Personal Retreat FAQs

What is the long-term plan for the Yeshe Rangsal retreat land?

Pundarika Foundation, under Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s guidance, established a six-fold land development plan in 2004. The stupa (Jangchub Chorten or Stupa of Enlightenment), shrine to the land protectress, Dorje Yudronma, a residence for Rinpoche (Pundarika Zimchung), a Retreat Support Building and a seasonal teaching tent are already in place. The three retreat cabins and the availability of Lama House will complete this plan.

Depending on demand from students and donations to Yeshe Rangsal, we may add another two more cabins in the near future for a total of five.

Who can use Lama House or a cabin for retreats?

These practice places are for students of Tsoknyi Rinpoche throughout the world. To qualify:

  • You must consider Rinpoche one of your main dharma teachers
  • Have attended at least one full open retreat with pointing out instructions and two full advanced retreats
  • Have maintained a daily meditation practice for at least one continuous year prior to the retreat for which you are applying.
  • Willingness to abide by the Five Precepts during the retreat:
    • I take as a training precept to refrain from taking life.
    • I take as a training precept to refrain from taking that which is not freely given.
    • I take as a training precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
    • I take as a training precept to refrain from unwise/unskillful speech.
    • I take as a training precept to refrain from intoxication that clouds the mind.

What are Lama House and the Dharmakaya cabin like?

Lama House

In 2017 Tsoknyi Rinpoche blessed this house, which is on the same cul-de-sac as the Pundarika Zimchung where he stays when in Crestone, and gave it the name Lama House. It is within close walking distance to the Yeshe Rangsal retreat land, the stupa and Yudronma shrine.

Lama House has two bedrooms (each with an altar), a large kitchen, living room, laundry closet, one full bathroom and one half bath. It is solar-heated and has a fireplace. There are more limited views than at the cabins. One can drive close to the house and there are no stairs to contend with except for flagstone steps from the driveway to the door. There is deck and plenty of land to find a comfortable spot outside for those who like to practice with a view of the mountains and San Luis Valley. This house is available for two retreatants.

Dharmakaya Cabin

Our first retreat cabin, the Dharmakaya Cabin, was named and blessed by Rinpoche in 2017. It will be joined by two more cabins by the fall of 2018. The retreat cabins are located on the Yeshe Rangsal retreat land along a ridge that has expansive views of the San Luis Valley, Mount Blanca and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Each cabin is approximately 400 square feet and has a small kitchen, deck, sitting area, altar, bathroom with shower, a fireplace and electric heat. The Retreat Support Building is a short walk from the cabins and has a washer and dryer, large shower and an additional refrigerator for food storage.

How does one choose between the Lama House and the individual retreat cabins?

The Lama House has easy access, is more comfortable and spacious inside with a large kitchen and bathtub. Depending on how it is scheduled, it may have from one to two people doing retreat at a time. Since there is only one full bath, the shower/tub is shared.

The Dharmakaya Cabin is much smaller (about 400 square feet), for one person, and more simple. It is more isolated from other houses, near the Yudronma Shrine and Stupa, and offers a large sky gazing window. It involves walking on sandy and hilly terrain so this could be quite challenging if you have certain kinds of disabilities.

When are the Lama House and the Dharmakaya Cabin available?

Retreats can be for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of four weeks. During the annual August teachings in Crestone, neither Lama House nor Dharmakaya Cabin (or future cabins) will be available. Applications will be accepted for retreats scheduled up to one year in advance. The application process will be in place starting Sept. 8, 2018.

Click here to see a calendar of Personal Retreat Space Availability.

To check on retreat dates, see https://tsoknyirinpoche.org/programs/.

How much does it cost?

We are trying to keep these retreats as affordable as possible. Here is the 2018 fee schedule:

Dharmakaya Cabin (and the two others beginning September 2018):

Four weeks: $600
Three weeks: $450
Two weeks: $350

Lama House (which can be shared with one other person):

Four weeks: $800
Three weeks: $600
Two weeks: $400

The payment timeline upon approval of the retreat application is:

  • 50% deposit within 2 weeks of approval
  • Full payment due one month prior to the start date of the retreat.

Cancellation Policy

  • $75 for cancellations 1 month or more before the start date
  • $125 for cancellations from 2 weeks to 1 month before the retreat start date
  • No refund for cancellations within 2 weeks of the retreat date

Also, because of unforeseen events, Pundarika reserves the right to cancel reservations, in which case a full refund will of course be given.

How do I apply?

Please click here to access the online application materials. In the Application, you will be asked to affirm that you have read the FAQs (this page) and that you have you read and agree to the terms and conditions of the “Retreat Agreement” and “Waiver and Release” documents (also linked to the Application).

Click here to see a calendar of Retreat Space Availability. If you have questions, please send an email to registrar@pundarika.org.

What is the screening process?

Once the application is received, you will be notified that we have received the application by email. Two students appointed by Rinpoche will review the application. Once reviewed, we will send you an email as to whether or not the application is approved so you can plan accordingly. If approved, we will include a payment link for the deposit and fees with a code of conduct and liability waiver for your signature.

How do I prepare for a retreat?

It can be helpful to create a preparation checklist for yourself in advance, including time for the transition going into retreat and out. Because you will be in a remote and somewhat isolated area, it is important to have everything you need before beginning the retreat. Let those close to you know you will be out of touch and how to contact you in an emergency. If you have problems with your phone (Verizon, ATT and T-Mobile work in Crestone, but please check with your service provider to make sure as this changes from time to time), emergency messages can be delivered through Wayne at 719-256-4247.

Here is the link to an interview with Tsoknyi Rinpoche on “How to do Retreat” that you may find helpful: https://tsoknyirinpoche.org/12021/an-interview-concerning-retreat-with-tsoknyi-rinpoche/

What if I have an emergency or a non-emergency need for medical care?

This link provides a list of hospitals and medical providers.

Any advice for living in this environment?

Due to Crestone’s high altitude at 8100 feet it is very important to maintain adequate hydration. There are deer, coyotes, elk, foxes, bears, mice, mountain lions and other animals living around Crestone, so please do not leave food outside the cabins, Lama House or in your car. Here is some advice on being with bears: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/bears/safety.htm and with mountain lions: www.mountainlion.org/portalprotectencounters.asp.

Finally, please be aware that there is a high risk for fires in Colorado. To be safe, please do not have outdoor fires, including smoking and use of candles and incense. Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes from your place of lodging. Evacuation procedures can be found in each cabin and in Lama House.

Is there a best time to come in terms of weather and other conditions?

Crestone has four distinct seasons, all beautiful in different ways. In fall and spring you can experience many seasons in one day — sunny skies, intense rain, and hail or snow. Spring tends to be more windy, sometimes fiercely so. From mid-June through early August there is usually a heavy concentration of mosquitoes, making sitting and walking outside decidedly uncomfortable.

The winters are cold and clear. Summers are comfortably warm but you can expect sudden and powerful lightning and thunderstorms. To get a better sense of the historical weather patterns go to: http://www.keno.org/vws/

What are check-in and check-out times?

Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. on Sunday and check-out is 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Our Retreat Care Coordinator, Wayne Halstrom, will greet you at the Pundarika Zimchung (Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s house at 956 Meditation Overlook in Crestone) upon your arrival for orientation. In the case of severe weather or late arrival, you may be required to delay your check-in. You can track the local weather at: http://www.keno.org/vws/ and Colorado road conditions at http://www.cotrip.org/map.htm#/roadConditions.

What should I bring?

Here is a list of the things already in each cabin and Lama House:

A twin bed with comforter, sheets and pillows, a large zafu (8” buckwheat fill) and zabuton, chair, altar, camp lantern, kitchenware, pots and pans, fireplace and firewood, double hotplate, toaster oven, small refrigerator, blender, first aid kit, cleaning supplies, soaps (laundry, hand, shower and dish), water, ax, matches and basic condiments. You’ll need to purchase paper products such as toilet paper, etc., when you buy your food.

The altar in the retreat cabins and Lama House will have a Buddha statue, Pundarika chant book, offering bowls, a picture of Rinpoche, the lineage tree and Dorje Yudronma.

Here are some suggested items to bring for the cabins:

  • Medications (Please be sure to bring an ample supply of your medications. The nearest pharmacies are in Alamosa, which is approximately an hour away.)
  • Layered clothing (We can have many “seasons” in one day.)
  • Sturdy shoes and slippers (Closed-toed shoes due to cactus)
  • Extra blankets and/or sleeping bag
  • Rain/snow gear
  • Candles (votive)
  • Practice materials
  • Flashlight/headlamp and extra batteries
  • Incense
  • Backpack
  • Camera
  • Cash or credit card for groceries
  • Toiletries including lip balm and lotion for the very dry air
  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (even in winter)
  • Water bottle with a secure-fitting lid
  • Mosquito repellent/bite relief cream, non-scented (but only for mid-June/July)
  • Shawl or light blanket for early morning/late evening sitting

Please do not bring pets. Also, there is no visiting by friends or relatives during the retreat.

What things will I need to do to keep up the cabins or lama house?

Karma yoga is a daily aspect of every retreatant’s schedule. Keeping the cabin, common spaces or the Lama House clean is an essential part of doing your retreat. There is no housekeeper, so it is solely up to you to leave your space in a beautiful and welcoming condition for the next retreatant. There will be instructions on what to do and cleaning products will be provided.

Laundry can be done at the Retreat Support Building. A schedule will be posted in each cabin for this. Lama House has its own washing machine and dryer.

Who can I get help from with general house or cabin maintenance issues or emergencies?

Please call Wayne Halstrom at: 719-256-4247 or by e-mail at dakini218@gmail.com. Wayne will also be meeting you at check in for orientation and do a brief de-brief on your last day.

Who can I contact for retreat and practice advice?

Please call Brady Hogan at: 304-639-9889.

How can I see and hear teachings by Rinpoche?

There will be a hard-drive in each room of Lama House and cabins with the Advanced Membership teachings on them. The hard drive is configured to work on a Macintosh computer to get full audio and video. PCs will only be able to hear audio.

How do I get food and other supplies?

We have two grocery stores in Crestone, one of which is a health store. If your retreat is lengthy, you can contact Wayne Halstrom at 719-256-4247 to purchase and deliver food and other supplies that you may need.

What do I do with garbage & recycle?

If staying in the cabins, please store garbage and recycle in separate bags in the Men’s Bathroom in the Retreat Support House. The Retreat Caretaker will show you where the key is.

If staying in Lama House, please put garbage and recycle in the storage shed (keys to the shed will be in the house).

How do I get to Crestone?

Please go to this link: https://tsoknyirinpoche.org/retreats/getting-to-and-from-crestone-co/

Where do I park?

For the time being, long-term parking will be in front of the retreat support building for the cabins and in the driveway at Lama House. If you are in retreat during the winter, please bring a windshield scraper for snow and de-icing spray, and make sure your tires meet ice and snow requirements. If you need to unplug your car battery for longer stays, please see what is required for your vehicle. Should we have significant snowfall, we will have the driveway plowed.

Is there local transportation?

No public transportation is available in Crestone.

Can I own a cabin?

Pundarika Foundation, as a non-profit church, owns the land and buildings on Yeshe Rangsal Retreat Land. There is no individual ownership possible.