Nourishing the Heart: mindfulness & self-compassion retreats

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You'll explore how heart-based practices like self-compassion and loving kindness can enrich your meditation and nourish you in your daily life on these 4 & 5-night retreats.

Meditation retreats in Sharpham House

Compassion can be defined as "sensitivity to suffering and the willingness to alleviate it”.

Many people can be kind and supportive of others, whilst struggling to apply this same attitude to themselves. All too often we slip into patterns of judging and criticising ourselves, a habitual yet unhelpful strategy, making the challenges that we face more difficult.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in practices that cultivate self-compassion and kindness. There's an expanding body of research showing the positive effect such practices have on emotional well-being, self-care, physical health and personal relationships.

Some of these benefits appear to be specific to compassion practices rather than standard mindfulness practice alone.

These retreats, involving skilled and trained leaders, draw on recently-developed and evidence-backed approaches such as Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL) and the work of Paul Gilbert, founder of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). 

Meditation retreats in Sharpham House

This retreat is for you if you:

  • would like to connect more with the qualities of the heart, such as compassion, kindness, gratitude and sympathetic joy.
  • want to deepen your mindfulness practice and learn a new set of practices within this approach.
  • find yourself criticising or judging yourself harshly.
  • want to learn wiser and more helpful ways to relate to difficulties.
  • are interested in understanding yourself better and learning about how and why we get into unhelpful patterns.


*Given the nature of self-compassion practices, it is common for old trauma to arise, particularly around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We ask that if you have been subject to any ACEs that you discuss with a psychologist or therapist before attending to see if this retreat is appropriate for you at this time.

Lucy Chan, one of the leaders on this retreat, gave this TEDx talk about the need for cultivating fierce compassion.

Lucy Chan talks about Fierce Compassion


She also leads this downloadable meditation on the same aspect of compassion, helping to halt people-pleasing and enabling you to protect, say no or disagree with tender strength:

During these retreats you’ll:

  • experience guided meditations, relaxation sessions and periods of silence and quiet contemplation
  • be living in safe community with like-minded people
  • be able to explore our tranquil Capability Brownian parkland and our Grade II*-listed gardens designed by Percy Cane
  • 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. Click here to explore our rooms
  • Delicous vegetarian food at Sharphamenjoy delicious, healthy, home-cooked vegetarian food that regularly receives rave reviews
  • be cared for full-board in a Grade I-listed Georgian House surrounded by history and art, with staff looking after you, in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to nature, amid breath-taking scenery on the banks of the River Dart


River Dart at Sharpham, looking towards Totnes in dusk

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

Delicious food at Sharpham House

Our food & your dietary needs

The retreat is full-board with delicious home-cooked vegetarian food. 

In line with sustainable practices across the Estate, our cooks produce seasonal, vegetarian food for our guests. We source food whenever possible from our kitchen garden and support local food suppliers. 

Food allergies & intolerances
Please tell us well in advance of your stay of any food allergies or intolerances you may have.

You can tell us this on the Booking Form via a link we send you in your confirmation email.



Your physical and mental health

This retreat is suitable for you if you are new to mindfulness, or seeking to renew or reconnect with your practice.

Although meditation 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.

We have an accessible en-suite bedroom The Clare Milne Room – click here for details on how to book this room

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.

Sunlight through the yew tree on the South Lawn

The retreat programme will include three 40-minute meditation sessions per day with periods of silence to help strengthen the practice. Day 3 will be spent in silence.

Day 1: Arrive between 3-5pm for welcoming talk and settling in.

Typical day

Mornings Afternoons
7.00am - wake up bell. Silence until 9.50am 12.20pm - meditation
7.30am – mindful movement 1.00pm - lunch and household tasks
8.00am - meditation 2.00pm – personal time 
8.30am – breakfast and household tasks 3.00pm -  Teaching and Q&A 
9.50am – daily meeting, break the silence  5.20pm  – meditation
11.00am - teaching and Q&As 6.00pm – supper and household tasks
  7.45pm – personal time
  8.45pm – Deep relaxation
  9.00pm – House moves into silence until 9.50am the next day

Departure time on final day is 12 noon

Retreats at Sharpham House are soul nourishing. Totally immersed in nature with no sound of traffic all we can hear are the sounds of the birds, the rustling of the trees and the wind blowing through our hair.


THE most magical and amazing place for a retreat. I cannot recommend Sharpham highly enough, I'm telling all my friends! The food is divine, the location is breathtaking and the facilitators are highly skilled. 


Just the most special and wonderful place. Superb setting, beautiful house, delicious food and incredibly well supported and managed retreat schedules. Couldn’t recommend more highly. Have been twice now and will make it an annual event. Totally life changing.


A very special place. Wonderful surroundings, peaceful and supportive retreats. Lovely food and experienced teachers, all for an affordable price. Highly recommend.


Sharpham is a place like no other to rejuvenate body, mind and soul. Stunning views over the River Dart, beautiful grounds and delicious home-cooked vegetarian food (much of which is sourced from the vegetable garden) provides a simply magical retreat location. The retreat leaders hold space with incredible compassion and kindness and everyone is made to feel welcome. Highly recommended!


Whether you are an experienced meditator or trying mindfulness out for the first time, Sharpham House is a wonderful place to go. The teachers are gentle in their approach and there is the a great balance of guided meditation and time for solo reflection.


This retreat takes place in the beautiful and historic Grade I-listed 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 Sharpham House

Click here view and download walking/cycling directions to Sharpham House

Aerial shot of Sharpham 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 Sharpham 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 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.

Eco-gardens at Sharpham

Our gardens are managed organically and we only use bio-degradable cleaning products.

All rooms are single occupancy, giving you your own space in which to relax.

All rooms have tea & coffee-making facilities and towels are provided. Click here to see more about our rooms

There will be a maximum of 20 guests on this retreat.

All meals & bedding included.

Rate   4-nights
from May 2023
5-night retreats
Standard room   £465 £565

Our Standard rooms are smaller and cost less, but they’re still cosy and comfy.

If you prefer a simpler or less expensive retreat experience, these rooms are for you.

Premium room   £525 £625

You’ll be in an attractive room with good views of the stunning countryside that surrounds us.

Our Premium rooms are comfortable, giving you a restful environment in which to restore.

Heritage room   £625 £725

You’ll be in our most historic rooms, helping you deeply rest and rejuvenate in a nourishing and inspiring atmosphere.

You’ll be surrounded by history and artworks in a Heritage room in Grade 1-listed Sharpham House, and you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding grounds and parkland, thought to have been laid out by Capability Brown.




Limited 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 to go on retreat here through our bursary scheme, you can give online quickly and easily by clicking here



Because Sharpham House is a Grade I-listed mansion (with limits to the changes we are allowed to make to the building), few bedrooms come with an en-suite bathroom and toilet. There are shared bathrooms on every floor.

A shared bathroom at Sharpham

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.

Our accessible rooms

We have an accessible en-suite bedroom The Clare Milne Room – click here for details on how to book this room

Book easily and securely online or by phoning 01803 732542

Please click here to see our booking and cancellations policy


Lucy Chan

Lucy Chan

Lucy is a teacher of mindfulness, compassion, and Buddhist meditation who leads retreats and courses worldwide. She also offers the 8-Week Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) programme having trained directly under the internationally renowned pioneers of this field; Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. As a practising doctor in the NHS for over a decade, she understands the importance of integrating mindfulness practices as a way to keep balance in everyday life. Her passions include helping people engage with self-compassion practices as a way to build inner resilience, and supporting the caregivers of society.

Ramiro Ortega

Ramiro Ortega

Ramiro is a mindfulness teacher and a retreat leader, and also a philosophical counsellor in training. He started practising in Spain in 2005 in the Soto Zen tradition, moving later to the UK to finish his studies in philosophy, where he came into contact with other different schools of meditation practice. 

Finally Ramiro made his home in the UK and after spending two years living in Gaia House, a Buddhist meditation retreat centre in the Insight Meditation tradition in Devon, he trained to teach mindfulness with the University of Bangor and with the University of Exeter. He is also participating in the teacher training programme with the Bodhi College.

Ethan Pollock

Ethan Pollock

Ethan has been supporting retreats and mindfulness groups for over a decade. He spent five years training at Plum Village with the internationally recognised Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and currently offers retreats and classes on mindfulness and buddhism at meditation centers and local groups around the UK. His teaching helps people touch more calm and ease in their everyday lives by bringing awareness and appreciation to simple daily activities, retreatants especially love his guided meditations!

Armel Wraight

Armel Wraight

Armel Wraight (they/them pronouns) is the founder of Stillpoint Mindfulness and has been teaching mindfulness to individuals, groups, and business for 10 years.

Their training to teach mindfulness is wide-ranging and includes MBSR and MBCT at Bangor Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, The Mindful Self-Compassion programme with Kristen Neff and Chris Germer, Dot b. with the Mindfulness in Schools Project and Finding Peace in a Frantic World with Chris Cullen at Oxford Centre for Mindfulness.

A psychotherapist in practice for 25 years, Armel holds group space with safety, skill, humour and compassion. Armel also facilitates LGBTQIA2S+ international mindfulness spaces and is co-writing a curriculum for the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion specifically for a queer audience.

Armel is especially interested in self-compassion and trauma-informed mindfulness teaching. Their personal practices of meditation, queer intimacy and nature connection bring deep support to their facilitation work.

Barry Thurgood

Barry Thurgood

For over 10 years, Barry has been guiding meditation groups and coordinating retreats at Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Bristol, The Sharpham Barn Retreat and also online. He has also worked as the Sharpham Woodland Camp Retreat Manager and is a qualified Integrating Mindfulness & Compassion (CPCAB accredited) teacher.

Barry is inspired by sharing his passion for deepening a sense of connection with ourselves, each other, nature and something bigger than ourselves, all in a spirit of kindness.

Retreats & Events

How to book easily and securely:

  • online on this page
  • by phoning 01803 732542

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.