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UK Retreats

3rd-5th AprilPeak District
Self Compassion: Solo room, shared bathroom
3rd-5th AprilPeak District
Self Compassion: Solo Ensuite
30th Dec - 2nd JanNorth Wales - 3 nights
New Year: Self Compassion and Some Silence

Self Compassion and Some Silence

Facilitated by Kim Bennett

'If it feels like a struggle, it's not self compassion' - these are the very wise words I heard during a Mindfulness Based Self Compassion Intensive Retreat that I went on with some of the leaders in this field, Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. We'll do our best during the weekend to recognise struggle and see if we can move towards something much softer and inherently kinder.

This weekend will keep Serenity Retreat's ethos of 'do as much or as little as you like' very close to its heart. We'll be encouraging you to spend the weekend really tuning in to what it is you need to do for yourself. Maybe that will be coming along to all the meditations and sessions, maybe that will be to do some of the sessions but also catch up on some sleep (and sleep and sleep) or maybe it will be to wander off into the countryside or to sit quietly somewhere.

There will be meditations focused on how to breathe kindness into ourselves, how to send compassion to others as well as ourselves and the opportunity to create our own wishes for wellness that can lay the ground for a personal Loving Kindness practice. We'll also do some guided visualisations around safety and friendship. Our main intention will be to turn within and become more familiar with our own internal sat nav, the inate wisdom that we carry within - but have forgotten how to trust!

What's Included

The price includes:

What to Bring

If this is feeling like something you'd like to do you can use this booking form. A deposit of £50 will save your place.

Deep Diving into Self Compassion and Some Silence

Facilitated by Kim Bennett.

As above but with an extra day so we'll get the chance to look at some extra elements in a little more depth.

So many of us struggle with an Inner Critic (the judgemental voice that just goes on and on - and on), so we'll also take a look at meeting this voice, seeing if we can establish what its real message is and then taking steps towards turning that voice into an Encouraging Coach.

There will plenty of periods of rest (we're big fans of rest here at Serenity Retreat).

We’ll also take a look at how our patterns have been shaped by our past experiences. Once we have awareness about how those patterns and strategies formed we can change our relationship to them and meet them differently. We can also use this knowledge to form kinder, more helpful strategies.

The weekend will be a combination of guided meditations, visualisations, written exercises, learning, unlearning, and sharing our experiences (where appropriate) with another.

What's Included

The price includes:

What to Bring

New Year - Self Compassion and Some Silence

30th Dec - 2nd Jan (We normally sell out by September!)

Facilitated by Kim Bennett.

What to Expect

There will be a timetable that includes periods of sitting, mindful walking, mindfulness movement and periods of Doing Nothing. There will be a self-compassion based talk 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.

What's the Big Deal about Silence?

Someone asked me (Kim) this a few weeks ago. I answered as best I could at the time but thought that it was a great question. Why would we voluntarily become silent? What is the point? Many of us live alone and are silent a lot anyway, why would we choose to expose ourselves to more, when we could have the opportunity to be making new friends and socialising?

I’m pretty sure you all have your own reasons for turning up and entering the silence, so what I’m about to say speaks only for me. Maybe it’ll resonate, maybe not ;)

My friend, Janine, announced she was doing a silent retreat some years ago. I remember being horrified - you can’t speak?! Or read?! Or write?! But I was also at a point when I was questioning a lot of what my mind was telling me. So I turned it around - what was so terrible about not being able to speak or read or write? And it’s then I realised that I was terrified of what might turn up if I was left alone with my own head. I thought that Pandora’s box might be opened, a huge can of worms that I would be unable to put the lid back on. That wasn't my experience. In fact I realised that my fear of looking within was keeping me trapped in all sorts of subtle ways.

During our time together we WILL have the possibility of reading, writing, drawing etc. We welcome this simply because we don’t need to create extra stress for ourselves when we first meet silence. You’re welcome to read and write and draw - but we can be very interested in the moment BEFORE we pick up the book, the journal, the drawing etc. Why do we feel the need to distract ourselves? Is something going on that feels uncomfortable? Can we possibly sit with that feeling and turn our minds towards it? Even for 2 seconds? After we’ve turned towards the feeling that’s going on for us, we may find that we’re quite curious about what’s going on and want to investigate further. Or we may decide that we absolutely DO want to distract ourselves and that’s perfectly fine. The thing is to have some curiosity about the whole thing. We call this ‘friendly curiosity’.

If we decide to investigate the bodily experience, then our intention isn’t to work anything out or get to the bottom of anything or analyse it, although we may have some insights in that direction, our intention is simply to give our bodies the gift of our 100% complete attention in this moment of discomfort or whatever it is that we have going on for us. In the West we have become very used to moving away from discomfort as we’re told over and over again (by the media and society) that we shouldn’t have to experience any unpleasantness and that if we do (and this message can be quite subtle) then we are in some way ‘failing’. This is not true. We are simply living.

But I can tell you that until I’m blue in the face. The only way to see if this is true is to come and find out for yourself....

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!

What's Included

The price includes:

What to Bring

Who Are You, Really? - dates to be confirmed

Facilitated by Kim Bennett, assisted by Ellie Banner-Ball

This is deep and worthwhile work.

An exploratory weekend retreat focusing our attention on asking questions of ourselves to discover who we really are; and providing a fertile, safe, kind and allowing environment in which answers may arise. The practice format is structured so that we may be deeply heard. Outside of the practice format, we will be in silence.

We are keen to promote a real gentleness and softness around this process. Making room for discomfort - and all sorts of internal blocks we may not even know we had - to dissolve. But also providing the space for joy to arise. It's in the facing of every aspect of ourselves, as kindly and gently as possible, that we come closer to the reality of who we really are. This deep enquiry can shift old stuck patterns and beliefs, and lay to rest old unhelpful stories.

Along the way we encourage emphasis on the importance of self compassion in our lives.

What's Included

The price includes:

What to Bring

We're still working out the details around this. We are hoping to plan something for March 2020.

Winter/Autumn Weekend Hibernation

Facilitated by Kim Bennett.

So many of us have busy, busy lives and the possibility of hibernating for the winter (like big brown bears and other wise creatures) is beyond us. We may know intuitively, that we need to slow down, take it easier and to rest but finding an opportunity to do that seems to escape us.

Three months might be a bit of an ask, but maybe we can carve out a weekend to ourselves to do our own version of hibernating - whatever that means to you. There WILL be a timetable but you're at complete liberty to ignore all of it. This is really about tuning in to whatever feels restful and helpful to you.

The Ignorable Timetable will include: some guided meditations (with a self compassion focus), silent meditations, rest periods (lots), discussions about the turning of the seasons and living in tune with what is, some easy mindfulness movement, some yoga nidra (guided meditation to help you truly relax). You'll be free to roam the local countryside to your heart's content. Napping will be highly recommended. To have no real aim or purpose other than to tune in to what it is that our bodies, hearts and souls actually want and need. Such a kindness! It can feel so difficult to allow ourselves more time to slow down, to reconnect, to restore, to rest, to sleep, to do whatever the hell we want to do. Let's be courageous warriors and just do it (do what? Let's do NOT VERY MUCH!).

Step away from your 'normal' life for a weekend and BREATHE....

This retreat will be partly in silence, we've discovered that so many people who feel that silence is really scary actually change their minds once they've dipped their toe in the water. So we'll be in silence until after lunchtime, not too much, enough to get a feel...

Bring books, knitting, drawing, journalling, walking boots - anything that you find contributes to your notion of hibernation.

Come flop about with us for the weekend. You'll be very welcome.

What's Included?

The price includes:

What to Bring

If this is feeling like something you'd like to do you can use this booking form. A deposit of £50 will save your place.

Breathing, In Nature

There are so many times in my life when I've just wanted to stop the world and get off. A time solely to breathe, gather myself, and remember how much I love being in nature. This retreat will offer that opportunity. It's a stripped down version of a retreat, the focus being on meditations and being spending time outside (weather permitting - you're welcome to snuggle up in bed and sleep if you'd rather).

We will be set in 35 acres of wooded farmland and a mile from a gorgeous beach and the Anglesey Coastal path; breathing in nature and breathing, in nature!

There will be some guided Zen and Self Compassion meditation practices and some unguided sessions to drop into our practice. Our focus will be on becoming still and learning from nature: whatever the weather, we can find stillness and peace.

Plenty of opportunities for walking and exploring, or sleeping, or reading. There will be some short talks and some periods of silence.

What's Included?

The price includes:

What to Bring

Our average review score is 5 and we're happy!

We've been reviewed in the Guardian AGAIN!

January 2019: 10 of the Best Meditation Retreats in the UK and Europe

January 2014: 10 Wellbeing Retreats for 2014

National Geographic Traveller. We're featured in the Top 5: Meditation retreats in Europe.

We're very proud to be in Psychologies Magazine - July 2018. You can see the article here.

"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".

Our latest review in the Daily Mail, January 2018
Confessions of a Retreat Junkie

As well as 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".

Queen of Retreats reviewed us too! Check out our page on their site.

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".

Serenity Retreat

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