Retreats

A retreat is an opportunity to deepen our experience of a practice with which we already have some familiarity. Some retreat sessions may include guidance – for the benefit of beginners – but in general teaching is not emphasised as much as meditating to gain deeper familiarity with what has already been understood.

What makes a retreat ‘a retreat’ is the boundaries we put on our activities of body, speech and mind.

‘On retreat we stop all forms of business and extraneous activities in order to emphasize a particular spiritual practice. There are three kinds of retreats: physical, verbal and mental. We engage in physical retreat when, with a spiritual motivation, we isolate ourselves from other people, activities, and noise, and disengage from extraneous and meaningless actions. We engage in verbal retreat when, with a spiritual motivation, we refrain from meaningless talk and periodically remain silent. We engage in mental retreat by preventing distractions and strong delusions such as attachment, anger, and jealousy from arising, and by maintaining mindfulness and conscientiousness. If we remain in physical and verbal retreat but fail to observe mental retreat, our retreat will have little power. Such a retreat may be relaxing, but if we do not prevent strong delusions from arising even on retreat our mind will not be at peace. However, keeping physical and verbal retreat will help us to keep mental retreat.’

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, in Guide to Dakiniland

Retreats at Amitabha Centre

As well as the retreats which are part of the Teacher Training Programme (TTP) we also hold shorter retreats, such as day retreats at the centre and weekend retreats away at other Kadampa Meditation Centres – see Courses and Events for more information.Students on the TTP have a commitment to engage in nine weeks retreat per year to deepen their experience on essential Buddhist teachings. There are five one week retreats throughout the year and a four week retreat in January. Retreats consist of four daily sessions of 90 minutes. There is no admittance to the meditation room once the session has started. During the retreat periods, we try as much as possible to hold silence during the meditation break in order to help maintain peace and concentration in our minds and in the mind of others.  If you are attending for the first time you must let us know in advance that you’re coming. We will explain what to expect and to make the most of your opportunity to attend the sessions.

Course Fees: There are generally no fees for TTP retreats. Day retreats may involve a facility fee and retreats away will involve a small fee for accommodation, food etc. Amitabha Centre is a charity/non-profit organisation hence depends on donations for maintenance. All donations to the Centre are greatly appreciated.

Every year we hold at least the following retreats ~

January – Lamrim (TTP)
‘Lamrim’ is Tibetan for ‘Stages of the path’ [to enlightenment]
The sessions follow the schedule given in the appendix of The New Meditation Handbook . This schedule covers 28 sessions in one week and is repeated four times in the January retreat. The first week often includes guided meditation and so is ideal for beginners.
These meditations cover the whole of the path to enlightenment. Many of them are helping us to improve our intention towards other beings by improving our love and compassion for them. Others help us to develop concentration and wisdom.

February – Amitayus
Amitayus is the Buddha of infinite life. He also bestows merit and wisdom. We traditionally do a few days of ‘The Yoga of Buddha Amitayus early in the year. Session length is about 75 minutes. Sessions are at 9am, 11am and 4pm.

March – Refuge (TTP)
The practice of going for refuge is the gateway to Buddhadharma. It entails understanding our situation as living beings and recognising that we need help if we are ever to bring our suffering to an end. With the understanding that the Three Jewels that are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are completely reliable sources of protection from all suffering, we turn to them for help.

April – Nyungnay
A special fasting retreat in conjunction with 1000 armed Avalokiteshvara. This retreat includes prostrations and is an excellent way of purifying negative karma. Attendance at the first (6.30am) session (or taking Mahayana precepts at home at 6.30am) is required for each day that you want to attend any sessions. To get the most from the retreat it is best to attend all the sessions.

May – Guru Yoga and Mandala Offering (TTP)
This retreat combines two special practices that help us immeasurably to receive blessings, accumulate merit and develop pure views. We do this retreat twice in the year.

June – Post Spring Festival Retreat
We’ll review and meditate on the teachings received at the Spring Festival.

August – Lamrim (TTP)
‘Lamrim’ is Tibetan for ‘Stages of the path’ [to enlightenment]
The sessions follow the schedule given in the appendix of The New Meditation Handbook .
These meditations cover the whole of the path to enlightenment. Many of them are helping us to improve our intention towards other beings by improving our love and compassion for them. Others help us to develop concentration and wisdom.

October – Guru Yoga and Mandala offering (TTP)
This retreat combine two special practices that help us immeasurably – to receive blessing, accumulate merit and develop pure view. We do this one twice in the year.

December – Vajrasattva (TTP)
A powerful purification practice to remove the imprints of negative karma from our mind. All our suffering and our obstacles to spiritual progress come from our negative karma. Purifying our mind brings immeasurable benefit.

For more information on retreats please contact info@meditationinbristol, or leave a question below.

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