2010 Urban Winter Retreat
Sun, Dec 26, 2010 through Sun, Jan 2, 2011
Retreat Details and Policies
Winter Retreat last year in Las Vegas
Last updated: December 16, 2010
How to Register
The Winter Retreat will have a formal commencement time of 5:00 PM on Sunday, December 26. However, all participants should plan their arrival at their hotel no later than 1:00 PM to allow buffer time for flight delays and to settle properly into the retreat environment. Please eat dinner prior to the opening ceremony. Be in your seat in the shrine room by 4:50 PM.
The retreat will start at 5:00 PM and everyone be seated and settled by that time. Anyone missing the opening ceremony or any subsequent sessions will not be able to continue to participate in the retreat without permission. All sessions are mandatory. In other words, attendance at the opening ceremonies and all the teaching and practice sessions are mandatory for all participants. If you choose to miss a session, then that choice is the same as choosing to exit the retreat early.
The Winter Retreat will have a concluding ceremony that will end by 3:00 pm on Sunday, January 2rd. All participants should plan their departure from Las Vegas after that time. Please do not book your return flight out of LAS prior to 3:00 PM on January 2rd. Many participants in our retreats choose to spend some time immediately after the concluding ceremony to volunteer to help with the clean-up, receive additional teachings and take some time to contemplate the profound teachings they’ve just received prior to returning home.
If you will be traveling by air, flights directly to Las Vegas will be the best option for simplifying your journey. McCarran International Airport (LAS) is a full-service international airport located about four miles (depending on traffic, less than a 15-minute drive) from the Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas.
All retreatants are responsible for their own transportation. The Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas has free shuttle service. If for some reason the shuttle is not fast enough for you Vegas also has a multitude of taxi services.
The Retreat Environs
The Winter Retreat will be held in its entirety at the Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas which is located on South Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas.
Historically, the months of December and January in Las Vegas have very similar weather patterns, with less than an inch of rain each month, average highs of 57°F (14°C) and average lows of 37°F (3°C). The record high for the two months is 91°F (33°C) and the record low is 8°F (-13°C). To check a ten-day forecast before you travel, visit Weather.com.
Keep in mind that the retreat is being held during high-season for Las Vegas with a peak number of people in town for New Year's celebrations. Therefore it is advisable to book your hotel and flights as soon as possible. Many hotels and flights will become full as the holidays approach.
The Retreat Hotel
Please visit the Hotel Accommodations page for information about the hotel where the retreat will be held and for details on how to get special rates there by booking prior to December 22, 2010.
To arrange another hotel it is recommended that you also check the online travel sites such as Orbitz.com, Priceline.com or Hotels.com to make your arrangements since they often offer lower rates than if you book directly with individual hotels. There are a number of other hotels in the area near the Hilton. The retreat director has no further information about the other hotels.
If you are driving a recreational vehicle, here are some RV Parks in the area near the Hilton. The retreat director has no further information about the RV Parks.
Retreatants are responsible for purchasing all their meals. Food is not included. Tea, water, and some light snacks may be provided, food is not allowed in the retreat room, unless otherwise directed.
The Winter Retreat daily schedule will be demanding and activity-filled. All participants are expect to attend the entirety of all practice and teaching sessions allowing only for quick trips to the bathroom if necessary. Sessions typically last one and a half to two and half hours with up to five sessions in a day and interspersed with short breaks and mealtimes. Please plan on eight to ten hours per day of scheduled formal sessions. Spontaneous Dharma activities such as music, dancing, singing, art and yoga may also occur.
For this urban retreat, we are anticipating a daily schedule that will commence group activities by 9 or 10 AM and end by 6 or 7 PM. There will be rest breaks between sessions and a longer break for lunch around 1 PM. The schedule will be announced once the retreat has started and is subject to change each day as directed by the teacher or retreat director.
As part of traditional retreat practice all participants will take a vow of silence and non-activity during the eight hours allotted for sleep. In order to maintain the ability to concentrate and properly receive the daily teachings it is vital that everyone adhere to this vow. This means that during the assigned sleeping hours everyone should be resting quietly in bed and must refrain from walking, sitting, talking, using electronic devices, reading or reciting.
If the continuity of an individuals' retreat is broken by failure to attend one of the sessions they will not be allowed to re-enter the retreat. This rule is strictly enforced as missing even one session affects the mandala of positive thinking and wisdom that is generated by each individuals' effort and practice.
Honoring the Shrine Room
The Buddhist shrine room is a holy environment that is created with the sole purpose of providing a powerful support for the arising and increasing of positive thinking and pure intention. Therefore, our treatment of the shrine room—as well as our conduct inside—should be in accordance with this purpose. Please strive to keep your area within the shrine room tidy and clean and be respectful of others’ space and practice tools. In particular, please avoid harsh speech.
During the retreat we will all be taking turns taking care of and arranging offerings on the shrine. This is a type of organized generosity practice which will be accomplished using a team system and provides an excellent opportunity to increase your merit. The details of this duty will be provided once the retreat is underway.
Additionally, everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the funds that will be used to purchase shrine offerings such as fruit, rice, flowers, water and wine. During your stay, please speak with the Retreat Director at an appropriate time regarding donations.
Additional instructions on Shrine Room etiquette may be provided by the retreat director at the beginning of the retreat.
Personal Items to Bring
NOTE: Although retreatants will be able to leave the retreat environs at mealtimes to pick up supplies, you may want to make sure you have assembled an adequate supply of personal items before you leave home.
- The Buddha Path practice text (you can borrow or purchase one at the retreat)
- Meditation cushion or equivalent.
- Dharma tools such as bell and dorje, ritual drum, mala, etc.
- A cloth or blanket to cover the knees during sessions (helps with circulation, reduces soreness).
- Musical instruments.
- Notebook(s) and multiple writing utensils.
- Laptop if you prefer for taking notes.
- Any and all needed prescription medications.
- Over-the-counter medicines and supplements (including aspirin, vitamins, etc).
- Sunscreen, etc.
- Clothing for cool nights (sometimes we walk in the city at night).
- A sun hat or cap.
- Swimsuit for the pool and spa.
- Hiking/walking shoes.
- An alarm clock.
- Water bottle with a sealable lid.
- Batteries and rechargers for your electronic devices.
- Dana (offering) for teachers.
- Shrine offerings & decorations.
- Extra money for offerings, incidentals, and possibly Dharma items/tools.
What to Leave Behind
- Weapons and firearms.
- Personal supply of alcohol.
- Illegal drugs (This includes intentionally misusing over-the-counter and prescription drugs).
- Cigarettes and Tobacco (Smoking destroys the health and proper functioning of the body as well as a person's ability to increase their merit and wisdom through Dharma practice. For the benefit of all sentient beings, the shrine room is a non-smoking environment).
If you are taking any kind of pharmaceutical that can influence your mental state (including but not limited to anti-depressants, diabetes and or thyroid medications) you will be required to bring an adequate supply for your entire stay, and required to consistently follow the usage pattern and medical advice prescribed by your physician. Please inform the Retreat Director of your special medical conditions when you register. This information will be kept confidential and is gathered only to provide the retreat staff with the knowledge to appropriately respond in the event of an emergency.
The organizers will not be able to provide child care services during this year's Winter Retreat. If you plan on bringing children under the age of 18 to the retreat, please contact the Winter Retreat Director to discuss.
Meditation Cushions and Chairs
The Retreat Director encourages everyone to bring their own meditation cushion or equivalent unless it is unreasonable for you to pack. This will ensure that you will have the most suitable and comfortable seating arrangement possible. A few cushions may be available on a first-come first-served basis for those unable to bring their own. For those who have a physical condition that makes sitting on a cushion for long periods detrimental simple chairs will be provided by the hotel, but you may want to bring an additional seat or back cushion to augment the chairs.
Making a traditional offering, or Dana, to our teachers at the beginning and end of a retreat is an auspicious and powerful means to generating merit, the power of positive thinking. Such offerings, of course, are in no way meant as payment for teachings. By giving something that we ourselves value we are thereby strengthening the thinking that Dharma is more desirable than any material object we could ever possess.
Additionally, it important to note that Khenpo Choga Rinpoche never receives any monetary compensation from the public teachings and retreats which he so kindly offers.
Accordingly, if you would like to contribute to the traditional Sangha offering at the start of the retreat please speak with the Retreat Director. At the end of your retreat there will be ample opportunity to make a personal offering.
The Great Merit of Supporting This Retreat
Now, more than ever, the powerfully focused Sangha practice of retreat is vital for purifying the harmful energy of negative thinking that proliferates as the complex problems that we find in modern societies. It also provides a means for the public to transform impermanent worldly resources into an inexhaustible source of merit. It is the aspiration of the organizers of the Winter Retreat to raise money for this retreat to finance the purchase of offerings, ritual implements, musical instruments and decorative ornaments to be utilized for the benefit of all beings.
The organizers intend to set aside a portion of the money raised to be used for scholarships to enable financially-challenged retreatants to attend.
For those who are not able to attend this retreat, a donation made with pure intention to support it's success is an extremely beneficial and worthwhile action. Please consider contributing to the Retreat Fund today by contacting the Retreat Director.
Donations should be made payable to Dzogchen Bodhi Temple of Las Vegas, an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contributions are tax-deductable to the full extent of the law.
Cancellations and Refund Policy
Once you register, you may cancel any time prior to December 22, 2010 and receive a refund of 100% of any fees you have paid. There will be no refunds after December 22, 2010.
If you have any questions or concerns about the preceding or the Dzogchen Winter Retreat in general please direct them to:
2010 Winter Retreat Director
Dzogchen Winter Retreat Information and Registration Site