Home / Blog / Residency update: 14 and counting

Eight new residents walked through the Dharma Door Saturday, boosting Karmê Chӧling’s population to 27 and signaling that its transformation into a residential meditation center holds real promise.

In April, Executive Director Betsy Railla announced plans for Karmê Chӧling Residency, offering the land center’s acreage, shrine rooms, garden, history, magic and living spaces to people who want to join a kind, supportive community centered on the practice of meditation and a recognition of each other’s basic goodness.

“We have completely changed our program model and our revenue-generating model over the last six months,” said Betsy. “The first thing we saw Saturday was that it has worked, and that a wider variety of people than we imagined are interested.”

In April, projections showed that 15 residents would enable Karmê Chӧling to break even financially. Saturday’s population surge brought the number of residents to 14 — with more scheduled to arrive in the coming months. There are also nine staff members and four volunteers living on the land.

By the winter of  2019, participation in programs had already dropped significantly due to a compounding of problems — including deep discord in the sangha and growing competition from other meditation centers. Still, financial projections showed that in summer of 2020, with cuts to the staff, Karmê Chӧling would survive another year.

When COVID-19 arose, and people were forced into isolation, plans for a summer program season vanished.

“When I came on as director, the situation presented to me was that the treadmill-program model wasn’t working here,” Betsy said. “People can go to programs anywhere, including Zoom — there are a lot of different options. But we can offer something else. We’re answering to a new time.”

As the staff was making the shift to residency, it was assumed that the new model would appeal mostly to people who had retired. But far more of the new residents are working from home. The latest arrivals include an acharya, a student, a computer programmer, a veteran and a health care worker on leave. Some are staying for three months, some for six, some for a year or more.

While programs are not a significant source of revenue for Karmê Chöling, the Programs Department continues to offer a wide range of programs, from Shambhala Path programs to Mudra Space Awareness and Lucid Dream Yoga. In fact,  participation in Path Programs has risen with the adoption of Zoom. 

Acharya Dan Hessey, who arrived with the latest batch of new residents, is already on the calendar for three programs Open Sky,” “Gentle Bravery” and the continuation of a Shambhala Online course titled “The Third Noble Truth: Freedom from Suffering.” Because that last program will be produced at Karmê Chöling, residents will be able to attend in person, instead of on Zoom. 

For summer 2021, Betsy is considering a plan that would create residencies around long-term programs or paths of study. 

“I think there are more people who want change than ever before,” Betsy said. “Our community is joined by particular values. We all resonate with this ground that our lives can be wakeful and spacious and kind, and create a community that values that above all other things; above our own personal agendas and our own personal projects — that we can be united in that. And when people see that, it’s very magnetizing. I think that’s the kind of community people want to live in.”




  1. I am interested in the residency program and would like to learn more. Perhaps someone could contact me.


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