~Laura Bridgman and Cherionna Menzam-Sills~ Sensitivity, Embodiment and Reflective Awareness

A Five Day Retreat  22-27 May 2020

Laura Bridgman has been facilitating week long silent retreats at Hill Cottage since 2013. She has invited Cherionna Menzam-Sills here to create an inspiring and unique collaboration. Laura and Cherionna are interested in bringing together their respective paths for this retreat.

The approach they will take will combine the embodiment and understanding that Continuum supports with the contemplative process of the Buddha’s teachings.

Spiritual Faculties of the Buddha

Laura will be introducing the spiritual faculties, applying the Buddha’s teaching on contemplation and insightThese faculties are:

  • trust
  • interest and engagement in contemplation
  • mindfulness
  • concentration
  • insight

When developed, they become a sensitive attunement to experience as it arises in the moment an observing attention and a discerning awareness. This awareness is gaining an objective perspective on our thinking, sensations and emotions that notices how habitual tendencies overlay the present moment.

The spiritual faculties are a deep and practical part of the path that enable a connection to something deeper, beyond our reactivity. Each of them have an important function, and they have different qualities on different levels.


Cherionna will guide explorations with Continuum, a mindful movement practice involving different kinds of breaths, sounding usually directed into the body tissues, intentional movement which is often very subtle, and awareness.

In this enquiry into our fluid nature, we offer a breath, sound and/or movement to our bodies, and then observe with what we call open attention how our bodies respond to the gift we’ve just offered. In open attention, we observe breath, sensation and feelings; any experience including the possibility of spontaneous movement often arising as we slow down and become more fluid.

Our Continuum begins with guidance for the group to settle into a sense of:

  • breath – where and how it flows through the body, to discover where there is movement and where there is holding.
  • ground – we will explore how we rest or yield into the support of gravity or resist that support.
  • sensation – the possibility of subtle sensing, including even our cells breathing
  • resource – awareness of what else supports you in being able to be with what arises, to be present, and to know you are ok, including observing what you feel grateful for and appreciate in this moment, and the felt sense of that in your body.

In witnessing what arises spontaneously, we practice mindfully being with our experience, including curiosity about what is familiar/pattern/habit.

We ask “What else is possible here?” opening to the novel and unfamiliar.

We are guided by basic understandings about working with trauma without getting lost in it, as places of holding or density generally relate to some aspect of history that was too much to process or integrate at the time.

Slowing down with Continuum, we can become more aware, less automatic. We can experience more choice, creating new pathways, enhancing resilience, self-regulation and embodied presence.

The Retreat

The schedule will include movement exploration with Continuum within the group setting, periods of silent meditation practice, and inquiry exercises with a partner contemplating specific questions relating to the Five Spiritual Faculties. There will also be small group interviews with Laura and Cherionna, which offer opportunities to discuss your practice and receive personal guidance. Cherionna and Laura will give talks and guided meditations, and make space for questions and comments within the group from time to time. Otherwise the retreat will be held in Noble Silence from the first meditation until the last day – not engaging in talking with others unless it is necessary.

Seven precepts; a practice of harmlessness, mindfulness and renunciation, will be held for the duration of the retreat. This will take place from the Opening Meditation until the afternoon of the last day to support inner contemplation.

Laura Bridgman

Laura ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Theravada tradition in 1995. Her main teachers were Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Sucitto and Sayadaw U Tejaniya. In 2015 she disrobed and currently follows the Diamond Heart (Ridhwan) spiritual path alongside her Vipassana practice. Laura has been facilitating retreats since 2007, and her main teaching emphasis is exploring the quality of awareness as the Five Spiritual Faculties work together.

Cherionna Menzam-Sills Ph.D., ISMETA RSMT/E, R.C.S.T.

Cherionna was authorised as a Continuum Teacher by Continuum founder Emilie Conrad in 2007. Also an author, she incorporates over 40 years’ experience teaching and practicing various therapies and bodywork. She teaches Continuum, Prenatal and Birth Therapy and Craniosacral Biodynamics across North America and Europe, often with her husband, Biodynamics pioneer, Franklyn Sills. She lives in Devon where she has a private practice.

Food and Accommodation

Food will be vegetarian and will include a simple shared breakfast of porridge, a main meal at lunch time and a light meal of soup in the evening.  Hot and cold drinks will be available during the day. Food allergies and medically required diets will be catered for (details on the booking form). Accommodation is in shared twin rooms, small single rooms and two loft rooms. We will provide bedding, bed linen and towels.

Cost for the Five-Day Retreat

  • shared twin room @£360 per person (6 places)
  • single ladder access crog lofts @£390 per person (2 places)
  • single room @£420 per person (6 places)

We would ask for a deposit of £100 to confirm your place. Payment can be made in instalments, by agreement, if required.

Generosity or Dana for the Teaching

Retreatants wishing to make an additional donation for the teaching can offer it, at the end of the retreat, to Laura and Cherionna.


If you would like more information or a booking form, please contact

Jeremy at info@hillcottageretreats.co.uk