Contemplative Arts

Contemplative Arts comprise a number of secular disciplines and activities, including flower arranging and photography, that integrate art and culture with everyday life. Each of these disciplines represents a genuine contemplative path; together they bring beauty, vividness and wisdom to our lives and culture.

The Shambhala Meditation Center of San Francisco offers classes and workshops in these disciplines at various times during the year. Please visit our programs page for details.

Trungpa Rinpoche CalligraphyShambhala Art

Shambhala Art is art that springs from clear perception and pure expression. To artist or non-artist, the creative process often seems mysterious and magical. How do we give a physical reality to some ephemeral inspiration or abstract truth? How do we create forms that communicate some essential nature beyond the limits of their container? The Shambhala Art Program’s purpose is to explore the creative process and the product we call art from the point of view of clear perception and pure expression. It is about the source of inspiration, how the creative process manifests and finally how what we create communicates that inspiration.

San Francisco, in cooperation with the other Northern California Shambhala centers, offer an annual cycle of Shambhala Art Levels 1 thought 5. Details for upcoming workshops can be found on our programs page.

Shambhala Arts Festival

The Shambhala Arts Festival is an international event during which the entire Shambhala community is invited to celebrate the arts based on Shambhala/Dharma Art principles at their Centers each Spring. This festival day is an opportunity to gather artists and help establish the roots of enlightened society. Shambhala Art explores the creative and viewing processes and the product we call art from the viewpoint of a meditative discipline. It is a viewpoint that encourages us to see things as they are, rather than how we imagine they are.



Ikebana, the study and practice of flower arranging, is based on the fundamental principles of Heaven, Earth and Human, which are at the root of all Japanese flower design. The Sogetsu School, as it is practiced at the Shambhala Meditation Center of San Francisco steps out of tradition, with an open and expressive approach,  into the world of modern art .

We offer ongoing classes with our resident teacher, Alice Tarkeshi.

Contemplative Photography


Contemplative photography  is based directly on the Dharma Art teachings of the late meditation master, artist and scholar, Chögyam Trungpa, specifically by his teachings on the nature of perception.  Once we have a moment of fresh perception, vivid and clear, there is a natural desire to communicate that experience. Through visual exercises and photographic assignments, Contemplative Photography is designed to allow the eye and the mind to be naturally synchronized, so that the experience of seeing could be undistracted and present.

See also and photographs by Chogyam Trungpa, or visit our Contemplative Photography Circle page.

Mudra Space Awareness

Mudra Space Awareness uses the laboratory of our bodies to bring flexibility to our perceptions and explore awareness beyond the confines of conceptual mind. We uncover our fundamental confidence, letting ourselves return to a joyful space of spontaneity. Its roots lie in the Vajrayana Buddhist traditions of Mahamudra and Dzogchen as well as monastic dance and Western theater as taught by the late meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The Shambhala Meditation Center of San Francisco hods an ongoing, monthly gathering of practitioners as well as weekend workshops that take place about once a year. Please see our programs pages for details.

The practice is best experienced freshly with no expectations or conditions. One thing is certain, through practicing Mudra you will discover your own experience.
–Lee Worley

Contemplative Writing Practice

Contemplative writing explores the connection between meditation practice and writing. Meetings will intersperse meditation or contemplation with playful and exploratory writing exercises. Time will be allotted to share writing in a supportive environment.