Barbara Hirschfeld has been a student of Pema Chödrön — and through her, the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who founded Shambhala in the West, and now his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche — since 2001.

She lived in Asia for nine years and taught Health to middle-schoolers at the Jakarta International School while her husband explored for geothermal energy. She and her husband brought back many treasures from Asia, and started a store in Santa Rosa upon their return from the tropics. They closed the store in 2012, and many of the antiques, stone statuary, and Southeast Asian architectural elements are featured now in the Meditation Hall and placed throughout the 8-acre property that is part of Open Sky. The garden is punctuated with stone statuary, and the inside with carved doors and light fixtures. Barbara Hirschfeld at Karma Choling, VT

As a member of the Sonoma Shambhala Center, she volunteered to cook for Pema and thus a student-teacher relationship was born.

“Pema has helped guide me to appreciate the importance of meditation and retreat. When I saw this space, I saw how it could be a place where people could retreat, connect with themselves and with open space, and heal themselves, both alone and in a group. People need a place to come together to practice meditation. We can help each other that way.”

Barbara has served the Shambhala community, first as a coordinator of Shambhala Trainings for Sonoma and Santa Rosa, then on the council of Santa Rosa in many capacities. Most recently she served as Director of Santa Rosa Shambhala Meditation Center for over 3 years, helping to grow that community and establish it as a vibrant center in the Shambhala Mandala of Northern California. She stepped down in April of 2012 and has since devoted herself to developing Open Sky Retreat Space for both Shambhala practitioners and many other groups who find inspiration in the lovely West County setting.

She is most happy to have found a way to share the beautiful land of the West County with others.

Photo: Barbara at Karma Choling, VT.