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Joy of Mindful Living: Autumn Family Gathering

A Gaia House online offering with Sari Markkanen

Saturday,  November 6 – Sunday, 7 November 2021


A series of online teaching sessions aimed at supporting parents, carers, grandparents and families — including short online sessions and an invitation to engage with off-screen, family friendly, autumn activities.  You are welcome to join us in this joyful exploration!


Photo of teacher SARI MARKKANEN started to practise Insight meditation in 2005 after years of other meditative practices. Sari has practised meditation on long retreats at Gaia House, in Finland and in monasteries in Thailand. She completed an Insight Meditation teacher training in 2020 guided by her close teachers Rob Burbea, Martine Batchelor and Caroline Jones. Sari has been sharing Dharma for many years in Nirodha, the Finnish Insight Meditation community. Previously, Sari taught secular mindfulness (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) and she was a pioneer in teaching mindfulness in schools in Finland. She has written two books about mindfulness, kindness and compassion practices for children. Nowadays she is committed to serving Dharma.  Sari is also the mother of a young child.

Gathering description

This Autumn family gathering offers sessions for parents, carers, grandparents and families. You are welcome to join with or without your children, the schedule will include lovely opportunities where the whole family can practice together. Themes for this retreat are mindfulness infused with a lot of kindness and cultivation of joy and appreciation. We will explore the themes through practices in a playful and creative way, both in a formal meditation on the cushion, as well as informally in the times between the sessions.

Families are  introduced to practices that they are invited to explore outside of the guided sessions, this gathering offers lovely and meaningful ways to spend autumn days together. The sessions will have a continuity and flow but the invitation is to participate as feels fit for your family and to attend those sessions that you would like to.

Families can also, if they wish, take this time to be together and present for each other in an unhurried way and retreat from using mobiles and screens.

Perceiving parenting as a possibility for practicing dharma can be deeply meaningful, and the practice can be very helpful in our parenting. Our meditation practice can bring us resources and make it possible to connect with kindness and wisdom with ourselves, with each other and with our children.


There will be 3 sessions offered daily, some of them aimed towards parents and some of them more suitable for the whole family. The sessions for the whole family will offer meditation guidance and approaches suitable and aimed towards practice with children. Doing the practices together as a whole family will both support children’s participation as well as make it easier for the practices to take root in family life. The hope is that the practices will offer something fun to do together, a playfulness and curious exploration will be the keys.

The sessions for parents will offer an opportunity to practice meditation and explore dharma related to parenting together with other parents, carers and grandparents.


All times shown are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Saturday, 6 November
Session 1
09:30-10:00 For adults:  Arriving, settling and introduction to the family gathering
10:00-10:45 For the whole family: Beginning the exploration of mindfulness together — Introduction to mindfulness practice via a story and reflection.
Session 2
13:30-14:15 For the whole family:  Exploring mindfulness practices. Introducing a practice the family can do together during the afternoon.

(Mindful walk in nature with senses open, and gathering material for a family mandala, making the mandala and taking a picture of it that can be shared with others)

Session 3
18:00-19:30 Session for adults:  Practicing mindfulness and kindness in parenting.

Guided meditation, Dharma talk and time for questions and sharing

Sunday, 7 November
Session 1
09:30-10:00 Session for adults:  Guided meditation
10:00-10:30 Session for the whole family: Mindfulness practices and sharing the experience of making the mandala
Session 2
13:30-14:15 Session for the whole family: Introducing joy practices

Joy practices will be suggested that the family can do together during the afternoon

Session 3
18:00-19:30 Session for adults: Parenting as a meditation practice, Guided meditation, Dharma talk and questions and sharing


Using Zoom

This online sessions will use the Zoom platform. For support with learning how to use Zoom, please click here to read the guidance we’ve put together on our website. Please read the first section, ‘Using Zoom’, before registering.


If you have any questions regarding the gathering, you can send an email to info@gaiahouse.co.uk We will respond as quickly as possible, but we have a reduced team during this time so we apologise if you have to wait longer than usual.


None of your registration fee goes to the teacher. Gaia House teachers rely on the generosity of students for their livelihood. There will be an opportunity to make a dana offering to Sari at the end of the event.

Click here to read more about the practice of dana.

Dana can be offered to Sari via the Gaia House website by clicking here. Please click on Teacher and then specify that your donation is for ‘Sari – Family Gathering’ in the notes section on the checkout page.

Dana can also be offered to Gaia House’s residential service team via our website here: https://gaiahouse.co.uk/support-us/.  This team is responding to email and telephone enquiries for both our online and residential retreats, alongside supporting our retreatants during their stay at Gaia House.

With deep appreciation for your generosity.


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, retreatmanager@gaiahouse.co.uk


Online: Joy of Mindful Living: Autumn Family Gathering

To register for this retreat:
  1. Please look at the rates listed below and enter the amount appropriate to you in the amount box.
  2. Then complete the registration form.
  3. Please read our Booking & cancellation conditions before completing your booking.

Registration is on a sliding-scale starting at £0. Please consider paying at the highest rate that you are able to. Your generosity is vital in supporting Gaia House to sustain its Dharma offerings for the benefit of all.

We are committed to ensuring that our programme is available to everyone who wishes to participate. If our suggested registration band is too high for you, you can enter the amount you are able to pay.

Registration:         £10 — £120 (if this amount is too high, please feel welcome to pay what is appropriate for your current circumstances)

Dānanandi Sangha:       £0     As a regular donor to Gaia House you are contributing already. Thank you.

A note on dana/generosity
None of your registration fee goes to the teacher(s). Gaia House teachers rely on the generosity of students for their livelihood. There will be an opportunity to make a dana offering to your teacher(s) at the end of the event.

SKU: 21237 Category: