Chhimi Dema

The vista of the vast Paro valley enfolds in front of the Kila Meditation Centre which is nestled on a cliff. The horizon stretches on. The scenery is a balm to the heart.

“Every day, we get to see the sunrise from the mountains. This fills our hearts with gratitude. Here we start the day listening to the muffled sounds of nature,” says Namgay Choden, a nun at the goenpa. “What more can we ask for?”

The meditation centre was founded in the 8th Century by Chogyal Norbu, a saint from Tibet.

Before it became a meditation centre, it served as a shedra.

The shedra was later moved to Tenchen Goenpa in Paro considering the risks the cliff posed to more than 70 people residing there.

The nuns, after they complete their studies from Tenchen Goenpa, return to Kila Goenpa to enter the three-year retreat.

The meditation centre was previously known as Kila Dechen Yangtse.

The centre is today home to 17 nuns (including those entering the three-year-long retreat) and a lama.

Namgay Choden and her friends at the centre are yet to enter their retreat.

“We are waiting for our turn,” she says.

The nuns waiting for others to complete their retreat have much to do at the goenpa, from cleaning to washing to collecting firewood from the nearby forest.

Namgay Choden and her friends rise at 4 am every day. After three hours of intense praying, they break to complete other works at the goenpa.

“I cannot keep track of the time at the goenpa. I am engaged, always,” she says.

Much of their days are spent chanting and reading namthars (biographies).

The nuns often make visits to Paro town to restock food and other essential supplies, which according to the nun, is very tiring.

Namgay Choden says that the noise–from vehicles, crowds, and construction­–is exhausting. So the trip to the town is brief.

“In the town, I get distracted and I miss out on my prayers,” Namgay says.

Life at the goenpa is quiet and smooth for the nuns.

Dedicating their lives to praying for the sentient beings, the nuns say they are content with their lives.

“My mind is clear and my body light here at the goenpa,” Namgay Choden says.

The goenpa is connected with electricity and has good mobile connectivity.

To survive the harsh winters, facilities such as geysers, heaters, and washing machines are installed.

Another nun at the goenpa said that she is very much at peace with the minimalistic life at the centre.

“Every day that I spend at the centre has been worthwhile. My focus on this path has sharpened with the atmosphere and serenity,” she adds.