Art + Life Retreat: Shambhala Arts Training Parts 1 - 5

with Shastri Sandra Ladley & Artist to the Court Marcia Shibata

November 18th—November 25th (2017)

Date details +
  • $515 Pay-It-Forward Tuition
  • $445 Full Program Tuition
  • $315 Subsidized Tuition
Room: El Solarium

 “Art refers to all the activities of our life, including any artistic disciplines that we practice.  It refers not only to the formal practice of art, but to the artistry of life itself—our whole being.”

 —Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

This Art + Life Retreat will include all 5 parts of the Shambhala Art training program. It will provide an opportunity for artists and non-artists alike to experience creativity and its genuine expression in all aspects of our lives.  The retreat includes teachings, meditation, awareness exercises, plus creative and group processes that help unlock a non-conceptual sense of expression that is available to us all.  In many traditions, artists train not only in their disciplines; they also train in awareness, confidence, and compassion.  The program draws from the teachings on the creative process developed by Tibetan meditation teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who said to artists, “You could play a tremendous role in developing peace throughout the world.” In our work together, we’ll build our capacity to do so and to share our inspiration with others.  We’ll close the retreat with a celebratory reception, “graduation,” and presentation of pins. 

Part One: Coming to Your Senses

Clear perception is the basis of genuine art. Through a series of exercises, Part One explores the process of perception, highlighting both clarity and obscurations.

Part Two: Seeing Things As They Are

Art making can be an inquiry into what is true. Trungpa Rinpoche taught dharma art as a way of investigating relative truth and absolute truth, which he called "sign" and "symbol." The exercises in Part Two point us in the direction of non-conceptual knowing.

Part Three: The Creative Process

Facing a blank piece of paper, an empty stage, an idle instrument, or an unplanted garden, we welcome the open space of not knowing: the Heaven principle. Out of that space, inspiration arises and we take the leap, make the mark, and begin to create, joining Heaven and Earth. Bringing awareness and heart to the process is the Human principle. Part Three explores these ancient Chinese universal principles through calligraphies and object arrangements.

Part Four: The Power of Display

Things as they are appear in many shapes, patterns, colors, seasons, emotions, and wisdoms. In Part Four we focus on one of the most universal and comprehensive systems, the five elements: earth, water, fire, air (wind), and space, and how they form a Gestalt, mandala, or complete display. In learning the nature of these elements, we learn about ourselves and our unique means of expression. Diversity and totality work together to create works of art that communicate far more than the sum of their parts.  

Part Five: Art in Everyday Life

The gap between inspiration and manifestation can be huge and filled with obstacles, negativity, and self-consciousness. These challenges can be worked with through four actions: Pacifying, which is achieved by clarifying; Enriching, which is attained through imbuing presence; Magnetizing, by way of assigning importance; and Destroying, through the process of editing. The Four Actions are used as the vehicles for true compassionate action and pure expression.


Pay-It-Forward program tuition not including accommodations: $515 usd We invite all who are able to do so to consider paying the Pay-It-Forward tuition rate. By doing so, you make it possible for us to offer scholarships to others, particularly our Mexico sangha, while also covering the direct cost of your stay here and contributing to our year-round operations. 

Full program tuition not including accommodations: $445 usd   We invite all who are able to do so to pay the full tuition rate.  By doing so, you cover the direct cost of your stay here and contribute to our year-round operating expenses. 

Subsidized program tuition not including accommodations: $315 usd  If the full tuition is unworkable for you, please pay the subsidized rate if you can.  By doing so you contribute towards the cost of your being here and everything it takes to keep Casa Werma operating year-round.

Materials fee: TBD

Fees do not include the text, True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art (Boston, Shambhala, 2008), which must be purchased individually.

Resources and links:

Preparatory reading:

The first and last program dates for any program at Casa Werma are considered primarily travel days. We start with dinner on the first listed program day, followed by orientation and opening remarks by the teacher. On the final listed program day, there will be no program activities and a light, continental breakfast will be available to all participants.

Please visit our Accommodations page for more info about housing (not included in tuition).

We recommend flights into Morelia airport (90 minutes away by car). We can help with travel arrangements, please inquire about options.

About the teachers:

Artist to the Kalapa Court Marcia Wang Shibata is the senior teacher of Kado within the Shambhala Buddhist community, and co- founder of the Shambhala Kado School, recognized and blessed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 2003. In 2011, she was given the title of Master Instructor of Shambhala Kado, in 2013 she was given the title of Artist to the Kalapa Court.

She is a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, having started her path in Buddhist study and meditation and Kado in 1974. From 1980 to 1985 Ms Shibata studied Ikebana in Japan in the major schools both classical and modern, and she teaches from the view of Shambhala Buddhism and from the truth of nature. Her main interest in teaching the Kado discipline is not to show how to make a balanced flower arrangement but to help people see how the wisdom in nature and their innate wisdom are the same.

Shastri Sandra Ladley is a long-time Buddhist practitioner and Senior Shambhala teacher.  She is the Program Director and core faculty for the Karuna Training program in Contemplative Psychology.  She studied art and music at Bard College and has her BA in Painting from San Francisco State University and her MA in Contemplative Psychology from Naropa University.  Sandra teaches widely and leads creative, psycho-educational and Social Presencing groups.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.