Residential – Diving for Diamonds in the Darkness

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Residential – Diving for Diamonds in the Darkness

Lama Liz Monson
September 29, 2023 - October 4, 2023

Please check back for information about the schedule and when registration will open.

The Buddha’s first teaching is often phrased as: “Life is suffering.” Have you ever questioned this teaching or felt confused about how to implement it on your path? Buddhist practitioner, scholar, and writer, Steven Batchelor, shifts this phrase to: “Suffering is to be embraced.” While in the depths of your own suffering, have you ever asked yourself: how can this experience heal and liberate me? How can my own suffering make me whole? If so, this weeklong retreat is for you.

Join Lama Liz Monson as we engage the healing power and potential of our own darkness. Together, we will discover how, when we encounter suffering (our own and others) deeply and lovingly, our troubling emotions, experiences, and pains become portals not only to personal freedom, but also to a recognition of the truth of suffering, not as a condition of despair, but as a vital, living process of healing, joy, and freedom. Together, we will plumb the darkness to discover the diamonds of insight, compassion, and awakening that lie dormant within us, awaiting our attention and gentle presence.

As part of this retreat, we will engage with Buddhist rituals of reconnection, love, and healing, as well as with freshly envisioned, creative practices, to honor and harness the energies of suffering as openings through which the light of joy and possibility can shine. Learning to walk through the valley of our own shadow, with the support of engaged actions of renewal, can help us reconnect to the world of light, beauty, and joy without denying, suppressing, or othering the fullness of our emotional life. The diamonds shining in our darkness are always sparkling, calling us home. This is the ultimate “shadow practice” retreat, please join us!



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.

Recent Updates:

  • As of April 1, vaccinations are no longer required.
  • As of April 15, masking is 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 roommate, and we’ll do the best we can.



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.



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.



The user account feature of our website provides a secure place where materials from your retreats can be posted and accessed. If you don’t have an account already, you’ll want to set one up as soon as you register.

  • If you haven’t already created an NDF user account, please visit our website to Create an account as soon as possible.
  • User accounts are manually synced after the retreat. Please be aware that this does not happen automatically with registration. It is a separate, manual operation.
  • Resources and Recordings: The retreat resources and recordings will be available in your user account. Recordings must be edited before they are posted. We appreciate your patience!  You will receive an email letting you know they are available in your dashboard.  If you have any questions about resources and recordings, please email

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

Wonderwell Mountain Refuge Full Calendar


Sept. 29-Oct. 4, 2023. Check-in at Wonderwell is between 3:00 and 5:00 pm on the day of arrival. The retreat ends at noon on the final day and a light lunch may be offered. We ask that people leave Wonderwell by 2:00 pm so staff can finish their work and get home themselves.

[email protected]

  • Commuting - $495.00
  • Private room with queen bed and ensuite bath - $1,305.00
  • Private room with queen bed and hall bath - $1,190.00
  • Private room with twin bed and hall bath - $1,190.00
  • Shared room with ensuite bath - $905.00
  • Shared room with hall bath - $830.00
  • Tent camping - $595.00
  • Vehicle Camping - $595.00

If the type of room you require is sold out or no rooms at all are available at Wonderwell, you can email [email protected] 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.

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

About the Teachers

Lama Liz Monson

Lama, Managing Teacher, Spiritual Co-Director
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