Our first retreat of 2016 will be an informal weekend event, without a set theme but with our usual mixture of activities – meditation, arts and discussion. It will take place at Chatcull in rural Staffordshire, in the north-west midlands of England from 11th-13th March. See this page for details and to book your place.
Announcing our weekend retreat on 6th-8th November 2015, in the woods of Surrey, England. An experimental retreat in which we will aim to reinvent ritual so that it is inclusive, engaging and meaningful rather than tedious and alienating. See this page for full details.
Last weekend the Middle Way Society held the first of a series of three planned weekend retreats in different parts of England: this time in the village of Telscombe in the South Downs near Brighton. My feeling is that this event was a great success, with a balanced programme, a warm sense of community, and a shared sense of engagement with the Middle Way both in theory and in practice.
At first I was resistant to the society holding weekend retreats, because I felt a weekend was too short a time to sufficiently develop understanding and practice of the Middle Way – but I think I’m now thoroughly converted to the gradualist approach they suggest. They give people a chance to get a taste of the society without too much initial commitment of time or expense, and are able to attract people (e.g. parents of young children) who might find it difficult to manage a longer retreat.
One thing I’m very happy to report about this retreat was a better gender balance – indeed a slight majority of women – in contrast to the week-long retreats in 2013 and 2014 that had been decidedly male dominated. If that has something to do with it being a weekend, that provides a further argument for holding weekend retreats.
Our programme included four sessions of meditation, two talks with lots of discussion, and a drawing class with Norma Smith. Other things that happened without needing to be programmed were a walk on the downs and an impromptu singing session led by Barry on his guitar (pictured). Despite some minor setbacks (traffic delays on arrival, a certain amount of rain and a lost lemon), a friendly atmosphere quickly developed.
The theme of the retreat was meaning, which I introduced with talks relating embodied meaning to the Middle Way, to religion and to the arts. There were quite a few interruptions, but I was rather pleased by those, as they showed people constantly engaging with the concepts and relating them to their own experience. I expected that all I could offer in terms of ideas on a weekend was an initial stimulus rather than in-depth study, but I think it fulfilled that role. The drawing class also allowed us to experience a predominantly right-hemisphere, embodied meaning as we tried to draw a still life arrangement set up by Norma.
Many thanks to Norma for the class, as well as Nina for provisioning and Barry for dealing with the finances – and indeed everyone else, who all contributed to the retreat in their own way. Our next weekend retreat is in Yorkshire on Feb 20th-22nd 2015 (see link for details), focusing on the environment, and there is another one in Worcestershire on 5th-7th June 2015, focusing on meditation (see link). Hope to see you there!
Picture taken by Norma Smith
We now have our complete programme of weekend retreats for late 2014/ early 2015 up on the site and open for booking. They are as follows:
- 7th-9th Nov 2014: Sussex, UK, Meaning and the Middle Way: link to page
- 20th-22nd Feb 2015: Yorkshire, UK, Middle Way and Environment: link to page
- 5th-7th Jun 2015, Worcestershire, UK, Meditation and the Middle Way: link to page
A weekend retreat can be a great opportunity to recharge your batteries, stimulate your ideas, make friends and relax in a beautiful environment. It gives you a chance to sample our distinctive approach to philosophy and practice in the Middle Way Society, neither religious nor secular but integrating the strengths of both. Our weekend retreats are also good value, at only £80 each including all accommodation and food. Please book as soon as possible!
picture by Eugenio Hansen (Wikimedia Commons) CC-SY 2.0
Announcing our autumn weekend retreat in Sussex, UK, ‘Meaning and the Middle Way’, 7th-9th Nov 2014. Come and meditate, reflect on embodied meaning, walk on the South Downs, and make friends! Please see this link for more details and to book your place.
Plenty of places still also available on our Summer Retreat in Worcestershire, 16th-23rd August. See this link.