Mind Without Borders: Winter Retreat

Thu., December 29, 2022 - Sun., January 1, 2023
All Day

Mind Without Borders: Winter Retreat

You can attend this event online or on site at Nalanda West.

Coming home to our true nature

In our crazy world, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed with the global challenges and local issues facing us today, and decide there is nothing we can do. But like a pebble thrown into a pond, our individual actions create concentric circles that go beyond us, out into the world, and that is where we can make a difference — either positive or negative. But how?

How do we first find a peaceful place inside ourselves and then extend kindness to others? How do we free our mind from its usual ego-driven patterns that create pain and anxiety for ourselves and others? How can we ensure a feeling of security, freedom, and wellbeing? 

Sometimes we build walls and borders, thinking they will protect us from other people, animals, and the environment. We not only create physical walls to separate homes, entire communities and countries, but we also imagine all kinds of borders in our mind, based on differences — different cultures, genders, religions and so on. 

But do borders really help fulfill our dreams and aspirations? Do they solve the greater, global struggles? If we look beyond them, without judgment and with curiosity, we begin to connect with mind without borders — a state of freedom. Freedom from the borders of limiting biases and impulses that cause us to feel trapped in our lives. It’s here where we feel the expansive love ever-present in our heart. It is here where our lives, our actions and their concentric circles, become beneficial. It is here where change can truly transpire. 

Mind without borders invites an expansive relationship with our world, which is the focus of this year’s annual Winter Retreat. 

Over four days, we will take a creative, practical, and hands-on approach, exploring how to live a compassionate life, inspired by The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva, a classic Mahayana Buddhist text by Tibetan Buddhist master Tokmé Zangpo (685 – 763). With presentations by a variety of skillful teachers and guides, along with meditation practice and contemplative exercises to integrate and embody our learning, we’ll make a personal relationship to this text and learn to apply its lessons in our uniquely challenging lives.

Traveling together the Bodhisattva path of compassion and wisdom will help bring our mind home to a state of freedom — a mind without borders — inviting us to live fully and to benefit others in our interconnected world. We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

About Mind Without Borders

Mind Without Borders is a prison dharma program based out of the New York City Nalandabodhi sangha. We provide Buddhist study through correspondence courses, dharma pen pals and meditation instructors.

As one of our inmates wrote to us:
“Using the teachings ‘here’ in prison has helped a lot because we deal with a lot of uncertainty. We deal with a lot of mental issues and our states of mind are disturbed. By applying the studies and practice in this environment, we can help ourselves investigate our afflictions. Through this insight, we find peace and balance.”

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has told us, in general, that those of us who have been fortunate enough to hear, contemplate and meditate upon the dharma have a responsibility to share it with others, especially those who are in the greatest need.  Specifically, in respect to prisoners and the dharma, he says, “Prisoners should have the same opportunity as any one of us.”  He considers prison work to be very important social justice work.

How can you participate and support?

We are looking for pen pals to correspond with prison inmates who are interested in the dharma and meditation. Correspondence is anonymously handled through our MWB P.O.Box. We work with both, male and female inmates.

Please make a donation to MWB so that we can support our prisoners on the path with study materials. You can donate via paypal going to the MWB page on nyc.nalandabodhi.org

Please reach out to Isabel Kirsch (isakirsch@gmail.com), or Jonathan Swann (swannthirdave@gmail.com) Co-Directors of MWB if you are interested in corresponding with a prison inmate.

About Our Teachers

Mitra Mark Power

Mitra Mark has been a student of the Dharma for several decades and has studied with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche since the early 1990s. Over the years, Mark served in a variety of leadership and service roles within Nalandabodhi. In 2005, he was appointed as a teacher (Mitra) and made a member of the Mitra Council where his focus is the Path of Mindful Activity — the intersection of dharma and daily life.



Acharya Tashi Wangchuk

Acharya Tashi is the resident teacher at Nalanda West, Nalandabodhi’s center in Seattle. He also serves as the main acharya overseeing all Nalandabodhi centers in North America. 

Born and raised in eastern Bhutan, Acharya Tashi moved to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India, at the age of 15. While there, he studied for ten years and graduated from Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, the principal Karma Kagyu monastic college. After his graduation, Acharya Tashi assumed teaching responsibilities for the Karma Kagyu lineage in Hong Kong before returning to Rumtek Monastery to teach at the college from which he graduated.


Mitra Lee Worley

Mitra Lee Worley was born in Glen Cove, New York. She graduated from Mt. Holyoke College with a BA in English and Drama, and later from The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. Her acting career led her to discover Buddhism in 1973 while attending a theater conference in Boulder, Colorado, where she was invited to teach acting at the Naropa Institute. While teaching, she began meditating and attending talks by Naropa’s founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Lee met Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Naropa and became his student. She took on the role of practice coordinator in Boulder, and then of national practice coordinator for Nalandabodhi. Lee was appointed as a “Mitra” (Spiritual Friend) by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 2005, and currently oversees the Path of Meditation within the Mitra Council.

As a practitioner, Lee aims to be a champion of meditation both on and off the cushion. “I look for the truth that underlies the dharma,” she says, “and seek ways to bring it into moment-by-moment life beyond any dogma.” Lee is the author of two books: Coming From Nothing: the Sacred Art of Acting and Teaching Presence: Field Notes for Players.


Mitra Dean Tyler Dewar

Mitra Tyler was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. He has been engaged in the study and practice of Buddhism since 1996, becoming a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche two years later. He began studying the Tibetan language in 1997, and became an oral interpreter and textual translator for Nitartha Institute and Nalandabodhi in 2000.

Mitra Tyler joined the faculty of Nitartha Institute in 2003 and was appointed as a senior teacher in Nalandabodhi in 2005.


Acharya Lhakpa Tsering

Acharya Lhakpa Tshering was born in Bhutan and entered monastic school at age 12. In 1993, he enrolled at Rumtek Monastery’s Karma Shri Nalanda Institute in Sikkim, India. During his final years as a student, he served as an assistant teacher and member of the student welfare committee.

In 2002, Acharya Lhakpa graduated with a masters in buddhist studies, also known as an acharya degree. After completing his studies, he served as co-librarian with Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche, as a teacher at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, and as an editor for Nitartha Publications in Kathmandu, Nepal.

In 2006, Acharya Lhakpa moved to Nalanda West in Seattle, Washington, where he continues to support students as a resident teacher. He is also a visiting teacher at Nalandabodhi centers across the northeastern and central United States, as well as Brazil.



Ellen Balze

Ellen became a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 2015 and began working with the Core Path of Mindful Activity Team in 2018. She is a clinical psychologist with a background in organizational consulting, and is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a form of psychotherapy based on Buddhist teachings. She has benefited greatly from opportunities (and reminders) to pause, relax, and reflect while collaborating with other East Coast Nalandabodhi members and folks across Nalandabodhi on retreats and other projects. She also enjoys baking bread and caring for succulents.


Laura McRae

Laura McRae has been a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche since 2005. Born in Los Angeles and educated in Houston, she is teacher of English and Creative Writing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her first full-length collection of poems, Were There Gazelle, appeared from Pedlar Press in spring of 2020.



Offering timeless wisdom and boundless compassion

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Offering timeless wisdom and boundless compassion

Share this event with friends and family!


Offering timeless wisdom and boundless compassion

Share this event with friends and family!



All times are in US west coast time
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Nalandabodhi Winter Retreat 12/29/2022-01/01/2023
Mind Without Borders
All times are in US west coast time

2:30pm – 2:40 Welcome and Orientation
2:40pm -3:00pm Opening Teaching by Acharya Lhakpa
3:00pm-4:15pm Mitra Mark Power Teaching Session 1
4:15pm-4:45pm Break
4:45pm-6:00pm Path of Mindful Activity by Ellen Balze & Laura McRae

8:00am-9:00am Meditation Session
9:00am-9:30am   Break
9:30am-10:45am Mitra Mark Teaching Session 2
10:45am-11:00am Break
11:00am- 12:00pm Sharing about inmate students and Tara practice for them (Mind Without Borders)
12:00pm-1:30pm Lunch Break
1:30pm-2:30pm Mitra Lee Worley Session 1
2:30pm-3:00pm Tea Break
3:00pm-4:30pm Acharya Tashi Teaching Session 1

8:00am-9:00am Meditation Session
9:00am-9:30am   Break/Meditation
9:30am-10:45am Mitra Mark Teaching Session 3
10:45am-11:00am Break/Meditation
11:00am- 12:00pm Sharing about inmate students and Tara practice for them (Mind Without Borders)
12:00pm-1:30pm Lunch Break
1:30pm-1:45pm Brief Meditation
1:45pm-3:00pm Acharya Tashi Teaching Session 2
3:00pm-3:45pm Tea Break
3:45pm-4:45pm Mitra Lee Worley Session 2
4:45pm-5:00pm Break
5:00pm-6:30pm Mitra Dean Tyler Teaching and Practice Session, New Year Eve Teaching and “King Aspiration Prayer”

8:00am-9:00am Meditation Session
9:00am-9:30am   Break/Meditation
9:30am-10:45am Mitra Mark Teaching Session 4
10:45am-11:00am Break/Meditation
11:00am- 12:15pm Path of Mindful Activity by Ellen Balze & Laura McRae
12:15pm-12:30pm Closing Remarks

People’s financial situation should never be an issue to participate! Because of this we have a scholarship page for those in need of reduced pricing:
Click here if you need a scholarship for this retreat.
Use the password: W1nterRetre@t22!

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Date/Time Date(s) - Thu., December 29, 2022 - Sun., January 1, 2023
All Day

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This event is fully booked.