Sign up for a Foundation Series self-led course

Awakening the Body | The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness | Somatic Descent | Boundless Heart

Once you have signed up for an online course you can access it at the Dharma Ocean Online Course Website.

Please note that our course library is not part of this website. This link will bring you to our online learning platform.

Below you will find links to sign up for the self-led versions of the Dharma Ocean training path. If you prefer to engage these curriculums in a live teaching setting, online or in person, please visit the Teacher-led Programs page and check the Dharma Ocean calendar for future offerings.

The Teaching, the Training, and the Path

Awakening the Body can be taken by itself, and its practices will carry us very far along the path to spiritual awakening. But it is also the first of a four-course foundational sequence of training in the Tibetan Buddhist path also including: Course 2: The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness; Course 3: Boundless Heart and the Practice of Compassion; Course 4: Somatic Descent: The Wisdom of the Body. In course # 2, we train in staying connected with our own depths and how to begin to bring our openness, wisdom, and warmth into our daily interactions with others and with the larger world. In course # 3, we train in the core compassion practices by opening our hearts to others, abiding with them in their confusion and suffering, and helping connect them with their own inner resources and beauty. In course # 4, we learn how to hear and understand the wisdom of the body, which is extraordinarily both subtle and profound, and how to apply that wisdom in literally every situation of our lives.

The Tradition: Vajrayana, Chögyam Trungpa, and Dharma Ocean

Vajrayana Buddhism, so beautifully preserved in Tibet, provides us with a thorough and detailed path to spiritual realization. As taught by the great master Chögyam Trungpa, the path begins by connecting us fully with the person we actually are, right now, including our neurotic problems and our sanity, and with the life we are living. This is the working basis for all spiritual development, though one that is often bypassed in our hurry to obtain results. But without beginning exactly where we are—which is what somatic meditation shows us how to do—we aren’t likely to get anywhere. Dharma Ocean carries on Chögyam Trungpa’s lineage of teaching, study, and practice.

Individual Responsibility

The DO path is for those who feel ready to take full responsibility for themselves, their lives, and their spiritual journeys. This means taking ownership for our own state of mind, relying on the teachings and the practices rather than on external sources of authority, and being ready to trust ourselves as the final authority for our unfolding. It also means trusting the groundless and essentially mysterious quality of life and being willing to jump into the fires of existence.

What Dharma Ocean Provides

Although this is your own journey, at the same time, Dharma Ocean offers you a lot. It provides a body of experiential teaching for each of the four stages mentioned above, and the two specifically Vajrayana stages that follow. For those wishing to go further, qualified students may apply to enter the two Vajrayana levels, the form practices of ngondro and sadhana, and the formless practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen.

Corresponding to each of the six stages is a body of practices that, once again, aim to bring us into direct, personal experience of realization of each stage. And only this kind of direct experience leads to fundamental and lasting transformation. Although this is our own solitary journey, there are countless others around the world following this path and their companionship on the path becomes more and more invaluable as we go along. And there is a cadre of senior Dharma Ocean practitioners and teachers who become available, particularly for those at more experienced levels of training. Our whole life as a sangha is carried out fully within the world that we all live in today, and our teachings and discussions are informed by past and recent Buddhist history, by sociology, psychology, neuroscience, ecology, philosophy (phenomenology, modernism, post-modernism), and global politics, as well as other topics that are the language and understanding of our day. Dharma Ocean offers a path of self-development and spiritual growth that can be followed for a lifetime.

The Backstory

Why somatic?

When meditation is grounded in the body, we discover an immediate relief from stress and find ourselves far more capable of handling the uncertainties and anxieties of everyday life. Far beyond this, though, our practice can lead us to the unconditional openness and boundless peace of genuine realization.

And Our Human Experience

Meditation not grounded in our body can often be overly mental and disconnected from our lived experience; it can feel a bit arid, pointless, and empty. And yet genuine spirituality is all about the warmth and richness of our actual experience, which is found in our body, in its depths and its possibilities. As we say in our lineage, “enlightenment is found in the body.”


Connecting with Others and the World

Many of us feel cut off from others and the larger world by our own habitual patterns of thinking and reactivity. The purpose of somatic meditation is to dismantle our rigid ways of thinking and reacting so that we may recover the freshness and wonder of being alive and learn how to genuinely love others.

Stress and Spirituality

Through somatic meditation, we can connect with our own timeless and unconditional self, an experience of truly coming home. This is why study after study has shown that by connecting with this basic nature, our level of burden and stress is greatly reduced, and we develop greater levels of immunity, health, and happiness.

Course Descriptions

The Foundation Series with Reggie Ray and Caroline Pfohl are go-at-your-own-pace courses designed to introduce students to the main practices offered inside the Dharma Ocean lineage. They are shaped to support practitioners in the midst of daily life, so practice and experience can impact how we interact with others, our world, and ourselves. This “in the world” focus encourages the integration of the teachings into all the places we meet and engage our world.

The four courses in the Foundation Series introduce participants to the foundational somatic meditation practices of the Dharma Ocean lineage. The courses are sequential, with each course building upon the material of the preceding one. Therefore participants are encouraged to take each course sequentially, beginning with Awakening the Body and ending with the Boundless Heart 1.

Awakening the Body

Ground Yana

Awakening the Body – The Foundations of Buddhist Meditation

The Buddha taught mindfulness of the body as the entry point to the awakened state. In this course we will learn the basic elements of this practice which underlie all later meditations and practices. In connecting with our bodies in the deepest possible way, we are opening to the full range of our human experience and our human possibility. This is essential, for the entire spiritual journey unfolds from this opening.

What you will learn:

How to bring your awareness fully into your body, creating a sense of groundedness and confidence in your experience and your state of being. How many of us have experienced this integration of our minds and bodies?
How to notice, meet, and let go of the tension found throughout the body, leading to profound relaxation and peace, and a feeling of well-being.  Again, something that is in short supply in our hectic, chaotic world.
Relaxation, well-being, and confidence bring us naturally into contact with our own depths, known as the Natural State or Awakened State, with its boundless openness, pristine clarity, and unconditional warmth. These are already within us right now, but how many of us are familiar with these depths in ourselves or with the happiness and joy that they bring? Once we connect with our own timeless depths, everything in our life suddenly becomes workable, whether difficult emotional states, problematic relationships, or our activities in the larger world. To arrive fully into our bodies in this way is to experience what is known as the body of the buddha, buddha-kaya and even as beginners, we are able to glimpse this most secret Vajrayana teaching in our direct experience: that this human body of ours, when we experience it truly and fully, is nothing other than the body of enlightenment with its freedom, compassion, and joy in living.

Prerequisites: This course is open to all and is required for enrollment in subsequent Foundation Courses.


  • 10 video lectures
  • 10 audio introductions to guided meditations
  • 10 audio guided meditations
  • A complete downloadable package of all the curriculum audio, including the lectures
  • Study questions and suggested readings for each unit

Sign up to Awakening the Body self-led online

If you are financially secure, we invite you to generate merit by providing more financial support to Dharma Ocean.

Meditation Yana

The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness

This course builds upon the Awakening the Body training, providing in-depth training in the sitting practice of somatic meditation. By developing the posture of pure awareness, you train your body to be aligned, relaxed and resilient. You can then recognize and rest in the natural state of openness of our own deepest being. Through progressive teachings on how to abide within the pure awareness of the body, you are invited to experience a tender-hearted way of being with the sacredness of the cosmos as it appears as your unique incarnation. It is an approach to meditation that is marked by sensitivity and responsiveness—a way of yielding to the moment-by-moment expression of experience.

Prerequisites: Completion of one of these trainings: Awakening the Body online course, Your Breathing Body Volume I audio program, Meditating with the Body five-month training program, The Awakening Body book and audio training, or a Dharma Ocean residential retreat intensive such as the Winter Meditation Intensive.


  • 10 video lectures

  • 11 audio introductions to practices and guided meditations

  • 10 audio guided meditations

  • A complete downloadable package of all the curriculum audio, including the lectures

  • Study questions and suggested readings for each unit

Sign up to The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness

If you are financially secure, we invite you to generate merit by providing more financial support to Dharma Ocean.

Yana of Somatic Descent

Somatic Descent: The Wisdom of the Body

In this tantric approach to meditation, you begin to see that everything bursts forth from the empty space of our basic Soma, “the natural state,” — the energy of radiant, expressive awareness.  In our Somatic Descent experiences, you uncover the always abiding wisdom of the Soma in relation to any aspect of your lives that you choose to explore – or that the Soma brings to our attention. A trivial yet triggering annoyance, an on-going workplace struggle, a seemingly intractable relationship issue, a dream, a memory, a practice situation: whatever is up for you in the moment, you request guidance from the Soma. By listening closely and working with the Soma’s response, you deepen your relationship with the Soma and your alignment with the imperatives of your journey.

Prerequisites:  Completion of the The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness course.


  • 12 video lectures

  • 6 audio introductions to practices and guided meditations

  • 8 audio guided meditations

  • A complete downloadable package of all the curriculum audio, including the lectures

  • Study questions and suggested readings for each unit

Sign up to Somatic Descent self-led online course

If you are financially secure, we invite you to generate merit by providing more financial support to Dharma Ocean.

Yana of Great Compassion

Boundless Heart and the Practice of Compassion

Through embodied bodhicitta (awakening heart) practices, you discover that the heart is the ultimate organ of wisdom and compassion within your Soma; it beholds all beings and life as they are, in and of themselves and from their own side. This is simply the heart’s natural way of regarding everything once the veils of conceptual thinking are relinquished. You realize that to behold things from the view of the heart’s territory is to love them selflessly and unconditionally.

Prerequisites:  Completion of The Somatic Practice of Pure Awareness course.


  • Working with Contemplations Guide (.pdf)

  • 10 Video Lectures

  • 11 Audio introductions to Practice and Guided Meditation

  • 11 Audio Guided Meditations

  • 1 Contemplation

  • A complete downloadable package of all the curriculum Audio, including the lectures.

  • Study Questions and Suggested Readings for each unit

Sign up to Boundless Heart self-led online course

If you are financially secure, we invite you to generate merit by providing more financial support to Dharma Ocean.

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