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Earth, Our True Nature Retreat at the YMCA of the Rockies in Colorado

August 18 August 23

Earth, Our True Nature Retreat

August 18-23, 2024
Estes Park, Colorado

You and your family are warmly invited to join us for the Earth, Our True Nature Retreat, August 18-23, 2024 at the YMCA of the Rockies, Colorado.

During this retreat, mindfulness communities and friends from across North America gather to honor the Earth, practice the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the Plum Village tradition of Engaged Buddhism, and build a beloved community.

Hosted by over 50 monastics traveling by bus from Deer Park Monastery, California, the Earth, Our True Nature Retreat will give us a chance to restore our connection to nature and bring about transformational healing in ourselves, in our relationships, and in the world.

Continuing to Build Thay’s Vision

Over a period of a decade, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) came here to the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park to offer mindfulness retreats for thousands. In 2007, Thay specifically requested the monastic community to continue to offer retreats in this sacred place, even if Thay could not physically be there. Now, we’re thrilled to walk in his footsteps once more, in this first gathering of monastics in the Rockies since 2011.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh walking with disciples in The Rockies, 2011

Mindfulness Practice

This retreat will include:

  • Live Dharma talks, panel sharings, presentations & a question and response session with senior monastics and direct disciples of Thay from Deer Park Monastery.
  • Guided and silent sessions of sitting meditation
  • Outdoor walking meditation
  • Mindful meals in silence – taking the time to truly enjoy the 100% organic vegan food in the company of other practitioners.
  • Dharma sharing in small groups – practicing loving speech and deep listening, sharing our experiences with mindfulness practice.
  • Beginning Anew – heal your relationships with the practices of flowering watering, expressing regrets, and letting others know when we’re hurt.
  • The Five Mindfulness Trainings – how to live a happy life through training in reverence for life, generosity, true love, deep listening and loving speech, and mindful consumption.
  • Deep relaxation – lying down meditation to relax our body and our mind.

Togetherness in Nature

This retreat is open to all seekers of healing and connection, whether you’re a climate activist, educator, healthcare professional, social service worker, or anyone else passionate about fostering positive change. We happily welcome you to join our diverse community, united in our shared aspiration of bringing peace to ourselves so we may bring peace to the world. 

Come together with the Plum Village community as we embark on a journey of restoration, connection, and mindfulness—let’s rediscover our true nature, together.

Family-Friendly Experience

Families are at the heart of our community, which is why we’ve crafted special programs tailored for children (6-9), tweens (10-12), and teens (13-17). This retreat isn’t just for adults—it’s an enriching experience for the whole family to take part in. We have several accommodation options available for families. All youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Parents of toddlers must self-organize amongst themselves to look after them as we will not offer a program for those under six years of age.

Children meditating on a boulder, Deer Park Monastery, Family Retreat 2023


The YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park Center is surrounded by beautiful panoramic views of Rocky Mountain National Park, approximately 1.5 hours from Denver. Visit their website for directions on getting there.

Accommodations and Cost

Please note there is no camping option for attending this retreat.

SOLD OUT: The 2-person room spaces are currently sold out. Please feel free to join the waiting list for this accommodation by clicking HERE!

2-Person Shared Room with Queen Beds

A room features two queen beds, single floor pad, full bath, mini fridge, and linens/towels.

Prices start at $1100 per adult*

If you want to reserve a private room, you must pay for two beds. Please include this request in the Notes section of your reservation.

5-Person Shared Room with Bunkbeds

Deer Ridge Lodge and Eagle Cliff Lodge feature bunk beds and a private ¾ bath.

Prices start at $800 per adult*

*Teens and children (6–12) have reduced prices. Please follow the instructions carefully on the registration form to register your children AFTER you have registered for yourself.

Vegan Meals

Thay encouraged us to cultivate compassion for all living beings, and pointed out numerous times the damaging effect of our food production on the planet. In 2004 he asked the community to go in the direction of serving organic food, and in 2007 he asked us to offer vegan meals during our retreats. Honoring Thay’s request, the food at this retreat will be 100% organic and 100% vegan. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in your registration fee.


Please consider adding a donation to your retreat fee. Your contribution allows more monastics to travel to the venue and supports scholarships for those in financial need to attend the retreat.

Scholarships are available according to the donations we receive. You may discount 25% from the standard rate directly on the registration form if you need financial support, in the spirit of a sliding scale. To apply for a 50% scholarship, we ask you to write us a letter via email describing your financial situation and aspiration to attend this retreat. The organizing team will consider your request in light of donations which have been received from donors.

Dharma Teachers & Speakers

Brother Chân Pháp Dung (Brother Dharma Embrace) was ordained in 1998 as a monk in Plum Village France receiving the Dharma Teacher Lamp from Thầy in 2004. He is the former abbot of Deer Park Monastery in California from 2001 to 2010. He was born in Vietnam in 1969 and escaped as a refugee with his family to the US when he was nine years old. He grew up in the Los Angeles area, studied and received a degree in Architecture from the University of Southern California, and worked as an architect/designer for four years before becoming a monk. Br. Pháp Dung helped to establish Deer Park Monastery and other US centers, creating meditation programs and retreats for children, teens, families, and young adults, as well as planning its halls and infrastructures. He has led mindfulness retreats in North and South America, China, Hong Kong, India, Bhutan, and Germany. 

Sister Kinh Nghiem (Sister Adornment with Respect) is a senior Dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh’s international community of Engaged Buddhism. She ordained on Februray 4, 1998 at the age of 15. As Thich Nhat Hanh’s personal attendant for over 15 years, she has traveled around the world leading mindfulness and meditation retreats for communities, schools, universities, and business corporations. She received full ordination on December 18 in 2001 and the Lamp Transmission in 2006. She currently resides at Deer Park Monastery in southern California, where she enjoys picking wild sage, studying deep Buddhism, and sharing tea and laughter with her sisters and brothers.

Brother Mãn Tuệ (Brother Insight) is one of our eldest brothers at Deer Park. As he will tell you, he is a happy monk. He was born in Central Vietnam and ordained when he was seventeen at Plum Village’s Root Temple, Chùa Từ Hiếu. He came to Plum Village France in 2006, then lived at Deer Park from 2008-17, and after five years at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York he returned here in 2022. On his YouTube Channel, Qi Gong Meditation, he posts some of the most popular Qi Gong tutorials on the internet–his Shaolin Qigong Daily Routine video has over seven million views. You can usually find him on lazy days hiking or sitting outside his room burning sage.

Brother Pháp Lưu (Brother Stream) graduated Dartmouth College in 1997 and ordained as a monk six years later in 2003, Brother Pháp Lưu received Transmission of the Lamp from Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh to teach in 2011. He helped start Wake Up, the international movement for young people, as well as the Happy Farm, Plum Village’s organic farming community, and has been working with Wake Up Schools since its inception in 2012 to bring mindfulness to schools. He has served as a monastic editor for a number of Thầy’s books, including Happy Teachers Change the World, Stepping Into Freedom, Cracking the Walnut, and How to Focus. Brother Pháp Lưu leads mindful backpacking retreats in nature around Deer Park Monastery, and has been working lately with scientists at Dartmouth College and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to develop research on the effect of Plum Village mindfulness practices on children.

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