Canyon Retreat

Canyon de Chelly Retreat



Due to changing circumstances, WDM will not be returning to Canyon de Chelly in 2023. We remain grateful to the Diné for their ongoing generosity and support for our retreats. We continue to hold the land and its people in our hearts and prayers.



From 2016-2018, Wilderness Dharma Movement held retreats 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 were accompanied by Navajo guides in the canyon after asking for the retreat to be blessed by a Navajo elder before we set out.

Spider rock from the rim

We gathered in Albuquerque and embarked together on a 3.5 hour drive that served as a pilgrimage to the sacred site. Our first camp was at the rim of the canyon at the Cottonwood campground where we gathered for our first meal together (camp style) and an orientation from the wilderness guide and our teachers.

For the rest of the retreat we camped at Spider Rock, deep inside the canyon. The journey to our camp included a 2-4 hr hike on a rough, steep trail descending from the canyon rim at 5500′ elevation to Spider Rock at about 1000′ elevation. There we set up our individual tents and teaching site.

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

canyon walls-pink

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

The intention of the retreat and of the practice was to challenge our habitual limitations and, in the process, evoke our inner obstacles and fears in order for us to move through them. It was a solitary journey.round tree inthe canyon At the same time teachers and staff were there as support.

canyon dechelly2canyonsdechelly












Brief Overview of Navajo History and Culture by Vicki Hitchcock




WDM new logo 2018-forweb