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Foundations of a Soulmaking Dharma

Rooted in an understanding of the Buddha’s radical teachings on emptiness, as well as in the practices of mindfulness, metta, and samatha, soulmaking practices open our senses of sacredness and meaningful participation in the cosmos.

Through wisely discerning explorations of our ways of looking, of imagination, and of the movements of desire, we liberate beauty, discovery, and creativity, and extend our ranges of experience, insight, and freedom.

On this retreat, suitable for those who wish to be introduced to, to consolidate, or to take further these understandings and practices, we will explore together some of the bases of a soulmaking Dharma.

This retreat is suitable for experienced meditators. Applicants need to have a good working familiarity with the following practices/concepts, or a commitment to developing a working familiarity with and understanding of these by the end of March 2018:

  • Metta practice
  • The emotional/energy body practices as explained in the talks below:

Energy Body Instructions (1)
Energy Body Instructions (2)
Energy, Image, Emotion (Part 1)
Energy, Image, Emotion (Part 2)
On Orientations in Practice
Energy Body Instructions

  • An understanding of emptiness and the concept of ‘ways of looking’ as outlined in the two talks below, or Rob Burbea’s book ‘Seeing That Frees’:

Approaching the Dharma: Part One – Unbinding the World
Approaching the Dharma: Part Two – Liberating Ways of Looking

  • Imaginal practices in the ways that they are outlined in any of the retreats below:

Path of the Imaginal (Longer Course)
Re-enchanting the Cosmos: The Poetry of Perception
Of Hermits and Lovers: The Alchemy of Desire
Eros Unfettered – Opening the Dharma of Desire

All participants are required to have a minimum total of 4 weeks’ silent led Insight Meditation retreat experience (not including retreats on the imaginal).

CATHERINE McGEE has been teaching Insight Meditation at Gaia House and internationally since 1997. Her teaching emphasises embodiment and working with whatever hinders us from living our deepest knowing in the world. She is an advisor to One Earth Sangha and a long term student of the Diamond Approach.

Listen to one of Catherine McGee's Talks given at Gaia House on 09.08.2010: Intimacy and Non Attachment (Duration 51:37)

ROB BURBEA has been practising and studying the Dharma since 1985. He has been teaching since 2004 and is a Guiding Teacher of Freely Given Retreats. He is a co-founder of SanghaSeva, an organisation dedicated to exploring the Dharma through service work internationally, and also a co-initiator of DANCE (Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement). He is the author of Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising.

Listen to one of Rob Burbea's Talks at Gaia House on 31.12.2011: This Matter of Emptiness (Duration 50:33)

Retreat Code = 18151

C = special criteria, please read the retreat description carefully
E = experienced


Friday 22 June – Friday 29 June 2018 (7 nights)

Standard Rate:    £392 - Please pay this rate if you can
Sponsor Rate:        £470 - A benefactor rate, which helps others to come here on the Supported Rate
Supported Rate:     £333 - Available if the Standard Rate is too high for you
FAB Fund Rate:     £196 - For more details please see the Financial Assistance page
Young Persons Rate: £118 - For more details please see the Financial Assistance page


Extending Your Retreat = £44 per night – Conditions apply – please see box

Camping places

A limited number of camping places are available for this retreat at a reduced rate. Please contact our Reception team to enquire. Please note that we can only accommodate small one/two-person tents and each retreatant must bring their own tent. Please be aware that if there is poor weather we may be unable to accommodate campers in the house.

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

Intensive silent 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 (i.e. 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 attend an intensive retreat in silence. The teachers might not be able to give you the kind of individual or psychological care you might need at this time. It could possibly be more appropriate to practise in or seek out a setting where there are more opportunities for interpersonal engagement.

  • 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 to attend an intensive silent retreat.
  • Please be prepared to offer your mental health professional’s contact information to the teachers on opening day if requested.
  • If you have any questions about the above please contact:

Please click here to complete the application form.

This retreat is now full.