We are delighted to share with you that Guo Gu Laoshi has accepted our invitation and will come to the UK in August 2022 to lead a 7-day silent retreat (subject to Government guidance on COVID-19).
We will start the preparation in the new year and update this page as we make progress. Before we have many things confirmed, we would like to share a tentative plan as below for your consideration and preparation.
Dates & Time
– The retreat will start on 6th August and finish on 13th August 2022 (updated on 26 Jan).
– You are recommended to arrive between 15:00 and 17:00 on the 6th. And we will conclude on the 13th after lunch.
Venue & Accommodation
We will stay at Buckden Towers in Cambridgeshire (postcode: PE19 5TA). It’s a 12th-century fortified house. The nearest town/train station is Saint Neots. The accommodation is very basic with bunk beds in open-plan dormitories, and shared shower compartments & toilets. Male and female dormitories will be on different floors. A couple of private bedrooms and ensuite rooms may be available for special needs.
The venue will provide pillows, blanks, pillowcases and bed linen. You need to bring your own bath towel and personal toiletries (soap, shampoo & toothbrush etc.). There is no laundry facility, so please bring extra sets of clothes.
How to get to Buckden Towers
Public transport – there are regular direct trains from London King’s Cross to St. Neots. The train journey is about 53 minutes. After arriving at the St. Neots station, you will need to take a taxi to the venue costing about £15 based on our past experience. We will organise free car lifts and taxi sharing nearer the time. There will be a section in our application form about transportation.
Car – there are plenty of free parking spaces after entering the main gate of the Towers, on your left-hand side. As you will need to park your car for a week, we suggest you avoid parking under the trees as there are many birds around. We also encourage you to offer a lift to others who live close to you or are on your way to the venue. Please indicate you are happy to offer a car lift on the application form. This is of course, completely voluntary.
What to expect at the retreat
– The whole retreat will be in noble silence, apart from Q&A and interview sessions. Silence means no speaking, no reading, no mobile phone or any digital devices, and no writing (other than essential communication). We will keep your mobile phone(s) secure for you during the retreat. We will share a number with you before the retreat as an emergency contact number for your friends & family.
– During the retreat, we will start the day at 4:30 am and finish the last sitting at 10:00 pm. If you are travelling from a different time zone, please arrive a few days earlier to adjust your body clock.
– The daily practice consists of a series of 30 or 45 minutes of sitting and walking meditation (either indoor or outdoor). In between, there will be light physical exercises, eight-form moving Chan, simple stretching yoga.
– There are individual interviews with the teacher, and also morning and/or evening Dharma talks given by Guo Gu.
– The retreat may be intense for some, especially those who have never attended a retreat before! There is no need to stress as you will have plenty of time to rest. Three vegetarian meals will be provided (i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner). And we will share manual work among us, e.g. cleaning and washing dishes.
Meditation cushion & mat:
We will provide the use of meditation cushions and mats in the Chan hall, so no need to bring those unless you prefer to use your own. We can’t guarantee to provide meditation stool, therefore bring your own if you are accustomed to this form of sitting. Bring one or two shawls or throws to cover your knees or shoulders, or support your hands.
– Attending the retreat will be by application and on a first-come-first-served basis. LCM volunteers will be given priority to apply as a reward for their contribution to the group.
– The number of retreatants will be limited to ensure the quality of experience (i.e. 26 in total). The application form is at the bottom of this page. (5th March 2022: the retreat is full, please complete the application form if you like to be on the waiting list)
– Applicants should already have experience in regular meditation and preferably in retreats as there will be no beginners’ instruction during the retreat. If you would like to join but don’t have much experience at the moment, this is a good time to join our meditation sessions. If you like to learn meditation from scratch, please email us to make the arrangement.
– We will be self-sustaining during the retreat which means we will distribute tasks like cooking, dishwashing, toilet cleaning, etc. It is also a Chan tradition to incorporate mindful manual work as part of the meditation practice. Please be aware that you will be allocated one of the routine tasks and a schedule upon arrival.
– The Government has eased rules applicable to Covid-19 pandemic. However, we need to be mindful that we are not entirely free of the virus. Therefore, to ensure everyone has a good experience at the retreat, we require a vaccination certificate and a daily lateral flow test starting from 3 days in advance, as well as an arrival test.
Looking forward to seeing you at the retreat this summer!
We are very sorry to tell you that our retreat is full. Fill out the application form if you like to be on the waiting list. We will get in touch if any cancellations from others.
Dharma Drum London, trading as London Chan Meditation, is a not-for-profit organisation registered at Companies House in England and Wales (company number: 12529304), and is recognised as a charity for tax purposes by HMRC (reference number: ZD10119).
Our organisation and programmes run entirely on donations. All of our programmes are open to everyone, and no fees are required to participate. For those who are able, you are welcome to give us some support on a one-off or regular basis. Thank you!