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Welcome to Dharmalaya Institute

Dharmalaya Institute is devoted to education and empowerment for compassionate living, with a practical focus on contemplative service-learning and sustainable development.

Brick ParadeTradition + Innovation = Sustainability, Health & Joy

Dharmalaya Institute’s mission is to unite the best of traditional wisdom with creative innovation to produce compelling possibilities for compassionate living and sustainable development.   › Learn about Dharmalaya Institute


hOMe-BuildingDevelopment & Empowerment Through Learning & Service

Dharmalaya’s programmes for the local and international communities help us empower ourselves to improve our world. Vocational education, volunteer opportunities, meditation, yoga, and more.   › Explore our programmes


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Overview of Dharmalaya Institute’s Upcoming Events

Below you’ll find a list of our upcoming workshops, retreats, and other events. You’ll notice that many of these include some combination of contemplation, meditation, yoga, and various forms of work. This is to provide the opportunity for participants to integrate our outer life (e.g. work and family) with our inner life (e.g. contemplation, reflection, meditation, yoga) so that we live in balance, which supports us to be the best we can be.

Why? Scientific research now confirms what Himalayan wisdom traditions have known for centuries: Bringing mindfulness and warm-hearted presence into our work improves not only the quality of our experience doing the work but also the quality of the work itself (in other words, we get better results, and we feel better in the process). The benefits work in the other direction, too: Putting meditation and yoga into action extends the benefits beyond ourselves to reach others, too. Thus, the Dharmalaya experience is designed to support active people to deepen their contemplative practice, to support contemplative people to engage actively in service, and to empower all of us to make our best contributions to a better, more sustainable, and more compassionate world.

So, while most of our programmes combine these outer and inner aspects to some degree, each has a different emphasis. Some put more emphasis on the outer work, while others put more emphasis on the inner practices.

Here’s a quick guide to the terminology we use to differentiate these different types of events and programmes:

  • Workshops focus on providing hands-on education and training in particular concepts and skills. There is also time in the mornings and evenings for inner practices (e.g. meditation, yoga, reflection, etc.).
  • Intensives are workshops that are designed to cover a lot of ground in a short time, so you’ll be busy from breakfast till bedtime, but still our meditation hall is available for early morning and late evening practice for those who desire it.
  • Practicums are experiential learning periods for those who have already completed a workshop or intensive to deepen their understanding and improve their skills through extended real-world practice on site, working side-by side with our local staff and artisans (the best way to learn).
  • Retreats focus primarily on the inner work (which, depending on the retreat, might include meditation, yoga, personal development, etc.), but also provide at least a little bit of time for putting the practice in action through karma yoga. (Some retreats involve a greater degree of engagement through work, so see each individual retreat’s description page for details.)
  • Courses and internships are long-term programmes (typically lasting several months) designed to develop a whole range of understandings, skills, and qualities. These usually include multiple workshops, intensives, and/or retreats. These are the best way for people with serious interest to get the most out of the Dharmalaya experience (since our workshops and retreats provide just a taste).
  • Volunteer Work Periods are brief opportunities (usually about three weeks) welcoming anyone to join the work happening on campus. During these Volunteer Work Periods, the focus is on service rather than instruction, so volunteers should not expect the kind of training we provide in our workshops, but it’s still a good opportunity to get a taste of learning by doing. Volunteers join whatever work is happening on a given day, and follow the lead of our team members.

You’ll see brief summaries of our upcoming events below. You can click the ‘details and application’ link to know more about each programme, including description of activities, costs, and application instructions.


NOW through JUNE 2018

Introduction to Earthen Interiors [REGISTRATION FULL]: A twelve-day, beginner-level training workshop introducing some of the interior aspects of earthen building as practiced in the Kangra vernacular. Learn to create and apply earthen renders (mud plaster) in a Kangra-style adobe structure, as well as other interior work (e.g. flooring, fine finishing, etc.). This will be a two-part programme: The first week will provide initial training with hands-on workshops during the day and presentations/discussions in the evenings; the second week will be a practicum for improving skills and deepening understanding through morning and afternoon work sessions, with the evenings of the second week offering either optional sessions or free time. For those with serious interest, there will be an optional extended practicum (volunteer work period) providing an opportunity to improve your skills and understanding further by working alongside our team of artisans. This practicum will begin the Monday after the workshop, and participants will have the option to stay until as late as 8th June.

When: 30 April to 11 May 2018 (participants must attend from the beginning and stay for the duration), followed by an optional four-week practicum (volunteer work period) until as late as 8 June
Details and application

Volunteer Work Period [REGISTRATION FULL, WAITLIST ONLY]: This Volunteer Work Period will begin with a three-day orientation and training (which all volunteers must attend from the beginning). This will provide an introduction to how we do things at Dharmalaya Institute, as well as basic hands-on training on site during the day, followed by evening sessions that will provide a brief introduction to some of the concepts that guide our work. After the first three days, the focus will be on doing physical work to support the needs of the Institute, whatever they may be on a given day. Note that during our Volunteer Work Periods there is no formal educational or training programme as such (other than the very basic introductions given during the first three days), but you will have opportunities to learn through service while working alongside our local team. Depending on weather and the needs of the day, work might include various tasks related to earthen building, rainwater harvesting, organic gardening, natural landscaping, and other aspects of sustainable and compassionate living, but volunteers should not expect to be learning any particular skill during Volunteer Work Periods, because the purpose of volunteering is providing service to help with whatever work the Institute needs from its volunteers. (If you’re interested in learning specific skills, then our workshops would be the best way to do that.) The minimum time commitment for this volunteer period is three weeks (until 2nd June), and there is an option to remain as a volunteer until as late as 8th June.
When: 14 May (all volunteers must arrive on this morning) until at least 2 June and optionally as late as 8 June.
Details and application 

Compassionate Living Intensive — A Workshop-Retreat for Integrating Sustainable and Personal Development [REGISTRATION ALMOST FULL]: This 18-day intensive residential workshop-retreat will be Dharmalaya Institute’s most comprehensive programme yet, exploring a sustainable and holistic approach to compassionate living through diverse activities spanning the essentials of life: shelter, food, water, wisdom, and love. It will combine explorations of ‘outer sustainability’ practices — such as permaculture, vernacular eco-architecture (earthen building), solar cooking, and rainwater harvesting — with ‘inner sustainability’ practices — such as mindfulness, meditation, and movement (yoga/chi kung/nature walks). It will also integrate key aspects of personal development, including self-awareness, communication, and leadership for people who aspire to be effective agents of change. Enjoy organic gardening with views of the Himalayas. Explore the theory and practice of natural building, with a focus on the neo-traditional designs and methods of esteemed eco-architect Didi Contractor. Help our kitchen team cook delicious plant-based (vegan) meals. Group meditation sessions morning and evening, and more…
When: 12-29 June 2018 (participants must attend from the beginning and stay for the duration), followed by an optional practicum (a volunteer period reserved only for those who have completed this workshop or another Dharmalaya workshop).
Details and application


JULY through DECEMBER 2018

Rains Retreat: A traditional three-month meditation retreat period for experienced meditation practitioners. There are no teachings or programmes; just a serene and beautiful place to do your own practice.
When: Anytime from 2 July through 30 September 2018. Please contact us to let us know if you are interested.

Meditation Retreat with Ellen van Iersel: A (mostly) silent meditation retreat guided by mindfulness trainer Ellen van Iersel from the Netherlands. This will be a gentle retreat in which we will explore how silence can support us in opening up to our inner and outer experiences. The days will begin with yoga, followed by guided and silent meditations, including walking meditations in the beautiful Himalayan foothills.
When: 12-18 October 2018 (participants must arrive at the start and stay for the whole retreat).
Details and application

Dharmalaya Leadership Retreat: A five-day planning retreat for Dharmalaya Institute’s board members, faculty, staff, and key long-term participants. (By invitation only; the Dharmalaya campus will be closed to the public during this time.)
When: Tentatively scheduled for 22-25 October 2018

Compassionate Living Intensive — A Workshop-Retreat for Integrating Personal and Professional Development with a Lifestyle of Sustainable Thriving: This nine-day intensive residential workshop-retreat will explore sustainable and holistic approaches to compassionate living through diverse activities spanning the essentials of life: shelter, food, water, wisdom, and love. It will combine explorations of ‘outer sustainability’ practices — such as organic gardening, earthen building, solar cooking, and rainwater harvesting — with ‘inner sustainability’ practices — such as mindfulness, meditation, and movement (yoga/chi kung/nature walks). It will also integrate key aspects of personal development, including self-awareness, communication, and leadership for people who aspire to be effective agents of change. Group meditation sessions morning and evening, and more…
When: 29 October - 6 November 2018 (participants must attend from the beginning and stay for the duration)
Details and application

Earthen Building Workshop: A twelve-day training workshop introducing the basic principles and practices of earthen building as expressed in the Kangra vernacular. This will be a two-part programme: The first week will provide initial training with hands-on workshops during the day and presentations/discussions in the evenings; the second week will be a practicum for improving skills and deepening understanding through morning and afternoon work sessions, with the evenings of the second week offering either optional sessions or free time. For those with serious interest, there will be an optional extended practicum (volunteer work period) until 1st December, providing an opportunity to improve your skills and understanding further by working alongside our team of artisans.
When: 13-24 November (participants must attend from the beginning and stay for the duration), followed by an optional one-week practicum (volunteer work period) until 1st December.
› Details TBA 


DECEMBER 2018 ONWARD (Programmes and dates are tentative and subject to change)

Tergar Core Facilitator Training: A five-day training programme exclusively for facilitators of Tergar International’s meditation programmes developed by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. (By invitation only; the Dharmalaya campus will be closed to the public during this time).
When: 5-9 December 2018

Silent Meditation Retreat with SanghaSeva: A one-week, (mostly) silent meditation retreat in the Insight Meditation tradition, led by Zohar Lavie and Nathan Glyde of SanghaSeva. This popular retreat fills up every year, so we suggest you register early.
When: 11-19 March 2019 (Participants must arrive at the start and stay for the whole retreat.)
› Details TBA

SanghaSeva Work Retreat: A ten-day ‘meditation in action’ retreat, providing those who have completed the silent meditation retreat (see above) with opportunities to practice mindful engagement doing various forms of service work related to earthen construction, organic gardening, natural landscaping, and more, helping to build and beautify the Dharmalaya campus.
When: 20-30 March 2019 (Participants must have attended the silent retreat, and must stay for the whole work retreat.)
› Details TBA

Dharmalaya Leadership Retreat: A five-day planning retreat for Dharmalaya Institute’s board members, faculty, staff, and key long-term participants. (By invitation only; the Dharmalaya campus will be closed to the public during this time.)
When: Tentatively scheduled for 26 Feb through 2 March 2019


See the complete calendar of our events (past, present, and future)