2022 RETREATS ONLINE

All of our retreats for 2022 are now on this website and available for booking. Under current Welsh Government regulations, we could have the full number of retreat places occupied, however, we’re currently limiting it to 15, which is the number of individual room / spaces that we have. Please book as normal, paying a deposit or full amount and we will put up a ‘retreat nearly full’ or ‘retreat full’ notice when we’re reaching the number of bookings that we can currently allow. If the retreat you’d like to attend is down as full, please write to info@vajraloka.org stating that you’d like to be put on the waiting list, as there is a reasonable chance that the first few on the waiting list will be offered a place. 

Look forward to seeing you in 2022 – or indeed during the remainder of 2021.

Tejananda and the Vajraloka team

Current COVID-19 Precautions at Vajraloka – June 2021

We had hoped that by July, when we start in person retreats, the existing Covid rules would have ended, and retreats could proceed much as they had done in the past. Sadly, this is not the case and based upon the current Welsh Government rules this is our current guidance to people coming on retreat here. Please read all the information carefully.

Before booking:

  • There is always going to be a level of Covid-19 risk when mixing with others, so the first thing is to check if you feel able and ready to come on retreat, bearing in mind the well-being of yourself and others.

Please do not book if:

  • You are unable to be on the work rota. This is due to the smaller number of retreatants and extra hygiene/sanitising jobs that will need to be done on the retreat.
  • If you would have to come by public transport. Sadly, we are not able to pick people up from the bus and Vajraloka is a considerable distance from any bus stop. In addition, it is difficult to get a taxi in this area.

Before arriving:

  • Please take a lateral flow test before leaving on the day you travel to Vajraloka and bring another with you to use on the second day of the retreat. If the first test is positive, do not travel but let us know you are unable to attend, and remain at home and self-isolate.
  • Lateral flow tests are available free of charge. You can order them online in Wales or in England collect them at pharmacies

Getting here:

  • Please arrive by your own transport.

COVID-19 precautions in the retreat centre:

  • Ventilation: Good ventilation has been shown to be very important in minimising the risk of C-19 transmission.  Therefore, please bring plenty of warm layers with you as the windows will be open even if the temperatures are cool outside.
  • Social Distancing: We will be following social distancing guidelines. This means maintaining, wherever possible, a 2-metre distance between people inside or outside the retreat centre. We have more than halved the number of places available on retreats to just eight to make this possible.
  • Hand washing/sanitising: You will need to wash or sanitise your hands regularly throughout the day especially before making drinks and serving food. Hand sanitisers are placed throughout the retreat centre.
  • Face coverings: Following Welsh government guidelines you will need to wear a 3 – layer face-covering in communal areas within the retreat centre.  The only exceptions are when eating or drinking, when seated in your place in the shrine room, or in small group discussions where face coverings may be removed in order to facilitate discussion as long as 1+ / 2m social distancing is in place, and free ventilation via open windows is maintained.  Visors are not adequate.
  • Those leading the sessions on retreats will not wear a face covering while teaching, but they will ensure they are over 2m from the nearest person.
  • Please bring several face-coverings with you and hand sanitiser for your own use.

How will it work in different areas?

  • Bedrooms: You will have your own bedroom.
  • Bathrooms and WC’s: You will be sharing an allocated bathroom with just one other retreatant.   Only one person can use the bathroom at any one time.  These areas will be well ventilated and regularly cleaned.
  • Shrine room: You will be allocated a place in the shrine room.  All places will be 2 metres apart.  Once you are seated in your place you can remove your face covering.
  • Dining room: All place settings will be two meters apart. Weather permitting, you are welcome to eat outside.

What if I become ill with COVID 19 symptoms on retreat?

  • If you become ill with any Covid 19 symptoms you must let the retreat team know immediately and self-isolate in your room. We will ask you to return home, take a Covid test, and let Vajraloka know the results. If that test is positive, we will contact Test and Trace and will be required to release everyone’s personal contact information to them.
  • Please get in touch with us and DO NOT ATTEND the retreat if at the time your retreat commences, you:
    • Live in an area where Government lock-down restrictions are currently in place. With ongoing uncertainty around overseas travel, Vajraloka cannot currently recommend those outside the UK to book.  Hopefully, this will change soon.
    • Have any COVID symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with COVID symptoms (a new continuous cough, a high temperature and loss of or change in taste or smell) or a positive COVID test in the 14 days prior to the start of the retreat.

The government guidance frequently changes, so we will be regularly updating this page.

Precautions may be different to what is described here by the time your retreat comes around.

Thank you and well done for getting through all this information!

Please note that these current rules are due for review around 20th July, and if there are changes we will post again according to the situation then. If you have booked on a retreat after the 20th July, we will contact you directly with details.

Despite all this we hope you are as excited as we are that Vajraloka is opening to retreatants once again and we are very much looking forward to co-creating a held and welcoming space with you in warmth and friendship.

 

With love,

The Vajraloka Team

Updated on 21 June 2021

REOPENING VAJRALOKA

We’ve been reviewing the Welsh government lockdown regulations and, in the light of the situation as it stands right now, we have decided to make residential retreats at Vajraloka open to bookings from July. As everyone will be aware, the current situation regarding lockdown is extremely volatile – just as the Buddha taught, nothing conditioned can be depended upon. So we are necessarily opening these bookings with several provisos.

Given statements from the UK government, we are assuming for now that ‘all restrictions’ will end on 21st June. So, we will be taking up to 21 bookings for any given retreat – this is our full residential retreat capacity. If it proves that we still have to ‘socially distance’ after all, we may only be able to have six to ten people here. Places will then be offered in the date order that the bookings were placed.

The team has also been discussing the issue of mask-wearing. Our overall conclusion is that compulsory wearing of masks in the shrine room would be detrimental to communication in teaching and workshop situations, as well as with activities such as chanting. Also, for some there are potential health issues in mask wearing, while others find it uncomfortable and distracting. So we will need to review the situation if this does not cease to be a requirement.

Needless to say, all recommended hygiene measures will be in place.

Because of the ‘unknowns’, we are not asking for payment of any deposits.  However, we’d ask you to give your booking the same consideration that you would if you were actually paying a non-returnable deposit – in other words, please be as sure as you reasonably can that you will take up the retreat space for which you are booking.

We would also suggest that you don’t buy any travel tickets etc. until we confirm that the residential retreat is going ahead. We will email you a minimum of 4 weeks before the date the retreat starts to clarify whether the residential retreat is going ahead and to request payment.

Please note: Because of the way our website is set up, the following appears on each retreat page “This retreat is on a dana basis. No payment is needed to book.” However this applies only to online versions. If the retreat is residential, the full and concessionary rates are as stated.

Vajraloka retreats in the second half of 2021

The Vajraloka team have been discussing how to proceed with the retreats we have planned from after the last currently advertised online retreat (Entering the Mandala of Awakening, in June) onwards. As far as we can tell, currently, from the government announcements in Wales and England, in principle we should be able to open to residential retreats here again from July. Of course, there is no certainty about this at present. However, we have decided provisionally to assume that Vajraloka will be able to open for people coming here on retreat from July 2nd.

We are going to be discussing this further and intend to come to a firm decision by the beginning of May. We will only then open these retreats for booking – either as online or residential, depending on how it then stands with the regulations. But to give you an idea of what we hope to offer, we’re sharing the programme of retreats, as it stands, below.

Please take this as provisional – some of these retreats may still be online, especially if there are more lockdowns later in the year. Online retreats start a day later and finish a day earlier than residential ones, and it is possible that some will be shortened further. However, we’ll make all this clear in our announcement at the beginning of May.

 

PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME JULY – DECEMBER

Please note this is currently for information only – these retreats are not yet bookable

 

The Elixir of Life
Led by Rijumitra, Jinapalita and Sahajatara

2 – 9 July

£315/287

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

Only through coming into our bodies, firmly grounded, can we open up to the qualities of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and hear what they have to tell us. This is what ‘the elixir of life’ evokes – the truth of the Dharma beyond words. It points to the ‘suchness’ or ‘thusness’ of this moment, when all of our conceptual projections drop away and there is ‘just this’.

Within the elemental beauty of Vajraloka and its natural surroundings we will explore the richness that comes from establishing a heartfelt seat in meditation. Through meditation, ritual, and engagement with the landscape we will be opening up to suchness and to the blessings of the Buddhas – which are not two different things.

 

Everyday Liberations: renew and deepen

Led by Prajnapriya, with members of the Vajraloka team

16 – 23 July

£315/287

For people with some experience of Triratna meditation or of mindfulness approaches

All Buddhist practices are concerned with liberation. On this retreat, we’ll focus on liberations which, though perhaps small, are reachable – especially if you are concerned with rediscovering your inspiration, renewing and deepening your meditation practice.

If your practice seems to have become stuck, or isn’t quite what it was, the Vajraloka team can offer inspiration and helpful practical advice which can enable you to free yourself from those constraints. If your practice is going well, but you feel it could be going further or deeper, we can offer ways to cut through unconscious views and assumptions that may be holding you back. This can in turn lead to liberations from negative emotions and afflictions, here and now.

And in these moments of freedom, something wonderful could well emerge – love, compassion and deeper confidence in your potential to awaken fully.

 

Uncontrived Mindfulness

Led by Vajradevi, with Tejananda

30 July – 10 August

£495/451

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

Sangharakshita has said that we should be aware of our minds at all times – but how can we do this? And what are the benefits to our practice? How can we be aware in a way that doesn’t feel contrived and ‘added on’?

During this retreat, we’ll be using the Buddha’s profound words from the Satipatthana Sutta to inform and enliven our own practice of mindfulness as a path to clear seeing. Based on instructions for working with awareness and right view, we’ll focus on how we can use mindfulness as a support to wisdom and the end of suffering.

We will explore the role of receptivity in practice, and the ‘wise’ or ‘unwise’ attention we bring to every aspect of our experience. We will be looking at how continuity of mindfulness can transform our experience through simple presence and intelligent awareness, developing both steadiness of mind and heart and insight into the nature of all things.

 

Satipatthana: the Buddha’s teaching on mindfulness

Led by Tejananda and Bodhananda

20 – 29 August

£405/369

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

Also open to trainee and qualified teachers of secular mindfulness

One of the most influential of the Buddha’s discourses, the Satipatthana Sutta, shows how insightful attention to body, feelings and mind can enable us to wake up to our true nature. This radically transformative teaching is described as the ‘direct path’ to the cessation of suffering. Offering proven approaches that address the alienation and disembodiment which characterise life today, it can restore a deep integrity of body, heart, mind and being.

In this retreat, we’ll explore a number of practice approaches inspired by the original mindfulness teachings attributed to the Buddha that take awareness, insight and compassion ever deeper. As such, it will be helpful for all those wishing to deepen their mindfulness practice as well as for those qualified or training as teachers of mindfulness–based approaches such as MBSR, MBCT and Breathworks.

 

Meditation on Prajnaparamita, the Mother of all the Buddhas

Led by Prajnapriya

10 – 19 September

£405/369

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

According to tradition, all the distinct Perfection of Wisdom sutras are revelations of wisdom and compassion of the same timeless Prajnaparamita Sutra. Just as these teachings do not spring from the conceptual mind, but come from sources much deeper, so on this retreat we will not be attempting to understand these teachings with the intellect. We will ‘aimlessly aim’ at recognising and experiencing their essence in those very sources within ourselves, while keeping in mind the impossibility of an imaginary separate self, receiving these insubstantial ungraspable teachings.

Basing ourselves in the approaches we’ve developed at Vajraloka over many years, to help people go deeper in meditation, we will be drawing inspiration from the Great Mother Prajnaparamita. Just like the Buddhas are born from that Great Mother who is none other than the unborn, undying loving awareness of Prajnaparamita, so too we can awaken and be liberated through her unfailing grace, the very essence of our simple beingness.

 

The Radical Embrace

Led by Singhashri and Balajit

24 September – 1 October

£315/287

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

How can we learn to embrace ourselves, others and the world more deeply and radically, with awareness and compassion?

Together we will meet ourselves where we are, with appreciation and curiosity, inviting all our disparate selves into a space of acceptance and presence. We will draw on resources like grounding, nature, simple mindful movements, neuroscience and creative ritual.

We’ll explore our capacity to discover and dwell in more expansive qualities of absorption and deepen our confidence to turn towards those places within us that are stuck, restricted and painful.

Doing this, we’ll learn to liberate restricted energies, break the spell of false views, and allow them to transform in the clear light of awareness. What emerges is a more authentic experience of our innate ability to connect more deeply with ourselves and others.

 

The Other Side of Insight

Led by Paramananda

6 – 17 October

£495/451

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

Insight is often approached through various methods oriented to deconstructing our deep–rooted conceptions that support the idea of a fixed self. However, this approach may sometimes seem to neglect the importance of compassion, love and beauty in preparing the ground for insight to take root.

On this meditation retreat, which will be conducted largely in silence, we will emphasise the role of emotion and collective practice as a way of opening the heart and expanding the feeling of self to include others and the world.

Paramananda has been leading retreats for over thirty years and has a distinctive style that stresses body and heart as keys to opening to the nature of reality.

 

Illuminating Sadhana (Order retreat)

Led by Rijumitra, Jinapalita and Sahajatara

22 – 31 October

£315/287

Open to all Order members

Sadhana is the main expression of the principle of spiritual rebirth in the Order. During this retreat we will contemplate the evolution of sadhana as an Order practice and explore the stages through which sadhana plays out. As well as being redolent with rich images from the sambhogakaya, sadhana also requires presence, inviting the accomplishment of both tranquillity and insight, shamatha and vipashyana.

We will explore how these qualities relate to the dynamic or unfolding of sadhana, suggesting practical ways of evoking the samayasattva, the imaginal sense of the Buddha or Bodhisattva which we conjure up. And we’ll explore the relationship between this and the jnanasattva – the direct, undivided knowing that emerges as the ‘illuminated image’.
The retreat will provide an excellent context to engage, or re–engage, with sadhana including plenty of support and inspiration, pujas devoted to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, silence and one–to–one practice reviews.

 

Compassion and Emptiness

Led by Tejananda

6 – 13 November

£315/287

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

The Buddha taught the divine abodes – unconditional love, compassion, joy and equanimity – not just as states of calm, but as ways to liberate the mind. The Brahmavihara practices enable us to cultivate these qualities and to engage with our afflictive emotions – craving, hatred and ‘ignoring’ – in relation to them. In doing so, we’re already engaging with insightful perspectives. Sooner or later, we’re likely to start glimpsing the uncultivated, unlimited, unconditional nature of these qualities, free from afflictions. We’ll explore these possibilities in the first part of the retreat from a perspective of deep, embodied awareness and in a spirit of openness and curiosity.

This will provide us with an excellent basis for our contemplations of emptiness. Based on the ‘Shorter Discourse on Emptiness’, an early Buddhist text, this approach to emptiness is less analytical and more experiential than many of those developed in later Mahayana schools. Starting with our everyday experience, it enables us to ‘experience’ emptiness progressively in relation to some subtle states of formless meditation and the liberation of ‘signlessness’. It doesn’t matter how far through this progression we manage to get – emptiness is emptiness and discovering it in relation to our ordinary experience now can be quite profound enough!

 

The Ocean of True Meaning (Order retreat)

Led by Vessantara

19 – 28 November

£405/369

For Order members                    

‘The Ocean of True Meaning’ is one of the great classic Buddhist meditation texts. This Tibetan practice manual written by Wangchug Dorje, the Ninth Karmapa, in the sixteenth century, goes deeply into the practicalities of the whole path to Awakening.

Following on from the successful retreats on this text here in previous years, Vessantara will continue and deepen his exploration of the shamatha and vipashyana sections, unpacking their riches and how they can enhance the main Order practices, through teaching and guided meditations. This retreat is suitable both for those who have attended in previous years and those who have not.

Vessantara worked with the essence of this material during a three–year retreat in France in 2008–2011 and has continued to study and practise it in the years since.

 

The Awakening Heart and the Divine Abodes

Led by Rijumitra and Tejananda

11 – 19 December

£360/328

For people with at least three years of regular meditation practice

Bodhicitta – the awakening heart – is both the heart–response of wisdom to the suffering of living beings everywhere and the urge to realise full awakening for the benefit of all. This retreat will focus on love, compassion, joy and equanimity – the four ‘divine abodes’ or brahmaviharasin the context of cultivating bodhicitta. To support this, we’ll also introduce tonglen, the ‘giving and receiving’ practice which opens the heart to universal compassion.

The divine abodes are also known as the ‘boundless states’,­ because they are inclusive of all living beings without exception. The practices that we’ll explore together on this retreat are all ways of opening our hearts and responding to the joys and sufferings of living beings – opening to the inseparable wisdom and compassion of the awakening heart itself.

 

Practice Retreats for men

Led by Vajraloka team members

24 – 31 December

31 December – 7 January

£315/287  per week

For men with at least three years of regular meditation practice

The main feature of these popular men’s retreats is that they allow retreatants to follow the themes and rhythms emerging in their own meditation practice. In some ways they can be compared to going on solitary retreat while offering the support and structure that practising in the company of others can bring.

While the practice retreats have no formal teaching input, the daily programme can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual, with support from Vajraloka team members. The simple programme has periods of morning and afternoon meditation with chanting and ritual in the evening. Daily meditation reviews with team members are also available on request.

 

 

The Awakening Heart and the Divine Abodes: Booklet and led sits – Revised Upload

Below you’ll find a booklet and a series of led sits around the theme of the Brahmaviharas and the Bodhicitta Practice. Tejananda and I have edited the talks from an Awakening Heart Retreat we ran together last year and have attached the led sits from the Retreat. We hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.

For the Booklet click here: Awakening Heart March 2020

To Download the Booklet and Meditations click here:  Awakening Upload 2 (250Mb zip file)

To listen to the led sits on the website click on the start button. (They are slightly in the wrong order so I have edited the listing on the website to reflect the numbering in the booklet, apologies for the confusion!! Love Rijumitra)

 

1. Introduction and a led Just Sitting – Tejananda

 

2. Whole Body Awareness Meditation – Tejananda

 

3. Whole Body Awareness – Rijumitra

 

4. Led Metta Bhavana – Rijumitra

 

5. Lying Down Body Awareness – Tejananda

 

6.  Body, Breath and the Heart – Tejananda

 

7. Led Karuna Bhavana – Rijumitra

 

8.The Heart Space and the Heart Wish – Tejananda

 

9. One Stage Metta Bhavana – Tejananda

 

10. Led Mudita Bhavana – Rijumitra

 

11. Led Tonglen Practice – Tejananda

 

12. Led Uppekha Bhavana Practice – Rijumitra

 

13. Led Short Tonglen Practice – Tejananda

 

14. Lying down Hara Breathing Meditation – Tejananda

 

15. Led Tonglen – Tejananda

 

 

Vajraloka’s response to the COVID-19 situation

From the Vajraloka team,
We hope and trust that you are well!
The Vajraloka team are discussing our response to government advice on containing COVID-19 ongoingly.
At this stage, we are keeping up to date with government guidelines and giving people who have booked notification of cancellation of future retreats at least six weeks in advance.
If you have booked on a cancelled retreat and you wish to keep your payment to use on the next retreat that you come on here, you are welcome to do so. Naturally, if you’d like a partial or full refund, this is no problem.
We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at Vajraloka again in the future. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions (info@vajraloka.org)

Annex Build Completed!

Vajraloka is up and running again after our 3 month shut down to extend our facilities. Here are some photos of the finished project.

2020 FULL ILLUSTRATED PROGRAMME BROCHURE

Click on ‘Retreats’ to download the fully illustrated version of our 2020 programme. This marks our 40th anniversary, featuring archive photos from the early 80s through to recent times. The printed versions will be going out within a couple of weeks, we hope.

Annex Build update (Week 9)

Here are the latest pictures of our building project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the main structural work completed, focus has moved inside to the shower/toilet area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another project on going at Vajraloka during this time is the replacement of our leaky mains water feed, about 1000m of pipe from the village, under a river, across a field, up a rocky path and eventually arriving at Vajraloka.

 

 

2020 RETREATS NOW BOOKABLE

Click on “Retreats” to see and book all retreats for 2020 (and the rest of 2019 of course). On that page, you can also download a PDF of the full 2020 programme text – the illustrated brochure will follow towards the end of August.