Margha Program

Natural Meditation

A series of meditation practices that facilitate, develop and deepen experience of the nature of mind: Shamatha (Calm Abiding), Vipashyana (Insight), and Open Awareness.

Bodhicitta

A series of contemplative practices to deepen in love, self-compassion, compassion for others, wisdom, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
2023 Margha Program Overview

About the Margha Program

Margha Program content alternates year-to-year between Natural Meditation and Bodhicitta, which may be completed in any order. It is intended for newcomers as well as seasoned practitioners looking for a structured program to learn, progress, and deepen in a sequence of profound yet accessible meditations adapted from traditional Himalayan Buddhist practice.  Some participants choose to work with each series of practices for many years. Margha means “path” in Sanskrit.

Guided by a team of Natural Dharma Fellowship (NDF) teachers and Margha mitras (spiritual friends/mentors), the Margha Program is built around monthly online and in-person small-group meetings.  Each student chooses or is assigned a Margha mitra for the year. Meditation practices are introduced by the mitras during monthly meetings, through online resources, including guided meditation audios, and via monthly readings from assigned texts. A curated selection of suggested books, articles, essays, and podcasts will also be provided to complement the teachings. In addition, during twice-yearly retreats at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, essential teachings are provided by Lama Liz Monson and Margha Program Director Camille Hykes.

Natural Meditation

The 2023 Margha Program will dive into the practices of Natural Meditation. Participants will be guided and supported through a comprehensive program of meditation, study, and contemplation, which provides a framework that gently invites and opens participants to experience present fresh wakefulness, our intrinsic buddha nature. Meditation instruction in shamatha (calm abiding), vipashyana (insight), and open awareness will be offered.

(The alternate year’s program focuses on practices of Bodhicitta, in which participants access and deepen in innate qualities of love and compassion for self and others, wisdom, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.)  

Spiritual Friendship

Mitras will offer guided meditations and teachings during the monthly meetings, and they will provide support and address questions related to the Margha practices. Participants will be invited three times during the year to engage in individual dharma meetings with their mitra.

It is important to also note that participants offer invaluable support for each other as they explore the practices and teachings together during the Margha year. Margha groups offer participants the opportunity to enact qualities of heart, and deepen in their understanding of the gem that is spiritual friendship.

Answers to common questions are provided below. If you have questions that are not addressed here, please contact Margha Program Co-Coordinators Anne Marie Polanski and Jean Fazzino Lain at ndfmargha@naturaldharma.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Margha is open to everyone, beginner and seasoned practitioner alike, who wishes to explore Himalayan Buddhist teachings and feels a commitment to spiritual practice at a deeper level.

It is important to note that the Margha Program is a curriculum of meditation training and study. It is not, nor intended to be, a substitute for therapy, counseling, or medical treatment. If you are currently in therapy, we recommend that you consult your therapist about the appropriateness of engaging in the Margha Program and meditations. Our mitras teach, invite questions and discussion, and guide the meditation practices being transmitted. They are not qualified or authorized to provide therapy.

Participants choose their monthly group from a mix of online and in-person groups during the registration process. In-person groups will generally meet outdoors, and decide for themselves whether to meet via Zoom or in-person during inclement weather with precautions (face masks, social distancing and/or same-day testing). The level of precautions will depend on the risk tolerance of each group, ideally informed by then-current CDC guidance.  (There will be only a limited number of in-person groups, however, in 2023.) 

Participants will remain with their group for the entire year. Hybrid groups are not offered as such groups are not optimal within the small group communal format.  Once the program has started, transferring between groups is discouraged.

Click here for the list of 2023 Monthly Groups and Mitras.

This program is designed in a monthly format for individual and group practice and study. Participants are responsible for their own “daily-ish” meditation practice, as well as assigned reading which is outlined in their monthly practice guide. They will be asked to commit to attending most monthly meetings with your designated small group, and to either attend the Winter or Summer retreat and/or listen to audio files which will be made available following the retreat.

Registration for the 2023 Margha Program will be held October 8–30, 2022. Please visit the Registration Page on the NDF website for information and to access the Registration form.  

The yearly program begins with a Welcome and Orientation Meeting with your Margha group in January 2023.  The program officially begins with Winter Retreat, which will also be held in January.  (The Summer Retreat will be held in July.) Monthly groups will meet from February through November. Date and time of the monthly meetings vary from group to group, and details will be available on the Registration Page.

Retreat information such as dates, description, and registration will be posted on the Schedule Page of the NDF website.  Retreats are offered in a hybrid format at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. (Please note information updates regarding hybrid retreats and COVID safety policies.)

The fee structure for the Margha Program is:

  • Benefactor: $360 
  • Basic Price: $225 
  • Supported: $135 

It is Natural Dharma Fellowship’s aspiration that no one be turned away from our teachings and retreats because she/he is unable to pay the full cost. In order to make our courses affordable for all who wish to attend, a flexible fee structure is offered that takes into account people’s differing financial circumstances. You may write in any amount that fits your financial situation. The purchase of required texts and NDF Margha retreats are separate from the Program Fee. 

Please visit the NDF scholarship page for information about retreat financial assistance.

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