Canyon Retreat

Canyon de Chelly Retreat

September 15th – 23rd 2023

Our fourth Wilderness Dharma Movement Canyon de Chelly retreat will take place September 15-23, 2023  in Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Canyon de Chelly is in the heart of the Navajo Nation and is administered by the Navajo tribe in collaboration with National Parks service. We will be accompanied by Navajo guides in the canyon and will be asking for the retreat to be blessed by a Navajo elder before we set out.

Spider rock from the rim

The 8 day retreat will be led by Anam Thubten and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel. They will be teaching a Chöd practice based on their translation of the text “The Loud Laugh of the Dakini” by Jigme Lingpa. They will offer the lung (transmission) of the practice at the retreat.


canyon walls-pink

Each day will include periods of time spent practicing in solitude at our individual campsites.  We will gather for morning and afternoon teachings,  the midday lunch and the evening tsok (feast) practice.


canyon rock and floor



We will gather in Albuquerque, NM (a block of rooms is reserved for our group) on September 14th. Participants will leave from the Airport Sheraton Hotel on the morning of  September 15th in Albuquerque, New Mexico and shuttle together with Anam Thubten to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. This will be the beginning of the retreat and the 3.5 hour drive will serve as a pilgrimage to the sacred site. Our first camp will be at the rim of the canyon at the Cottonwodd campground where we ill gather for our first meal together (camp style) and an orientation from the wilderness guide and our teachers. More details will be provided in the letter of acceptance.

For the rest of the retreat we will camp at Spider Rock, deep inside the canyon. The journey to our camp includes a 2-4 hr hike on a rough, steep trail descending from the canyon rim to Spider Rock where we will set up our individual tents and teaching site. The rim of the canyon is at an elevation of 5500 ft and the hike into the canyon is a descent of about 1000 ft. Distance is roughly 4 or 5 miles into and out of the canyon. We will hike out of the canyon on the morning of September 23rd.

The schedule and terrain are challenging, and will require a certain level of physical and mental endurance.  Average temperatures in the canyon in September are 82.6F max. and 37.6F min. The intention of the retreat and of the practice is to challenge our habitual limitations and, in the process, evoke our inner obstacles and fears in order for us to move through them. It is a solitary journey.round tree inthe canyon At the same time teachers and staff will be there as support.

The retreat is limited to 35 participants and the cost will be announced by March 2023. Dana (teacher offering) and guide tips are included in the cost of the retreat. Each participant will be able to add additional dana at the end of the retreat.

Invitations to the retreat will go out at the beginning of 2023 and applications will be due by March 16th 2023. Participants will be notified on April 10th, 2023 of their participation. At that point a payment in full will be required to reserve your spot.  For questions, contact  Tatjana at

Please, visit our FAQ page for in depth answers to many questions that may come up regarding the retreat.

canyon dechelly2canyonsdechelly








Recommended readings and teachings:

Teaching by Pema Chodron on the five slogans of Machig Labdron.

Machik’s Complete Explanation – Clarifying the Meaning of Chöd.  Expanded edition,

Translated and Introduced by Sarah Harding, Snow Lion 2013


Light Comes Through, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Shambhala Publications 2008

(chapter 14. The Haunted Dominion of the Mind: Shaken from Within)


Brief Overview of Navajo History and Culture by Vicki Hitchcock

Photograph below was taken in 1942 at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument by Ansel Adams





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