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Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's

  • What previous meditation experience do Barn retreatants have?

    All retreatants have had some (from little to lots) experience of meditation.  Meditation sittings are up to 40 minutes, and many are not guided, so we recommend complete beginners attend a Sharpham House Beginners' Retreat before coming to the Barn.

  • Can I come on a Barn retreat with a friend or partner?

    We recommend you come on a Barn retreat without anyone you know.  If you bring an important part of your life with you then you aren’t really retreating!  However, we realise for some people it isn’t possible to come separately (eg visiting the country together). In this case we ask you to engage with the retreat as individuals.

  • Are Barn retreats helpful for people with mental health difficulties?

    Mental health difficulties and Sharpham Mindfulness Courses and Retreats

    Although mindfulness can be helpful in managing stress, depression and anxiety, our courses and retreats might not be suitable if you are experiencing an episode of clinically diagnosed anxiety, depression or other serious psychiatric illness.  If you are at a low point in a cycle of depression for example mindfulness and meditation can sometimes make matters worse. This is because it can be just too difficult to concentrate and thoughts and feelings can quickly start to feel overwhelming.

    For these reasons we have a process designed to make sure that the course or retreat that individuals wish to book on to is right for them at this point in time.

    Our booking process

    Once you have booked on to a retreat you will be sent a link to a confidential questionnaire where you can provide information about your health needs. This questionnaire will be reviewed by a member of staff and if needed he or she will make contact with you.

    If you are supported by a community mental health care team we might ask for your permission to speak to a psychiatric nurse or other relevant professional to help us make sure a retreat is right for you at this time.

    In some cases we might recommend that you wait until you’re feeling a little better or suggest that you undertake an 8 week course or similar to gain more experience of mindfulness as a more gradual introduction to this practice. If this is the case – you will of course be offered a full refund or transfer to a course at a later date.

  • What is the difference between The Barn, Sharpham House and Woodland Retreats?

    The Barn Retreat offers 6-day meditation retreats throughout the year in a wonderful converted old Devon Linhay. Retreats are based on a contemporary approach to Western Buddhism and participants have the chance to experience a schedule of mindfulness practice, teacher-led inquiry and working meditation in the organic garden.

    Sharpham House offers secular mindfulness retreats with the opportunity to stay in a beautiful Grade 1-listed Georgian mansion house at the centre of the estate and surrounded by superb gardens. Retreats at Sharpham House are fully catered for with cooks and house-keeping staff in attendance. Retreats include 3-day Beginners' mindfulness, as well as a variety of themed retreats such as singing, yoga and walking.

    Woodland Retreats are a unique chance to stay in our woodland campsite in the grounds of Sharpham House with a focus on mindfulness and connecting to nature. Guided by our experienced leaders, participants will explore mindfulness in the inspirational setting offered by the Estate’s woodlands, gardens and parkland.

    All of the above retreats are set at different locations across the beautiful 550-acre Sharpham Estate with views over the River Dart in an area of designated outstanding natural beauty.

  • Why do retreats at the Barn cost less than at Sharpham House?

    Costs are kept lower at the Barn because gardening, cooking and household tasks are shared in community by volunteer coordinators and retreatants.  

    Retreats at Sharpham House are fully catered. Also, Sharpham House is a large Grade 1-listed building with far higher overheads.

  • What's the food like at The Barn?

    Excellent! All of our food is vegetarian, and 99.5% organic.

  • What dietary needs can you accommodate?

    We can accommodate gluten-free and/or vegan dietary needs. However, our kitchen is not gluten, dairy nor nut-free.

    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 will be sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.

  • Do I need to be fit to work in the garden?

    No. The work is as easy as you like. We can find work to suit all abilities and physical conditions; even indoor tasks if you wish.

  • What time do Barn Retreats start and finish?

    Arrival time for all Barn retreats is between 2pm and 4pm.  Departure time is after 9am and before 11am.

  • How far from the station is The Barn?

    Three miles by road and about 10-15 minutes.

    A taxi will cost about £12-18.  Alternatively some people choose to walk or cycle from Totnes - a great way to draw yourself out of the world and into retreat.

    Click here to go our our Find Us page, giving road, walking/cycling maps and directions

  • How do I find out more and book?

    You can view all of our retreats, courses and events and book easily and securely online through our calendar  or by phoning 01803 732661 or emailing [email protected] 

  • How do I get to Sharpham House?

    Sharpham House is 10 minutes drive from Totnes, Devon. Trains to Totnes run frequently from London and the North of England.
    For full details and directions click here

    Sharing a taxi from Totnes train station

    We are committed to reducing the impact of cars arriving on the Estate and want to avoid lots of taxis turning up at the same time with single passengers. 

    Our taxi share arrangement is with Happy Cabs 01803 55 92 92 and it takes 10 minutes to get to Sharpham from the Totnes train station.

    To join a taxi share:

    • Book your taxi in advance on the above number stating date, time of arrival and leaving your phone number
    • Happy Cabs will then meet you at the station with a board saying Sharpham Trust and the names of people to share the taxi (if others are arriving at the same time)
    • You then divide the costs with your fellow travellers making it cheaper for you
    • For Sharpham House retreats - to increase the chance of sharing a cab, we recommend you choose a train that arrives in Totnes as close to 4pm as possible
  • What is the difference between Sharpham House, The Barn and Woodland Retreats?

    Sharpham House offers secular mindfulness retreats with the opportunity to stay in a beautiful Grade 1-listed Georgian mansion house at the centre of the estate and surrounded by superb gardens. Retreats at Sharpham House are fully catered for with cooks and house-keeping staff in attendance. Retreats include 3-day Beginners' mindfulness, as well as a variety of themed retreats such as singing, yoga and walking.

    The Barn Retreat offers 6-day meditation retreats throughout the year in a wonderful converted old Devon Linhay. Retreats are based on a contemporary approach to Western Buddhism and participants have the chance to experience a schedule of mindfulness practice, teacher-led inquiry and working meditation in the organic garden.

    Woodland Retreats are a unique chance to stay in our woodland campsite in the grounds of Sharpham House with a focus on mindfulness and connecting to nature. Guided by our experienced leaders, participants will explore mindfulness in the inspirational setting offered by the Estate’s woodlands, gardens and parkland.

    All of the above retreats are set at different locations across the beautiful 550-acre Sharpham Estate with views over the River Dart in an area of designated outstanding natural beauty.

  • Why do Sharpham House Retreats cost more than Barn retreats?

    Costs are lower at the Barn because it is run by volunteer coordinators, and gardening and cooking is carried out by retreatants in mindful work periods.  Retreats at Sharpham House are fully catered. Sharpham House is also a larger Grade 1-listed building with much higher overheads to cover. Any surplus made from retreats goes towards supporting the charitable activities of the Trust.

  • Do I need to have prior knowledge or experience of mindfulness before coming?

    All of the retreats at Sharpham House are suitable both for people new to meditation and mindfulness, as well as those looking to reconnect with their practice. Each retreat typically involves x3 20-30 minute guided formal sitting meditation sessions per day. The retreats are not held in silence, however there are usually silent periods in the evening and first thing. Most retreats also include a half-day of silence to deepen your mindfulness experience. If you are totally new to mindfulness we recommend that you visit our mindfulness resources page and some pre-reading on the subject would be useful before you come. More experienced meditators might want to consider The Barn Retreat Centre also on the Sharpham Estate which includes longer sitting and silent periods, as well as taking your practice into shared work periods of cooking, cleaning and working on the land.

  • I have some mental health difficulties - is this retreat for me?

    Mental health difficulties and Sharpham Mindfulness Courses and Retreats

    Although meditation and mindfulness can be helpful in managing stress, depression and anxiety, according to UK best practice guidelines, the practice 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. If you are or feeling very stressed and anxious, meditation can make matters worse. This is because it can be just too difficult to concentrate and thoughts and feelings can quickly start to feel overwhelming. 

    For these reasons we have a booking process designed to make sure that a course or retreat is right for you at this point in time.

    Click here to read more about mental health and mindfulness at Sharpham

  • What is the accommodation like?

    Sharpham House has a mix of 24 bedrooms, made up of Premium and Standard rooms, sleeping up to 47 guests in the main House, the South Wing and the West Wing.

    Our Premium bedrooms are larger and offer a view of the River Dart. Our Standard rooms are simple but homely. All bedding and towels are provided and there is constant tea and coffee making facilities available in the Dining and Toasting room.

    All rooms are single occupancy. There are 3 en-suite rooms and we have an accessible bedroom and bathroom, which can be reserved only if you have specific medical or health needs. 

    Retreatants also have access to 4 beautiful rooms for relaxing and resting including the Octagonal, Music & Maurice Ash rooms, and the Library.

    Retreatants have access to the woodland, formal and walled gardens as well as the open air swimming pool (with conditions).

  • What's the food like at Sharpham House?

    Our cooks regularly get rave reviews for the high quality seasonal, vegetarian food they produce. We source food whenever possible from our kitchen garden and support local food suppliers.

    We can accommodate the following dietary needs as long as you have included these on your Booking Form:

    • vegan
    • wheat-free
    • gluten-free
    • dairy-free

    Please alert us to any food allergies you have. The booking form will be sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.

  • What dietary needs can you accommodate?

    We can accommodate the following dietary needs as long as you have included these on your Booking Form:

    • vegan
    • wheat-free
    • gluten-free
    • dairy-free

    Please alert us to any food allergies you have. The booking form will be sent as a link once you have booked and paid for a retreat.

     

  • Is there Wi-Fi available?

    Wi-Fi is available on some ground floor rooms, though we cannot guarantee a signal because of the thickness of our walls. Likewise, mobile phone coverage is not very good in the main house.  We strongly encourage participants to turn off their mobile phones during their stay and keep use of laptops/tablets to a minimum.  This helps you and everyone else to disengage from daily life and provides the rare opportunity to live fully in the simplicity and quietude of a country retreat. If someone needs to contact you urgently then please ask them to call 01803 732583 leaving a message if there is no reply.  Please be assured this number will be checked regularly during your stay, allowing you the chance to relax into your retreat.