Workshops, Retreats, Private Sessions
I will not be doing any traveling and teaching for the foreseeable future. My wife and I have recently moved to Costa Rica where we are building a retreat cottage. My vision is to work intensively with individuals or couples who are ready to dive truly deeply into the centre of their body and mind and have a direct experience of what I increasingly refer to as The Great Wide Open. In addition to announcing the opening of Bambu Hueco, please scroll down for further information about the Hollow Bamboo Teacher's Training and the 2020 Online Virtual Retreat.
Private Retreats at Bambu Hueco
Bambu Hueco, the Hollow Bamboo Retreat Cottage, is at long last ready to receive those of you ready to enter into intensive practice. The cottage sits on a steep hillside on the southern tip of Costa Rica's Nicoya peninsula just outside the little town of Montezuma and floats out over a jungle valley with spectacular views of jungle, ocean, shoreline, and big sky. It was designed with one purpose: to support meditators in their quest to uncover and have a direct experience of their essential nature, The Great Wide Open.
I’m a big believer in the benefits of self-retreat, and I’m at a stage in my life that I’m wanting to devote my energy to people who've been exposed to the dharma and are wanting to really go for it, who are ready to dive deeply into the centre of body and mind and directly experience the transformation into what I’ve been referring to as The Great Wide Open, which I view as the culmination of the Buddhist path.
What will a private self-retreat at Bambu Hueco look like? I will give you an intensive schedule for daily sitting, lying down, and movement practices from early morning to early evening. Every morning I will want to meet with you privately for an hour and a half of instruction and discussion. As support for settling into the posture that catalyzes the practice I will want to do a Rolfing™ session with you every other afternoon. As silent meditation retreat often spikes our dream life, on the other afternoons you will be meeting with my wife Coco for a dreamwork session.
At the retreats I’ve taught in North America, the centre that invited me would generally charge a basic fee for food and lodging and I would offer the teaching on a dana (donation) basis, and we’ve decided to follow that model at Bambu Hueco. For this first year we've set a reasonable daily fee to cover the main meal, your lodging, and upkeep for the cottage of $125. At the end of the retreat you may offer us dana for the teaching as you see fit and as you’re able. In that I view deep bodywork and dreamwork as integral components of how I personally want to teach Hollow Bamboo Dharma, your dana will cover not only the dharma teachings you receive from me but the Rolfing™ and dreamwork sessions as well. People often ask me how much dana is appropriate, and my response is always that what matters is that students give honestly from their hearts as a realistic expression of both their gratitude for the teachings and their ability to contribute to supporting the work of Bambu Hueco. What’s most important to us is that, if you’re someone who’s ready for the kind of intensive immersion and transformation that can occur at a retreat at Bambu Hueco, you come. For now we simply trust in the good will of dharma practitioners and that our needs will be met. As a guide, dana has ranged from $200 a day to $1000 a day.
When might it be ideal for you to come? The weather here in the southern Nicoya is warm and gentle all year long. The sunniest season is from mid-December through mid-May. The rainy season starts then, but until October when the rain can be incessant for several weeks, mornings are generally beautiful with the clouds coming in the afternoons with showers in the evening. Some of you may want to include a retreat as part of a longer holiday, and I’m fine with that, but please only contact me about scheduling a retreat if you’re serious about the practice, and do your holidaying either before or after the retreat. The transformation that can occur, while altogether natural, can be radical so this isn’t something for you just to dabble with. For longer retreats we may support you in spending some occasional afternoon beach time, but know that your primary focus will be your practice.
For those of you who’ve been reading my books over the years, but who haven’t yet sat at a retreat I’ve taught, I’ll recommend that you begin by coming down for a five to ten day retreat. If you’ve attended retreats with me in the past, and feel ready to dive in deeply, I’ll recommend that you consider committing to a retreat of between seven and twenty-one days. I want real transformation to occur here, and for those of you who have significant meditation experience, the longer you can commit to intensive practice, the deeper you'll go.
Having attended a retreat I’ve taught is not a requirement. However, I will want you to explore the practices on the audio tapes on my website www.embodiment.net/audios to make sure that this retreat is appropriate for you to attend. To schedule a retreat please write me at email@example.com, let me know how long a retreat you feel you’d like to schedule (I’ll get back to you and let you know if I feel the length of retreat is appropriate for you), and when ideally you’d like to schedule it. In that email, please tell me about your experience with meditation and why you feel drawn to come and work with us. Please email me if you have any questions.
Second Annual Hollow Bamboo Teacher's Training, Bambu Hueco Retreat Centre, Las Delicias, Costa Rica, July 1 - July 12, 2020 and February 18 - 24, 2021
Last year we were visited by a board member from Tricycle Magazine who implored us to begin a Teacher's Training program to insure that the primary principles behind Hollow Bamboo Dharma—establishing a posture that is vertically aligned, deeply relaxed, and resiliently moving; awakening the feeling presence of the entire body; exploring the Buddha’s culminating teaching on breath “to breathe through the whole body;” having a direct experience of The Great Wide Open; practicing embodied mindfulness when you’re not formally sitting on your cushion—are not lost after I’m no longer able to continue teaching myself.
The first Hollow Bamboo Teacher's Training went extraordinarily well, and I'm pleased to announce that the next Hollow Bamboo Teacher Training will take place at Bambu Hueco Retreat Centre in Las Delicias, Costa Rica in two sessions from July 1 to July 12, 2020 and from February 18 - 24, 2021. During the first session we will meet for five days, take two days off for rest and exploration of the extraordinary beauty of Costa Rica, and finish with another five days of intensive practice and teaching. For the second session we will meet for seven straight days. My intention during these trainings will be to give you the tools you need to successfully share the principles of Hollow Bamboo Dharma with individual Buddhist meditators and sanghas and, eventually, to lead large retreats.
A typical day in this training will include intensive morning practice followed by specific instructions on how best to share the principles with others in the afternoon. Topics and skills that will be covered will include:
Establishing alignment: the importance of the upright spine
Deepening relaxation: letting go through the body and surrendering to gravity
Inviting resilient motion: understanding that, for relaxation to continue over time, subtle, constant, amoeba-like motion needs to occur throughout the entire body in response to the force of breath that wants to move through the entire body not unlike how a wave moves through a body of water.
Awakening soma: awakening sensation and feeling presence throughout the entire body
Breathing through the whole body: exploring the Buddha's culminating instruction on breath
Having a direct experience of The Great Wide Open
Embodied Mindfulness: taking the practice into your daily life through paying simultaneous attention to sensations, vision, sound, and breath
The primary texts for this training will be the following books:
The Posture of Meditation
Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient
Breathing Through the Whole Body
Eyes Wide Open
The price for the first session will be $2500. The price for the second session will be $1000 Pre-payment for both trainings will reduce the price to $3250. The second part of the training will be open to all graduates of the first session who may want to keep coming back for further input and instruction. Between the first and second ten day sessions I will expect you to go back home and work privately with individual meditators. After the second part of the training you will receive a Certification Diploma and will be certified to offer Hollow Bamboo Dharma in extended workshop format, and eventually I will hope to see you grow into leading multi-day retreats. Once your application has been accepted, I’ll send out information about traveling to Bambu Hueco and a range of lodging options for you to consider.
Some of you may feel drawn to this training for your own personal growth and development, and I’m fine with that. For others of you, though, I hope this will create an opportunity for you to lead multi-day retreats for students from the Vipassana, Vajrayana, Zen and secular mindfulness communities. As our visitor from Tricycle emphasized, all forms of the Buddhist dharma need to know of and understand these fundamental principles as they can profoundly clarify the teachings of all dharma lineages.
If you feel drawn to participate, please send me an email telling me of your background in meditation. Also please speak to why you feel drawn to participating in this training. Acceptance into the training will be solely at my discretion, but know that your strong motivation to be a part of this will be the strongest factor in your application.
Online Virtual Retreat, July 25 - July 31, 2020
Because I no longer wish to be doing any major traveling for the foreseeable future, I will be offering a seven day online virtual retreat so that anyone anywhere in the world can experience the life changing practices of Hollow Bamboo Dharma. For seven straight mornings, from 9 AM to 12 PM Central Standard Time we will be meeting through Zoom for intensive practice exploring the basic principles of Hollow Bamboo Dharma: establishing a sitting posture that is aligned, relaxed, and resiliently moving; awakening soma, the felt presence of the body; breathing through the whole body; entering into The Great Wide Open. On the second and fifth evenings of retreat we'll meet for questions and answers. You may choose to continue exploring your practices during the afternoon hours as you would during a regular in-person retreat.
The price for this retreat is $500, and my intention for this retreat is to radically catalyze and accelerate your experience and understanding of the process of sitting meditation practices. If you can commit to participating in this retreat by January 1, 2020, the price will be reduced to $400. Please email me with your intention to participate, and I will inform you of your online link to the retreat a week before the retreat begins.
The timing of this retreat is primarily geared toward meditators in North America. If at least 20 people from Europe or Australia would like me to offer this retreat to your regions, please contact me, and I will offer additional retreats specifically timed for your regions.
Will Johnson is available to see individuals, couples, and groups who wish to book workshops, retreats, private consulting, or Rolfing™ sessions with him. He is willing, schedule permitting, to travel anywhere in the world where there is sincere interest in these practices.
His fee for hour-long Skype or phone consultations is $100. His fee for individual Rolfing™ sessions is $125. He also offers a 21 session program of bodywork specifically designed for sitting meditators. Throughout this program, instructions on sitting practice (alignment/relaxation/resilience filtered through the practice of breathing through the whole body) are provided, and the student will be expected to explore sitting meditation for an hour a day, five days a week, as part of the program. The price for this program is $2400. He prefers to offer workshops and retreats on a donation basis or at a reasonable, fixed price so that no one need be excluded from these teachings.
If you would be interested in hosting a weekend workshop or multi-day retreat in your area, please contact Will Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently, his two preferred formats for teaching are Urban Retreat and Gazing at the Beloved:
Urban Retreat generally takes place over three consecutive evenings, or over a weekend, and allows you to experience the fundamental principles of Hollow Bamboo Dharma Practice without having to disrupt your life by leaving home, family, and occupation to enter into long retreat.
The first session works to establish the posture of meditation by exploring the three primary principles of alignment, relaxation, and resilience. Building on this foundation, the second session introduces the practice of breathing through the whole body while the third session is an integration session, putting the individual pieces of the practice together and offering suggestions on how to take the practice into life. The third session also focuses on how to work with thoughts in the mind and pain in the body. If you are interested in hosting this event, please contact email@example.com.
Gazing at the Beloved
Those of you who have been touched by the poetry of the 13th century Sufi mystic Jalalladin Rumi know that the pivotal event in his life was his chance meeting with a wandering dervish named Shams of Tebriz. When the two men met, something extraordinary began to transpire between them, and they immediately went into private retreat together, emerging several months later in a shared state of ecstatic illumination.
While the relationship between Rumi and Shams is revered within the Sufi world, it is also presented as a profound mystery as no one supposedly knows exactly what occurred between the two or what practices they were exploring together behind the closed doors of their retreat room. If you read Rumi’s poetry, however, with an understanding of the practice that I call “gazing at the beloved,” you quickly realize that allusions to this practice, accounts of his experience doing the practice with Shams, and even precise instructions on how to enter into the practice yourself appear everywhere in his writings.
In this workshop that I teach with my wife, we would like to share this practice with you. It is, at once, both extraordinarily profound and very simple. I will also read extensively from the passages by Rumi that I have found that shed light on this practice. While Rumi’s and Shams’ relationship is presented as a great mystery, the only mystery for me is how it could have remained a mystery for so long.
There are teachers traveling the world holding gazing gatherings in which they have everyone gaze at them alone. This is not how my wife and I teach. What we believe to be far more empowering is for you to see that you can enter into the practice with anyone, and so the better part of the workshop will have you exploring the practice with other attendees. It is our hope that the information that we will share in this workshop will encourage you to find a friend to explore the practice with so that you both can dissolve your experience of separation and merge together back into a shared awareness of what Rumi calls the consciousness of union.
I primarily offer this workshop as an evening event or weekend gathering on a regular basis. If you are interested in hosting an evening or weekend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.