Introduction to Meditation

  • Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture
  • 19950 Kings Creek Road, Boulder Creek, CA, USA
  • Aug 16 - 18, 2019 (3 days)
  • Camping - $150.00 Women's Dorm - $150.00 Men's Dorm - $150.00 Women's Quad - $150.00 Men's Quad - $150.00 Private Room- Full bed - $150.00 Private Room- Single Bed - $150.00
  • 5.0 12 reviews · Write a review

Event Highlights

  • -Intended for beginners who are trying to develop a meditation practice
  • -Learn how to develop inner peace and greater emotional balance with the methods of concentration meditation.
  • -See how disturbing emotions and mental problems arise and how to counteract them.
  • -Because meditation directly addresses the mind, it is the key to creating a happier, healthier and more peaceful life.


-Morning Meditation
-Two sessions of teachings with meditations and a tea break
-Break time for rest, hiking, yoga, personal time
-Teaching / meditation sessions
-Evening Meditation

About This Event



Silence Level

Partial silence

Who is it for?

This retreat is intended for beginners who are trying to develop a meditation practice and trying to figure out how to go about it. It will also benefit those who have a meditation practice and want to learn about other meditation techniques.

What is it?

Everyone wants happiness. Unfortunately, the faulty assumptions by which we live our lives do not afford us the pleasure of abiding in a state of perpetual happiness, peace, and contentment. Buddhism promises such a state. When successfully training our minds through various meditation techniques, happiness follows.

It is mind alone that determines whether we experience happiness or suffering from the events in our life. Because meditation directly addresses the mind, it is the key to creating a happier, healthier and more peaceful life.

In this lively weekend course, we’ll have an opportunity to taste various meditation techniques and to have a friendly interchange with one another on what supports our practice.

This retreat can be combined with the Deepening Your Practice retreat that follows immediately after on August 18th We encourage you to come for both and make it an immersive ten-day experience.

See below for a note from the teacher.


Learn how to develop inner peace and greater emotional balance with the methods of concentration meditation.

See how disturbing emotions and mental problems arise and how to counteract them.

Note from the teacher

Hello Dear Friends,

In my more than 40 years of meditation experience, as I watch the “busyness” and pace of everyday life escalate and see the epidemic of anxiety and depression, especially among young people, I want more than ever to share the sanity of Buddhist practice. Lama Yeshe called Buddhism “psychology of the mind” and encouraged us to become our own therapist. I’m looking forward to our next Introduction to Meditation retreat. I thought to share a little bit about it and why it is useful to develop a meditation practice.

Generally, when we think of meditation, we think of developing concentration through “JOK GOM” – placement meditation – placing our mind on an object, holding it there and bringing it back when it is kidnapped by a thought, a feeling or an emotion. Our object might be our breath, our mind, an image, or any number of possibilities.

The word “GOM” in Tibetan, which we translate as meditation, has the connotation of “becoming familiar with virtue.” Besides JOK GOM, also widely used are both SHAR GOM, which is review meditation and CHE GOM, which is analytical meditation. In fact, we are actually engaging in meditation as we contemplate our daily activity, or when we review and analyze any situation.

For meditation as a spiritual practice, the important addition to the definition is the word “virtue.” In Tibetan, virtue is defined as “that which brings happiness now and in the future.”

When we reflect on our own personal mental habits, it is useful to check: Is my everyday “meditation” leading to happiness? Perhaps we focus on our shortcomings, on what we wish we would have done, could have done or should have done differently. This “would-a, could-a, should-a done syndrome” is a close sister to the “if only syndrome.” These “meditations” keep us trapped.

When we become adept at placement meditation, we recognize that inner peace is available in each present moment. We practice letting go and letting be. We see mental activities as ephemeral, as illusory, as having no essence. This doesn’t mean that we lose our ability to think. What we experience is that it is possible to abide in a state of peace and to think more clearly. This is our birthright. Peace is available right now. Through meditation we learn to touch it, to taste it, and to return to it again and again until it becomes the habit of our mind.

In this retreat we will be gentle with ourselves. Our sessions will include sitting practice interspersed with walking meditation. We will have guided as well as silent practice and we will practice using different meditation objects. We will examine the obstacles that arise and discuss their antidotes. We will also take a look at Lama Tsong Khapa’s basic overview of Tibetan Buddhism – the Three Principle Aspects of the Path. This will give us a body of knowledge upon which to engage in review and analytical meditations.

I invite you to give yourself this gift of inner peace. Leave your phones and internet devices behind. Unplug from your ordinary “busyness,” sit in the Gompa or by the Stupa, walk in the forest along the “Peace Trail,” listen to the meandering creek, hear the welcome of the birds, marvel at the beauty. You will be well held as you immerse yourself in quietude, experiencing a peace that is truly available.

I look forward to seeing you there. Meanwhile may you be well and happy.

Biggest love,


Suggested reading

How to Meditate, by Kathleen McDonald.

The Attention Revolution, by Alan Wallace.

Additional Information

Please plan on arriving between 3:00 and 5:00 PM on the first day of the retreat

Please plan on departing approximately 2:00 PM on the last day of the retreat

Consider reviewing our accommodations

For more detailed information, please see our FAQ

If you are interested in serving as Course Liaison for this retreat, please apply here.

This is a Pay It Forward Retreat!

There are no fees for this retreat.

That’s right. No fees. The retreat is offered to anyone who participates. It’s an experiment we started at 2012’s Kopan West- Lam Rim retreat in the spirit of making the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) freely available to all.

If it is being offered, who pays for my retreat?

Your retreat has been sponsored by someone who came before you and by past benefactors. Because it’s a gift, you can’t pay them back – but you can pay-it-forward by making a contribution that will allow future retreatants to experience the same generosity.

How does this donation system work?

At the end of the retreat, you will have the opportunity to make a donation based on what feels right in your heart. 100% of the proceeds will go towards supporting future retreatants to keep the generosity going. No pressure or questions asked. Let your heart decide what you would like to offer.

Is there a deposit?

A $150 deposit is required to reserve a space. Your deposit will be refunded as long as you attend the retreat in full. No refunds for cancellations.

How do I choose the accommodation?

Once you start the registration process, you’ll see details of the accommodations that are available from camping, dorms, or private rooms. All accommodations are made available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Is partial attendance allowed?

In order to provide the most conducive conditions for retreat, we hold full time, residential retreats only. This allows the group energy to build and minimizes distractions, so you can gain the full benefit of retreat. See our FAQ for more information. Some exceptions can be made for special circumstances and will need the approval of the teacher and our Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) before the retreat begins. Please contact our office at (contact info blocked).

Teacher’s fees

Traditionally, spiritual teachings are considered priceless; remuneration of our teachers is not included in the fee information detailed on this page. Instead, we invite you to consider bringing a cash donation with you to express your gratitude for the teachings. Participants get a chance to present a cash offering to the teachers on the last day of the retreat and this is supplemented by a donation from Vajrapani Institute. Please note that we don’t offer a credit card option for teacher’s fees.

"What a wonderful introduction to a Buddhist practice! Elaine is a superb teacher, and I feel lucky to have met her." -Seth R.

Venue Highlights

Located off the grid in a remote forest location within the Santa Cruz Mountains our contemplative retreat center offers private retreat cabins and group meditation retreats . Everyone comments about how quiet and peaceful it is once they arrive and how the mind naturally settles. We have a beautiful Meeting/Meditation Hall that’s been blessed by 30 years of spiritual practice. Beautiful walking trails around the land and a longer hike with views of the Monterey Bay. We are also blessed with a number of stupas on the land. The main one is situated within close proximity to the main building. The others are up on Lama’s Ridge where the private cabins are located. Stupas are symbolic of the unlimited mind of all enlightened beings. Shakyamuni Buddha taught that performing spiritual practices at a stupa would have the same effect as making offerings to the Buddha himself.


Our main lodge building contains:
Women's Dormitory with 14 beds
Men's Dormitory with 12 beds
Two Semi-Private Dorms with 4 beds each
Four Private Rooms with a double bed each
One Private Room with a single bed
Two shared women's and men's bathrooms

We also have seven private cabins situated on a beautiful ridge above the Lodge. There is a shared private indoor bathhouse as well as outdoor showers with a fabulous view of the surrounding mountains. The private cabins have single beds and can be set up for double occupancy with the addition of a cot bed (for our group retreat participants only).

Lastly we have 36 camp sites around the land for you to bring your own tent to. Size of sites vary and can accommodate a 2-4 person tent. (tents are not provided and camping is only allowed while attending a group retreat)


  • Free Parking
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Ceremony Space

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free


Vajrapani Institute is renowned for the deliciousness of its vegetarian cooking. Our meals are fully vegetarian and nutritionally balanced to offer you a supportive retreat experience. We can accommodate gluten, dairy, and soy allergies, as well as those on a vegan diet. We also have hot tea, pour-over coffee, and fresh fruit available at all times.

Breakfast: Includes hot porridge, stewed fruit, granola, yogurt, boiled eggs, and toast.
Lunch: The largest meal of the day, includes a grain, vegetable dishes, vegetarian protein, and salad.
Dinner: A lite meal with soup, salad, cheese, hummus, bread, and gluten-free crackers.


Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Boulder Creek, CA at the end of a five-mile dirt road on the border of Castle Rock State Park. While secluded, we are relatively close to the San Jose and San Francisco airports. About an hour to an hour and a half drive respectively.

If you are using a navigation system in your car or on your phone we recommend inputting the address of one of our local businesses, The Mountain Store at 125 Pool Drive in Boulder Creek CA 95006. Once your navigation system takes you there, you will drive less than a quarter of a mile on Pool Drive, turn left on Kings Creek Road, and follow Kings Creek Road for 5 miles. You should see occasional signs that let you know the distance left to travel and some prayer flags hanging over the road to let you know you are on the right path!

Cancellation Policy

100% deposit refund for cancellation 30+ days before event.
50% deposit refund for cancellation 15-29 days before event.
0% deposit refund for cancellation 0-14 days before event.
The remaining balance (total price minus deposit) is due upon arrival.
Get full details...

  Write a review - tell others about your experience.

  • Losang Tendrol   November 04, 2019


    I attended the Chenrezig initiation and teachings given by Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa and the one week compassion meditation retreat led by Elaine Jackson. Both retreats were unique in the depth of knowledge and level of practice that they offered. Vajrapani offers authentic Buddhist teachings in a serene, low key, sacred space. The Center is professionally managed and the vegetarian food is superb.

  • Michelle Nguyen   October 29, 2019

      Amazing retreat center in Redwoods

    Stayed in a ridge cabin at Vajrapani for a retreat. Cabin had beautiful views and center is in the center of redwood forests. There are amazing hiking trails, and the course itself was perfectly run. Recommend without reservations

  • Nadezhda Wein-Duffy   October 25, 2019

      Beautiful mountain retreat

    I am a repeat retreater at Vajrapani Institute and always enjoy my time there. The food is healthy and flavorful, the setting is beautiful and I always feel the staff do their best to thoughtfully design and support beneficial retreats. All the teachers that I have studied with there were impeccable. I would highly recommend this retreat center to anyone with an interest in Buddhist retreats.

  • Victor Quintanilla   October 21, 2019

      Retreat a Vajrapani Institute for Wisdom Culture with Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Kampa

    I am so incredibly grateful for this precious jewel of the Vajrapani Institute, the magnificent and profound teachings of Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche, and the kindness of the community. I would highly recommend the Vajrapani Institute to anyone seeking to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism, particularly those seeking to follow in the footsteps and teachings of the Dalai Lama.

  • Bill Gimbel   September 09, 2019

      Beautiful Sacred Space

    Just spent a week in group retreat and fell into the seduction of the land, facilities, and people that create of the three kayas of Vajrapani Institute.

  • David B   August 19, 2019

      Peaceful and tranquil

    I camped in a tent, they have amazing camping spots in the redwoods. The main building with cafeteria, bookstore, library, and prayer room. The library was one of my favorite places, to read after the meditation and teaching sessions at night. They have lots of tea available at all times.

  • Alison Harre   July 29, 2019

      So Rich

    I felt cared for and supported by both the Staff and the Land. Attending Family Camp has been one of my best decisions as a mother. Thank you!!!!

  • Michelle Nguyen   July 07, 2019

      Peaceful place

    Rejoice that there is a place like Vajrapani in these times. Imagine a place where the purpose is entirely to help all sentient beings and to promote and support education and wisdom. I just came back from a calm abiding retreat here and cannot say enough how wonderful the experience was. The institute is situated in a redwood forest adjacent to Castle Rock- the setting was so beautiful and peaceful. When not in sessions, I was able to take day hikes which were themselves worth the entire stay. Many thanks to Steve and Wanda who were so lovely.

  • Leopoldo F Villela   July 02, 2019

      Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion

    This retreat or exploration as Glen called quoting Alan Wallace, was excellent. Glen methodical, sequential and easy way to present these topics was wonderful, congruent and engaging. His competency with the material is superb and wide. The meditation part adds an experiential component that is moving and deep. I am thankful for his knowledge and humanity.

  • Joel Zighelboim   July 01, 2019

      Wonderful Place and People

    I attended a 4 day retreat here and found it to be a wonderful, peaceful, beautiful nurturing environment, including the natural location, the facilities and the people involved. All facilities functioned well, including many resources such as library and hot drinks, the meals were fresh, healthy and provided with great spirit. Highly recommend this institute for retreat.

  • Jennifer Kim   July 01, 2019

      Amazing Place for Retreat

    Their spiritual program is fantastic ... very authentic lineage of Buddhism with knowledgable, caring teachers. Love their land and food as well. The whole place is designed to help foster inner awakening.

  • Louis Buchetto   June 17, 2019

      Wonderful Hosts and Environment

    I've just returned from a four-day retreat at Varrapaini; this was my first visit there. From the gracious reception to the warm and appreciative good-byes intention of caring for each other was deeply felt, and the land holds special energy in and of itself. Much Gratitude.

Thank you!

We're glad you've joined our retreat community. See you around :)

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Why Retreat?

We asked people why they go on retreat, here's what they said:

After the past two years of transition on every level, I would absolutely LOVE a retreat! :) Chelsee

Retreat Guru's Vision

We believe human beings are innately wise, strong and kind. This wisdom, although not always experienced, is always present. Going on retreat is a beautiful way to reconnect to our basic sanity and health. Our aspiration at Retreat Guru is to inspire people to experience authentic retreats and reconnect with their innate wisdom, strength and kindness.

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