The meditation practice at Dharmagiri is inspired by the ethos of Theravada monastic contemplative life of the Forest School which traces its roots back to the Buddha. It is also inspired by the Bodhisattva intention of compassionate response symbolized by Kuan Yin through the lineage of Chinese Mayahana Buddhism. This ethos encapsulates the two great wings of Buddhism, wisdom and compassion.
The foundation teaching and practice at Dharmagiri is founded in the training in Samadhi (unification of body, heart and mind) Sati (mindfulness) Vipassana (insight and wisdom) and Chan (non dual). The use of meditation methods and cultivation of skilful mind states is done in the service of nurturing awareness. While Dharmagiri is open to other approaches, faiths and practices and while we draw from a variety of teachers, it is important that the approaches we engage are rooted in an ethical foundation.

The archetypal template for our spiritual practice is Avalokitesvara or Kuan Yin, who embodies enlightened activity within the world while rooted in depth understanding of emptiness. Another way of understanding emptiness is the intimacy of all things. Kuan Shr Yin means the ‘One Who Contemplates the Sounds of the World at Ease’ Kuan Yin is beyond form and yet works through form. At Dharmagiri we engage practices which evoke the essence of Kuan Yin, which is the merging of depth wisdom as articulated in the Heart Sutra, with depth compassion as articulated in the Great Compassion Mantra. This is done through various meditation practices as well as through recitation of mantra and Sutra texts.

Besides individual meditation practice, an important dimension of retreats at Dharmagiri is the cultivation of community. It is our practice to observe sensitivity, authenticity and respect towards each other, to share the undertaking of daily chores and to have the support of each other's well-being as our primary focus. To this end, relationship challenges are understood as opportunity for the deepening of both wisdom and compassion within the individual as well as within the group. During longer retreats, we hold a weekly sharing circle to give the chance of each person to reflect on their practice in an atmosphere of safety and mutual respect.