I have been to a number of retreats now - all slightly different. Here are my recommendations based on my own experience. 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...
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 :)
My very lovely friend, Michael, runs these retreats. We have co-hosted retreats in the past. 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.
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 or think ;)
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.
UK Based Meditation and Mindfulness Facilitators
I often get asked if we recommend any meditation groups and courses in the UK and so, on the back of those requests, I decided to put together a list of people who run 8 week Meditation and Mindfulness for Wellbeing or Insight courses and/or those who have regular sitting groups.
"Take a breath and refocus yourself on these wonderfully
afordable beach-front meditation-based holidays for solo
travellers on the laid-back island of Lefkada. Led by Zen
Buddhist teacher Kim Bennett, they offer meditation
sessions with the option to join other wellbeing sessions
and enjoy treatments and trips. Rejuvenate with sea and
mountain views, just a 30-minute drive from the airport"
We had our first mention in the Sunday Telegraph Travel Section in April:
"For a beach holiday that is also a retreat, head for the island of Lefkada in Greece where Serenity Retreat offers just that: guided walks, qigong and meditation. It's geared towards solo travellers and you can do as little or as much as you want- and I'd say the place is tranquil rather than silent. Should you want to try complete silence, the company offer weekend silent retreats in Yorkshire as well".
"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".
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".