Living with Illness and Loss

Thursday 30 May – Tuesday 4 June 2019 (5 nights)

Retreat is Expired This is an old retreat and no longer available for booking.

Please click here to see our current retreat programme.

SKU: 19148 Category:

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.

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 2pm till 4.30pm.

“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.” (2016 participant)

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

Zohar and Nathan 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.

Below you’ll find answers to some additional questions you may have about the retreat.

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

The daily programme 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 coordinators 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 for whom the Standard rate for the retreat is too high. This rate is available via the online booking process.
  • If further financial support is required we invite you to fill in a short, confidential application form for support from our FAB Fund, which offers a 50% reduction on the Standard rate. For more information and an application form, please call our Reception team on 01626 333613.
  • If the FAB Fund rate does not offer enough support for you to be able to participate, please let us know. You can contact our Admin Manager on or by phone on 01626 335256, who will explain how to apply for further funding. We really want to ensure that Gaia House is accessible to all.
  • 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

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 from the Dharmalaya Silent retreat on 29.03.2017-: Emptiness, Self and Dependent Arising (Duration 50:33)

The teacher will be assisted by:

NATHAN GLYDE has been practicing and studying meditation since 1997, and sharing teachings on retreats since 2007. In 2004 he co-founded SanghaSeva whose retreats emphasise wisdom and compassion in ecological and humanitarian service.


JUHA PENTTILÄ has been practising meditation since 2002 and has spent time living and practising in meditation centres and Buddhist monasteries in Asia and in Europe. He co-founded the Nirodha Insight Meditation community in Finland in 2006 and has been actively involved in supporting the development of the practice community. Juha is currently in teacher training and is being mentored by Rob Burbea, Caroline Jones and Martine Batchelor.


Retreat Code = 19148

A = suitable for all
C = special criteria, please read the retreat description carefully


Well-being guidelines - please click here to read before booking

Before you book, please read these guidelines about mental well-being and silent retreats:

Meditation retreats can be very nourishing; however, as they require sustained meditation practice, they also need some stability of psychological health. If you have recently (within the past year or so) experienced significant trauma or psychiatric illness, or if you are currently experiencing acute emotional distress such as serious depression or anxiety, it may not be the best time for you to participate in a retreat. The teachers might not be able to give you the kind of individual psychological care you need at this time. A setting with more opportunities for interpersonal engagement may be more appropriate.

  • If you are currently under the care of a mental health professional, please discuss your attendance with them. You should be in a relatively stable period of mental well-being and have adequate psychological resilience.
  • If you have any questions about this, please contact Susanne using the email address,

Thursday 30 May – Tuesday 4 June 2019 (5 nights)

Standard Rate:    £265 – Please pay this rate if you can
Sponsor Rate:        £318 – A benefactor rate, which helps others to come here on the Supported Rate
Supported Rate:     £225 – Available if the Standard Rate is too high for you
FAB Fund Rate:      £133 – For more details please see the Financial Assistance page
Young Persons Rate: £80 – For more details please see the Financial Assistance page

Extending Your Retreat = £54 per night – Conditions apply – please see box


Arrival & Departure:
  • Arrive for registration between 2-5pm on the opening day.
  • Depart after 12.30pm on the final day (or 1.30pm if staying for lunch).
  • Please only make travel bookings to fit with these times.
  • These conditions apply even if you've been to Gaia House before.
Please only book if you are able to commit to the entire retreat:
  • The teachers and staff at Gaia House require this commitment in order to respect the retreat environment and minimise disruption to others.
  • We are not able to accept bookings from people who want to arrive and/or depart outside of these times.