The Way of Shamatha:
Soothing the Body, Calming the Mind, Illuminating Awareness

During this retreat, Alan will explore in theory and practice a range of methods for developing meditative quiescence, or shamatha. We will begin with the practice of mindfulness of the breathing as taught by the Buddha, which is an especially effective approach to soothing the body and calming the discursive mind. We will then explore an approach to shamatha that is particularly pertinent for Dzogchen practice, called “settling the mind in its natural state,” as taught by the nineteenth-century Dzogchen master Lerab Lingpa in his commentary to the Heart Essence of Vimalamitra.

Finally, we will engage in the practice of “shamatha without signs” as taught by Padmasambhava in his classic terma Natural Liberation. Although this subtle practice is taught explicitly as a means of achieving shamatha, Padmasambhava comments that it may even result in a realization of rigpa, or pristine awareness.

The achievement of shamatha is widely regarded in the Buddhist tradition as an indispensable foundation for the cultivation of contemplative insight (vipashyana), and this retreat is designed to provide students with a sufficient theoretical understanding and a basis in experience to enable them to proceed effectively toward this extraordinary state of mental and physical balance.

Alan has also invited gifted scholar and practitioner of Buddhism, Eva Natanya, (who has edited two of Alan’s most recent books Open Mind and Fathoming the Mind) to lead one guided meditation each day followed by a Q&A session with all participants.


December 9th to 15th 2019  9.00 am to 5.00 pm


Balmain Town Hall, 370 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2041


Full Fee: $695

Members of Vajrayana Institute or The Contemplary will receive 10% off ticket prices. Email with member details to receive discount code.

Catering is not provided.  Participants may wish to bring their own food, alternatively, there are a number of other cafes and restaurants close by providing easy access to food and drinks.


A number of bursaries will be available to ensure that where possible people with financial difficulties are not prevented from participating in this retreat. Please email for consideration.


Cancellation received in writing up to 30 days before the start of the retreat will receive a 50% refund of the registration fee. We regret that no refunds can be made if the cancellation is received within 30 days before the start of the retreat.


This will be Alan Wallace’s only retreat in Australia in 2019. Interstate and international participants may find affordable and nearby accommodation through Airbnb, or in local hotels and apartments.  Arrange your accomodation early as this retreat is close to Christmas which brings an influx of interstate visitors to Sydney at this time.



Alan Wallace is a prominent voice in the emerging discussion between contemporary Buddhist thinkers and scientists who question the materialist presumptions of their 20th-century paradigms. He left his college studies in 1971 and moved to Dharamsala, India to study Tibetan Buddhism, medicine and language. He was ordained by H.H. the Dalai Lama, and over fourteen years as a monk he studied with and translated for several of the generation’s greatest lamas. In 1984 he resumed his Western education at Amherst College where he studied physics and the philosophy of science. He then applied that background to his PhD research at Stanford on the interface between Buddhism and Western science and philosophy. Since 1987 he has been a frequent translator and contributor to meetings between the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, and he has written and translated more than 40 books. Along with his scholarly work, Alan is regarded as one of the West’s preeminent meditation teachers and retreat guides. He is the founder and director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Conscious Studies and is the motivating force behind the develop of the Center for Contemplative Research in Tuscany, Italy.


There is no required reading for this retreat but the following publications are recommended and will be available for purchase during the retreat.