Joyful Living Program

Joyful Living Work-Study Program


The Pandemic has offered us an opportunity to turn within and review where we are, the best of what we offer, and how we can serve the global community at an ever-higher level. We are in a wonderfully creative process of examination and exploration as we slowly begin to re-open to the public and re-envision the potential of our community.


Please consider applying if you are interested in cultivating new patterns individually and as part of a community of practitioners. We are seeking dedicated, self-responsible, cultural creatives who are unafraid of hard work, and passionate about self-discovery.


Beginning in the Summer of 2021, Ratna Ling Retreat Center is piloting a new residential volunteer program called Joyful Living.

The Joyful Living program is a work study program designed for new residents of Ratna Ling.  One of the program’s intentions is to support the cultivation of joy that wells up from within. Participants find encouragement to notice, cultivate, and maintain joy throughout the day, while participating in meaningful work, meditation, movement practice, community work crews, and classes. 

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, joy is considered one of the Four Immeasurables, the boundless qualities that open the doorways to enlightenment.  The Four Immeasurables — love, compassion, joy, and equanimity — strengthen and balance one another, offering limitless benefit.

Participants make a 6-month minimum commitment to this evolving work-study program, with an option to renew. We can occasionally welcome volunteers for shorter time periods.

The educational components of the Joyful Living program are based on foundational texts by Tarthang Tulku including Gesture of Balance, Skillful Means, and Caring. Material from Kum Nye (Tibetan Yoga) texts such as Joy of Being and other relevant material are also utilized.  These books arise from Tibetan Buddhist insights designed for a modern Western audience seeking greater understanding, happiness, and fulfillment.

Participants need not identify as Buddhists, though a sincere interest in self-reflection, developing one’s potential, and the spirit of service are essential. The Joyful Living program is intended to provide participants with opportunities for meaningful work, skill-building, and the space for growth, in a supportive community environment. Opportunities for more traditional Buddhist study and practice are offered for those who are interested.

We are seeking motivated, diverse, and talented applicants who are mature, grounded, enjoy contributing through their work, and are ready to help co-create an exceptional and satisfying new program together. To apply, please complete the application form on the website. Visit the Apply Now page.

What to expect

All community members live onsite at Ratna Ling, which translates to Land of Treasures, a beautiful, rural 120-acre retreat center. Ratna Ling is nestled among redwoods and open meadows in the coastal mountains in northwestern Sonoma County, CA.  While offering time, energy, and skills to benefit the diverse projects onsite, participants benefit from:

  • Meditation and movement practices
  • Onsite and online classes
  • A supportive community
  • Free housing in a beautiful location
  • Vegetarian meals
  • Utilities including wi-fi and laundry facilities
  • A monthly living allowance of $150 for incidental expenses


Our community follows a 6 day work week from approximately 8 AM to 5 PM. Joyful Living participants enjoy opportunities for practice and study during the work day.

Evenings may consist of: 

  • hour-long Joyful Living program classes up to two nights per week
  • additional optional evening classes in Buddhist studies and more offered onsite on a variable schedule
  • optional online classes from our sister organizations, the Nyingma Institute and Dharma College
  • community dinners are provided some evenings and occasional clean-up duties ensue; participants may cook their own dinners or enjoy leftovers on nights when community dinners are not offered

Work as Practice

Work-practice is an integral part of the Joyful Living program.  The Nyingma Mandala of organizations is run and staffed almost entirely by volunteers. Work provides an opportunity to directly serve our mission and the greater good of humanity while developing concentration, awareness, and energy through the practice of Skillful Means. Skillful Means is a field of study that explores and expands the possibility of cultivating our potential, while making a meaningful contribution through our daily actions. 

Ratna Ling Retreat Center and two sister organizations, Dharma Publishing and the Yeshe De text preservation project, are located onsite.  All three organizations offer Joyful Living participants opportunities to engage in meaningful work including: 

  • Serving at one of the oldest Buddhist publishers in the United States
  • Preserving Tibetan sacred texts in the on-site professional printing and book-binding operation
  • Vegetarian cooking in our professionally equipped kitchen
  • Growing food in our mostly organic vegetable and fruit garden
  • Construction & maintenance
  • Landscaping, groundskeeping and fire safety
  • Marketing and administrative work
  • Housekeeping
  • Retreat support 
  • Numerous other project-based opportunities

One way we move into a more joyful life is by noticing and moving beyond habitual patterns and perceived limitations. Participation at Ratna Ling is immersive which can help us see what blocks our full participation in life. Together, we strive to see that although resistance and negative patterns arise, they are not fixed aspects of our being and can be transformed.

Joyful Living, a pilot program offered for the first time starting in July 2021, is subject to iteration and refinement.  

Ratna Ling and its sister organizations have a long history of work-study offerings.  The Joyful Living Program at Ratna Ling is and exciting new beginning that joins that tradition with a focus on cultivating joy and expanding well-being, helping participants lay the foundation for a satisfying life.  

Please note: We do require incoming residents to be fully vaccinated from Covid.