Workshops, Retreats, Private Sessions
Hollow Bamboo Dharma: Embracing the Nagas with Will Johnson and Christopher Sunyata, May 4 - 8, Montezuma, Costa Rica
Hollow Bamboo Dharma is a path of meditative inquiry designed to liberate the radiant human through reawakening the ex-static nature of body, mind, and consciousness. Its practices promote both physical and emotional healing as well as profound spiritual transformation.
During this intensive retreat we will explore sitting meditation as a mudra of radiant awakening, taking us down through layers of resistance, transforming thought into felt, radiant presence. As our primary guide for our practice we will pay particular attention to honoring the energies of the Nagas that live inside each and every one of us, waiting so patiently to be liberated and freed.
The Nagas were pliant and fluid creatures whose bodies undulated as they moved through space. Often depicted as snakelike, their watery nature gave them great powers as they ventured forth from their natural habitat in oceans, rivers, and lakes to interact with humans on dry land. They were also a thorn in the side of traditional Buddhism who viewed their inherent malleability as distracting to the aims of dharma practice. There is even a recorded legend that a Naga once approached the Buddha requesting teaching, but the Buddha declined and suggested instead that the Naga seek to be reborn as a human and then become a monk.
It’s time to restore the good name of the Nagas and acknowledge that they hold a missing key to the explosive liberation that the Buddhist teachings tout as all of our birthrights. So instead of sitting on your cushion like a stone garden statue of the Buddha, you let yourself enter into a surrendered dance of balancing instead. When you truly let go, body starts making subtle, spontaneous movements, undulating from breath to breath, releasing the rigidities that keep you locked inside your thinking mind.
The goal of this intensive retreat is nothing less than opening to a direct experience of The Great Wide Open, our radiant birthright state. To this end we will be exploring sitting, standing, and lying down practices, working with kasinas and sound, transforming the stone garden statue of the Buddha posture into the altogether natural practice of Nagadharma.
This retreat is cannabis optional. If you want to experiment with using small amounts of cannabis to enter into the practice, that’s fine. If you prefer not to use cannabis as an enhancer for the practices, that too is fine. The teaching of Hollow Bamboo Dharma is exactly the same whether you use substances or not.
For information on how to register for this retreat, as well as information about traveling and lodging, please go to Hollow Bamboo Dharma: Embracing the Nagas.
Private Retreats at Bambu Hueco
I'm pleased to announce that we have once again reopened Bambu Hueco, the Hollow Bamboo Retreat Cottage in Montezuma, Costa Rica, and will once again start inviting serious meditation students to enter into intensive private retreat. For the coming year we will be offering both a seven and ten day intensive retreat format although longer retreats may be available depending on your meditation experience.
Your retreat will be a mix of exploration on your own coupled with personal instruction, deep bodywork, and dreamwork. Starting with a sunrise meditation and morning practice at the cottage, you will then walk over to the outdoor meditation hall and sit with me for an hour and a half of personal meditation instruction and sobhet (spiritual instruction). In the afternoons, in addition to further practice, you will either receive a deep bodywork session from me or do a dreamwork session with my wife Coco. There will be ample time to take walks on the path around our property, do your preferred form of exercise, enjoy the swimming pool, and create your own magical music at the chime arch.
Bambu Hueco is situated at the southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula, one of the five Blue Zones in the world where people not uncommonly live past 100 and remain active. One of the features of Blue Zone longevity is a diet rich in legumes vegetables, fruits, and grains, and we will serve you light but nutritious vegetarian Blue Zone meals: a breakfast of fruits and grains, a main meal at lunchtime, a light salad for dinner.
To book a retreat please email me directly (email@example.com) and let me know of your meditational background, why you're drawn to an intensive retreat at Bambu Hueco, and when ideally you'd like to come. I will then be able to determine if a retreat here is appropriate for you and will get back to you. To support the work at Bambu Hueco suggested dana for the Seven Day Retreat is $3500. Suggested dana for the Ten Day Retreat is $4750. If you want to enter into retreat with your spouse/partner/friend in the practice, suggested dana for the Seven Day Retreat is $5250 and suggested dana for the Ten Day Retreat is $6750. Once you're accepted into the retreat, you will need to send a non-refundable $1000 deposit, and I will send you detailed instructions on traveling to Bambu Hueco.
We will only offer nine of these retreats a year and will hold only one a month. We won't accept a retreat in May or June as it's planting season, and our property requires a great deal of attention. We will also be closed in October as this is when the tropical rains can come down in force.
As with all the teaching I do, I want your experience, and the deepening of your meditational path, to be life-transforming. I want everyone to have a direct experience of what I call The Great Wide Open by the time you leave, and I also want you to head back home with an understanding of how to continue the practice on your own.
Shimmering Seahorse Yearlong Sangha 2023. $3500
At this point in my life I'm primarily wanting to work closely with those of you who are ready to commit to intensive practice of Hollow Bamboo Dharma over the course of an entire year. Starting on January 14, 2023, we will meet twice a month via Zoom for Saturday sessions of three hours practice. In addition you will have a private Zoom interview with me every month. All sessions will be recorded so, if you need to miss a session or live in a part of the world whose time difference makes it difficult for you to attend the Saturday gatherings in person, a recording will be emailed to you (if there are enough people from Australia and Asia who would like to join the sangha, I'm also willing to host a separate sangha for you that will go live during your morning hours). Included in your enrollment fee will be a 20” x 20” kasina and entrance into any of the special online events I might offer during the year. I also ask that you purchase each of the following books:
The Posture of Meditation 2nd Edition
Breathing Through the Whole Body
Eyes Wide Open
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know of your interest in joining our sangha and your background in sitting meditation practices. The prerequisite for joining will be the Hollow Bamboo Dharma video and ebook program (available December 15, 2022) as it presents all the basic principles that our Saturday practices will be based on. You may choose to purchase the Hollow Bamboo Dharma program on its own to help you decide if you want to join the Sangha, or you may join the Sangha immediately as your enrollment fee will include the program for you to explore as you like. I will expect you to commit to at least two sessions of personal practice every week of the training. In addition to the meditation practices, I will ask that you bring some form of physical practice into your life at least two or three times a week: yoga, martial arts, Pilates, resistance training, aerobics, spontaneous movement, The Five Tibetan Rites, Five Rhythms, 10,000 daily steps, ecstatic dance, etc. I will also encourage you to receive one session a month of deep bodywork over the course of the year.
My intention for this yearlong intensive is for you to experience how this approach to practice can so awaken that which is ordinarily so asleep in your body and mind that you naturally gain a direct experience of your ultimate nature: The Great Wide Open. The focus of the practice is threefold: spiritual evolution as well as real physical and emotional healing, all three of which occur together through the orientation of Hollow Bamboo Dharma.
To pay for this retreat please go to my Store page, push the Dana button, and select the $3500 option. Email email@example.com if you need to pay for this retreat in instalments.
Introduction to Ganjasangha, 9 AM - 12 PM, Central Time, January 22. $100.
If the most radical piece I bring to the dharma conversation is my insistence that the body needs to allow continuous, amoeba-like motions to occur while sitting in meditation if we truly want to relax, the most controversial piece is my open embrace of entheogenic substances (cannabis, psilocybin, LSD, ayahuasca) as potential allies on our meditation journey. Essentially, Ganjasangha is Hollow Bamboo Dharma that uses a small amount of cannabis to initiate the practice. The fundamental principles are the same: exploring the upright Line, awakening the felt presence of the body and relaxing tension, allowing spontaneous movements to occur as a result of that relaxation. For many people cannabis can dramatically enhance all three of these fundamental principles.
During our time together you will be invited to take a small amount of cannabis, and I will lead you in Ganjasangha practice. If you're curious about what I'm up to, but don't want to use cannabis, you're still welcome to join. Ganjasangha practice is open to anyone of legal age who lives in a jurisdiction where cannabis has been decriminalized. If you live somewhere where cannabis is not legal but still want to participate, that's up to you, and if you decide to participate, you will have to do so in the murky legal shadow in which you currently explore cannabis use. This introductory session will give you the fundamental foundations for continued Ganjasangha exploration and will be followed up with more intensive Ganjasangha retreats in which we will explore kasina and gazing meditations, Hollow Bamboo Breathing, and the radical surrender to motions in the body.
The Buddhist dharma has always been committed to exploring the ultimate reality of human being, and it is time that it recognizes that its attitude of just saying no to entheogenic substances is both reactionary and regressive. The problem from a meditative perspective is not with any substance. It's what you do with them, and the prohibition--both legal and spiritual--of these substances has disallowed the development of protocols for how to use these substances safely, effectively, and potently in the context of sitting meditation practices.
Understand that I in no way view these substances as a required staple of meditation practice, and I am also very aware that they do not work well for a great many people. Nevertheless, it is time for meditators who use entheogenic substances to no longer be shunned and shamed by their spiritual communities and supported and embraced for their choices instead.
Legends down to this day speak of how the great Hindu god Shiva would drink a cannabis mixture, how his body would then start making spontaneous movements, and how out of those movements he brought the body-oriented practices of yoga and dance to the planet. For many meditators who are comfortable with entheogens, an understanding of how to use cannabis in the context of sitting meditation practice can help liberate the spontaneous motions that I insist need to be allowed if we are truly to follow the seminal mahamudra teacher Tilopa's instruction to do nothing with the body but relax.
To pay for this retreat please go to my Store page, push the Dana button, and select the $100 option. If you would like to participate, but have scheduling issues or live in a part of the world that makes it difficult for you to participate at this time, you can still enroll, and I will send you a link to the recording.
Consultations with Will Johnson
Will Johnson is available for hour long private Zoom consultations if you wish to speak to him personally about any issues you may be having with your meditation practice. To schedule a Zoom consultation go to my website Store and select the Phone or Skype Consultation button. After you submit your payment of $150, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your consultation. In that email list three possible times that will work for you, and I will get back to you and confirm which one works for me.