Time to create - Mindfulness, Creativity and the Natural World
A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life
- Elizabeth Gilbert, creativity advocate and author of Big Magic
This retreat offers an opportunity to access your creativity and imagination through a unique blend of mindfulness and nature connection.
Together we will experience present-moment awareness using different creative mediums including visual arts, creative writing, movement, song and more.
The emphasis of this retreat is being playful and open to exploring our creative spirit rather than becoming an expert in a particular medium or focusing on an end product.
Absolutely no artistic skills or experience are necessary - just a willingness to play and experiment in a supportive and non-judgmental setting. Materials will be supplied, but please bring your own if you would like to use them in your free time.
Experienced leaders are there to support you, plus you'll enjoy periods of free time to rest and reflect on your learning, in a place far from the busy-ness of every day life.
You'll be staying in The Coach House - our retreat centre specifically aimed at connecting you with nature.
See the Leaders tab above for teachers and their styles.
This retreat is for you if you are:
- New to mindfulness practice or are looking to sustain and reconnect with your practice in a new way
- Curious to explore your creative spirit in a playful way and in a safe and non-judgmental setting
- Feeling stuck creatively and would like the chance to freely experiment and explore your creative expression
- In need of rest, replenishment and renewal
- Looking for tools, practices and resources to sustain you in your everyday life
During this retreat you'll:
- Develop mindfulness and nature connection practices and periods of silence and quiet contemplation
- Explore and re-discover your natural creativity using a range of different art forms and materials
- Immerse your senses in colour, shape, form and sound
- Take inspiration from the rich beauty of the natural word world that surrounds Sharpham, including our rewilding project, all set in an area designated for its Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- Form a safe and supportive community with like-minded people, sharing experiences and simple daily tasks, including in the kitchen gardens and on the wider Estate
- Have a single-occupancy room and your own space in which to rejuvenate, with free time to deeply rest and reconnect with yourself, far from the busy-ness of daily life
- enjoy delicious and healthy home-cooked vegetarian & vegan food
Your physical and mental health
Although meditation, yoga and mindfulness can be helpful in managing stress, depression and anxiety, our retreats might not be suitable if you are experiencing major depression or other clinically-diagnosed psychiatric illness such as bipolar disorder, psychosis or current self-harming. Click here for more information and for our booking process.
This retreat is for adults aged 18 and above.
Silence whilst on retreat
All of our retreats usually include some short periods of silence as a way of deepening into mindful awareness. If you are new to spending time in silence in the company of other people, it can feel awkward to begin with. However people usually find this to be a useful experience and we encourage you to explore the silent periods in a spirt of open-ness and curiosity. The retreat moves into silence each evening from 9pm - 9am the following day and until 2pm on day 3 (see also Schedule tab above for typical day).
Facilities in The Coach House
The Grade II-listed Coach House has been sympathetically converted to create accommodation in four wings surrounding a central courtyard.
The Coach House has 18 bedrooms, 12 of which are en-suite. The 6 others share 3 bathrooms, one for each pair of rooms.
We have an accessible ground-floor bedroom with en-suite bathroom in the Western Wing of The Coach House. Please contact us to book this.
The Eastern Wing features a lounge, library, kitchen and has a contemporary timber-frame extension which serves as a dining room and meditation/meeting space. The extension has large French doors which open out on to a patio and garden with direct access out on to the south-facing lawns.
Not all of the gardens or the estate have disabled access, so do contact us to discuss your needs and what is possible.
Mindfulness in nature at Sharpham
When you experience Sharpham's inspiring and nourishing environment, we hope you'll
connect spiritually with the natural world, so you’ll:
- become aware of how we are all part of nature - not artificially separate from it
- pay attention to and appreciate the natural world surrounding us
- explore nature through your senses and your natural creativity
- tread more lightly on our finite planet, developing a respect and reverence for all living things
Click here to read our ethos and principles
What you need to know
If you decide to stay with us, we’ll send you a list of what you need to bring for this retreat in your Welcome Letter that we send out after you've booked.
You can also find out more about staying with us on our Frequently Asked Questions page, including:
- accessibility information
- why we encourage you to come on your own and not with partners or friends
- what the difference is between our retreats
Our food & your dietary needs
We have a fully stocked, mostly organic and vegetarian kitchen. The main meal is at lunch time and is prepared by our Cook supported by retreatants. We try to use produce from our gardens as much as possible which retreatants help grow.
We can accommodate gluten-free and/or vegan dietary needs. However, our kitchen is not gluten, dairy nor nut-free. We do not provide gluten-free bread, but you are welcome to bring your own.
Please make sure you include dietary restrictions and any food allergies on your Booking Form. We may need to communicate further with you about specifics. The booking form is sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.
Our water is provided from our own spring, UV treated and filtered.
A 5-star setting with the added bonus of really being grounded in nature
- a Sharpham retreatant
Typical retreat schedule
Day 1: Arrive between 3 - 5pm for Welcome Meeting at 5.15pm and settling in
|7.00am – wake up||1.00pm – lunch|
|7.30am – morning movement||3.30pm – afternoon session|
|8.00am – meditation||6.00pm – supper|
|8.30am – house nurturing||8.00pm – evening session|
|9.00am – breakfast||9.00pm – personal time (silence until 10.30am the next day)|
|10.30am – home group and morning session|
There will be meditations during the afternoon and evening sessions.
Final day: depart by 11am
The retreat will move into silence each evening from 9pm – 10.30am and on day 4 there will be silence till 8pm
This retreat takes place in The Coach House, a historic Grade II-listed building behind Sharpham House set in a Capability Brownian landscape with stunning views over the steeply-wooded River Dart.
Click here for our How to Find Us page on this website.
Click here to view, print or download directions and a map to The Coach House
Click here view and download walking/cycling directions to The Coach House
If you have a medical condition that requires you to have an en-suite room, please contact our Programme Administrator on the number below as these rooms are limited and are bookable on a first-come first-served basis.
Just to let you know, we have poor mobile phone coverage – which we see as a virtue. While there is wi-fi in The Coach House, we encourage you to disconnect from ‘the network’ so you can fully retreat when you’re here.
We are 3 miles from Totnes – famous for its Transition Town movement
We are in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
We take sustainability seriously.
All of the hot water and heating in The Coach House is produced by a state-of-the-art biomass woodchip boiler and we have 2 large photo-voltaic solar panel arrays on barn rooftops feeding into Sharpham energy.
Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.
The Sharpham Trust is committed to ensuring that retreats at The Coach House are accessible to all - regardless of income.
All rooms are comfortable single rooms, with either an ensuite or a shared bathroom. All meals, bedding and towels are included. Rooms are randomly allocated, unless you have medical needs relating to your room allocation. If you have such a need, let us know on your booking form which will be sent to you once you have booked.
|Paying the Standard Rate means you will be contributing towards our running costs, supporting the work of The Coach House and helping retreatants of lower incomes to access our retreats|
|If you are able to pay the Benefactor Rate, you'll be supporting others who cannot afford to benefit from a Coach House retreat on The Sharpham Estate. Your choice to pay this rate will help us with the running costs of The Coach House, enabling us to continue our charitable work connecting people to nature and fostering mindfulness and wellbeing, as well as caring for the land, wildlife and wider estate|
|For those unable to pay the Standard or Benefactor Rate|
Limited 50% bursaries offering reduced-price retreats are available for those experiencing financial hardship. Please contact the Programme Administrator at least 4 weeks in advance if you wish to apply.
Our bursary fund relies on donations. If you’d like to help another person to go on retreat here through our bursary scheme, you can give online quickly and easily by clicking here
Brigit-Anna McNeill - Creative Retreat Leader
Brigit’s fondest childhood memories are of being with her grandmothers who were both eccentric artists and storytellers with a deep love for the natural world. Heavily inspired by their presence, Brigit grew up with a passion for exploring the wild and expressing the love of it through writing and art. Nature and creative expression have always been Brigit’s refuge and love, and they were her ally through her own journey of recovery.
She achieved a BA in fine art and photography from Brighton university and went on to do an MA in Art psychotherapy at Goldsmiths, London.
Brigit always enjoyed bringing nature, the seasons and elements of the wild into her work with people whether through art, writing or therapy and has loved using art and writing as a way to connect to both inner and outer nature.
She went on to train in wilderness psychotherapy and ecotherapy, exploring such things as re-wilding and restoration of the land and the human condition along with vision quests and solo work. Through her life she has always had a deep love of plants, trees and fungi and apprenticed in foraging and herbalism for many years.
She is currently writing a book about nature, recovery and re-wilding the human psyche which will be published in spring 2024.
Jo Gosling - creativity retreat
Jo has had a lifelong creative practice, designing and making in her teens, and later, to textiles and art practices.
Following major surgery, incorporating a mindfulness practice into creativity allowed a healing process to unfold, and an inner wisdom to emerge from the work.
Jo takes part in the annual Devon Open Studios and runs mindfulness and creativity workshops using textiles as a medium.
Her MA in Fine Art was both playful and experimental in the exploration of process over outcome, in particular, of how the rhythm and repetition of weaving has a soothing effect on the human nervous system: this took the form of weaving with linen, nettle, foraged fibre, bark and stems, eco-dying, stitching paper and using found objects in nature, as well as experimental with the fragile nature of glass.
Jo has continued to explore the impact of rhythm and repetition in dance and movement and is an Ecstatic Dance Facilitator. More recently she has been exploring Visual Medicine and its potential for helping us ‘re-wild’ our ancestral stories; she is now embarking on further training in this for therapeutic practice. She has a background of working in the NHS and is a BAMBA-registered mindfulness teacher.
How to book easily and securely:
- online on this page
- by phoning 01803 731803
Ring us or email us on [email protected] if you've got any questions.
Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy.
Do check our Calendar to see and book for our events - or join our mailing list by clicking here to be kept in touch about Sharpham Trust news, retreats & events.