22 Feb 2022

By Kasia Stepien

Mindful Living Retreat Reflections

Mindful Living Retreat took place from 4th to 6th February 2022 in Shallowford, Staffordshire. Over 20 participants gathered in person and similar amount of retreatants joined via zoom. Jane Coatesworth and Lesley Collington led the practices and shared some reflections with us.

Please note that our next Dharma Training Retreats are planned for May and October this year. Please see below for dates, more details will be available on our website soon:

27th – 29th May 2022 Stepping into Freedom. Getting to know our mind’, at the Briery, Ilkley with Murray Corke

20th – 24th October 2022 (TBC) ‘Transformation and Healing at Sidcot with Angie Searle and Vari McLuskie

We enjoyed revisiting some foundation practices for this retreat. The groundedness and stability of being in our body and attending to our breath. The importance of recognising and understanding pleasant and difficult feelings, so as not to be driven by our cravings and aversions.

‘Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

We talked about how a retreat can be like a hostel for a weary traveller. The path of practice sometimes feels steep and challenging, sometimes smooth and rewarding. A retreat is somewhere to stop and rest, to put down what we are carrying, to feel the support and experience of friends on the path, and to be nourished. We can check in with ourselves, check our direction of travel, and be at ease.  

In words of some of the participants:

I found the atmosphere during the retreat really peaceful and calming, like being immersed in a big hug! I have since been finding ways to communicate with my family and with others with more solidity, compassion and mindfulness, and also listening to my own needs more.

This is the beginning of a better life for me and I’m very grateful to the teachings and to Thay for being available.

It inspired me and enhanced my practice.

It was a pleasure to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

I felt both supported and appreciated.

The dharma talks were both beautiful and very helpful as well as the answers and questions. I also thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and time to reflect on the causes and conditions for well being. Being with feelings and body has also been a good learning area for me. This has stayed with me and is helping me to make some better choices ad let go of what are unhelpful habits- an ongoing work -and art- of course!

The whole atmosphere of the retreat was supportive and delightful to be part of. It is absolutely a positive to be able to join a retreat online- and to be with others there is person increases the pleasure and benefits too. It is a joyful thing. And it is a joyful thing to facilitate a dharma sharing group too, so thank you for that opportunity.

One of the participants, Peter Moore, has gathered his experience of the retreat in this lovely poem: