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Sustainable Thriving Intensive Workshop (13-24 Nov 2018)


What: Intensive workshop-retreat (residential)

Topic: Sustainable Thriving: Principles and practices of sustainable living

When: 13-24 November 2018 (must attend from the start and stay for the duration), with an optional extended practicum until 1st December 2018

Language: English (with Hindi translation if requested)

Facilitators: Mark Moore and other members of the Dharmalaya faculty and community

Description: A twelve-day residential training workshop exploring key principles and practices of ‘sustainable thriving’, including voluntary simplicity, earthen building, and permaculture, 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 organized according to the needs on site and the interests of the group. For those desiring more hands-on experience, there will be an optional extended practicum until 1st December, providing an opportunity to improve your skills and understanding further by working alongside our team of artisans. There will be group meditation sessions in the mornings and evenings, and opportunities to practice yoga.

› What is ‘sustainable thriving’ and why should I care? See this page for an introduction.

Overview: What’s this all about?

Are you a person who aspires strongly to live your life with compassion, to live sustainably in harmony with nature, and to develop your full potential as a catalyst for bringing positive change to the world? If so, this intensive workshop-retreat is designed especially for you.

The Sustainable Thriving Intensive is a training workshop in the format of a workshop-retreat, in which we will explore the core principles and practices of compassionate living, including food, shelter, water, energy, consumption and waste, leadership, communication, personal development, and other important topics, providing a broad conceptual overview supported by practice.

Activities will include hands-on training in various aspects of sustainable and compassionate living, enriched by a daily programme of meditation and Himalayan wisdom, conscious movement and healthy food. Explore aspects of earthen construction, and learn to grow, cook and eat tasty and nourishing, plant-based (vegan) meals, all while contemplating our relationship with nature and the values of compassionate action. Deepen your practice with morning and evening group meditation sessions and mindful movement (e.g. yoga or chi kung) in the mornings.

Overview of the Workshop Structure

After the introductions, orientation, and general overview of the programme, we will begin with a big-picture exploration of the theory and practice of sustainable thriving, with hands-on sessions during the day and conceptual/philosophical explorations in the evening (including presentations and discussions).

The hands-on sessions will include various projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including earthen building, organic gardening, and other activities related to sustainability. We will provide training in various techniques, and then step back and give everyone time and space to practice them by working alongside our local team. We approach this work as ‘meditation in action’ and provide support for staying mindful and relaxed while working in a focused and productive way.

The evening sessions will include presentations and discussions on a variety of concepts related to sustainable and compassionate living, including earthen building, food and water issues, ecological sanitation, waste management, energy, and more.


Specific activities will include the following (depending on weather and circumstances):

  • Group meditation sessions in the mornings and evenings
  • Hands-on education in the neo-traditional earthen architecture of the Himalayas, which might include (depending on weather and the needs on site at the time):
    • Making adobe bricks (sun-dried earthen bricks)
    • Earthen renders (making and applying mud plasters)
    • Fine finishing work (e.g. polishing, burnishing, painting and varnishing)
    • Other natural building materials and methods
  • Natural landscaping and organic gardening, which may include aspects of permaculture design
  • Water works: rainwater harvesting systems, water storage, and irrigation
  • Solar cooking (weather permitting)
  • Lifestyle design and personal development work, including:
    • Examining our lives in terms of our overall ‘harm footprint’ and ‘help footprint’
    • Identifying areas where our lives can be made more sustainable and compassionate, and using the support of the facilitators and the group to find solutions for those areas.
  • Possibly one outing to explore the local village life
  • Other activities that vary with each programme

What to expect

  • Rustic forested setting with a clean and simple ashram lifestyle in which everyone contributes to the running of the place, including cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and toilets, etc.
  • The days will be completely full: On most days, you’ll wake up early, work in a focused way until 5:00pm, and then the evenings will be occupied with presentations and discussions.
  • You won’t have much personal time during the workshop (with some exceptions), and you’ll spend the whole time at the Dharmalaya Institute without leaving, in order to make the most of our short time together. So, prepare yourself mentally for being focused and squeezing the maximum learning out of every moment.
  • You will be working with your hands and body (including plenty of honest hard work!) for approximately six hours per day on most days of the programme, so it is strongly recommended to be in reasonably good physical fitness when you arrive, and you should bring work clothes.
  • A blend of practice and theory, with emphasis on deepening understanding through practical experience.
  • Architecture and design students/practitioners please note: The focus of this workshop is not on design, but rather on doing real-world work to gain understanding of the materials, methods, and underlying principles of vernacular eco-architecture.

For those who are serious about learning and practicing the techniques of earthen building and/or organic gardening, we recommend staying after the end of the programme to volunteer for as long as you can, so that you can deepen your understanding and improve your skills by doing real-world, hands-on work here on the Dharmalaya campus. Please specify in your application whether you might be interested in this opportunity.


The fee for the workshop is Rs 15,000/-, inclusive of tuition, healthy meals, and comfortable accommodation in shared dormitories or tents (and sometimes a private room may be available at additional cost). Transportation costs are not included. For low-income participants, a limited number of work-study positions are available (please contact us for details).

Important Information

Before you pack for your trip to Dharmalaya Institute, please read the very important information on our Visitor Info page and our FAQ. If you have a specific question that is not answered there, contact us here and we’ll be happy to answer.

Application, Registration & Deposit

Enrolment in this workshop is by application only and space limited, so advance registration and 50% nonrefundable deposit (Rs. 7500) are required. Registrations are confirmed only after receiving the deposit, on a first-come-first-served basis. To apply, use this form. If your application is accepted, we will reply with further instructions and information. The remaining balance of Rs 7500 will be payable upon arrival at Dharmalaya Institute (so be sure to bring enough cash with you).

For Participants with Indian Rupee Bank Accounts

You can make your nonrefundable 50% deposit either by in-person deposit at any HDFC branch, or electronically by bank transfer (intra-bank transfer for HDFC accounts, or NEFT for non-HDFC accounts). We will send bank details after your application is approved.

For Participants without Indian Rupee Bank Accounts

After we have approved your application and requested you to make the deposit, you can make your non-refundable 50% deposit securely by credit card, debit card, eCheck, or Payal. Just click the button below:

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