Gaia House offers an extensive programme of silent meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition.
Group retreats are teacher-led and most are suitable for beginners as well as experienced meditators. This page answers questions about meditation practice, daily routine and retreat guidelines.
Click here for details of our upcoming group retreats (online and in-house): Group Retreat ProgrammeWhat is a group retreat?
There are regular talks on a theme from the teacher(s), instructions and guidance about meditation and teacher-led discussions or interviews. Apart from the teaching (Dharma) sessions, the retreats are held in silence. More about silence. This shared experience is often felt as profoundly peaceful and safe for newcomers. More about meditation.
If one is currently experiencing acute emotional distress, such as clinical depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, attending a silent retreat could be difficult. When negative thinking patterns are very intrusive or persistent, sometimes it could be easier to practice in a setting where there are more possibilities for active engagement (such as mindfulness-based stress reduction or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy programmes taught by an appropriately trained and competent instructor). Once the acute phase of emotional distress has eased, Insight Meditation retreats can then offer invaluable opportunities for developing practice further.
Gaia House personal and work retreats are suitable only for experienced meditation practitioners.
More about the various retreats that Gaia House offers.
What are Gaia House’s retreat guidelines?
- Please respect the silent atmosphere in the house and the grounds at all times.
- We ask you to switch off all electronic devices (mobile phones, iPads, laptops, Kindles etc.) for the duration of your retreat.
- We recommend that you avoid making telephone calls and sending emails/post during your stay.
- Consumption of drugs (except prescription medications), cigarettes and alcohol is not permitted during your stay at Gaia House.
- This includes all areas in the house as well as the garden and the grounds.
- All retreatants are asked to abstain from sexual contact whilst on retreat.
- Please commit yourself fully to your retreat and stay on the Gaia House premises or within the immediate vicinity, except in an emergency. If you need to leave the retreat please liaise with a coordinator to gain permission from the teacher(s).
- All retreatants are expected to participate for the full retreat and can only shorten a retreat with the permission of a teacher.
- Everyone is asked to contribute one hour of work to the house daily.
- We encourage sensitivity towards all living beings and a non-harming relationship to all life.
The Five Precepts
The core ethical principles of Buddhism are known as the ‘Five Precepts’, which we ask all people who live, work and practice at Gaia House to observe whilst within the house and grounds, in order to support a retreat environment of safety, peace, sensitivity and respect. The precepts are not rules or commandments, but ‘principles of training’, which are undertaken freely.
1. Refrain from harming or taking the life of any being.
2. Refrain from taking or misusing anything that does not belong to you or has not been clearly offered.
3. Refrain from harmful expressions of sexuality.
4. Refrain from harmful expressions of speech.
5. Refrain from the use of intoxicants and substances which cloud the mind.
Thank you for your help with preserving Gaia House’s unique retreat environment for the benefit of all beings.
The schedule, silence, group support and comprehensive instruction combine to create an atmosphere of exceptional sensitivity, mindfulness and stillness, which support and facilitate the deepening of meditation and the unfolding of insight. As part of this shared experience, each person is asked to contribute one hour of work per day, to help the coordinators and keep the house running smoothly. More about silence.
We have a rambling old house, however the ground floor is mostly accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with restricted mobility. We have an adapted bathroom and ground floor bedroom available. The main meditation hall is accessed via a gentle ramp.
We have a hearing loop facility in the meditation hall which is compatible with hearing aids and we are very happy to provide written information in large print.
In some cases a carer may stay free of charge to support a retreatant who needs personal care/support. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this.
If you have specific needs relating to a disability, long-term illness or health condition please phone our Reception team on 01626 333 613 who will be happy to provide you with more detailed information about the house and discuss your needs whilst on retreat. We are keen to ensure that the retreat environment can be accessible to all.
For more information on booking please click here
Frequently asked questions: Useful information to help you prepare for your retreat
Hopefully most questions you may have are answered on this website. However, if you have any other queries, please contact us, and we will be happy to help you.