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Dancing in the Between: Understanding Death and the Bardos in Vajrayana Buddhism (Residential)

Lama Liz Monson, Kathe McKenna, Ron Thomas, Maureen McGee
June 11, 2024 - June 18, 2024

Registration will open on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2:00 pm ET.

This is the RESIDENTIAL component of the retreat. If you’d like to register for the ONLINE component, please click here

This retreat explores the ‘intermediate states’ of living, dying and death as these are understood within the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana tradition. Together, we will embark on a journey into states of mind and body known as the ‘between’ states.

In Tibetan, the word for ‘between’ is bardo, a word that specifically refers to the powerful transitions all human beings experience during the processes of living, dying, and after death. But, a bardo state can also refer to a period of time in which our ordinary ways of acting and being are suspended. Periods of time when we lose our sense of solid ground and perhaps even our sense of the habitual reality we have come to rely on. In such liminal states, becoming open and available to the powerful transformations that change and impermanence can bring about is deeply beneficial.

In particular, we have an opportunity to recognize the constantly changing and ephemeral nature of this idea we call a self. By training to relax and remain aware through all our bardo states, we fortify our ability to find freedom in the realities of change and dissolution. We discover that at the heart of being human lies our natural condition – naked, aware, and fully responsive to life as it is.

To help us to explore these practices and teachings more deeply, this retreat will include Dharma talks, practice sessions, breakout groups, and close reading sessions of Padmasambhava’s powerful Vajrayana text, Treasures from Juniper Ridge. Practitioners should plan to purchase this text before the retreat.

This retreat is open to NDF Vajrayana practitioners enrolled in the 2024 program.

Typical Retreat Schedule

(All times are Eastern time zone)

First Day — Opening session begins around 7:00 pm.

Full-Day Schedule — Morning meditation 7:00 am; Breakfast break 8:30-10:00 am; Lunch break 12:00-2:00 pm; Dinner break 5:30-7:00 pm.

Last Day — The closing session typically ends by 12:00 pm.

These times are just for reference. An expanded schedule will be provided in pre-retreat information emailed during the week prior to the event.

Important Covid Information

NDF COVID POLICY: Please check this page of our website for our current COVID policy. Incorporate best practices for COVID-19 mitigation in your lifestyle and travel, at least during the 10 days before you visit Wonderwell. Use prevention strategies when traveling.

VACCINATIONS: No longer required.

MASKING: Masking is now optional, though masks are strongly encouraged if you have respiratory symptoms or belong to a group that is at higher risk for COVID-19.

TESTING: A negative COVID-19 test result is required before admittance to the retreat. Please test within 24 hours prior to your expected arrival at Wonderwell, using either a PCR test or a rapid (at-home) test kit. Please bring a rapid test kit with you to Wonderwell. We will have a limited number of test kits available for during-retreat testing.

SHARED ROOMS: If you register for a shared room, you are agreeing that you accept that you will be sharing it with someone you don’t know. Men and women who don’t know each other will never be assigned to the same room. You may always register for a shared double room with someone you know, as long as space is available. There is a box on the registration to indicate who you’d like for a

Scholarships and Fellowships

Wonderwell Mountain Refuge strives to offer retreats in a manner that is inclusive for persons of all means. If the full retreat cost would create an undue financial burden, we encourage you to apply for a scholarship. Please visit this page on our website learn more about financial aid.

Depending on the type of work that you do, you may be eligible for a Hemera Contemplative Fellowship. Please click on this link for more information.

Please do not apply for financial assistance until after you have registered for the retreat.

Cancellation Policy

Wonderwell charges a $75 cancellation fee for residential (onsite) retreat cancellations more than 4 weeks before the start of a retreat. Any cancellations between 4 weeks to 11 days prior to the program are charged a $150 cancellation fee. For any cancellations 10 or fewer days prior to the start date of the program, no refunds are offered.

However, if you are feeling ill or feel you might have been exposed to the COVID virus, please cancel your attendance at any Wonderwell retreat even at the last minute. In this case, we will provide a full refund of your payment.

If you decide to transfer from residential to online attendance, any cancellation fee will be determined based on the time remaining before the start of the retreat.

User Accounts & Resources

The user account feature of our website provides a secure place where materials from your retreats and courses will be posted and accessed.

Please visit the Technical FAQ page on our website for useful information about user accounts, helpful tutorials, as well as answers to many other questions. You can contact  with questions about your user account.


Wonderwell Mountain Refuge Full Calendar


June 11-18, 2024. Check-in at Wonderwell is between 3:00 and 5:00 pm on the day of arrival. On the final day of the retreat, we ask that people leave Wonderwell by 2:00 pm so staff can finish their work and get home themselves.


If the type of room you require is sold out or no rooms at all are available at Wonderwell, you can email to be placed on a waiting list in case there are cancellations. You also might want to consider the commuter option. A list of nearby accommodations (including some with sangha members and friends) can be found by clicking on the More Details link under the Commuter option.

A limited number of hearing assistance devices are available at Wonderwell. Please indicate in the comment box on the registration form if you would like to reserve one of these devices. Devices reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

Full access to all recordings and retreat materials through your user account.

About the Teachers

Lama Liz (teacher) Monson

Lama, Managing Teacher, Spiritual Co-Director
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Kathe McKenna

Dharma Teacher, NDF Board President
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Ron Thomas

Meditation Teacher, Vajrayana Study Coordinator and Mentor
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Maureen McGee

Visiting Teacher
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