Courses

7-Day Holy Island Autumn retreat
Lamlash Bay
Scotland
KA27 8GB
United Kingdom

October 2017 sees Mindsprings inviting established practitioners to Holy Island for a special 7-day journey into the heart space of compassion and interpersonal warmth.

PLEASE NOTE THIS RETREAT IS OPEN ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE ATTENDED ONE OR MORE MINDSPRINGS RETREAT AND WHO HAVE AN ESTABLISHED MEDITATION PRACTICE.

If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements please drop us a note at mail@mind-springs.org.

Most of us have grown up with our hearts buffeted and bruised from a number of causes. And the hyper stimulated world of the internet and consumerism can make us feel bombarded by the outside world. No wonder that many of us end up retreating into smaller and smaller bubbles of security.

Whilst meditation can offer a very profound feeling of safety and tranquillity, Buddhist practitioners have long realised that unless you can live with your heart open to the fluctuations and incursion of the world, then things get stagnant and bitter with alarming speed. Which is why there is a number of powerful meditation practices designed to open the heart: firstly, to ones own experience; then to the presence of other humans; and ultimately to the living experience of the whole world in which we live.

Alistair and the Mindsprings team create a warm and safe container in which you can explore these life-enriching practices with in a group that supports you. Drawing on his 16 years of experience as a meditator and his knowledge of contemporary psychotherapy, Alistair holds the group safely enough that we can use the week to explore:

  • the energy and warmth of our own heart centre and its natural 'feel' for things
  • how the heart can close and harden in response to the world
  • techniques to relax those defences without being overwhelmed
  • an understanding of how interpersonal energies work
  • an embodied understanding of human connection
  • a energetic experience of love in the body and expanded outwards
  • a connection to the natural world of the island with its beautiful landscape and wildlife

This week-long retreat requires will be a deepening for those who practice already. There will be periods of silence and we encourage people to spend the week mobile-, book- and journal-free.

Please book and pay for your place on the course with the button above, however, you will need to book your accommodation direct with Holy Island on their website.

...exploring the boundaries, flagging the dangers
24 Nov 2017
56 Inchicore Road
Kilmainham
Dublin
Ireland
£0.00

This is a public talk at the Dublin Samye Dzong on the eve of Alistair's weekend course there in November 2017.

Drawing on his many years of experience as a clinical psychotherapist and his practice as a Buddhist meditator, Alistair explores the ways in which these two 'lineages' of the mind can support one another and can sometimes clash.

Understanding the principles that underpin them can alert us to how they might be one dissonant, for example in the way that meditators might use meditation to "dissociate" their emotions or when therapy clients might use their sessions to strengthen storylines that are already way too strong.

It's an interesting talk for those are practising meditation and/or are practising or undergoing therapy, and everyone else in between who might be intrigued.

All proceeds (suggested donation £10) go to the Dublin Centre.

Please RSVP to the Dublin Centre to let them know how many are coming: info@buddhism.ie.

meditation and the path of kindness
25 Nov 2017 to 26 Nov 2017
56 Inchicore Road
Kilmainham
Dublin
Ireland
£84.00

The Dalai Lama says that "all our suffering comes from caring about ourselves and all our happiness comes from caring for others". And yet we live in a world that puts "self" first and the 'me-me-me' culture we live in pre-programs self-interest.

Buddhism famously questions the nature of that 'self' and does so not from an intellectual place but one of meditative experience. The deeper we sit with the raw experience of the heart the more impossible it becomes to wall ourselves off from the experiences of others.
We become more empathic but then a surprise happens: we start to realise that opening up to the "otherousness" of the World actually makes life brighter, more adventurous, wider and wiser.

This weekend course is looking to explore the meditative path towards that experience of the gentle heart. Drawing on his experience as a therapist as well as long-term meditator, Alistair uses meditative practices, bodywork and group exercises to explore the world of emotions, togetherness and heart-felt connection known in Buddhism as 'bodhicitta' and to sound out the blocks and anxieties that stop us getting there.

It's suitable for beginners or those who want to re-visit the bodhicitta practices from a somatic place.

the embodied science of deep meditation
2 Dec 2017 to 3 Dec 2017
Spa Road
Bermondsey
London
SE16 3SA
United Kingdom
£95.00

In the last few decades of neuroscience, there has been an explosion of fascinating research into 'embodiment'. This field looks at the way that the thinking mind is much less important in a healthy life than we have previously thought. The body becomes central...
Using his mix of research, therapy and Buddhist meditation, Alistair is running a 2-day exploration of this revolutionary way of experiencing ourselves. Using the tools of somatic meditation and focusing, we will look at how a stronger sense of interoception can deeper our understanding of our emotions, lessen the power of toxic thinking, reduce stress and heighten the sense of connection to others and the World.
Research shows that a healthy sense of ourselves as embodied can protect against depression, disordered eating, unregulated anxiety and a lack of vitality.
Come along to the lovely space of the Spa Road shrine room and open up to the wonders of the Body. Beginners and all levels welcome.

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.

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, Fay and Alistair are teaching together again to explore 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 and Fay 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.