Online: Penetrating the Veils — Exploring the Four Distortions of Perception (Vipallasa)

A Gaia House online retreat with Ayya Santacitta and Laura Bridgman

Friday, 4 February – Monday, 7 February 2022


This retreat is open to all, including beginners and those with experience. Please join us.


Photo of teacherSANTACITTA BHIKKHUNI was born in Austria and did her graduate studies in Cultural Anthropology in Vienna. In 1988 she met Ajahn Buddhadasa in southern Thailand, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She trained as a nun in England and Asia from 1993 until 2009, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah, and has practiced meditation for over 30 years. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Ayya Santacitta co-founded Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in 2009 and received Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2011. She is committed to Gaia as a living being and particularly interested in bringing wisdom traditions to the environmental movement. Since 2020 she also offers teachings in German, her mother tongue.



LAURA BRIDGMAN began her Dhamma practice in her early teens, and eventually ordained as a nun with Ajahn Sumedho in 1995. She was resident at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries for eighteen years until moving out to live as a solitary nun in 2010. 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 alongside her Vipassana practice. There is much over-lap as it incorporates Buddhist principles and practices.


Retreat description

Seeing what is impermanent (aniccā) as permanent (niccā)
Seeing what is painful (dukkha) as pleasant (sukha)
Seeing what is without a self (anatta) as a self (atta)
Seeing what is not beautiful (asubha) as beautiful (subha)

All that we think about and project onto reality tends to be channeled through these misperceptions.  We will explore the Buddha’s teachings about these views and the suffering they cause. Putting on the corrective lens of Dharma – imminent, curious and discerning – we will contemplate the path to greater clarity, understanding and equanimity in our lived experience.

In this weekend, amidst these challenging times, we will approach this practice together in a kind, relaxed and curious way, setting the compass such that the seeds of insight and liberation can increasingly be sown through all the activities of our lives.


This retreat will be supported by meditation guidance, talks and opportunities for questions, as well as periods of open practice. Participants can continue to practice in a formal posture, or include and explore some of the activities of their daily lives.  As a minimum, please try to attend the sessions shown in bold on the schedule below.


All times shown are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Friday 4 February
19:00 – 20:30 Opening session:  Welcome, orientation and Introduction to theme
Saturday 5 February
7:30 Sitting Meditation
9:30 – 10:45 Session 1: Dhamma reflections, guided meditation and integration practices
14:00 Mindful movement
14:30  – 15:45 Session 2: Dhamma reflections, guided meditation and integration practices
19:30  – 21:00 Dhamma Talk and meditation
 Sunday 6 February
7:30 Sitting Meditation
9:30 – 10:45 Session 3: Dhamma reflections, guided meditation and integration practices
14:00 Mindful movement
14:30  – 15:45 Session 4: Dhamma reflections, guided meditation and integration practices
19:30  – 21:00 Dhamma Talk and meditation
Monday 7 February 
7:30 Sitting Meditation
9:30 – 10:45 Closing session: Dhamma reflections, guided meditation, and integrating the retreat insights and practices into daily life
12:00 Retreat ends


Using Zoom

This online retreat 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 retreat, you can send an email to 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 teachers. Gaia House teachers rely on the generosity of students for their livelihood. There will be an opportunity to make a dana offering to Ayya Santacitta and Laura at the end of the event.

Click here to read more about the practice of dana.

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

Dana can also be offered to Gaia House’s residential service team via our website here:  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,


Online: Penetrating the veils

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:         £60 — £160 (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.

  • Please complete the form below to register for the retreat.

    To thank and honour those who choose to make regular contributions to our beloved Dharma centre, we have created the Dānanandi Sangha ‘the community that delights in giving’. Click here to find out more and sign up.

  • We never share your details and you can opt out at any time. For full details on the use of your information please view our Privacy Statement.
  • Now click Add to Basket.

    Then Proceed to Checkout and fill in the checkout form.

    Click on Place order to confirm your registration.

SKU: 22201 Category: