Yarne Winter Retreat

Yarne is the traditional monastic “rains season” retreat held annually at Gampo Abbey since 1984. The practice stems from the Indian custom established by the Buddha. At that time the retreat was three months long and done during the summer season of rains. The summer retreat in India was a practical response to the monsoon weather. As well, it was considered not appropriate to travel with the increased likelihood of walking on insects during the rains.

At Gampo Abbey the Tibetan version of 1½ months is practiced. Plus, this “summer” retreat takes place in the winter, which gives rise to hilarity to visiting Tibetans. But there are too many tourists and visitors during the pleasant summer months to close off the Abbey. Thrangu Rinpoche approved this arrangement.

Properly considered, a monastery in the Tibetan tradition has three main commitments:

  • Sojong, the confession liturgy, is performed every two weeks with the new and full moon.
  • Yarne, the seven-week yearly retreat. Yarne is marked by the taking of the eight vows daily as well as a commitment not to cross the physical boundaries.
  • Gagye, the lifting of the restrictions in force during Yarne.


2018 Yarne Retreat – March 1 to April 15, 2018

Lead by Gampo Acharya Ani Pema Chodron


PLEASE NOTE: our Yarne 2018 retreat is full, we are no longer accepting applications


Yarne is the traditional monastic “rains season” retreat. It is open to all ordained monastics, includ­ing those of other Buddhist traditions, for no fee (except transportation costs). Lay people are also welcome. The program fee for lay persons is $2,700 CAD; please call 902-224-2752 for more de­tails. The number of spaces for monastics and lay persons is limited, all applications will be placed on a waiting list.

Yarne is a time when the monastic community traditionally comes together for intensive practice. Since this is a special period of practice, there are a few things you should know before applying:

– Yarne is an intensive retreat, hence it is open to those who have a good grounding in practice and study.

– The boundaries of the retreat are closed, meaning that no one can leave the Abbey except for emergency situations throughout the duration of the retreat.

– Yarne participants hold eight precepts. They are:

  • Refraining from killing
  • Refraining from stealing
  • Refraining from lying
  • Refraining from sexual activity
  • Refraining from using alcohol or intoxicating drugs
  • Refraining from singing, dancing, and wearing jewelry
  • Refraining from sitting or sleeping on high seats or cushions
  • Refraining from eating solid foods after lunch (this is translated to allow for a dinner of non­chewables, usually a soup)

– Participation in all aspects of the retreat is mandatory, including all liturgical practices, scheduled periods of meditation, and talks. There will be approximately 6½ hours of meditation per day. We practice silence daily until lunch, and after evening chants at 6pm.

– Accommodations may be shared. During your stay you will be assigned a meditation instructor, and will be expected to take part in the kitchen, dish, and house chores.

– Participants are asked to limit or, better yet, eliminate all communication with the outside world for the duration of the retreat. Internet access will be available once weekly for participants on an ad­vance sign-up basis for 20-minute slots. No Wi-Fi service is available.

The 2018 Yarne Retreat is now full. We will accept additional applications until December 31, 2017 and place them on a waiting list. If you are interested in attending Yarne and being considered for any openings due to cancellations, please fill out this application form. Email your completed application to office@gampoabbey.org.

The retreat is free of fees for monastics at the level of Parma Rabjung and higher. We will keep you informed of the status of your application.

If you are accepted, a deposit of $500 CAD is required to hold your space if you are a lay person; we will provide instructions on how to pay.

Deposits will be refunded up to 30 days prior to the program, less a $50 administration fee. De­posits will be 50% refunded up to 10 days prior to the program. There is no refund of deposits for cancellations less than 10 days before the start of a program.


 2017 Yarne Retreat March 12 to April 26th


 Khenpo Gawang with 2017 Yarne retreatants


Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche was the visiting teacher for the 2017 Yarne retreat at Gampo Abbey.  He is the founder and spiritual director of Pema Karpo Meditation Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Having completed thirty years as a monk, fourteen years of teaching experience, and nine years of study at the Buddhist University of Namdroling Monastery in South India, he holds a Khenpo degree, the Buddhist equivalent of a PhD. Gawang Rinpoche came to the United States in 2004 at the invitation of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Shambhala International. Rinpoche is the author of Your Mind Is Your Teacher (Shambhala Publications) and The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha (Jeweled Lotus Publications).



Glimpses of Yarne is a feature length video prepared by award winning documentary filmaker Kent Martin who participated in the 2014 Yarne retreat.  You may also enjoy this article which chronicles the 2015 Yarne retreat.