After a 2-year break, this autumn’s Mindsprings retreat on Holy Island is looking at the subject of compassion - focusing on extending love outwards to the world and to others.
This retreat is an intensive practice opportunity for experienced practitioners. It will allow us to go more deeply into the practices and enjoy longer periods of silence with less need for teaching.
You need to have experience of a Mindsprings retreat in the last 6 years and have a regular sitting and lying-down practice.
Mindsprings practitioners have been exploring the components of the compassionate heart over the last few years.
This retreat is engaging with the Buddhist teaching of self-emptiness and other-emptiness. A radical way of exploring compassion that doesn't involve a 'goody-two-shoes' ego trying to be good.
Bathing in the potent energy of this sacred island we have a chance to relax into emptiness and connect into the "Otherousness" of our World
Mindsprings retreats follow a general pattern over the week.
- the retreat days start at 7am and finish at 8.30pm
- the first few days are for arriving, stilling the mind and relaxing into the wide-open field of the body
- we will be in silence most mornings and there will be some full days of silence.
- everyone on the island is used to silence and it's a warm and friendly quiet
- each morning there is the chance to warm up the body with some yoga
- the lion's share of the afternoons are free for exploring the island or practicing alone
- the evening sessions are for practice, chanting, or group experience
- the food is delicious vegetarian/vegan - much of it from the island's organic gardens - most intolerances are catered for
- see below for the detailed timetable
Alistair will be leading this retreat supported by Kirsty and Daniel. We will begin each day with some gentle embodiment practices and then move into compassion meditation.
On Saturday 8th at 7.30 pm, we have a welcoming circle after soup and the beginning session of the retreat ending around 9pm.
Then from Sunday to Friday:
7am- 8am: Early morning yoga + silent sit
8am-9am: Breakfast break
9am- 12.30 pm: Practice and Alistair teaching
12.30pm - 4pm: Lunch self-practice, rest
4pm - 6pm: Practice
6pm -7.30pm Supper time
7.30pm-8.30pm: Sitting practice
Holy Island is a stunning granite outcrop in Lamlash Bay off the isle of Arran in West Scotland. It's been a holy site since the times of Celtic Christianity when St. Molaise lived in a cave here. In the last few decades, it's been a place of Buddhist-inspired contemplation under the auspices of Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche. But the World Centre for Peace and Health where this course takes place is open to all faiths or none. It's a uniquely nurturing place for practice and draws people from all over the world.
You can watch an aerial tour of the island here.
How difficult is it to get to the Island?
The journey to the Island is part of the pilgrimage experience. But basically, on the first day of the retreat, you need to get to the isle of Arran in the morning and get to the town of Lamlash by lunchtime. Check with the Island when the little ferry from the Lamlash pier is going. The Island has some detailed info here: https://www.holyisle.org/getting-here/
When do I need to be on the Island?
The first day of the retreat is mainly for arriving. We gather for soup at 6pm and the retreat formally opens at 7.30pm. Please give yourself lots of time to arrive and settle in. Depending on where you are coming from, you may need to set off the day before!
Can I stay longer on the Island?
The Island is such a precious place I always recommend tagging some time on the beginning or end of the retreat. It takes away the stress of travel and allows time to digest the magic of the place. Just speak to the office on Holy Island to book your stay as long as you like.
Do I need previous experience of meditation to attend the retreat?
The Summer Retreat is typically for beginners or meditators of all levels and will be held with appropriate teaching and support. The Autumn Retreat is typically for more advanced meditators in the Mindsprings vein. We usually ask that people have a regular embodied practice and experience of at least one previous Mindsprings retreat.
Will there be silence?
Both Summer and Autumn retreats have periods of silence. After the first couple of days, each morning is silent until lunch and then in the middle of the retreat, there will be one full day of silence. The Autumn retreat may have more than one. But the silence is a friendly one and many people find it's a pleasant revelation.
Is there smoking or alcohol on the Island?
In accordance to the guidelines from Lama Yeshe, visitors to the island are asked to refrain from smoking and alcohol. As well as sexual misbehaviour, lying, killing or stealing.
What's the food like on the Island?
One of the great joys of retreat on Holy Island is the food. It's entirely vegetarian and often vegan and a great deal of it comes straight from the incredible, biodynamic gardens on each side of the Centre. Most food allergies and diets can be catered for. Please let the office know if you have special dietary needs.
Will there be time to explore the Island?
Mindsprings retreats recognise the enormous power of the Island's landscape and natural beauty. There are two or three hours each afternoon for people to rest, walk, climb the mountain, admire the wild animals, even swim! Weather permitting some of the practice sessions will be held outside.
I can't afford the retreat. Can you help?
We always want to support people who might be struggling financially to meditate. Mindsprings offers a few bursaries for the teaching fee, though you will still need to book your accommodation with the Island Office. There are some good value dorm rooms on offer. See above for contacting us about bursaries.