This year our New Year Retreat will be held in North Wales again (a ten minute walk to the beach and twenty minutes back....!) and the cost is £250, donations welcomed. We have 22 places available and we are always sold out so do book early. A £50 deposit reserves your place and is refundable up until 30th November (minus a £10 admin charge).
There will be a timetable that includes periods of sitting, mindful walking, mindfulness movement, periods of Doing Nothing and some instruction about mindful eating during mealtimes. There will be a teaching each evening. If you want to bring a book, or some drawing, or some writing - please do. Our focus is on opening up to the silence. We'll stress that there is no obligation AT ALL to follow the timetable. Instead, we'll encourage you to tune in to what your body needs: feeling tired? Rest. Feeling hungry? Snack. Need to move? Go walking. Don't feel that you have to follow our timetable. It's there if you feel that you want to do it, but it's not compulsory by any means. The most important thing is that you commit to the silence on New Year's Day! Other than that, you are very welcome to do as you choose.
The price includes:
3 nights' single accommodation
Periods of Doing Nothing
This is a great way to introduce yourself to the practice of silence. Especially suitable for those who have never experienced a silent retreat before. It's not as intense as a full on Buddhist retreat but still retains the magic that silence can bring. It's such a great way to start the year!
Please go to our Booking Page if you'd like to reserve your place.
I have been to a number of retreats now - all slightly different. Here are my recommendations based on my own experience. They are not profit-making retreats and as a result, they are all reasonably priced. They are groups and people who are looking to create an environment in which you can be still and stillness brings its own profit...
www.mindfulmatters.co.uk Mostly in Twickenham and St Leonards on Sea
Janine is my closest friend and my greatest source of support. She has a calm and clear manner and practices what she preaches. We've both been discovering the value of honesty over the years and it's one of the things that I love most about her. I'm not surprised that her day retreats are so popular. You'll know what I mean when you meet her. I have noticed that those people who walk the walk in this meditation and mindfulness game are very easy to be around..... She runs Day Retreats at weekends and she runs 8 week Meditation and Mindfulness courses during the week. If you live in either Twickenham or St Leonards I would check her out :)
www.returntosilence.co.uk Mostly in London and Buckinghamshire
My very lovely friend, Michael, runs these retreats. I have been on one with him as a co-host! He has a kind, gentle and clear-seeing manner and I have sent many guests to his meditation group and to his retreats and they are incredibly positive about the experiences. The retreats are a little more relaxed than traditional Buddhist retreats and so might suit you if the thought of ritual and ceremony puts you off the other suggestions.
Zenways do a 3 Day Intensive Zen Retreat. 3 days of working very rigorously with the question 'Who Am I'. It's not run like a full on Buddhist retreat but it IS full on. We put all our beliefs and notions about who we are under the microscope. As a part of the process we have the opportunity to shed a lot of unhelpful thought tendencies and the possibility completely exists for us to come up with an answer to the question that not only satisfies us but is beyond anything you could ever imagine ;)
www.westernchanfellowship.org Mostly Wales but also UK-wide
They do all sorts of different retreats so do have a look and see if there's something that grabs your attention (and do it!). Run along stricter Buddhist guidelines so expect early starts, chanting and lots of meditation. They do a version of Zen Retreat above although they call it the Western Zen Retreat. It's similar but a bit less intense and run over 5 days. They do other retreats too. I've done the Silent Illumination and Shattering the Great Doubt retreats and I recommend them all.
I did my very first retreat here. They have all sorts of teachers from all sorts of backgrounds so timetables etc are all slightly different. There is an emphasis on silence, though, and it's generally run along Buddhist guidelines.
Our average review score is 5, it's not saying that we're average!
We featured in National Geographic Traveller in the Top 5 Meditation Retreats in Europe:
"Best for solo travellers with a focus on personal growth and self-development."
We featured in The Times as a 'Top 50 Spa Holiday':
"It’s great for solo travellers interested in spirituality and personal growth or just pure relaxation, and tends to attract people who have started to question their lives and who want to live more meaningfully".
As well as in the Guardian:
Metro had this to say:
Set up by Zen meditation teacher Kim Bennett, Serenity Retreats are aimed at solo travellers looking for self development. The week long retreat has an easy-breezy approach and while there are mindfulness walks, guided meditations and excursions on offer, nothing is compulsory. "Our emphasis is on giving our guests space", Bennett says. "Our accommodation is on the beach and we encourage guests do nothing other than watch the sea and the mountain for a restorative effect".
And thanks to Jane Alexander and the Daily Mail Travel Section for this article. Not sure we would call ourselves chic, though!