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Finding Refuge

Gratitude for the sisterhood at a Tibetan Buddhist Nunnery

Silk painting of Woman and cat in mountains

Taming of the Beast by Anna Yakubovskaya

I’m sitting on a small round cushion, red, the same crimson color as the robes worn by three nuns before me. Behind them is a large elevated plush chair, elaborate, more like a throne, covered in ornate woven tapestries and surrounded by vases of fabric flowers. An image of His Holiness is perched on the seatback. This gompa, or meditation temple, is holding space for 21 students from around the world, mostly Israeli, British, and Australian. I am one of only two Americans. The other is the lead teacher at this weekend Samatha meditation retreat. Her name is Venerable Tenzin Pelza. She’s short, wears small round glasses, and she is remarkably approachable despite her intimidating exterior of draping cloth, shaven head, and a panther tattoo on her right shoulder. When I got to the Thösamling nunnery just after daylight yesterday morning, four hours before the small office opened and two hours before I planned, I flagged down Pelza as she walked into the gompa for morning prayers. “Can you help me find my place?” I asked, desperately in need of rest after an overnight bus journey filled with vo …

Thösamling is an international community living and studying within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition located near Dharamsala, India. They offer weekend meditation retreats throughout the year, and long-term studying opportunities for women. Find more at

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Life ChangesMeditationSelf-HelpIndia

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