A hillside near Gebchak Gonpa dotted with holes in the ground where nuns practice Thögal (Tib. ཐོད་རྒལ་, translated as “leap-over” to spontaneous presence). This is an advanced stage of Dzogchen meditation that leads to the highest realization of the perfect, luminous nature of mind and all phenomena. After a 3-year retreat and many years of prior preliminaries, the nuns progress to Thögal meditation. There is no fixed length of time for this practice, though many nuns choose to devote a 100-day period for Thögal retreat, in which they spend day and night in their holes and come out only for meals and short breaks. There has always been a tradition of Thögal practice at Gebchak Gonpa, and the nuns receive their practice instructions from the senior nuns and lamas.
This footage was filmed by Wangdrak Rinpoche on a cold day in January 2011. It was approximately -13F (-25C) that day. He is breathing heavily due to the high altitude, with the lack of oxygen intensified by the arid winter. Camera: Wangdrak Rinpoche. Edit: CDR.