This weekend retreat, which is suitable for beginners and more experienced meditators, teaches mindfulness meditation based on a fusion of traditional Buddhist practice and modern western approaches to health care and education as promoted in the programme of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
Venerable Rewatha, a Buddhist monk of thirty-two years standing, has designed aspects of this course to allow those who are interested in learning mindfulness ways of developing mindful skills as an aid to managing stress. Complete beginners are welcome. The course will include both sitting and walking meditation, Dhamma discussions and mindful movement (yoga).
A Mindful Journey at /www.holyisland.org
An experience of last year course participant
"This was a memorable weekend in a beautiful and peaceful setting, ideally suited to such an event. Bhante was an inspirational teacher, presenting spiritual and psychological aspects of mindfulness in harmony with one another. He also has a wicked sense of humour! Before arriving I hadn't been sure what to expect but came away committed to continuing my journey into Mindfulness and to work towards being able to teach its benefits to others."
I think that being taught Mindfulness by some one from the Buddhist traditions adds depth to the experience and I think that if you approach a subject from a different perspective you can gain a more nuanced understanding of it. I am not sure of the concept of moving from 'awareness' to a deeper meditation is in the 8 week course and I failed to pick up on it or if it has come purely from Buddhist training. Either way, it was a new insight for me and I found it very helpful.
I think that setting the workshop on the Holy Isle added a great deal to it as if felt like a nurturing environment. My 8 week course was conducted by and psychologist and physiotherapist in the gym hall of a psychiatric hospital - just not the same ethos. The wonderful food and the knowledge of its organic provenance encouraged me to want to eat mindfully
When we shared our motivations for choosing the pebbles we selected, I conceived of my choice as small so that I could slot easily into my life. On further reflection, I see a motive around keeping Mindfulness small. One of my hopes for the retreat was that it would inspire me to the regular practice I haven't yet attained, I see that if I continue to keep Mindfulness small and unobtrusive then that is not going to happen. Still, by adding the 2 small Holy Isle pebbles to my small 8 week one, I have trebled the Mindful presence - although it may take quite a few retreats before the pile is unavoidable!
Conclusion: although I did not see it on the day, I think the left hand and right hand pebble exercises was though provoking. One pebble signified my resistance to letting Mindfulness be significant, the other the sense of connection I felt with the other course participants (and the Maryhill subgroup).
My left leg is shorter than my right and the muscles not properly developed which means that I do not walk properly. My right leg compensates for the left's deficiencies and I tend not to pay my disability much attention. Mindful walking drew my attention to it and the emotions around the effect hat it has on my body and mobility. I did not enter into the emotion while on the retreat (too many interesting distractions) but I now have mindful walking as a 'way in' when the time is right to look at those feelings. Thanks for that.