A group of educators, youth, and civil servant from 12 Dzongkhags (districts) completed 8 days of winter Mindfulness camp at Chokyi Gyatso Institute, Dewathang on 31st of December, 2018. The 5th camp had 73% of teacher participants from 22 different schools across Bhutan, 12% of civil servants, 3% from Nunnery Institute and 12% of high school and college youth. The camp also saw more female participants with 59% of the total participants.
The mindfulness camp is an annual program of Lhomon Education, (a program of Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative) to introduce profound tradition of authentic mindfulness techniques to Bhutanese educators, educationist, stakeholder, and others, keeping intact the priceless tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.
The goal for such camp is simply to give everyone a chance to experiment and explore the innate nature of human minds so that we can help our upcoming generation and youth in authentic manners to grow into being a decent human. It is also to recognize that the mind is much more important than anything else and if we don’t control our mind there is no point controlling all the other things. Further, the program is in line with Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision to recognize our own profound practices of meditation that are authentic, rich, traditional, and progressive.
‘‘Actually, in Bhutan, we have a tradition of many kinds of profound and deep meditation practices such as Shamtha, Vipassana, visualization and dissolution. Even then, we are not aware of our own tradition and heritage. These days, when people from outside teach us mindfulness, there is shock and disbelief, leading people to believe that we need such things. This is similar to us not being able to recognize our own possessions and wealth. Only when the outsiders give us these things to us, which we actually already possess, then it appears like that the outsiders are introducing such a thing.’’ — Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
H. E. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in its opening video session highlighted that, ‘‘in this materialistic time just to have little interest to look inside, contemplate inside, not getting distracted by outside and really looking inside is very important. It’s worthwhile to spend our time and energy on it.’’
Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche, who presided over the camp, remarked the importance of educators and individuals, in their roles to facilitate the necessary conditions for students to look inward (one’s own mind) and contemplate on it.
The whole program from the start to the conclusion was thought through carefully as contemplation. The path LME presented was straightforward. It involved practice, practice, and more practice. The eight days of mindfulness program was practice-oriented, with 4 hours of sitting and walking sessions every day, interspersed with short talks, breaks, recorded teaching, guided contemplation, noble silence, discipline, offering, stretching, discussions and karma yoga practice (work with positive motivation) on daily basis. As a whole, the camp facilitated more than 40 hours of mindfulness practice sessions and more than 20 hours of teaching sessions for the participants. Even during tea and meal breaks the practice is integrated by encouraging mindful eating, mindful washing, and drinking to connect the practice into daily lives.