Serenity Ridge Residency Program Overview

Serenity Ridge Retreat Center is the headquarters of Ligmincha International, a worldwide network of centers and sanghas founded by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. It is a year-round retreat center located in Nelson County, Virginia, USA.

Ligmincha International, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 1992 to preserve the ancient teachings, transmissions, and practices of the Bön Buddhist tradition of Tibet. Ligmincha aims to introduce these traditions in an authentic manner to the Western world, in such a way that they remain beneficial when integrated into modern Western culture.

Serenity Ridge Retreat Center offers a limited number of residency positions to those with a sincere interest in the Bön Buddhist tradition as well as a desire to do service work on behalf of that community as an expression of their own practice.

Residency Benefits

The benefits of the program to the Resident generally consist of the following:

  • A safe and supportive community for spiritual practice.
  • Twice daily self-guided practice sessions.
  • Twice weekly guided practice sessions with Resident Lama (when available) or senior student.
  • Group viewing of TWR LIVE Facebook webcasts with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
  • Free participation in all Ligmincha retreats at Serenity Ridge (that do not have unmet prerequisites).
  • Twice monthly personal instruction and guidance from Serenity Ridge Resident Lama (when available).
  • Housing in bunk rooms.
  • Three vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free meals daily. If there are two or more simultaneous. participants in our Residency Program, five of these meals each week will be precooked by a Serenity Ridge lead cook. Otherwise, Residents will be expected to prepare their own meals with ingredients supplied by Serenity Ridge.
  • 20 percent discount at the bookstore.
  • Use of dormitory laundry machines.

Prerequisites

All Residents are required to have some prior experience with the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Bön. To be considered for the Residency Program, an applicant should have the following qualifications:

  • Have participated in at least one retreat at Serenity Ridge with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche or a Resident Lama (3 or more days)
  • Preference will be given to those who have participated in at least one work retreat.
  • Have a strong desire to deepen her or his connection to the teachings of Bön.
  • Have at least 6 months of experience and regular practice following the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. This can include material learned in retreats, from online teachings and through use of his books and CDs.

On a more practical level, Residents must:

  • Be able to lift 20 pounds
  • Stand for extended periods.
  • Work in hot, cold or noisy environments (outdoors, the kitchen, light maintenance and housekeeping).
  • Maintain a channel of communication with their supervisor. This could be through checking their cell phone at least twice daily for messages.

Applicants for the Residency Program who lack one or more of the above qualities may still be considered for the program, but only with the express consent of the Serenity Ridge administration.

Program Structure and Costs

The Residencies may not be less than 30 days and not longer than 12 months. Participants have several options from which to choose with respect to the amount of time they wish to devote to practice or service.

Provisional Residency Period (only applies the first time a person serves as a Resident)

Provisional Residents are expected work 6 hours per day, 5 days per week. They are not expected to serve as “On Call.” They are also expected to provide 60 minutes of community caretaking each week, with this work taking place in “common” areas such as the kitchen, laundry and Garuda House lounge.

The Provisional Residency is meant as a time for both the Resident and Serenity Ridge to get to know each other. While applicants may apply for any length of time less than 12 months, all first-time Residents must begin with a 30-day provisional period. By the 21st day of the provisional period, the Resident and Serenity Ridge staff will meet to discuss how the residency is going and any concerns that have arisen on either side. Both parties then have time to try to resolve anything that has come up and decide if is in everyone’s best interests to continue the residency period beyond 30 days. During the provisional period either party may terminate the relationship for any reason. Following the provisional period, there will be periodic check-ins to make sure the Residency is still working out for everyone, and there will be opportunities to discuss how things might be improved.

Further Residency OptionsFollowing the initial provisional period, Residents have several options from which to choose.

  1. Residents may work 30 hours per week (6 hours per day, 5 days per week), serve as “On Call” one day per week and provide 60 minutes of community caretaking (cleaning common areas) each week. In exchange, they participate in the program at no cost.
  2. Residents may work 24 hours (6 hours per day, 4 days per week), serve as “On Call” one day per week and provide 60 minutes of community caretaking (cleaning common areas) weekly. The cost to the Resident is $200 per month.
  3. Residents may work 18 hours (6 hours per day, 3 days per week), serve as “On Call” one day per week and provide 60 minutes of community caretaking (cleaning common areas) weekly. The cost to the Resident is $300 per month.
  4. Those wishing not to work may apply for a Personal Retreat, not dealt with within this document.

Termination of Residency

The principles of our tradition include respect, kindness and civility to all, at all times. Individuals who find themselves unable to hold to those expectations, or who are in violation of other Serenity Ridge policies, will be asked to leave.

General Program Framework

Daily Schedule of Activities

07:30–08:15: Group or individual practice
08:15–09:00: Breakfast
09:00– 02:00: Work period
12:00–02:00: Lunch/clean-up/free time
02:00–05:00  or
03:00–06:00: Work period
06:00–07:30: Dinner/clean-up 
Evening: Group or individual practice
10:30–06:00: Quiet hours
NOTE: This may not be the schedule of all Residents. For example, being assigned to the kitchen will require a different work schedule. And during the summer months, Groundskeeping may be on a different schedule to reduce exposure to sun and heat. Mealtimes also will be slightly different when Serenity Ridge events are in progress.

Scope of Work

Residents will be assigned a 5-day work schedule, with two consecutive days off each week. Residents will work for a total of 6 hours on each of the days they are scheduled. Generally, this schedule will be kept Monday–Friday, but during retreat periods or when larger numbers of Residents are onsite the work week may be changed to expand across weekends or with longer days. For example, one set of Residents might work Sunday–Thursday and a second set might work Tuesday–Saturday. Residents will receive no less than 2 consecutive days off per week, except during Ligmincha Retreats, when the schedule may be modified.

Residents will be assigned a “primary” area of work activity every month in one of the following areas: kitchen support, office, housekeeping, grounds or light maintenance. The primary area will occupy more than half of a resident’s time in any given week. The remaining time may be allocated to other areas as required. Just before, during and just after Serenity Ridge retreats, residents also may be asked to participate in event management. This may include tasks such as setup and takedown of tables and chairs, preparing the gompa, setting up and taking down the Garuda House tea table, some groundskeeping and housekeeping, and the like.

During Ligmincha retreats at Serenity Ridge, every effort is made to lighten the work schedule and ensure that participation is possible. Residents will attend all teachings, and one practice session each day. In the days immediately before and after retreat, an evening work period may be added so that all obligations can be met and the work reduced during the retreat period.

Each resident also will provide 60 minutes per week of community caretaking. This is not considered a part of the work hours and is akin to keeping one’s one home and environment clean.

Food

Residents will be provided with three meals per day and light snack food (fruit, nuts, etc.) Meal options will be vegetarian/vegan/gluten free according to the needs of the current Residents. Residents will have among their responsibilities preparing and cleaning up their breakfasts and lunches. This labor is not a part of work time. The allocation of these responsibilities may change based on the number of Residents.

Breakfast

Generally cereal, toast, eggs, juice, coffee and tea. Oatmeal and other hot grains are available, and pancake ingredients for weekends.

Lunch

andwich materials (bread, peanut butter, cheese, hummus, condiments, etc.), a salad and fresh fruit will be the staples of lunchtime meals. Occasionally, and during the winter especially, there also may be a soup.

Dinner

Serenity Ridge will employ a lead cook one day per week to bring groceries, check on the kitchen, clean out the refrigerator, and oversee the cleanliness and orderliness of the kitchen. If only one Resident is living at Serenity Ridge, that person is responsible for preparing her or his own meals. If two or more Residents are at the center, then the cook will prep 5 dinners, to be cooked and eaten over the coming week, plus a few additional dishes to mix and match. These meals will be almost complete, requiring minimal preparation and cooking by the Residents. Preparation of dinner and clean-up will be a work activity of one or more Residents and may be done on a rotation schedule.

Housing

Residents staying at Serenity Ridge for more than 2 months will be assigned their own room (or a room per couple, for couples who apply and wish to share a room), if and when sufficient space is available. The bunk rooms designated for residents, with shared bath for adjoining rooms, are Rooms 110/112, 114/116, 118/120, 122/124 and 126. Residents participating in the program for only 1 or 2 months will be given their own room should one be available, but should expect to share a bunk room with another Resident of the same gender for the time of their stay.