KCC’s first long retreat at Ser Chö Ösel Ling lasted one year. It began March 30, 2013, and ended March 29, 2014.
Retreatants participated in the practices of the Awakened Mind, or Mahamudra Program, designed by Bokar Rinpoche, back in the early 1990s, specifically for Westerners. These practices include the Karma Kagyu Ngondro, Chenrezig, the Milarepa Tsok, and Tonglen.
The retreat was guided by Lama Michael Conklin, KCC’s resident teacher. Assisting him was Lama Tara (Janet Goforth) from Victoria, British Columbia. Lama Conklin completed a three-year retreat in 1989. Sangha members Bill Spangle and Dora DeCoursey completed a one-year retreat in 1997-98 on Salt Spring Island, in British Columbia, at Kunzang Dechen Ösel Ling (KDOL).
Retreatants practiced full time each day for the entire year. Most stayed inside the cloister full time. (Two or three had chronic health issues requiring them to visit their physicians a few times during the duration of the retreat.)
This intensive year of practice was a rare opportunity here in the United States. The participants came from as far away as Nepal. Many of those registered have been a part of the KCC community for decades and have helped to build the retreat center.
This retreat helped KCC fulfill its mission and vision to provide meditation experience at all levels by adding offerings for more intensive, longer-term practice for members of this and other Tibetan Buddhist communities who are able to arrange their other commitments to do intensive periods of retreat.