“Maitri can be translated as ‘love.’ It means a warm, friendly attitude. In making friends with someone, it means accepting their neurosis as well as their sanity. Maitri is an all-encompassing friendship that relates with the destructiveness of nature as well as with its creativity. But the first step is trust in ourselves. Such trust can only come about when there is no categorizing, no judgment, but a simple and direct relationship with our being.”
—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
A key component of the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program are the Maitri retreats. The residential retreats are currently held at Shambhala Mountain Center, a retreat center located in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, high in the Rocky Mountains.
During the three-year program, students spend a total of about nine weeks participating in intensive community practice at Maitri retreats. In each fall and spring semester of the first two years, students have a two-week long Maitri program. In the third year, while the students are in internship, the Maitri program is one week in length. The Maitri retreats are a mix of intensive meditation practice, meditation instructions and talks, walking meditation, some days of silence, and community work practice.
During the program, students are supported by an experienced staff of directors and meditation instructors. In the first year, special emphasis is placed on deepening one’s meditation practice and relationship with one’s own mind. In the second year, an increasing emphasis is placed on integrating meditation practice with clinical perspectives. In the final year of the program, students examine the teachings on the bardo (the time between death and rebirth) from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which provide a powerful metaphor for the ending of their Naropa journey.
A key element of the Maitri retreats is the practice of maitri space awareness. Space awareness practice is done in five differently colored rooms that intensify different emotional and psychological states, both their “wisdom” aspects and their “confused” aspects. By doing maitri space awareness practice in the context of both personal awareness meditation and of community, students come to recognize their own patterns to become friendly toward themselves in different states of mind and to develop genuine humor and compassion. This often leads to relaxation and fearlessness in working with others.