Personal Practice Retreats

Personal Practice Retreats2017-08-08T13:31:28+00:00

Personal Practice Retreats

October 6th – November 3rd 2017, and

March 17th – April 8th 2018


A 4-year traditional retreat is out of the reach of most people leading modern lives. Also, it is a great challenge for lay practitioners to find the time or place to complete such practices as the Ngondro – the foundational practices of Tibetan Buddhism. In response to these needs, Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe Rinpoche have initiated retreats for men and women at the Tara Rokpa Centre (TRC) in South Africa.

Tara’s Valley Retreat Area

The Tara Rokpa Centre is situated in wooded valleys, bounded by perennial streams, and surrounded by rolling hills, on 280 hectares of land. One of the valleys – Tara’s Valley – was chosen by Akong Rinpoche for closed retreats and intensive practice. The environment is pristine, the air unpolluted and the night sky fantastic. These days the retreats are not closed and people can go for walks in the surrounding areas.

The retreat area is sustainably built, and uses solar power for lighting and water heating, and wind power for water pumping. There are two adjacent buildings; a brick-built house, which contains four single retreat rooms, a kitchen/dining area and the shrine room, and a Lassak (mud)-built house with three single rooms.

Retreat Support

The retreat support is Alan Muller who is also accommodated in Tara’s Valley. He took refuge in 1997 with Akong Rinpoche. In 2003, he completed a one-year closed retreat under the guidance of Lama Yeshe Rinpoche at Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland. During this period, he took novice monks vows. Alan remained a novice monk for six years and now presents courses and retreats as a layperson. He has formed Ngondro groups since 2004 around Southern Africa.

Structure of Persona Practice Retreats

People can come for a minimum stay of one week or the full practice period.

This annual retreat in Tara’s Valley Retreat House is open to both men and women who want time to focus on practice such as meditation or have a quiet time to contemplate.

You will practice alongside Alan Muller, who will be taking the opportunity for a personal retreat. Here is a message from him:

“I’ve continually seen the benefits of going on retreat for myself. A precious time where we can practice undisturbed by the usual obstacles to meditation, such as cell phones ringing and emails waiting to be answered.  It will be great if I had some dharma friends there to share the experience.

Group practice will happen twice a day if you wish to join in or you can continue with your own practice, or go for walks in the valley. Green Tara will take place at 7am and Chenrezig at 6pm in the Tara Retreat House shrine room. There will also be a daily recorded teaching played in the shrine room at 11am.

The famous wonderful TRC lunches will be provided at the retreat house, with soup in the evenings. Retreatants will need to make up their own breakfast with the ingredients provided.
You can join me in retreat for a few days or a few weeks.

Hope to see you there.

Retreat Dates

October 6th – November 3rd 2017, and 17th March – 8th April 2018


R250 per day.
Full payment is required before starting your retreat.
Dana ~ (a donation) will be accepted by the retreat support in appreciation of his input.

In keeping with the Buddhist tradition, the retreat support’s only compensation is a donation of a size appropriate to the perceived value of the support provided and the means of the giver.

Retreat Daily Programme

You can follow your own retreat schedule or one could be made up for you in line with your practice needs

What to bring to TRC

Summer (September-April) is hot with average daytime temperatures well above 30°C. There are occasional, heavy rainstorms with as much as 80mm falling in one hour. In winter it is very cold with severe night frosts and temperatures which can drop to as low as -14°C. Average night temperatures in June to August are -7°C. During the days the skies are blue and temperatures high enough for light clothing to be worn. It is extremely dry and dusty in the winter.

Comfortable clothing is advisable, preferably not white or pale colours, which cannot be kept clean at TRC. The Women’s retreat will span three autumn and three winter months so a mixture of clothing will be needed. The men’s retreat will mostly be in the hot, wet summer months, which can be cool at night. Participants will need to wash their own clothes by hand. Linen and towels will be done once a week at the main site laundry.

Please also bring:

  • a torch,
  • rainwear or umbrella, and
  • a hat.
  • This is not a malaria-infected area and anti-malarial medication is not required. Mosquito repellents can help to prevent bites: any organic products (most contain citronella oil) or non-organic products like Tabard.

For your Shrine:

If you wish to set up a shrine each of the retreat rooms has a basic shrine for you to set up with your offering bowls, pictures and rupas (Buddha statues) – you will need to bring your own shrine objects.


International Travellers are requested to change foreign currency at the airport, as there is no facility at TRC. Payment by credit card at TRC is NOT possible but card payments from abroad are now possible through PayFast– details available on this PAYFAST link. Changing traveller’s cheques in Zeerust is almost impossible. If you have a Visa card, cash can be drawn from ATMs in RSA.

If anyone needs special food for medical reasons arrangements need to be made and they may have to privately purchase their own needed supplements etc., otherwise everyone will eat the same provided food. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact: