The three-year retreat centres offer the possibility of intensive, uninterrupted practice which leads to a deep understanding of the Dharma. It is called "foundation retreat" and follows a structure and a program developped by the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dordje. It gives a profound introduction to the basic teachings and pratices of the Karma Kagyu lineage. It provides a solid foundation for the sustainability of the bodhicitta and the Mahamudra.
In order to carry out a three-year retreat it is essential to have already developed the Bodhisattva's motivation. One should have a sincere commitment to helping others on the path to enlightenment, and an intensive practice which enables true qualities to develop. All candidates therefore need a thorough preparation of several years. This preparatory process combining work for the community with study and practice is a traditional feature of the Karma Kagyu school.