Dzamling Gar In The Times Of COVID
by Naomi Zeitz
Dzamling Gar has the great fortune to have a very large Gönpa that has helped us maintain some activity during these COVID times, always following the protocols established by the Spanish government. We are also very lucky to be able to share a good percentage of our activity around the world through Webcast and Zoom, as well as collaborating with Merigar West on shared webcast programs. We have a very dedicated webcast and Zoom team, consisting of Sébastien Remy, Vince Li and Justin Hudgins, who have been working pretty much non-stop since last March.
We have also been fortunate that the numbers of COVID cases have been relatively low on the island and so we’ve been able to spend time carefully together outside when there is no severe lockdown. As well, our wonderful Cafeteria opened up after lockdown, at first only making home deliveries and then opening up outdoor and socially distanced dining. We are always checking the most current COVID numbers and regulations to ensure the activities on the Gar are as safe for participants as possible.
Since last March, with the first lockdown, we have been offering Yantra Yoga sessions online that are still continuing. We’ve also organized many online courses with Fabio Andrico and Elio Guarisco, as well as collective practices and Ganapujas this past year. In January 2021, as the situation improved, we began to open the Gönpa for socially-distanced Vajra Dance and Khaita practice with masks, opening all the doors of the Gönpa for safety. We also opened up webcast and Zoom courses to live attendance, ensuring strict compliance with COVID protocol. There were and continue to be numerous courses with Elias Capriles, Steven Landsberg, Julia Lawless, Stoffelina Verdonk, Jakob Winkler, Alessandra Policreti, and Valeria Spasskaia, as well as weekend programs of “Meditation in Daily Life” run by a group of SMS instructors, and our Gekö Thubten Rabgyi running meditation sessions on the weekend. We are ever grateful to our dedicated group of Karmayogis, including our many amazing translators, who offer their time and skill so that we can offer so many courses and practices to the Community.
Despite the lockdowns and restrictions, our accommodation has been operating nearly at capacity as people able to get here and observe our COVID restrictions found a refuge in Dzamling Gar. That situation has had its share of challenges, but everyone does their best to collaborate and work together. (see Accommodations article by Anca Rusu below)
Some highlights post lockdown were our Losar celebration, which despite being very limited this year was still a welcome change; we had an early morning Mandarava practice webcast from Dzamling Gar, a Fire Puja, and a marvelous Khaita Dance performance. Directly after Losar we held our annual Mandarava Retreat, with both in-person attendance and webcast around the world, led by Fabio Andrico and Nina Robinson. Our retreat finished with a very successful lottery and auction. We thank everyone who generously participated.
The Gar has also seen some necessary improvements and maintenance done, including a new road on the left side of the Gar, a new entrance at the front side of the Gar, more lights in the steps leading to the front entrance of the Gönpa, the removal of the old Gönpa (the White Tent), treatment of the wood in the Gönpa, and repairs of the cafeteria floor, a massive effort carried out by the Red Gakyil, Gekö and a small army of Karmayogis. The Gönpa garden was completed by Alix de Fermor and her dedicated crew of gardeners. Alix de Fermor, our master gardener, received an offering of a mulch machine, a piece of machinery very much necessary to the continued health of our beautiful gardens, from several incredibly generous Community members.
Dzamling Gar, which has traditionally been a winter refuge for many in Europe, is now also a kind of particular refuge from COVID in these very stressful times. Those of us here, either by choice or because we are unable to move, understand that we are lucky. The time here has not been without its challenges and difficulties, but our Master trained us well to weather obstacles, to overcome our limitations and to collaborate and care for each other in our Dzogchen Community. We hope you can all join us in Dzamling Gar in the future, during happier and healthier times, enjoying the Gar’s unique beauty. We await you!!!
From the Desk of the Accommodations Manager
by Anca Rusu
We are very happy to announce that 2020 was a very good year for the accommodation program at Dzamling Gar! Despite the difficulties faced this last year, we were able to host Vajra siblings from all over the world who came to the Gar searching for a place of refuge.
No matter the challenges and hardships we faced, the accommodation team worked with a sense of joy and determination to realize our Master’s vision of the Gar as a place for practitioners to practice and enjoy live together. We are also very grateful to everyone who collaborated with us regarding Dzamling Gar’s COVID protocols, following the rules that are meant to protect our Community.
So far 2021 is also looking up for us. We have a considerable number of people coming to Dzamling Gar, to the point that accommodation operates at full capacity most of the time. For this, we are very thankful to all practitioners who come here and entrust us with their safety.
Last but not least, we would like to invite everyone to offer us feedback on their stay in Dzamling Gar so we can further improve our accommodation system. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to share your thoughts. Your opinion would help us greatly!