for heat or cold, the mountains can be unpredictable. It is likely to be warm but may become windy or chilly at times.

Q: Is there anything I should not bring?

A: Please, no food, no drugs, no alcohol, no pets, no matches, lighters, incense, no candles, and no other flammables. Dakini Mountain requests us to not wear strongly scented body products, as these cause severe toxic reactions in some people.

Q: Is there financial aid or scholarships available?

A: The costs of the retreat are set at the lowest possible rates to cover the expenses of the retreat. Membership discounts are available – see below. Additionally, two financial assistance rates are available by application. Email (contact info blocked)

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