November 4, 2012

Margha Program Overview

Registration for the Margha Program in 2018 is closed. For more details or contact the Margha Coordinator margha@naturaldharma.org.

Current Margha program participants can access the Margha Program Resources:

About

Margha is a year-long meditation training focusing on Natural Meditation and Bodhicitta practices, on alternating years. It is intended for newcomers as well as seasoned meditators looking for a structured program to learn, progress and deepen in a sequence of profound yet accessible meditations adapted from traditional Tibetan Buddhist practice.

Margha is guided by a team of Natural Dharma Fellowship (NDF) Teachers and Margha Mitras (mentors). This program is built around monthly small-group meetings offered in a variety of locations as well as in remote virtual groups. Each student is assigned a Margha Mitra for the year. Meditation practices are introduced by the Mitras during monthly meetings, through online resources including guided meditation audios, and via monthly readings from assigned texts. In addition, during twice yearly retreats at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, essential teachings are provided by Lama Willa Miller, Lama John Makransky, Lopon Liz Monson, as well as Margha Program Co-Directors Camille Hykes and Bob Morrison. In addition, there are optional mid-month teachings on the assigned readings offered via livestream or audio by Natural Dharma Fellowship teachers.

Margha 2018

The Margha program content alternates year-to-year between “Natural Meditation” and “Bodhicitta”, which may be completed in any order. Some participants choose to work with each set of practices for multiple years.

The 2018 Margha Program focuses on Bodhicitta practices of loving kindness and compassion, including Lojong as transmitted in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Participants learn a series of contemplative practices to deepen in love, self-compassion, compassion for others, wisdom, forgiveness, sympathetic joy and equanimity. The alternate year’s program will focus on the Natural Meditation: the practices of Shamatha, Vipassana and Open Awareness. These practices take participants on an experiential journey to discover and deepen their relationship with the nature of mind. The curriculum, a thorough distillation of traditional Tibetan Buddhist training, was created jointly by Lama Willa Miller and Lama John Makransky for the students of Natural Dharma Fellowship, with the intent to support participants to build a strong foundation for a life of spiritual practice. It is supported and transmitted by these guiding teachers, as well as a circle of dedicated Mitras (mentors) well-trained in these practices.

The yearly program begins each December with a Welcome and Orientation Meeting. The “kickoff” for the Margha teachings happens at the NDF January retreat which students participate in either onsite, via live-stream, or later by listening to audio downloads of selected teachings. It is strongly recommended that Margha students attend at least one retreat a year onsite.

Mitras and Monthly Groups and other Resources

Each Margha student is assigned a Mitra (Dharma Friend/Mentor) and a Margha group. Most groups have 1-2 Mitras and a small group of participants. During monthly sessions, the Mitras offer teachings and guided meditations, provide support and answer questions related to the Margha practices. Also, students offer invaluable support to each other as they explore the practices and teachings together. As a Margha Student, you have access to curriculum-specific resources on the NDF website, including reading materials and audio-tapes of teachings. A suggested reading list is also provided to complement the teachings. You will meet three times a year for individual interviews with your Mitra.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can participate?

Margha is open to anyone, beginners and seasoned practitioners alike, who has made a connection with Lama Willa or other teachers through Natural Dharma Fellowship and who wishes to pursue the teachings and a commitment to practice at a deeper level.

Q: Where is the Margha Program located?

Margha practices are introduced by Lama Willa Miller and other teachers during the week-long retreats in January and July, held at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH, and by Mitras during monthly meetings. For 2017, there are groups located in Portland/Yarmouth, ME; Newton, MA; Springfield/Sunapee, NH; Cambridge, MA; North Andover/Andover, MA; Philadelphia, PA; and two Remote Groups that meet via Zoom (like Skype).

Q: What will be expected of me as a participant?

  • Daily-ish practice, approximately 20 minutes 5 times per week.
  • Required readings
  • Attendance at most monthly meetings. Your participation in monthly meetings is a powerful and integral part of your own experience in the Margha Program and benefits your fellow group members as well.
  • Participation in the January and July week-long retreats, either onsite (standard retreat fees apply), or via live-stream video or audio download.

Q: What dates and time frames should I be aware of?

  • Registration for each year’s Margha Program occurs in the Fall.
  • Monthly meetings are December through October, with the exception of January and July when retreats are taking place.
  • Graduation Ceremony is in early November.
  • Registration for retreats begins 6 months in advance, and they often fill up immediately.