Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Centre Criccieth North Wales
The Hermitage of the Awakened Heart, near Criccieth, Gwynedd, North Wales

The Hermitage Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre near Criccieth, North Wales, is the centre of activity and practice for the Awakened Heart Sangha, and is also the residence of Lama Shenpen Hookham.


Lama Shenpen Hookham is the founder of the Awakened Heart Sangha and principal teacher of the Living the Awakened Heart Training, a distance, experiential learning course in meditation and Buddhism. She spends most of her time in retreat at The Hermitage, working on her writing or with her students, teaching.

She has trained for over 50 years in the Mahamudra & Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and is part of an incredible lineage of teachers from the Kagyu and Nyingma schools, which includes her main teacher Khenpo Rinpoche; Rigdzin Shikpo; Trungpa Rinpoche and Bokar Rinpoche, to name a few. She was ordained as a nun in the 1970s by H.H the 16th Karmapa who also instructed her to return to the West and teach. On the advice of the teacher of all her teachers, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, she moved to North Wales and set up The Hermitage retreat centre and built an Enlightenment Stupa in the grounds. You can find out more about Lama Shenpen and her lineage HERE.

Lama Shenpen developed the Living the Awakened Heart Training distance learning course as a way of bringing the foundational principles of the Dharma to Western students. She continues to train her students using the framework of the Tibetan Mahamudra tradition.

The training is a unique, experiential home study programme, offering comprehensive and structured training in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight, devised especially for Westerners. Students have one-to-one contact with Lama Shenpen as well as experienced mentors. For full details about the training and how to join, visit: www.ahs.org.uk/training. The Hermitage runs many courses and retreats throughout the year for students to enhance their studies, training and development.

The Awakened Heart Sangha is made up of international students of Lama Shenpen, with the Hermitage as a centre of activity and study. Meditation and study continue daily at the Hermitage for all residents, and we broadcast our daily meditation sessions online where members from around the world join in. See the Meditation page to find out more about the type of meditation we do and how to join us.

The Hermitage is regarded as a sacred space because of the Dharma practice that takes place there, and especially because of its fully consecrated Enlightenment Stupa which contains the relics of many great Buddhist teachers.  See the Stupa page for more information.

We have been based in North Wales since 2003 because His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche divined the area of Gwynedd on a map and directed Lama Shenpen here. We are surrounded by beautiful countryside and coast and make pilgrimages to connect with local sacred sites. We document them on our website www.sacredsiteswales.co.uk


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