Mindful Living:


A Year-Long Residential Program in Downtown Berkeley, California


The Mindful Living program provides a comprehensive introduction to Buddhism as a philosophy, practice and way of living. You will join a close-knit group of practitioners at Mangalam Center, which is part of a Buddhist community founded by Tibetan lama Tarthang Rinpoche that has been living, learning, and working on projects together since 1969. The program will present teachings developed by Rinpoche, a master in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, while also including classes on the history and fundamental teachings of Buddhism. 

Mindful Living integrates qualities of a residential retreat with those of a volunteer or work-exchange opportunity. You will be joining our spiritual community at Mangalam Center for nine months to help with our projects, see what it is like to live in a Buddhist community, and learn different ways of meditating and studying the mind. 

We are not accepting applications at this time. Please check back at a later date.

Program at a Glance


September 6, 2021 – June 2022


Mangalam Center, downtown Berkeley, California.
Note: this is an urban setting.


$650/month ($5,850 total). Cost includes housing and meals; need-based scholarships and/or stipends are available

Time commitment:

Full-time (40+ hours inclusive of class, study, practice, and work).


Semi-private room and bathroom at Mangalam Center


Communal lunch M-F; breakfast and dinner on your own


Program Description

Three Pillars of Development


Can we develop a new way of looking at our experience – one that promotes our own well-being and the well-being of others? The program encourages us to get to know ourselves better, exploring the nature of mind and unlocking our potential to feel more connected, more whole, more joyful.


How can we activate this new way of seeing experience? The program offers support for developing a contemplative practice (movement and/or sitting). Offering yourself moments of calm and learning techniques of relaxation will help you integrate what you learn on an experiential level.


How do we engage with the world we live in? How can we let our intentions and values inspire our action, benefit others, and activate wisdom? As we shift our worldview and engage in practice, there is potential for us to transform everything we do—how we live our lives, our habits and behaviors, our ability to make an impact on the world.

Who Should Apply

We are not accepting applications at this time. Please check back at a later date.

The Mindful Living program is suitable for people interested in:

  • Buddhism, non-religious forms of spirituality, and/or understanding the mind;
  • Learning contemplative practices or expanding or deepening an existing practice;
  • Applying spiritual teachings in work and daily life;
  • Living, working, and learning in community.

The program does not require a strong background in Buddhism or meditation, but some previous reading, practice experience or knowledge of Buddhism or secular mindfulness will help demonstrate your sincere interest and readiness to commit to the program.

There is no requirement to identify as Buddhist or as religious — people of all backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged to apply. 

We ask that all participants share our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community. We seek your engagement and understanding as we work toward creating a safe space that can hold and empower those with differing backgrounds.


Mindful Living offers 90 hours of formal instruction (not including optional courses), in addition to hundreds of hours of group practice, mentoring and discussion. It also provides communal living and meals.

Mangalam Center has costs associated with running the program. As an organization that relies on donations to exist, we ask program participants to cover some of the cost at a rate of $650/month or $5,850 for the entire program. However, we understand that people may not have access to resources that allow them to make a contribution at this level. We are committed to accessibility – no participant will be turned away for lack of funds. Furthermore, in our economic climate, we understand many participants may also need additional financial assistance to help pay for their basic living expenses during their time in the program. Participants may apply to join the program at a reduced rate or at no cost and also to receive a stipend of up to $350/month by filling out our scholarship application.

Program Components

Exploring the 3 Pillars

Core components (*) make up the heart of the program structure. Flex components are tailored to the individual interests and needs of the participants and may evolve over time.


  • Courses: Full Presence Mindfulness (FPM)*, Gesture of Balance*, introduction to Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism*
  • Weekly: evening Dharma reflection and practice


  • Courses: Kum Nye, Applied Skillful Means*, practice-based FPM and meditation classes
  • Daily: group meditation*
  • Weekly: practice check-in with mentor* 
  • Work: Kitchen & cleaning chores, with specific Skillful Means practices tailored to each task*
  • Courses: Skillful Means*, Mindfulness in Action
  • Daily: intention/dedication check in on Skillful Means practice for the month*
  • Weekly: group practice meeting focusing on mindfulness in daily life. 
  • Work: Working on assigned projects/roles*

Other program components

  • Visit to Ratna Ling Retreat Center for work/practice retreat (Core)
  • One Institute workshop that everyone will do (Flex)
  • One DC offering that everyone will do (Flex)
  • Monthly or bimonthly (every other month) Dharma talks with teachers from international centers (Flex)
  • PL garden or NI garden (Flex)
  • Listening circles/ feelings & needs circles (Core)
  • Untraining group for white identifying members (Flex)


Each cycle of courses lasts six weeks and is followed by a two week integration period.

Session 1

September 6 – October 15

Full Presence Mindfulness
(Jack Petranker)

Skillful Means 1
(Morgan Wells)

Session 2

November 1 – December 10

Gesture of Balance
(Hugh Joswick)

Mindfulness in Action
(Ignacio Ercole and Morgan Wells)

Session 3

January 3 – February 11

Introduction to Buddhism
(Karin Meyers)

Applied Skillful Means
(Morgan Wells)

Session 4

February 28 – April 8

Full Presence Mindfulness II
(Jack Petranker)

Skillful Means 

Session 5

April 25 – May 30/June 6

Tibetan Buddhism
(Karin Meyers)

Skillful Means

Course Descriptions

  • Full Presence Mindfulness is a vision of who we are and how we can bring about meaningful change for ourselves and others. Always returning to the present moment, it opens every dimension of the field of experience—our sensations, emotions and thoughts, our ways of connecting, and the systems that shape society and set limits on our dreams. When we let go of the rigid view that puts the self at the center of experience, we awaken into a world that is rich and alive. We know without effort how to act on our highest values. The first module in the FPM series introduces grounding practices that work with the breath, hearing and seeing.
  • Gesture of Balance. This is a course geared toward learning about the Nyingma community and the teachings of our founder, Tarthang Tulku, including core practices, philosophies, ways of understanding the mind, and ways of living in community. The course will also cover the history of the Nyingma mandala.
  • Introduction to Buddhism. This course will cover the life of the Buddha and the historical development of Buddhism, as well as an overview of the abhidharma and bodhisattva path. The second class in the series will focus on Tibetan Buddhism, including the Tibetan canon and the history of Nyingma.
  • Skillful Means. In its traditional meaning, the term ‘skillful means’ refers to the methods used to bring benefit to all beings, no matter what their circumstances. Skillful Means as we practice in the Nyingma community has a similar quality, but applied specifically in the context of our work. There are two reasons for practicing this way: first, work is the medium through which we put our intentions into action; and second, work is a medium through which we can cultivate inner value and meaning. In this way, Skillful Means combines the study of our human nature with practical efforts in our daily lives to accomplish our goals. 


Work-practice time is 25 hours per week, which includes chores (kitchen and cleaning public spaces). Each Mindful Living participant will be assigned to a primary role, based on their skills and interests and the needs of our organizations. Some participants may also be assigned secondary roles or tasks. As much as possible, both primary and secondary roles will be narrowly tailored, so that participants do not find themselves spread too thin.

Projects & Organizations at Mangalam Center

Work-practice is a core feature of Mindful Living. There are two main organizations headquartered at Mangalam Center: Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages, and the Center for Creative Inquiry. Each of these organizations has different projects that you may work on during your residency. For details, please visit their websites.

Mangalam Research Center

  • Courses on Buddhist studies and languages
  • Lecture series
  • Conferences and symposia
  • Mangalam Press, an academic publisher: desktop publishing and graphic design
  • Buddhist Translator’s Workbench, software development
  • Library cataloging and research projects

Center for Creative Inquiry

  • Full Presence Mindfulness classes and workshops
  • Programs based on the secular (i.e. nonreligious) teachings of Tarthang Rinpoche, especially Time, Space, Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality
  • Programs based on mindfulness and the arts
  • Video projects
  • Online content generation and discussion platforms

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