About the Margha Program
The 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 meditators looking for a structured program to learn, progress and deepen in a sequence of profound yet accessible meditations adapted from traditional Tibetan Buddhist practice. Some participants choose to work with each set 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 small-group meetings which in 2021 will all be held virtually online until conditions safely permit otherwise. Each student 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. In addition, during twice yearly retreats, essential teachings are provided by Lama Liz Monson, as well as Margha Program Co-Directors/Dharma Teachers Bob Morrison and Camille Hykes. Until further notice, retreats will be held virtually online, rather than at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. In addition, there are optional mid-month video teachings on the assigned readings offered by NDF teachers.
The yearly program begins each December with a Welcome and Orientation Meeting. The “kickoff” for the Margha teachings happens at the NDF January retreat in which students in 2021 will participate via livestream or else later by listening to audio downloads of selected teachings.
The 2021 Margha Program focuses on Natural Meditation. Participants will be guided and supported through a series of meditation practices that facilitate, develop and deepen experience of the nature of mind: Shamatha (Calm Abiding), Vipashyana (Insight) and Open Awareness. (The alternate year’s program will focus on Bodhicitta practices of lovingkindness and compassion, including the Lojong heart-cultivation practices as transmitted in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Innate Compassion and Wisdom Training adapted from traditional practices to access resources of loving support and expression from within our lived experience.)
The curriculum, a thorough distillation of traditional Tibetan Buddhist training, was created jointly by Lama Willa Miller and Lama John Makransky for the students of Natural Dharma Fellowship, with the intent to cultivate and nourish a life of spiritual practice. It is transmitted by Lama Liz Monson, Spiritual Co-Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship, and Margha Co-Directors/Dharma Teachers Bob Morrison and Camille Hykes, as well as a circle of dedicated Mitras (spiritual friends/mentors) well-trained in these practices.
Mitras and Monthly Groups and Other Resources
Each Margha student is assigned a Mitra (spiritual friend/mentor) and a Margha group. Most groups have two Mitras and a small group of participants. During monthly sessions, the Mitras offer teachings and guided meditations, provide support and answer questions related to the Margha practices. Also, students offer invaluable support for each other as they explore the practices and teachings together.
As a Margha student, you have access to curriculum-specific resources on the NDF website, including reading materials and audios of teachings. A required reading list, as well as additional suggested reading, is provided to complement the teachings. You will meet three times a year for individual dharma meetings with your Mitra.
Retreats will be held onsite at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH (standard retreat fees apply) whenever conditions safely permit. Monthly in-person small group meetings were held in Portland, ME; Springfield, NH; Cambridge, MA; Newton, MA; Andover, MA, Philadelphia, PA: Shelburne Falls, MA; and Charlottesville, VA. We hope to resume in-person small group meetings in the future. Dedicated online groups have also been part of the Margha Program for years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Margha is open to anyone, beginner or seasoned practitioner alike, who wishes to pursue the teachings and a commitment to 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. If mental health issues arise during the program, please consult your therapist. Our Mitras are here only to teach, discuss and guide meditation practices being transmitted in the program. They are not qualified or authorized to provide therapy in their role as Mitra.
- Registration for each year’s Margha Program occurs in October.
- Monthly meetings are held in December through November, with the exception of January and July when retreats are taking place.
- A “Yearly Completion Celebration” is held in early December.
- Registration for retreats begins approximately two months in advance, and they often fill up immediately.