Online Meditation Retreat


A meditation retreat from the comfort of your own home

Online meditation retreat for Liverpool Buddhists
A Meditation Retreat in your own Home

A week long 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.

If you can’t travel to the Hermitage, you can still participate online, doing the retreat in your own home. The online retreat includes:

– Listening 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 begins with an opening talk from Lama Shenpen on Saturday evening, and ends at 10am on Saturday morning.

The  Friday will likely feature a Transmission (in the form of a guided meditation) in the morning, 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

Dharma Connections

Buddhist teacher, Lama Shenpen responds to a student's worry regarding their spending more time and energy practising Buddhism. Liverpool Meditation Group.
Empowering Dharma Connections

Buddhist teacher, Lama Shenpen responds to a student’s worry regarding their spending more time and energy practicing Buddhism and engaging in the Sangha activities, resulting in a sense of losing touch with old friends.

A meditation student writes:“I  am increasingly moving away emotionally and physically away from my non Dharma friends. The spare time that I do have I am either studying or contributing to the Sangha. I’m starting to feel torn and saddened by this distance, it feels like a loss. But, on the other hand I am choosing to study and be part of the Sangha as this is very important to me.

Is it really OK to leave your old friends behind?  I enjoy being with them but I’m finding it increasingly obvious that things have changed, or maybe it’s just me that’s changing. When I’m with my Sangha friends there is the deep and real connection of a common purpose, this is now lacking on my old friendships.

Should I just allow this distance to happen as the natural course of things? Or should I try to maintain these old connections, as these are friends who have been with me through good and bad times?”

Lama Shenpen: “It is a question of time isn’t it? It is not that you are choosing to distance yourself. It is that you are choosing the Dharma as your priority and that makes sense. As you say ‘the spare time that I do have’ – we don’t get that much spare time to study, practise and contribute to the Sangha do we?

Yet by prioritising our Dharma connections we are empowering our personal mandala to be able to help all those connected to it from now until we and they are all enlightened.

They don’t understand that right now but in future lives they will benefit from what we are doing now.  You will always remain connected to them. For many of them you will be the closest they get to a Dharma connection in this life.

So you need to remember that you are not neglecting those old friendships – you are trying to do your best to honour them by your Dharma practice.  There is no need to cut off from them and when they really need you you will be there for them.

They may feel disappointed at not seeing so much of you and it may be that because you see less of each other a distance develops between you – but you know that when there is a genuine friendship between people it never changes, even if you do not see each other often.  The connection is always there and in the end we all recognise that don’t we? What do you think?”

You can find out more about Lama Shenphen’s Buddhist Meditation training at or by visiting our weekly group in Woolton, Liverpool.


Power of Prayer

Buddhist meditation Liverpool 18-04-18

Buddhism includes the ideas of karma and rebirth. This week Lama Shenpen answers a student’s question on the effect of prayer on people who have died, and in particular with connection to karma and it’s results. Lama Shenpen Hookham has over fifty years experience in meditation and as a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.

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 Hookham:

What does it mean at all to pray for or dedicate punya (merit) to help others along the path? This is a big question.

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 (a Heart/Mind set on Awakening for the sake of all – Editor) 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 (Sanskrit: 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.

(Editor : “Mandala” is a profound concept that points to the “structured-ness” of Emptiness itself. It is explored in depth in the Awakened Heart Sangha’s course: 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 “our world”).

Each week Lama Shenpen answers a question frm a student. The students are studying her ‘Living the Awakened Heart’ Training Course. Find out more about experiential training in Buddhism and meditation at: ; or join us at one of our weekly meditation and Buddhism classes in Woolton, Liverpool.

Trungpa Rinpoche Remembered

Great Buddhist Teachers Liverpool
Trungpa Rinpoche with his teacher H.H Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche – two Great Buddhist Masters

Today we celebrate 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 last generation to do so. 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.

Leaving Tibet he became an early pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism in 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, calligrapher, poet and brilliant orator.

Founder of the Awakened Heart Sangha, 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.

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

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Trungpa Rinpoche’s son, and heir to the Shambhala lineage,  told Lama Shenphen that he 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.

Why not find out more about the Kagyu / Nyingma lineage of teachings at the Woolton, Liverpool meditation group, every Tuesday at 7pm.

Annual Sangha Celebration

Liverpool Buddhist meditation group invited to annual sangha celebration
Come join in the fun!

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

This weekend event runs from Friday 25th May to Sunday 27th May.

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 at this event.

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 to be confirmed). We finish with a wonderful feast, entertainment, singing and dancing.

Please visit the Hermitage website here for more information and booking form.


Celebrate Spring!

Buddhists celebrate spring, family fun for Liverpool sangha
Buddhist Spring Celebration for kids of all ages!

Come and celebrate Spring at The Hermitage Buddhist retreat centre this Thursday 29th March! An opportunity to come and play in the green valleys of Wales. Just a hop and a jump from Liverpool!

Building on the recent 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. Refreshments provided.

The event will run from 9.30 until midday. If you still have energy afterwards, there is plenty to explore in the local area during the afternoon. The wonderful Criccieth beach is only four miles away and Snowdonia National Park is just a 20 minute drive.

There is no 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 & Suffering

Theories of everything are OK but they do not address suffering, Buddhist quote from Lama Shenpen
Theories of Everything

In the third of four parts, Lama Shenpen answers a student’s question about her Buddhist lecture on “Milarepa And The Shepherd Boy” and the questions she has asked 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 questions. For more information about the training visit: or why not come along to one of our meditation and Buddhism classes in Woolton, Liverpool? All welcome!

Loving Kindness

We will be meeting tonight (Tuesday 6th March) to meditate together and to study and discuss a Buddhist teaching called the Metta Sutta or The Discourse on Loving Kindness.

Tonight’s meditation class is in Woolton and starts at 7pm. As usual, the class is open to all and beginners are always very welcome.



Connections exist outside time - buddhist quote for Liverpool meditation students
Connections are Mysterious

Connections made in this life may be the most important things that we do. The teachings of Tibetan Buddhism talk about our connections with each other (Tib. Tendrel) as being lasting and meaningful and that they can continue between lives.

Here, 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 student’s question. 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 questions!

For more information about the training visit: