August 2016 Newsletter

Wonderwell 2017 Schedule Update

For 2017, Wonderwell’s Schedule webpage will list all upcoming retreats for the year. These retreats will be open for registration. We hope that this will allow everyone to see all retreats offered in a given year and plan for which ones you may wish to attend. Please note that this is a change from prior years, where we opened registration for retreats six months in advance of the start date.

if you have any questions, please email Wonderwell registrar Dan Gilner atRetreats@wonderwellrefuge.org

This process will take a few more weeks to be completed, but we wanted to inform everyone of the change now. You can view those retreats which have been uploaded so far by clicking on the link below, and please keep an eye out over the next few weeks as we finish uploading the rest of the retreats for 2017.

Please note that for the 2017 winter Margha retreat, we will send out further information well in advance to allow Margha participants to be prepared to register at the time we open registration.


complete retreat schedule


Hidden Lands, Hidden Yogis: Pilgrimage to Bhutan

May 19-June 2, 2017.

Join Lama Willa Miller, Lopon Liz Monson, and Jetsun Deleplanque on a two-week pilgrimage to the Land of Dragons. We will explore and practice in ancient sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites surrounded by rural agricultural communities in high mountain retreats and stunning natural beauty. While we will visit some famous pilgrimage destinations, such as Tiger’s Nest, where Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal famously retreated, the Chime Lhakang, the temple of the Divine madman, Drukpa Kunley, and Tharpaling,the mountain monastic complex founded by Longchenpa, the tour will also visit lesser-known temples, caves, and sacred sites off the beaten path where hidden treasures and encounters await us. We also will be meeting with local Buddhist teachers, for teachings and blessings.

This tour includes a combination of in-country travel, meditation practice, Buddhist teachings, and cultural talks. You do not have to be Buddhist to attend the pilgrimage, but please be aware that there is significant time set aside each day for meditation practice, and Buddhist teachings (on some days).

For more information see our website:

Contact Liz Monson at elizabeth@naturaldharma.org.


Wonderwell Organic Garden Update

Wonderwell Mountain Refuge is committed to engaging in practices that promote environmental sustainability, ecological awareness and compassion. As part of this commitment, we have continued with our tradition of tending an organic garden at Wonderwell. This has been a collaborative effort between Wonderwell staff and community members.

Tending an organic garden at Wonderwell not only lowers the cost of produce to be purchased for retreats, but also it embodies the teachings on Ecological Dharma and the training on the Ecosattva path in that it experientially develops a compassionate connection with the earth, and stewarding it’s creations. Supporting an organic garden helps Wonderwell, as a Eco-Dharma center, lead by example in using it’s land to promote sustainability, and overall care for the earth. Given the enormity and often crippling fear that global climate change confronts us with, we must all, as Joanna Macy says, as institutions and individuals learn to “build the structures of the new, within the shell of the old.” At Wonderwell, tending an organic garden is a piece of what we can do to build structures of earth care and sustainability.

This year, for the first time, we have weighed and accounted for all of the garden’s produce. Wonderwell’s organic garden has produced 63 pounds of organic mixed-variety salad greens and 90 pounds of kale varietals, rainbow chard, and deliciously sweet beet greens. It has also produced herbs, carrots, cucumbers, beets, beans, squash, tomatoes etc. So far, garden-grown produce has added up to $2,070 in savings! Nearly all of this produce has been used for retreats, thereby reducing the amount of produce Wonderwell need to purchaseUtilizing our gardens produce for retreats also reduces our carbon footprint for food and allows our kitchen manager, Donna Lewandowski, to plan seasonal menus. These menus respect the natural cycles of agricultural growth in our specific bioregion. By tending the garden as part of their daily practices, Wonderwell staff have limited garden expenses to less than $150 for materials, including starts and seeds.Those who joined us for retreats in July were nourished by this produce, and the garden will continue to yield its bountiful blessings for our retreats into the fall!

If you are interested in the planning of or financial support for increasing the garden for next summer please email the Sustainability Committee Chair, Dan Gilner, at Gilnerde@gmail.com.


Natural Dharma Fellowship Partners with GreenFaith Fellowship

Natural Dharma Fellowship is now a partner with GreenFaith, an internationally recognized interfaith organization that works with faith communities and leaders across the globe to collaborate on addressing global climate change. GreenFaith addresses climate change issues through both enacting sustainability measures within faith communities, and also bringing faith communities together for collective social and environmental justice action

As part of this partnership with GreenFaith, NDF has already participated in one global initiative Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust.

We are delighted to announce that Wonderwell staff member Dan Gilner was awarded a 2016 GreenFaith Fellowship, as a representative of Natural Dharma Fellowship. As a part of his capstone project for this fellowship he is examining the importance of spiritual communities utilizing their land for sustainability and earth care initiatives, primarily organic gardening. It is Dan’s hope to create an article for publication in partnership with other Dharma centers which tend organic gardens. This article will critically examine how tending organic gardens has effected these dharma centers communities, practices, development and engagement with Eco-Dharma/earth care, as well as their kitchen finances.Dan will also be creating a digital presentation on Wonderwell’s experience with it’s organic garden, and the why’s and how’s of creating one. This presentation will be shared with other faith communities as well as non-sectarian organizations and schools within the GreenFaith network.

Because Dan is focusing on the garden as part of his GreenFaith capstone project, he would love to receive your personal stories of how Wonderwell’s garden, and interacting with it through eating it’s gifts or simply walking through it on retreat, has affected you. If you have a story to share, please email Dan at: Gilnerde@gmail.com


Completion of Phase I Construction

We are excited to announce that over the past three months, the final construction for Phase I has been completed at Wonderwell. This work includes the following elements:

  • Completion of basement excavation work.
  • Pouring of the concrete slab in the basement that will support the 15,000 gallons of water storage for the sprinkler system.
  • Structural upgrades in the attic above the meditation hall.
  • Spray foam insulation of the basement foundation and both of the 3rd floor attic areas.
  • Construction of a fire-rated enclosure in the basement to house the pump for the sprinkler system.
  • Construction of a gravel fire lane to the rear of the building.
  • Installation of a new window in the basement staff bedroom to allow it to be subdivided into two private rooms.

The basement excavation and slab work, along with the full air-sealing and insulation of basement and attics is a major step forward towards reducing our energy consumption and environmental impact. It will also greatly increase both the comfort and functionality of the building.


Monthly Words of Wisdom

To be a spiritual warrior, one must have a broken heart; without a broken heart and the sense of tenderness and vulnerability that is in one’s self and all others, your warriorship is untrustworthy.

–Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche


Listen online

Unable to join us in person for Dharma Sunday September 11th? Join us live. Streaming starts at 10 am.