Heart of Refuge: A Winter Immersion in the Triple Gem

Heart of Refuge
A Winter Immersion

in the Triple Gem

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The premise of refuge is that we learn to use traditional practice forms to shelter the mind from all that hinders clear seeing, and in turn, insight that leads to our own wisdom becomes the ultimate sanctuary, sheltering us from life’s many forms of suffering while empowering us with a greater capacity for skillful living. Heart of Refuge borrows from the tradition of taking refuge in the Triple Gem–buddha, dharma, sangha–by establishing a three-month immersive practice and study opportunity for dedicated practitioners who seek to experience the fruit of the Dharma more fully in their own lives.

Participants in Heart of Refuge will work closely with Chris Crotty, and with each other, to establish and maintain a container for exploring the dharma which integrates the support of community, the unfolding of self-sustained practice, and teacher guidance. Throughout the program participants are provided opportunities to engage in the framework of the Triple Gem as a basis for deepening their meditation practice, and as a form for studying a wide range of Buddhist teachings with the goal of better understanding their relevance to their own personal lives. We will engage meditation practice to better understand Buddhist teachings, and learn how to use Buddhist teachings to expand our practice. With this foundation in place we will ask critical questions pertaining to the integration of the Dharma in our personal lives and the wider world.

Program Overview

Application Timeframe

Applications Close: August 5, 2024


A daily meditation practice or a sincere commitment to beginning and sustaining a daily meditation practice for the duration of the program


3 months

In-Person Program Dates

• Nov 1-6, 2024
• Jan 31 - Feb 5, 2025

Zoom Gatherings

• Video Presentations
• Guided Meditations
• Self-Reflection Exercises
• Short Weekly Assignments

Peer Dyad Discussions

Twice monthly scheduled on the weeks between teacher led sessions

Application Information

Program Format

Participants will be supported by:

  • Two residential programs at BCBS

  • Individualized daily meditation practice based on experience level

  • Reading assignments and reflection questions

  • Kalayanamitta (spiritual friendship) dyads (Zoom) 

Programs will be structured thematically around the Triple Gem: buddha, dharma, sangha. These three gems will serve as an organizing principle or framework upon which a range of related dharma teachings and topics will be explored.

Full participation is required in two residential programs. Prograss will blend periods of silent meditation emphasizing the simplicity and quietude of renunciation, along with dyads, small group discussions, and teacher-led periods of reflection. All forms of mindful communication will be held in the spirit of contemplative practice, aimed at enriching both meditative development and peer relationships. It is expected that participants will eliminate the use of their phones and other forms of technology for the duration of the program. The last day of each program will include specific practices and activities to support the transition from the contemplative environment to activities that take place at home and between programs.

Participants are expected to develop an ongoing daily meditation practice that may include insight (vipassana), loving-kindness (metta), and the Five Recollections. Chris will work with each participant to help them establish an approach to daily practice that reflects their experience level and lifestyle. Daily meditation practice between programs can accommodate various work schedules and commitments, though participants are expected to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes per day to their meditation practice for the duration of the program. Keeping a meditation journal is encouraged.

This program is designed specifically to help practitioners who want to create more structure and time in their lives for dharma activities. In addition to daily meditation practice between programs, students will be expected to complete reading assignments, engage with reflection questions by keeping a journal, and participate in dyads and group discussions. Participants should plan for 2-4 hours per week for these activities. Participants who are interested in spending more time studying and reading can elect to take advantage of an optional supplementary reading list.

Applicants should have a daily meditation practice or a sincere commitment to beginning and sustaining a daily meditation practice for the duration of the program.

This program is for dedicated practitioners who meet the prerequisites and who want to:

  • Deepen their meditation practice by addressing common challenges that meditators face and gaining insight into personal habit patterns.

  • Expand their understanding of core Buddhist teachings through both self-directed and teacher-led reading and reflection. This study component of the program will emphasize discernment and focused reflection based on short readings rather than consuming a lot of material.

  • Establish and sustain a spirited and cheerful sangha aimed at mutual support. Together, we will explore multiple ways to experience the Dharma by working closely with peers to co-create a learning community grounded in spiritual friendship, collaboration, and encouragement. 

A Year of Refuge
Path Program and Schedule

Program I: Taking Refuge in the Buddha & Dharma

This program has two components:

Component one examines the archetype of Buddha as a representation of one’s own awakened potential, and as a starting point to consider how those of us practicing today might find in the legacy and teachings of the historical Buddha time-tested guidance to cultivate our own mind. Examples will also be drawn from the spiritual biographies of other notable practitioners. This component will also look to the story of the Buddha’s encounters with aging, sickness, and death in order to better understand their relationship to aspiration and motivation.

Component two explores the ideal of living in accordance with the dharma, described in the suttas as “subtle and hard to see.” How do we live and practice in accordance with something subtle and hard to see and not yet fully realized? This component explores the whole of the Dharma as an integrated system of practice, study, and personal reflection that leads to a way of seeing and perceiving self, others, and the world around us, which leads to greater freedom. Though we “study” the Dharma this program will ultimately support students to recognize their own direct experience as the greatest source of insight.

Zoom Group Sessions

Program II: Taking Refuge in the Sangha and The Wider World

This program has two components:

Component one explores the potential of sangha, the community of practitioners who support each other’s progress on the Path. More broadly we will reflect on the role of relationships (work, family, friendships) in our lives to provide valuable–and sometimes challenging–opportunities to see and transform our habits. In this way, relationships become vehicles for transforming our mind and heart, improving our ability to engage all of life with greater equanimity and joy. In this program we will also consider the role of loving-kindness and compassion in the formation of skillful relationships and in the purification of our own mind.

Component two delves deeply into the question, what does it mean to live in accordance with the dharma? This stage in the program will offer opportunities to focus on incorporating what we have learned through The Heart of Refuge (as well as how we have learned) with the aim of setting well-considered intentions for furthering one’s relationship to the Dharma beyond the program. Using journaling, dyads, small groups, and teacher-led discussion, we will carefully and systematically reflect on our own practice throughout three months. As part of the final program each student will have the opportunity to reexamine the traditional model of taking refuge in the three jewels in light of their own experience Both individually, and together as a community, we will support each other in establishing supportive guidelines for continuing to live and practice in a way that is both personally meaningful and aligned with the highest goals of Buddhist practice.

Program Information

Residential Pricing:

Includes lodging and meals at BCBS during the in-person programs.

Tier 3Tier 2Tier 1Benefactor

Commuter Pricing:

Includes meals without lodging during the in-person programs.


Applications Open: Currently Open
Applications Close: August 5, 2024
Initial Accepted Applicants Notified: August 19, 2024
Payment Due: Two weeks from the date of acceptance
Program Starts: November 1, 2024

Guiding Teacher

Chris Crotty

He is a Dharma teacher in the insight tradition, a Buddhist chaplain and pastoral counselor, and furniture maker. Practicing meditation since 1998, he has trained with Burmese meditation masters, western monastics of the Zen and Thai Forest tradition, and senior western Vipassana teachers. His main teacher is Sayadaw U Indaka. Chris is interested in the role of kindness and ethics in the development of wisdom and as a basis for creating caring communities. To learn more about Chris visit https://chriscrottydharma.org