An invitation to a New Year meditation retreat
Before becoming a dad in 2009, I used to do a 4 week meditation retreat each January. It was a great way to start the year. With young children to look after, I’d not done retreats of anywhere near that length for a while. So in 2019 I decided to do a 4 week retreat at home, amidst my daily work and family life. I shared it online with a group of around 30 people who wanted to have their own New Year retreat experience. We applied meditation and awareness practices in our normal lives, in a disciplined and committed way. We had a wonderful and inspiring time.
I followed that with a January meditation retreat in subsequent years with many more signing up. I also did a family retreat for parents and children during Covid school closures in summer of 2020.
All have been wonderful, nourishing, powerful and valuable experiences.
I am planning another New Year online retreat this January and warmly invite you to join me. This is suitable for total beginners, experienced meditators, and of course those who have done the retreat with me previously. All are welcome.
We will do this retreat at home, amidst our daily life and normal activities – work, family life, tax returns etc. This is not only possible but can be powerful and very meaningful. It is very much the perspective of the Buddhist tradition I follow (I’ve practised and taught meditation within www.longchenfoundation.org for over 20 years) that with the right intention, conditions, structure and support, one can practice fruitfully in any situation. This reflects the model of the ‘household Yogin’ – practising a path of awareness and meditation in everyday life rather than only in a monastic or secluded situation.
I invite anyone who would like to experience this, and find out what it can mean for them, to join me.
The retreat will include:
- 2x scheduled group video calls / talks each week – introducing all the key elements you need, with time for group meditation, questions and discussion. Calls are recorded so you can listen back to them again, or if you miss the live call.
- Online chat and discussion forum – an opportunity to share experiences, reflections and questions with the group. I will respond to any questions and threads going further into the topics and questions that come up.
- A daily reflective blog to your inbox featuring quotes, stories and writing – going into more depth on aspects of the retreat practice that pop up at various points.
I’ll share some of my own learning about retreat, meditation and how to apply it all amidst the chaos and challenge of daily life. The intention is to inform, support and inspire you on your own New Year domestic retreat experience.
How is it structured?
The 4 weeks (Sunday 8th January – Sunday 5th February 2023) will be divided into 3 main phases:
- Entering / preparing – the meaning of ‘retreat’, establishing supportive boundaries and routines, introduction to the key elements of meditation and awareness practice.
- Immersion / going deeper – further explorations of meditation; working with silence and simply being; letting go and learning to rest with what is.
- Re-entry / leaving retreat – applying this to daily life situations, working with challenges, relationships and other provocations; the possibility of compassionate and skillful action in the world; how to continue a practice beyond retreat.
Each phase is really important and offers its own learning and inspiration. Understanding these different phases also supports you to carry on some kind of practice after the retreat – if you would like to.
Who should come?
Anyone and everyone is welcome. This will be useful and supportive both for total beginners who want to learn about meditation, spiritual practice and retreat, and for those with an existing practice, even experienced meditators, who struggle (as many do) with how to stay connected amidst everyday distractions and busy-ness. My intention is for it to be a good way for anyone to begin their year in a clear and conscious way. Curious teenagers who want to learn about awareness, mindfulness and healthy ways to be in the world are very welcome. It probably will be boring for children under 13 (in the family retreat we do more story telling, painting and interacting on meditation themes!)
What should I expect in terms of time?
You can do this at your own pace, and in a way that works for your schedule. I can help you plan that.
I will give plenty of guidance about how best to integrate the elements of the retreat into the routines of your life. The key thing at this point is that you have a clear intention and make some sort of commitment (to you, not to me!) that you will do what you can to find regular pockets of time and space during January, to allow you to connect with the retreat. The internal commitment, and a sense of structure and regularity, is more important than exactly how much time you are able to spend linking into the retreat.
Group calls are typically Sunday and Wednesday evenings around 8pm (UK). They usually last about 75 minutes. You can listen back to them later if you miss them.
I am very busy. Will this meditation retreat work for me?
People have engaged valuably with this retreat in very different ways and with very different time pressures and commitments. In general the MINIMUM time you will need to connect in a meaningful would be:
- 10 – 15 minutes each day to read and reflect on the daily blog reflection.
- 10 minutes each day to practice the basic meditation.
- Some time during the week to listen back to recordings of calls, if you can’t join them live. Calls are 75 minutes, but some of that we are meditating so you don’t need to listen back to those bits.
That’s a minimum, and of course if you can do more that is great and will be valuable. I will encourage and support that too.
How much does it cost?
There is a sign up cost of £40.00. This covers retreat admin and setting things up. It is also expresses your commitment and intention to join and engage with the retreat as best you can.
At the end of the retreat, in line with Buddhist principles of generosity and energy exchange, I will invite you an additional, optional donation. A donation is an expression of appreciation for what you’ve received and valued, and a gesture of support to develop future programmes and work in this area.
Is there a theme for the retreat?
This year’s theme / title is: “Fear, Hope and Possibility and this strange thing we call our world.”
We will pay attention to the role of meditation and awareness practice in times of chaos, turbulence and uncertainty. How can this help us respond to and engage with our world? What can we learn from inner experience that helps us navigate outer challenge with skill, open heartedness and courage?
Who are you?
I am an experienced coach, facilitator and organisation psychologist.
I have over 25 year’s experience practising and teaching Buddhist meditation in different contexts and situations. Also in helping people individually and in groups, with their personal and professional development. I am an authorised meditation teacher within the Longchen Foundation.
You can find out more about me here.
OK, I’m interested – what should I do next?
You can BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE
If you have any questions not covered here please send me a message here.