Online Meditation Retreat

Online Buddhist meditation retreat for Leeds Buddhist group participants
Join us Online for this Meditation Retreat


Take part in this meditation retreat from the comfort of your own home

A one week meditation retreat with talks and guidance by AHS Teacher Five Cram and an introductory talk by Lama Shenphen. You can read more about the teachings on the main page for this retreat.

The online retreat includes:

– Listen to online to teachings
– Taking part in online meditation sessions
– Discussing the teachings with fellow participants
– Asking a senior mentor questions for advice about your meditation practice

– Receiving Transmission of the Formless Meditation Practice from Lama Shenpen by live online transmission

The retreat has a timetable of several meditation sessions each day, as well as a teaching session on most days and sometimes a discussion session. If you’re doing the retreat from home you don’t have to commit to coming to every session. Instead what you’re asked to undertake during the 8 days of the retreat is to:

– participate with live online sessions for at least 16 hours in total

– do 26 hours in total of live online participation and/or meditation on your own

– listen to all the teachings  given at the retreat either, listening live or by an audio or video recording online

On a typical day the following sessions will be broadcast live from the Hermitage:

7.00 am – 8.00 am Meditation

9.00 am – 10:30 am Teaching

11.00 am – 12:30 am Meditation

3.00 pm – 4:30 pm Meditation or discussion

5.00 pm – 6:00 pm Meditation

7:30 pm – 9:00 pm Storytelling & meditation

The retreat will begin with an opening talk from Lama Shenpen on the first Saturday evening, and ends at 10am on Saturday morning.

The Friday program will likely feature a Transmission (in the form of a guided meditation) in the morning by Lama Shenpen, and a Feast in the early evening.

We will broadcast all the sessions of the retreat live by Zoom conferencing. It’s very easy to use, from your computer, tablet or phone.

Doing a retreat at home may sound unusual, especially if you have to fit in a busy schedule and a family. But really a retreat is about making a choice. You set the intention that for this period of time you will be focusing on certain things. You set aside certain periods of the day for meditation and study, and perhaps decide that for this period you won’t do some distracting things that normally you do like to get involved with.

This retreat is principally intended for people who are already enrolled on the Discovering the Heart of Buddhism and Living the Awakened Heart training in the Awakened Heart Sangha. However you can also take part in this retreat if you are considering joining the Living the Awakened Heart training and you have some prior meditation experience. In this case please fill in the booking  form and we’ll get back to you if we’re unsure whether the retreat is suitable for you.

The Sangha does not charge participants a set price for retreats but rather, in accordance with Buddhist tradition, depends on the generosity (dana) of students to cover its costs. Therefore participants are invited to make a donation to the Sangha and an offering to Lama Shenpen.

If you have any questions about this online retreat, please email

Heart Connections with the Deceased

A Buddhist teaching on heart connections with the deceased for meditation students in Leeds
Prayers for the Dead

Buddhist teacher Lama Shenpen answers a student’s question on the effect of the prayers on the people who have died, especially in view of the karma and it’s results.
A meditation student writes:

“When we die, as we are all compelled by our karma, as the scriptures indicate, to move from life to life according to the imprints of our previous actions of body speech and mind, how is it that the prayers and offerings of those we leave behind can have any effect on our destination?”

Lama Shenpen:

This is a big question.

What does it mean at all to pray for or dedicate punya (merit) to help others along the path?

In general we are taught that the results of actions come to those who perform them so what does it mean that we can ‘give’ the good due to us from our good deeds to others?  What does it mean to pray for them as if somehow the Buddhas wouldn’t protect them anyway just because of their spontaneous compassionate activity?  How can aspirations (pranidhanas) we make on their behalf affect their future?Surely they have to make them for themselves.

There is something dubious in all of this isn’t there?

And yet at another level it feels right that if we hold someone in our hearts that somehow they will be protected and helped by our good-will and good wishes for them.

This is such a universally held sentiment if not belief. Even people with no claim to any spiritual beliefs will feel something genuine about holding someone in their hearts.

I believe this is because it does really mean something at a deep level that we intuitively always know even if we forget it. It means something to say that you hold your dear one in your heart and always will do.  On one level you could question that and say it didn’t make sense but at another level it makes more sense than anything else in life.

So coming back to your question, I am not at all convinced that we can actually pass on our punya to others but I am convinced that when I hold another person in my heart (whatever that means) and connect them (and myself) to all the compassion and love of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and make strong wishes and aspirations for their benefit, then it helps the adhistana (blessing) of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the power of my pranidhanas (wishing prayers) to be effective on their behalf.

I believe that somehow this creates the conditions that help the person I am doing this for find good conditions in which to follow the path of Liberation and Awakening because of the connections and volitions involved from myself and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

How quickly this will  be effective depends on all sorts of conditions but I find it convincing to think that none of this goodness will be wasted. It will all help the other person in some way or another.

I even find it convincing that because our hearts are all one what we wish and feel about others can directly affect them. So wishing others well is a powerful force in the world helping people everywhere all the time.

Because I don’t really realise Emptiness I can only believe this because it is what the Buddha taught and I find it intuitively makes sense. I believe that when I realise Emptiness completely I will know for myself that it is true –  and all that implies.

Meditation Student:

“As for the living, if  we are ordinary beings, with aspirational Bodhichitta (Heart/Mind of Awakening – ed.) but no real ability at this stage, is it purely for the development of our own mind that we perform these acts  or can we actually influence others even in our limited capacity ?”

Lama Shenpen:

It benefits ourselves and it benefits the other person and if we then open our hearts completely it benefits all beings.

I really believe that must be true, even if at the level we are at that benefit doesn’t match the power of the benefit of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Nevertheless it links into their power, connecting us all to the mandala of Awakening. It all works by the power of adhistana (spiritual influence, blessing), connection and pranidhanas (aspirations, wishing prayers – ed.).

As for punya (merit, goodness, the power of it that can be “accumulated” and dedicated, “given away” – ed.) in this context I am not sure if it is anything beyond all of that.

A note on the closeness/strength of connections:

The stronger our heart connection with someone the more we can help them directly by our good-heartedness, positive thoughts, words and actions.

Adhistana (blessing) is a power we all have because it’s the power of the Buddha Nature itself.  When we say to someone we are with them in our hearts it is more literally true than perhaps we realise.

Our hearts are influencing each other and all beings all the time – we are intimately connected not through causes and conditions, but by our very nature. Nothing can ever change that.

Yet there is meaning in saying that we have closer connections with some people than others – it is mandala principle – how we are connected within a particular mandala affects the kind of influence we can have at any particular place and time.

I hope this answer is helpful.

(“Mandala” is a subtle and profound concept that points to the structure-ness of Emptiness itself. It is explored in depth in the Awakened Heart Sangha’s courses Discovering The Heart Of Buddhism. For the purpose of this context it may suffice to give “mandala” a similar range of meaning as found in the concept of “the world”).

Every week Lama Shenpen answers a student’s question. The students are studying her ‘Living the Awakened Heart’ Training distance study courses. Find out more about the training or take part in one of our weekly meditation and Buddhism classes in Leeds.

Celebrating Trungpa Rinpoche

Parinirvana of great Buddhist master and meditation teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche remembered for Leeds meditation group
Trunpga Rinpoche and H.H Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Today marks the anniversary of the passing (Parinirvana) of the great Buddhist Teacher and meditation master – Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987).

Trungpa Rinpoche received a classical monastic education in Tibet before the Chinese invasion. The eleventh Tulku in the Trungpa lineage of incarnations, he was trained in both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions and was head of the Surmang group of monasteries.

Having left Tibet for the west, he studied at Oxford before founding Samye Ling monastery in Scotland with Akong Rinpoche. Later, he founded the Shambhala tradition in the USA, which later became a worldwide Buddhist organisation.

A prolific author and discoverer of secret treasure teachings (termas), Trungpa Rinpoche was widely regarded as an awakened master, translator and brilliant orator.

Lama Shenpen Hookham was advised to travel to India by Trungpa Rinpoche. It was on his advice that she met her main teachers and spent many years in meditation retreat. The two remained in correspondence.

Later, Lama Shenpen married Rigdzin Shikpo, one of Trungpa Rinpoche’s early and senior British students, further cementing the connection.

Trungpa Rinpoche’s son, and heir to the Shambhala lineage, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche regards the Awakened Heart Sangha and Shambhala International as being closely related with positive karmic bonds.

<p><a href=”″>Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche on Trungpa Rinpoche</a> from <a href=””>Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

In this short video Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, the tulku (incarnation) of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of Trungpa’s most eminent teachers, rejoices in the remarkable and groundbreaking life of the 11th Trungpa Rinpoche.

Find out more about the Kagyu / Nyingma lineage of teachings at the Leeds meditation group, every Thursday on Carlton Hill.

Celebrating Sangha

Leeds Buddhist meditation group invited to annual retreat in Wales
A weekend of fun and celebration

Members of Leeds AHS Buddhist Meditation group are warmly invited to join us for our annual celebration at the Hermitage in North Wales.

Here we celebrate our commitment to the Buddha, Dharma and specifically the Awakened Heart Sangha. A weekend of vows, feasting, teachings and entertainment. This is a joyful weekend of connection and fun!

You are invited to join us for all or part of the weekend. Children are very welcome. The weekend runs from Friday 25th May to Sunday 27th May.

Saturday morning will be to celebrate those who are taking refuge or Bodhisattva vows, the afternoon for those who are making commitments to the Sangha, with their Mahayanagana or Mentor vows.

On Sunday we receive teachings from Lama Shenpen (theme yet to be confirmed). We finish the weekend with a wonderful feast including chanting, entertainment, singing and dancing.

Please visit the Hermitage website here for more information and booking form. There is space on-site (booking fast), off-site accommodation with local sangha, local B&B and lots of space for camping.

Making World Solid

Buddhist quote solid world for Leeds meditation group
Making our world solid

“Because we have solidified our world … suffering and pain become very solid and real to us.” A quote from Lama Shenpen Hookham, taken from the ‘Openness’ section of Living the Awakened Heart training course. Learn more about experiential training on the Buddhist Path: – or join us at our weekly meditation and Buddhism classes in Leeds City Centre.

Come Celebrate Spring!

Buddhist spring celebration for the Leeds sangha
Come Celebrate Spring!

Come join us for a Celebration of Spring with at The Hermitage Buddhist retreat centre this Thursday – 29th March! An opportunity to come and play in the green valleys of Wales.

Building on the success of our children’s mindful play afternoons, Tara and her friends will lead some mindfulness games, arts and crafts, and exploring. Open to all the family – even parents!

The event will run from 9.30 until midday. Refreshments provided.

But why not make a day of it? If you still have energy after all the play, there is plenty to explore in the local area in the afternoon. Enjoy walking on the lovely Criccieth beach or explore Criccieth castle – just four miles away, or why not take a drive into the stunning Snowdonia National Park – a 20 minute drive from the Hermitage.

There is no fixed charge for this event. Donations to cover costs would be welcome. Please email to let us know if you are coming. We’d love you to join us!

Theories of Everything

Buddhist quote on theories and suffering
Theories do not address the problem

Lama Shenpen answers a meditation student’s question about a Buddhist lecture called “Milarepa And The Shepherd Boy”, and a questions she has posed to her students: “What can take knowledge itself as an object?”

“Why is recognising the not-self of the dharmas equivalent to realising Buddha Nature?” and “What has this to do with the personal mandala and its true nature as the three Kayas?” View this week’s question and response here:

Each week Lama Shenpen answers a student’s question. The students are studying her ‘Living the Awakened Heart’ Training courses. Become one of Lama Shenpen’s students and ask her a question! Lama loves a good question. For more information about training in the Awakened Heart Sangha visit: 

or why not come along to one of our weekly meditation and Buddhism classes in central Leeds? All welcome!

Meditation & Teaching Day

Meditation and Buddhist teaching day at retreat centre North Wales
Meditation and Buddhist Teachings in Wales

An invitation to members of our Leeds Buddhist meditation group to join us at the Hermitage Buddhist retreat centre in North Wales for a day or weekend in March.

The main day is Saturday 10th March and begins with meditation at 10am with guidance offered for those who would like it. Beginners and experienced meditators alike are most welcome. Saturday mornings are held in silence until after lunch. A simple vegetarian lunch will be provided.

Lama Shenpen will continue her teaching on this year’s theme of Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness (by Khenpo Tsutrim Gyamtso Rinpoche). The teaching will be given on Saturday afternoon at 2.30pm.

There may also be the opportunity to arrange a private talk with Lama Shenpen, or one of the Senior Students at some point during the day.

You are welcome to attend for some or all of the day or to make a weekend of it. Why not consider arriving after lunch on Friday so as to be fresh as a daisy for the mediation and talk on Saturday? You are welcome to join in with our community life and attend our community meditation and puja sessions on Friday and Sunday if you would like, staying through to Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

This event is by donation. More information and the booking form can be found on the main Awakened Heart Sangha web page:

Making Connections

Buddhist quote for Leeds - connections are more fundamental than time and space
Connections are more fundamental than time and space

The Connections that we make in this life may be the most important thing that we do. Tibetan Buddhism talks about our connections ((Tibetan: Tendrel) with each other  as being lasting and meaningful and that they can continue between lives.

In this article, Lama Shenpen has an interesting discussion with a student about how we can begin to understand these connections. View their full conversation:

Each week Lama Shenpen answers a question from one of her meditation students. The students are studying her ‘Living the Awakened Heart’ Training course. Become one of Lama Shenpen’s students and ask her a question, Lama loves a good question! Or come along to our local meditation group in Leeds.

For more information about the training visit:


Grasping at the Ungraspable

Lama Shenpen discusses working with desire, aversion and indifference with a meditation student
Seeing through Grasping

Lama Shenpen in conversation with a meditation student about working with their experience in relation to desire, aversion and indifference. Click here to read the full conversation between Lama Shenpen and her student.

Each week Lama Shenpen publishes a question and answer dialogue with one of her meditation students question. The students are studying her ‘Living the Awakened Heart’ Training courses. Why not become one of Lama Shenpen’s students and ask her a question? Lama loves  a good question!

For more information about meditation training in the Awakened Heart Sangha visit: