Our retreats are primarily for those who have completed an eight-week mindfulness-based course such as MBSR or MBCT. Other meditation experience may be sufficient to attend, but it may be advisable to check with us first. Retreats can be quite intensive, and we do not advise attending a retreat if you are suffering from certain conditions or currently experiencing acute emotional distress.
All retreats are listed in our CALENDAR. Before you book, we encourage you to first read everything about the retreat to be sure that it is for you and to ensure that you are not putting yourself at undue risk of having a negative reaction. If you have any questions, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participation in a mindfulness retreat gives us an opportunity to step away from the usual demands and activities of our everyday life, and to look into the nature of our experience through practising mindfulness in a safe, supported environment. Research indicates that practising mindfulness more intensively in a retreat setting has a different impact than daily practice at home (Goleman and Davidson, 2017).
On retreat, we have the opportunity to develop greater sensitivity to and insight into our moment-by-moment experience. We do this through the formal practices of sitting, walking and movement meditation, and through the informal activities of the retreat day alongside others.
Meditation retreats generally include periods of silence. Silence offers us greater space to be with our experience directly, letting go of the need to talk and frame our experience through language. Within the space of silence, and away from the usual demands and distractions of our everyday lives, we can begin to see more clearly the activity of the mind and how we can helpfully work with it.
This experiential learning of coming to know the mind from the inside – and gaining confidence in working helpfully with it – promotes well-being and is considered central in mindfulness teaching. In fact, mindfulness-based teachers are required to attend an annual residential mindfulness meditation retreat, as part of the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA) Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Teachers.
In general, our retreats include meditation instruction, talks and guided sessions of mindfulness meditation practice including mindful movement. They provide a safe and nourishing environment for the cultivation of a deep and grounded mindfulness meditation practice.
Through the training and experience of our retreat leaders and our close links with the universities, our retreats are informed by the most up-to-date thinking about how to apply and integrate understandings from ancient contemplative traditions and modern scientific theories about well-being and the mind.
The Mindfulness Network is particularly focused on offering retreats that are accessible to people of any and no religious belief. This is a developing area and, with others, we are leading the way in looking into the question of how best to do this. We are exploring this with: senior mindfulness trainers from across Exeter, Bangor and Oxford Universities; the NHS; and senior teachers from the contemplative traditions as well as seeking feedback from participants of our retreats.
Our retreats are particularly focused on deepening and extending the learning available from mindfulness as it is presented in its most universal expression; our programmes are tailored for those who have completed MBSR and MBCT or similar mindfulness programme, and for teachers of mindfulness based programmes.
Many faith traditions encourage periods of retreat.
At the Mindfulness Network, we offer retreats that are open to people of any and no faith. Our retreats are informed by both ancient knowledge and modern theories, as well as scientific findings about health and well-being.
Mindfulness is a natural human capacity and does not belong to any one faith tradition. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s development of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course has been very influential in mainstreaming mindfulness as a helpful approach to living our lives. In developing MBSR, Jon drew on the very practical teachings of the Buddha, which describe experiences that are shared by all humans, and combined these with modern understandings on stress physiology and communication. Studies on mindfulness in the fields of neuroscience and psychology continue to expand our understandings of how to live a fulfilling life with less struggle, and to make links to practical teachings that have existed for thousands of years.
Our retreats make the practical learning from Buddhism, as well as modern science, available in an ordinary, secular and accessible way that is applicable in your everyday life.
We are committed to offering retreats that are accessible to all and keen to hear from you if you feel any barriers to participating.
Although our mindfulness retreats are suitable for most people, they are not suitable for everyone. Retreats can be quite intensive, and we do not advise attending a retreat if you are suffering from certain conditions or experiencing acute emotional distress or have had a traumatic event which is interfering with your everyday life. When filling out the application form for a retreat, we advise that you provide us with as much information as possible so that we can make sure the retreat you select is suitable for you.
There are many reasons why you may wish to join a mindfulness-based retreat. For instance, you may wish to join a retreat if you:
are looking for an opportunity to reconnect with your mindfulness practice
have taken a mindfulness-based eight-week course (such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction or Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) and are interested in developing and deepening your practice
are a mindfulness-based teacher or trainee. All of our five and seven-day retreats can enable you to fulfil the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA) Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Teachersto: attend an annual residential, teacher-led, silent meditation retreat; and meet yourretreat requirement to be listed on the BAMBA website as a mindfulness teacher.
Although our retreats are primarily for those who have completed an eight-week mindfulness-based course (e.g. MBSR or MBCT), other meditation experience may be sufficient to attend. It may be advisable to check with us first via email at email@example.com.
Before you book, please read everything about the retreat and be sure that it is for you. If you have any questions, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then fill in the application form and submit your application. We will then assess your application. There are some confidential questions that we may ask – these are to ensure that the retreat is appropriate. Sometimes it is inadvisable to attend a retreat – read our guidance on suitability of retreats.
If the retreat is more than four months in advance you will be invoiced for a deposit, and if less than four months then you will be invoiced for the full amount. You can also choose to pay the entire balance up front. We do have a payment and refund policy – please see our terms and conditions.
Our aim is to ensure that our retreats are as accessible and inclusive as possible. When we became a charity in 2018, we were able to take a huge step towards reducing fees for all of our services significantly, and our intention is to continue to do so. We fully recognise, however, despite our best efforts, attending a retreat is still out of reach for some people.
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is how we price our retreats. Our retreats are priced to break even and sometimes we actually lose money on them.
We strive to make our rates transparent and operate on an “all-inclusive” model so that there are never any extras to pay. For example, our residential retreat rates will include deposit, teaching, and full room and board. Other retreat providers, however, may operate on the ancient tradition of the “dana model” which respectfully asks attendees to make a voluntary thank you contribution to a teacher’s salary to be paid during the retreat. Dana isn’t usually displayed in the fee, however, since it is a voluntary contribution, so the overall rate will appear lower.
Although we try to keep costs down, this can be a delicate balancing act since it is our priority to offer retreats that are of the highest standard. We consider the following variables when we cost a retreat:
Venue. We increasingly offer retreats at venues located in different geographical regions across the UK. This can help reduce travel costs. In addition, having a range of venues to choose from enables us to try to accommodate different budgets since we can then offer some lower cost retreats with simpler accommodation. For example, some of our venues offer the option of a single or a less expensive, shared room, so that people can choose according to their budget.
Teacher salary. In line with our mission, we pay our trainers and retreat leads a fair wage as this is often their main income. Our teachers/trainers do not accept or expect “dana” contributions so there is no extra cost to attendees at the end of events they attend.
Reduced rates for certain groups. We offer a discounted rate on some of our retreats for certain groups, such as IAPT service members. In addition, we hope to widen access and are working to build up our retreat bursary fund.
Length and type of retreat. We offer retreats of varying lengths (3, 5 and 7 days) to accommodate different timetables and budgets. Although people often assume a retreat has to be residential, non-residential retreats can be a great option for those who can provide their own accommodation. They are also less expensive.
Admin costs. It is impossible to run retreats without incurring admin costs to set up the events themselves, organise bookings and run our website. Our staff work hard in the background – often above and beyond their paid income – to ensure our retreats run smoothly and efficiently. We endeavour to keep these costs as low as possible and with minimal impact on the environment (e.g. we are a virtually paperless organisation and our staff work remotely).
meet the BAMBA Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Teachers or co-deliver with a colleague who meets this guidance. Please note: There is recognition that there is a cohort of highly-skilled senior leaders of retreats for mindfulness-based teachers who do not meet this criteria, but who have strongly engaged with and contributed to the emerging mindfulness-based field. This group is actively engaging with the training of the next generation of retreat leaders who are drawn from the mindfulness-based programme trainer context.
have had thorough training in the theoretical frameworks from both the contemporary and Buddhist context for mindfulness
have engaged in mentoring of personal mindfulness practice
have engaged in personal mindfulness retreats over an extended period of years
have trained as an apprentice alongside an experienced retreat leader
have well-developed competencies in:
holding and working skillfully and responsively with group process
interpersonal and relational skills
understanding and supporting others to work with the range of meditative states that develop in retreat contexts
constructing and delivering talks on mindfulness practice
teaching and communication skills
holding ethical principles that support safety in a residential mindfulness practice context
working with mental health challenges and vulnerabilities
re-contextualising the teaching from contemplative traditions into mainstream language and contexts