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Mindfulness & Compassion Deepening Practice Retreat

Dates: April 20, 2016 - April 26, 2016

Course Leader: Annick Nevejan & Sandra Gyaltsen

Cost: £294 singles, £222 twins each, £174 dorms. Course fee £300



This retreat provides an opportunity for participants to deepen their practice and is open to anyone who has completed one of the Mindfulness Association trainings or the MSc Studies in Mindfulness through the University of Aberdeen. It is also open to people who have trained in mindfulness and compassion in other contexts.

In this retreat we will revisit the basics of sitting practice because the basics hold the key to what is most profound. We will explore the mindfulness practice routine of settling, grounding, resting and support in more depth, and how its components contain the essence of compassion and wisdom. This will be done in an experiential way with a strong focus on practice and mindful sharing.

We intend to set up a daily practice schedule with periods of silence each day from rising until after lunch and mindful walks in nature. We will offer teachings and guided practices with sharing and inquiry. There will also be the opportunity for personal practice reviews with the tutors.

Retreat Theme

In the Avatamsaka Sutra, which is at the heart of Mahayana Buddhism, it is said: "Great Compassion is the essence of meditation. It's her body, her source and her means, to spread throughout the universe. Without this 'big heart' of love and compassion meditation is, however exalted in other respects it may be, of no value whatsoever."

Within the retreat we will explore in our own direct experience how compassion is inseparable from our meditation and helps us to restore or strengthen the connection with our own being, with others and the world at large. Just like the lotus needs the mud to grow and flourish, in the same way our full potential will unfold in its own time by learning to embrace all experiences, both the light and dark sides of existence. Often what arises in reality is not within our control, but what we can influence is how we relate to it. This is our ultimate freedom. How to be then in a wise and loving relationship with what arises and to discover a liberating intimacy?

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

The famous Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki gives us here a very clear direction when he says that the goal of our practice is always to keep our beginner's mind. Beginner's mind refers to our 'original mind' that includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. This does not mean a closed mind, but a mind that is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. For this we need courage, or in other words to learn how to stand in 'the place where there is no place to stand.' By practicing this together we can find the courage and trust to take a further step. Compassion also naturally reveals insight into how all self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something according to Suzuki.

The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. When we resume our boundless original mind we are always true to ourselves, in sympathy with all beings, and can actually practice.


You will need to book your place on the course through the Mindfulness Association, and then book your accommodation through Holy Isle.

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Dietary requirements

Our kitchen is run by a team of volunteers. Our aim is to offer delicious vegetarian food but regretfully we can only cater for dietary requirements arising from a diagnosed medical condition. 

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