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Living with Illness and Loss

Living with Illness and Loss

Facing illness and loss in our lives can be a time to slow down and look deeply into our experience. This retreat provides an opportunity to explore being present with our experience just as it is without judgement or blame, thus opening to the possibility for transformation that this approach brings. The practice of Insight Meditation will be used as the basis for exploring our relationship to bereavement and illness.

Developing greater mindfulness in times of transition, challenge and confusion can enable us to find new ways of relating to our daily lives. The retreat includes guided meditation and reflection, reflective exercises and contemplative art/writing.

Paul Burrows and Zohar Lavie offer a wealth of experience in supporting people find greater peace when facing the difficulties of illness and bereavement, through Dharma teachings and tailored meditation techniques.

This unique annual retreat has been running at Gaia House since 2011 and has received much positive feedback from participants.

Jenny Nicholson, who attended the retreat in 2016, said: “The retreat was a safe space for me to start to explore my relationship with a relatively recently diagnosed chronic illness for the first time. The silence allowed me to really be with my experience, in beautiful, therapeutic surroundings, and the daily afternoon sessions helped me to face issues and feelings in a kind and supportive environment. Going through the Brahma Viharas was perfect for me - exactly what I needed - and I have come away with a clearer feeling of wholeness and strength to help me live with the condition.”

Pau, who attended the retreat in 2016, said: "What helped me the most was to share my experience of loss with other people who were passing through a similar situation. That really changed my perspective of feeling alone in my situation and I began to realise that it is a shared experience. Seeing that made the pain of my loss become more bearable and it helped me to be more compassionate with other people and with myself. I still remember this now and I think it's something I won't forget."

Thelma, who attended the retreat in 2015, said: “The retreat changed my life. That sounds like an extreme claim, but I came away knowing what I needed to do to help me cope with issues that had overwhelmed me, and it resulted in me successfully making twice-daily meditation part of my routine. I was transformed by those few days and hope to repeat the retreat next year.”

Alison, who attended the retreat in 2015, said: “I gained a lot of benefit from attending this retreat. I came on the verge of depression with repetitive thoughts of not knowing what to do, and of despair – I left with a plan! I felt in control of my life again and was much happier. I would highly recommend the course to others who are feeling lost. The teachers were excellent and assisted the participants to feel included and accepted in the group. This broke down much of the isolation that I had been feeling”.

Because of practical constraints, we request that those attending be able to manage the tasks of everyday living.

Please note the arrival time for registration for this retreat is from 14.00 until 16.30.

Click here for answers to some additional questions you may have about the retreat.

How heavy is the schedule? What does a typical day entail?

  • The daily program is lighter than an average Gaia House retreat. A typical day will include meditation sessions, teaching, and some reflections and exercises relevant to the theme of the retreat to explore how these practices can support self-care and well-being.

What if I need to take a rest?

  • Rest time will be scheduled into each day and you can rest whenever you need to. Meditation practices can be done lying down if necessary.

What are the seating options in the meditation hall?

  • In the hall people can choose to sit on chairs, or on cushions or benches on the floor, or lie down.

What is the accommodation like?

  • The accommodation in the house is basic but comfortable. We will do our best to meet requests for single rooms, but there may be a need to share. We can guarantee that people will share with no more than one other person. Bathroom facilities consist of shared bathrooms with showers.

What food is available?

  • Nourishing vegetarian or vegan food is served three times daily. A simple diet is available for people with special dietary needs.

What access is there for people with disabilities?

  • There is one bedroom and bathroom available with full wheelchair access. The meditation hall and dining room are all on the ground floor and accessible. Most of the bedrooms are upstairs.

What does the daily work period entail?

  • The one-hour work period might include vegetable chopping, washing up, or cleaning. It will be allocated to suit any physical limitations you may have.

What support is available if I encounter any problems or need help with something?

  • The teachers offer both group and individual meetings to support your practice and talk about any difficulties you are having. The staff and co-ordinators are available for help with practical questions.

What if I can’t afford to come on the retreat?

  • Our Supported rate is a subsidised rate available to anyone who cannot afford the Standard rate for the retreat. This rate is available via the online booking process.
  • If you cannot afford the Supported rate, we invite you to fill in a short, confidential application form for additional help from our Financial Assistance and Bursaries Fund (FAB Fund). This offers funding of 50% towards the standard cost of the retreat. For more information, please visit the Financial Help section of our website. Please telephone our Reception team on 01626 333613 to request a form and they will be happy to send you one.
  • We may also be able to offer flexibility around the initial deposit payment.

What if I need to cancel my booking?

  • Due to the nature of this retreat we understand that you may need to cancel your booking. Cancellations can be made by telephone or email and we will offer flexibility around our cancellation policy, taking into consideration personal circumstances.

We also recommend you visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have any further questions, please contact our Reception team on 01626 333613 or

PAUL BURROWS is a student in the Insight Meditation tradition. He trained as a teacher with Christina Feldman, co-founder of Gaia House retreat centre and he now leads courses internationally. His exploring has led him through the monasteries and retreat centres of the Kathmandu Valley, India and the UK and through periods of intensive retreat practice in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. He is now making a home in North London. Awakening

Listen to one of Paul Burrows' Talks at Gaia House on 22.12.2015: What's With All This Meditation Then? (Duration 48:30)

ZOHAR LAVIE has been practising meditation in different traditions since 1995. This journey has taken her from the meditation cushion into exploring further ways of expressing truth and love and in 2004 she co-founded SanghaSeva. She now spends most of her time facilitating retreats that offer service as a spiritual path around the world. Since 2006 she has been teaching on silent retreats and Dharma gatherings in India, Europe and Israel.

Listen to one of Zohar Lavie's Talks at Gaia House on 28.06.2015: The Power of Joy (Duration 44:27)

Retreat Code = 17156

C = special criteria, please read the retreat description carefully

Saturday 26 August 2017 - Thursday 31 August 2017 (5 nights)

Standard Rate:  £245 - Please pay this rate if you can
Supported Rate:  £208 - Available if you cannot afford the Standard Rate
Sponsor Rate:     £294 - A benefactor rate, which helps others to come here on the Supported Rate
          For additional help with retreat costs, other options are available.

Extending Your Retreat = £43 per night - Conditions apply - please see box

Note: If you are booking for yourself and someone else -
you must make a separate booking for each person.

Spaces Available

Please make your selections below

Price: from £100.00

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