Courses

An 8-week course in Brighton
17 Jan 2018 to 7 Mar 2018
61 St James Street
Brighton
BN2 1PR
United Kingdom
£100.00

Alistair is back at St. Mary's for the winter of 2018 teaching an 8-week course on Immediacy.

Right at the heart of the meditative project is the recognition that fundamentally we're OK. Even though our minds may get glued up with thinking about what's wrong with our health, our relationships, our emotions, on the fundamental level Life (with a capital L) is running along regardless.

Buddhist practitioners for thousands of years have looked at methods for recognising that fundamental brightness and spaciousness of Life. Recent advances in neuroscience and biochemistry have confirmed that our somatic (i.e. bodily) intelligence is far wiser than our rather clunky thinking minds.

So this winter, we're looking at the simple (but profound) practice of immediacy - or "simply being" - and exploring ways in which we can drop the story-line that so weighs us down and step our into a reality that is alive, unpredictable but also vivid and ever-changing. More importantly still, we can live in that reality in way that focuses on others rather than ourself. Immediacy leads to kindness in all sorts of ways.

The class runs from 7pm to 9pm every Wednesday from 17th January through to 7th March.

The dangers of spiritual bypassing
23 Feb 2018
250 Cowbridge Road East
Cardiff
CF5 1GZ
United Kingdom
£0.00

This is a pubic talk given by Alistair ahead of his weekend course on 'I see you Mara' at the Cardiff Samye Dzong.

Central to all our spiritual practice is the needful awareness of what John Welwood calls "spiritual bypassing" or Chogyam Trungpa called "spiritual materialism". There is a constant danger that the thing we do to free ourselves from the damaging patterns of the past gets co-opted by those very patterns.

Most acutely we can notice this when we subtly or not so subtly use meditation in order to make us feel protected from the knocks of life. It's natural to want to be more comfortable, to want to minimise the stress of life and to get some 'me-time' but when meditation is hithched to this project of "ego-snugness" then the safety can soon become suffocation.

Looking at ways in which we can keep our practice connected to the realities of life and prevent ourselves from become isolated, uncompassionate cocoon-dwellers, this talk is open to all.

All proceeds of the collection go to the Samye Wales Centre.

Using Meditation to Cut Through Toxic Thinking
24 Feb 2018 to 25 Feb 2018
250 Cowbridge Road East
Cardiff
CF5 1GZ
United Kingdom
£75.00

At the moment of his enlightenment the Buddha defeated the force of ignorance and suffering, known as Mara, by uttering the words: "I see you, Mara".

Taking that as the starting point, Alistair will use this weekend to unmask the 'psychological Mara' that confounds our natural happiness and warm-heartedness with layer upon layer of deadening beliefs about our selves and the world.

Meditation and therapy give us tools to cut through those heavy stories about ourselves - in particular, the Buddha's insight into 'dependent origination', which explains how they arise so compulsively. Once we see 'Mara' in action then we can cut through the distortions and start living in a freer, more spontaneous and more light-hearted way.

This is a course suitable for beginners and practitioners wanting to refresh their practice. Some of the practises will be done lying down.

Starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm each day.

Using Meditation to tame the ticking clock
3 Mar 2018 to 4 Mar 2018
Spa Road
Bermondsey
London
SE16 3SA
United Kingdom
£95.00

Most of us are terrorised by time. There are the daily stresses of commuting and childcare, of multitasking and meeting deadlines. Then there are the thoughts we torture ourselves with: "Have I done enough?" and "My life is slipping away". And finally those existential terrors presented by the internal body clock, the relentless footsteps of ageing and death and the environmental time-bombs of climate change and the planet's life-cycle.
These and other manifestations of "time stress" can often leaves us paralysed, anxious and dissociated.
But by facing the phenomena of personal time face-on and developing a skilful way of transforming our relationship to it, Life can be freed up in unimaginable ways.
This weekend at Spa Road is looking at how meditation and the Buddhist teaching of the "Four Reminders" allows us to do just this: re-frame our relationships with time and turn the ticking clock into an inspiration rather than a terror.
It's open to all levels - to beginners or people interested in approaching familiar dharma in a fresh light.

Dissociation and the death of Compassion
23 Mar 2018
Londesborough Lodge
The Crescent
Scarborough
North Yorkshire
YO11 2PW
United Kingdom
£0.00

This is a public talk at the Scarborough Samye Dzong given by Alistair ahead of his weekend retreat 'Tender is the Heart'.

Speaking partly with his therapist hat on, Alistair will be exploring the fascinating subject of dissociation and how this also impacts our ability to love, relate and connect to the World around us.

The notion 'greying-out' life experience that clashes with our image of our self, or that upsets our sense of safety in the world, is a concept first proposed by the French psychologist, Pierre Janet. Oddly, although it makes perfect sense, it was 'airbrushed' out of history by the much more influential theories of Sigmund Freud. But in the last few decades it has become widely accepted and is a really useful way of understanding some of the repetitive and harmful patterns of 'not-seeing' that bedevil many of us.

Alistair ties this in with the Buddhist concept of 'ignorance' which is actually tremendously intelligent. But unexamined, dissociative patterns can stop us loving ourselves, loving our children and our partners, and they can lead to social and global blindspots which have become chronic and destructive.

All proceeds from the collection go to the Scarborough centre. No need to book but please let the centre know if you would like to come, to guarantee space: admin@yorkshire.samye.org

An embodied path to bodhicitta
24 Mar 2018 to 25 Mar 2018
Londesborough Lodge
The Crescent
Scarborough
North Yorkshire
YO11 2PW
United Kingdom
£75.00

Alistair is back in Scarborough to teach a weekend course exploring the Buddhist practices around 'awakening the heart'. Traditionally these "bodhicitta" practices can be a little head-based and Alistair approaches them in a more somatic way, using the body as the gateway to interpersonal relationships. Taking a good look at how we really feel in our bodies when we think about ourselves and those around us and working with the strong gamut of emotions that arise in an embodied way. We'll be re-visiting classic practices like the "metta-bhavana" and "tonglen" in a new way.
The course is open to all levels, beginners and those wishing to approach these teachings from a fresh angle.
We begin at 10am and finish at 5pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday.

The practice of peaceful sitting
29 Jun 2018 to 6 Jul 2018
Lamlash Bay
Scotland
KA27 8GB
United Kingdom
£240.00

For the summer retreat, Alistair and the team are guiding the practice of silent sitting, so beloved by so many traditions but so often plagued with obsessive thinking and physical pain.

Drawing on the somatic teachings of Reggie Ray, Alistair will be leading us to find a way to sit within the "field of the body" and let troublesome thoughts float away. In this easy and open way of sitting we can experience a level of stability and peace that many of us find shockingly new and unexpected.

This is a course suitable for beginners but also for those of us who have been practicing for many years, but feel stuck in a meditative 'dead-end'. Working from a simple but profound understand of how the body is our greatest friend and the basis for our practice, the course will develop a sitting practice that can revolutionise our understanding of what 'meditation' really is, and lead to a lasting and palpable change in the way we experience the world and how we hold this unique life of ours.

You can book and pay for your place here - but you will need to book your accommodation separately on the Holy Island website.

Week-long retreat on Holy Isle
10 Oct 2018 to 17 Oct 2018
Lamlash Bay
Scotland
KA27 8GB
United Kingdom
£250.00

This autumn’s Mindsprings retreat is again looking at the subject of compassion.

Right at the heart of Buddhist practice is the quality of warm connection that is labelled - rather dauntingly - the “awakening heart”. Often we can get caught up into concept and ideas about how this compassionate heart "should" be. But approaching these bodhicitta practices from an embodied, here-and-now place makes them seem surprisingly natural and spontaneous.

Alistair who studies with Reggie Ray is teaching the embodied version of some classic ‘awakening heart’ practices and keeping the compassion warm and vital, rather than heavy and conceptual. Previous Autumn retreats have been both loving and powerful.

We would like to keep this retreat for practitioners who have some experience of a Mindsprings course or have some preferably embodied meditation practice. It’s not really suitable for complete beginners.