Nothing Special – Natural Ease in Practice
A Week Long Meditation Retreat
22-29 September 2018
The essence of practice is to see and know, as purely as we can, our direct experience in the moment. There is a potential within our hearts for discerning awareness, yet the kind of effort that elicits this potential is very different from the usual ways we try to achieve things. If we let ourselves be as we are, opening to whatever is arising in this body and mind and bringing a gentle curiosity to it, we find this awareness arises. In fact, it is already here; we simply lose connection with it and as we notice it, it tends to grow.
In this retreat the emphasis is on remembering and rediscovering these simple qualities of intention and engagement. We may be familiar with the idea of the Buddha’s teaching on the Middle Way, but perhaps forget how a middle way might look or feel for ourselves as we navigate through our lived experience. We will also inquire into what takes us away from this relaxed, spacious effort into becoming over-focused or stressed.
For us, this practice may be associated with a conscious self-care (metta), and a more grounded sense of embodied presence. When we cultivate a foundation, which returns us to a relaxed ground of present moment awareness, there is a natural connection with and curiosity towards our momentary experience. Whether it be conflicting thoughts and habits, or wholesome qualities, there is a capacity for observing the nature of our minds and understanding this imminently.
Laura and Ajahn have known each other for nearly 30 years, through their time as monastics in the forest Sangha. They have previously worked together in daily life situations, and have shared interests in approaches to practice, but this is the first time that they have co-led a retreat. In recent years Laura has undertaken the Ridhwan Path to support her Buddhist practice. This path has a particular emphasis on embodied inquiry as a skilful means for contemplating conditioning, whilst Ajahn has followed an interested in movement and body awareness/intelligence as a way of lessening the sense of identification.
During the retreat there will be meditation instructions, teachings and opportunities to meet in small groups and for personal interviews with the teachers. We will draw on some of the mainstream teachings of the Buddha, such as the Four Noble Truths and the Five Spiritual Faculties, sometimes framing these in the context of more contemporary ideas and language. We will also use inquiry, voice and movement exercises to broaden and deepen the scope of our practice. Outside of these times, the retreat will remain largely in silence.
Ajahn Jutindharo grew up in Leeds. He studied physics at university, and then worked for several years in medical research whilst writing a PhD. At university he became interested in meditation and Buddhism, which culminated in a decision to join a Buddhist monastic order in 1987. His monastic life has been spent primarily in Britain, with short periods in Asia. Since 2007 he has been the senior incumbent at the Hartridge Monastery in Devon.
Laura ordained as a nun with Ajahn Sumedho in 1995, and was resident at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries for eighteen years until she moved out to live as a solitary nun in 2010. Over the past ten years she has spent extended periods of time with the Burmese teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya. In 2015 Laura left the monastic tradition to pursue the Diamond Heart (Ridhwan) spiritual path which incorporates both Buddhist and Sufi principles and practices.
Food and Accommodation
We will provide a simple breakfast of porridge at 7.15. There will be a vegetarian main meal at lunchtime. Teas, coffee and soft drinks will be available during the day and light refreshments in the evening. Accommodation is in shared twin rooms and a number of small single rooms for those who need one. We will provide bedding, bed linen and towels.
The cost for food and accommodation for the week of practice has been worked out using the following categories:
- Sponsor rate of £310.00 to cover the basic cost and to help those on the supported rate to be able to come.
- Standard rate of £260.00 to cover the basic cost of the seven-day retreat.
- Supported rate of £210.00 for those with limited income.
We would ask for a deposit of £70 to confirm your place. Payment can be made in instalments, by agreement, if required.
Generosity or Dana for the Teaching
The Dhamma teaching is freely given. Retreatants wishing to make a donation for the teaching can offer it at the end of the retreat.
If you would like more information or a booking form, please contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org