Universal Empathy

Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness 2018-19

Retreat 4

28 October to 2 November 2019 at Sharpham House, Devon UK

Please note that a space for a male student in shared accommodation with one other student has just become available, please contact our coordinator should you want to register.

This five-day retreat focuses on the four dimensions of well-being and healthy relating, or ‘Brahma vihāras’, set out by the Buddha: friendliness, compassion, joy and equanimity.

These four virtues, as well as the meditation practices to cultivate them, are key in supporting ourselves to heal distress, and can be seen as an expression of the mind in a healthy state of wellbeing. Equally, these qualities are often the ones that elude us the most in times of distress.

During the retreat, we’ll explore the Buddhist meditation practices used to help cultivate these qualities – such as the ‘metta bhavana’ or loving kindness meditation. We’ll also look at practical ways in which they can be implicitly taught and developed in contemporary mindfulness-based approaches and programmes.


Chris CullenCHRIS CULLEN works as a Dharma teacher and psychotherapist. He trained to teach Insight Meditation with Christina Feldman, and also teaches for the University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre, running the mindfulness programme in Parliament, and teaching Buddhist Psychology on the Masters of Studies programme in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Chris is a member of the Core Faculty of Bodhi College.


CHRISTINA FELDMAN is a co-founder of Gaia House and a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Society, Barre, Massachussetts. The author of a number of books, she has been teaching insight meditation retreats internationally since 1976. She is one of the teaching faculty of the CPP programme, dedicated to the study and application of the early teachings of the Buddha and is engaged in teaching the Buddhist psychological foundations of mindfulness to those training to teach mindfulness-based applications in England, Belgium and the Netherlands. Christina's outside schedule

Booking details

The cost for this retreat including accommodation and full board is £450 and a place can be booked either by paying in full or by deposit.  If you attended the first two retreats, you are eligible for a discount and if so please book the discounted deposit or full payment. If you choose to pay the deposit, the balance will be payable at least 4 week prior to the retreat starting. 

Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness 2018-19 curriculum

This set of four residential study-retreats offers participants rich opportunities to delve deeper into the ancient teachings behind contemporary mindfulness – to expand personal practice and deepen understanding, whilst connecting with like-minded practitioners and teachers in beautiful retreat settings in the UK and Switzerland.

The retreats are primarily aimed at people teaching Mindfulness-based courses and programmes of diverse kinds, or in training to do so, or those using mindfulness in their work in other ways. They are also open to people with some previous experience of silent meditation retreats who are interested in the dialogue between the early teachings of mindfulness and contemporary applications.

The retreats are taught by experienced teachers who are all currently involved in mindfulness training programmes and have long histories in teaching retreats in more traditional settings.  

Each five-day retreat contains periods of teaching, discussion in groups, meditation practice, reflection and silence. Mornings will be dedicated to silent, sustained practice. Afternoons and evenings will be opportunities for collective inquiry and personal practice - providing plenty of opportunity for self-development and embodiment alongside teachings and discussion.

Support is available throughout and there will be ample time to ask questions during group discussions or in individual interviews.

The retreats are bookable separately or altogether as a programme of study retreats over the two years. Each retreat meets the requirements for the annual 5-day retreat that registered mindfulness teachers need to undertake, and the programme is recommended by senior trainers at the Universities of Bangor, Oxford and Exeter as a significant contribution to the Continuing Professional Development for mindfulness teachers.

“This training is a wonderful development opportunity for established mindfulness-based teachers who are seeking to deepen their understanding in ways that will enrich both personal and teaching practice. The retreats were held in extraordinarily nourishing and beautiful venues which was an added bonus!”

Rebecca Crane, Director, Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University

Certificates of attendance will be available for each module.

Further information on retreat content:

The Buddha’s teachings and contemporary mindfulness converge in the commitment to understanding the nature of distress in ourselves and others, and developing our capacities for resilience, balance and compassionate responsiveness in seeking to alleviate it.

Exploring the Buddha’s remarkably precise and visionary teachings further enables us to develop a more nuanced understanding of how our moment-to-moment experience is shaped and constructed through reactions and underlying beliefs and habits. Investigating and understanding this experientially is the key to developing a heart and mind that is rooted in clarity, insight and compassion.

The other retreats can be booked here:

The Existential Challenge –Chris Cullen & Christina Feldman

1-5 October 2018: Sharpham House, Devon, UK
  • The Three Universal Characteristics identified by the Buddha as impermanence (anicca), un-satisfactoriness (dukkha) and not-self (anattā), and the insight these provide in seeking to understand and alleviate fundamental distress.
  • Embodiment: The Buddha presents mindfulness of the body as foundational to the path of awakening and the alleviation of distress. We will explore the dimensions of the Buddha’s teachings on this and find the direct correlations in contemporary mindfulness based approaches. We will consider what it means to embody intentions, attitudes and liberating insights, and reflect on what it means for mindfulness practitioners and teachers truly to embody these in their personal and professional lives.
  • Perception, Proliferation and Cognitive Chains: The Buddha taught that ‘All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind’ [Dhammapada 1]. We will begin to explore how the experiences of self and world are constructed and fabricated moment by moment – by unconscious perception, proliferation and habit – and how these can gradually be liberated and un-bound.

The Big Picture – John Peacock & Akincano Weber, assisted by Yuka Nakamura

18-23 February 2019:  Meditation Center Beatenberg, Switzerland
  • The construction of experience: this module focuses on exploring the core Buddhist frameworks known as the Aggregates (khandha-s) and Dependent Arising (paṭicca samuppāda).
  • Together, these teachings map the complexity of our own experience - opening up possibilities for insight and transforming stress-patterns that run through our everyday lives. Both address what Buddhist psychology calls ‘becoming’ and ‘identification’, offering specific tools and a pragmatic approach to freeing ourselves from unhelpful self-constructs and the suffering that these entail.

Recommended reading

See: Reading lists

12 titles: Buddhist Background – Buddhist Psychology – Four Establishments of Mindfulness

Additional Information

  • Participants are asked to contribute 1 hour of work a day, in order to help with the running of each centre during the modules
  • All teachings are offered on a dana basis
  • Please make sure you read the Booking Conditions before booking a module
  • View or download the PDF leaflet for this course
  • A limited number of bursary places are available for each module
  • Universal Empathy
    October 28, 2019 - November 2, 2019
    4:00 pm - 12:00 pm
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Venue Phone: 01803 732055

Venue Website:

Ashprington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 7UT, United Kingdom


SharphamSharpham Trust is an education and conservation charity based on a stunning 550 acre estate adjoining the River Dart in South Devon.

At the heart of the Sharpham Trust ethos is the desire to build a more mindful, compassionate and environmentally sustainable world. We connect people with nature and foster mindfulness and well-being through our programme of retreatsmindfulness coursesoutdoor learning and the arts

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