A series of meditation practices that facilitate, develop and deepen experience of the nature of mind: Shamatha (Calm Abiding), Vipashyana (Insight), and Open Awareness.
A series of contemplative practices to deepen in love, self-compassion, compassion for others, wisdom, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
About the Margha Program
Margha Program content alternates year-to-year between “Bodhicitta” and “Natural Meditation”, 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 offered in a variety of locations once all safety protocols, including vaccination, are followed and local conditions permit. Please note: these same in-person groups may transition to online-only gatherings as necessary. There are also dedicated online groups.
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 at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, essential teachings are provided by Lama Liz Monson, as well as Margha Program Co-Directors Bob Morrison and Camille Hykes.
The yearly program begins each December with a Welcome and Orientation Meeting. The “kickoff” for the Margha teachings happens at the NDF January retreat which students participate in either onsite, via live-stream, or later by listening to audio downloads of selected teachings. It is strongly recommended that Margha students attend at least one retreat a year onsite so long as health and safety conditions permit.
The 2022 Margha Program focuses on Bodhicitta practices of loving-kindness and compassion, including the Lojong heart-contemplations as transmitted in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Participants learn a series of contemplative practices to deepen in love, self-compassion, compassion for others, wisdom, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. (The alternate year’s program will focus on Natural Meditation: the practices of Shamatha, Vipashyana, and Open Awareness. These practices naturally draw participants into an experiential journey to discover and deepen their relationship with the nature of mind.)
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 Camille Hykes and Bob Morrison, 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. Groups generally have two Mitras and a small group of participants. During monthly sessions, Mitras offer guided meditations and teachings, provide support, and address 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Margha is open to anyone, beginner or seasoned practitioner alike, who wishes to pursue the teachings and 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.
- If mental health issues arise during the program, please consult your therapist. Our Mitras are here only to teach, discuss, and guide the meditation practices being transmitted. They are not qualified or authorized to provide therapy in their role as Mitra.
Margha practices are introduced by Lama Liz Monson, Bob Morrison and Camille Hykes during the week-long retreats in January and July. Retreats will be offered in a hybrid format either via Zoom, or when conditions permit, at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. (Information updates regarding hybrid retreats and COVID safety policy can be found on the NDF website.)
Adhering to all safety protocols, the following Margha groups hope to resume in-person meetings in 2022.
- Andover, MA
- Charlottesville, VA
- Newton, MA
- Philadelphia, PA
- Springfield, NH
Please be prepared, however, to meet remotely via Zoom if conditions warrant. Dedicated online groups that meet via Zoom will also be held.
- Daily-ish practice, approximately 20-30 minutes five times per week.
- Required readings
- Attendance at most monthly meetings. Your participation in monthly meetings is a powerful and integral part of your own experience in the Margha Program and benefits your fellow group members as well.
- Participation in the January and July week-long retreats, either online via Zoom, or when conditions permit, onsite at our retreat center, Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. Standard retreat fees apply in both cases.
- Registration for each year’s Margha Program occurs in October*.
- Monthly meetings are held from December through November, with the exception of January and July when retreats are taking place.
- A “Yearly Completion Celebration” will be held in early December.
* Registration for retreats begins two months in advance. The retreats are offered in a hybrid format – both online via Zoom and onsite when conditions permit. Be sure to mark your calendar to register in November (for January) and May (for July). Note: If Wonderwell is open for in-person attendance, space will be limited and can fill up immediately. Retreat recordings will be available shortly after the retreat.