Frequently Asked Questions

Please read our Terms and Conditions prior to booking. You will be asked to agree these when you book online.

Once you have booked on to a retreat or course, you'll receive a link to a confidential booking form where you can provide information about any physical or mental health issues. Your booking is not confirmed until you have completed this form. 

It’s essential you complete our confidential booking form as soon as possible to ensure we can best accommodate your dietary or health-related needs. The Trust also needs this information for insurance purposes.

If you do not fill in the booking form at least one week prior to the retreat or course you may not be able to attend. In these circumstances no refund can be offered. If for any reason you cannot complete the form please get in touch via [email protected].

If you are supported by a community mental health care team, we ask you to confirm that you have spoken to a psychiatric nurse or other relevant professional or therapist to help you decide if a mindfulness course or retreat is right for you at this time. We may follow up with you to discuss this further.

In some cases it might be advisable for you to wait until you’re feeling more psychologically resilient or try a more gentle introduction to mindfulness such as a 1-day Introduction to Mindfulness course or similar. If it is not the right time to come on a retreat you will be offered a full refund, or transfer to a course at a later date. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to discuss whether a retreat or course is suitable for you then please contact us.

You need to be reasonably well in order to attend a retreat at Sharpham and there is an expectation that participants will be able to commit to and take part in most of the retreat schedule and activities.

If you are unwell either physically or psychologically, staff and leaders at Sharpham might not be able to offer you the support you need and, in some cases, coming on a retreat might make matters worse for you and for others on the retreat which we are keen to avoid.
 

Colds, Flu, Stomach Bugs, Covid and other infectious diseases

In the interests and wellbeing of your fellow participants and staff, please do not attend a retreat if you are ill with cold, flu, Covid, a stomach bug or other infectious disease.

These can be transmitted easily within the context of a residential retreat setting. We recommend you take out travel insurance in case you have to cancel. You can view our cancellation Terms and Conditions here

 

General health issues

If you have an ongoing health issue please consider whether coming on a retreat is the right thing for you.

We recommend you explore this with your GP or other healthcare practitioner. If you normally receive care at home, are looking for convalescence or respite, or are unable to self-medicate, then a retreat may not be the best place for you as we are not able to replicate these levels of support.

 

Physical disabilities and access

Each venue has an access statement and these can be viewed here:


Emotional Distress

Coming on a retreat can be helpful for people who are experiencing challenging emotions and there are tools and practices that can be supportive.

However, it is important to be aware that Sharpham Trust retreats are not a replacement for 1-1 therapy and counselling and our leaders and coordinators are not able to provide therapeutic support.

If you are experiencing a high levels of emotional distress, we recommend that you seek the support from a 1-1 therapist or counsellor first before coming on a retreat.

 

Addiction recovery and withdrawal

Our retreats are not suitable for people who are currently addicted to drugs or alcohol.

This is because we do not have the expertise or environment to support people who are experiencing withdrawal and detox.

Participants need to be at least 6 months into recovery and abstinence in order to attend.

 

Mental Health Challenges

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 personality disorder, major trauma (PTSD), psychosis or current self-harming.

To attend a course or retreat you need to be in a relatively stable period of mental well-being.  Our leaders might not be able to offer the level of individual support you need if things are very difficult for you. It may be more be more appropriate to consider 1-1 therapy or counselling rather than a retreat.

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.

No mindfulness is more than meditation although meditative practices play an important role in developing a more mindful life. At Sharpham we put a focus on mindfulness in nature and connecting to the natural world.

Mindfulness practice can help people who are struggling with low mood or anxiety but it is not recommended for those suffering more severe mental health challenges or who are in crisis.

See 5 steps to mental wellbeing.

Mindfulness practice is a secular practice although it has it’s origins in ancient contemplative practices including those found in Buddhism. You can learn more about Buddhist Philosophy by attending a retreat at The Barn.

“Going on retreat” means attending an organised gathering away from your normal everyday circumstances and activities, giving yourself space to slow down and experience contemplative practices that connect you to the present moment and the world around you. There will usually be a set schedule with regular periods of mindfulness meditation, some of which will be in silence. There may also be bodywork such as yoga or walking meditation or extended periods of silence. At Sharpham most retreats include sharing circles in which participants are invited to contribute about their experiences voluntarily. Most retreats are facilitated or led by trained or experienced practitioners.

No mindfulness is not something to be mastered it is something to be practiced.

Participants find it beneficial to plan ahead and make a deliberate intention to carve out time for practice, whether first thing in the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening.

We suggest that you:

• let others know how important it is to you to practice

• Set an intention to meditate regularly at a particular and suitable time

• Find a place to meditate that is comfortable and as quiet as possible

• Some people find mindfulness apps can help

If you are new to mindfulness then a good place to start is doing an 8-week course or attend a suitable retreat for beginners, these are listed on our website.

There is an overview of all our retreat here.

No mindfulness practice is not a clinical therapy but it can be therapeutic and it can be utilised as part of a recognised therapeutic programme such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.

The 8-week course that we offer is an excellent introduction to mindfulness practice but you do not have to do this prior to attending a retreat with us such as the Beginner’s Retreat at Sharpham House. We are also offering online courses as an alternative.

You can view all of our retreats, courses and events and book easily and securely online through our what’s on calendar , or by phoning 01803 732542 or emailing us. 

Limited bursaries are available for those experiencing financial hardship. Please contact the bookings secretary at least 4 weeks in advance if you wish to apply.

Sharpham House is a Grade 1-Listed Palladian villa constructed in 1765 and as such there are certain limitations that prevent the building complying with modern access requirements. The Trust is endeavouring to make the building as accessible as possible given these constraints. 

Please visit this page for more information.

Please contact our Programme Administrator if you have any questions about the retreat on [email protected] or 01803 732542.

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

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

We recommend that you bring loose comfortable clothes for indoors as well as a pair of slippers / indoor shoes. There are some fantastic walks and opportunities to be outdoors, so we recommend that you bring outdoor clothes and walking boots / wellies as well as warm, waterproof outdoor clothes for all times for the years. A notebook and pencil can be a good idea for occasional notes / reflections during your stay. A full list of what to bring will be sent to you when you book.

We try to ensure you get the best out of coming to Sharpham and that your group develops a positive sense of cohesion and support during their stay. If you are not able to come for the whole retreat you might compromise your own experience and that of the group. It can be disruptive when people arrive or leave the retreat at different times and the opening and closing sessions are often the most important. If a retreat date doesn’t work for you, we recommend you choose another of our retreats where you can attend for the whole experience, in order to ensure the full benefit of the retreat for yourself and your fellow participants.

We take sustainability seriously! All of the hot water and heating in the house is produced by a state of the art bio-mass wood chip boiler and we have 2 large photo-voltaic arrays on barn rooftops. Our gardens are managed organically and we only use biodegradable cleaning products.

You can find out more by visiting this page.

Alcohol is not available during the retreat and we ask retreatants to refrain from using drugs and alcohol during their stay except for prescribed drugs in order to support their mindfulness practice. Sharpham Wine and Cheese is available to buy online at www.sharpham.com

Building Community

During your stay at Sharpham you will be invited to engage in building a spirit of community, generosity and co-operation with your fellow participants and staff, including the opportunity to practice mindful awareness in simple everyday tasks. We ask for your support in tidying the kitchen and dining room after meals as well as vegetable preparation on some retreats. Our staff will provide a rota and offer guidance with these activities at the beginning of the retreat.

 

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.

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.

Please visit this page for more information.

Sharpham House has a mix of 24 Heritage, Premium & Standard bedrooms in the main House, the South Wing and the West Wing.

Please visit this page for more information.

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.

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] 

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

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.

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

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.

Costs are kept lower at The Barn because gardening 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.

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 Mindfulness for Beginners retreat before coming to The Barn.

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. But you might consider the following:

  • Comfortable, loose clothing for meditation and movement sessions
  • Indoor footwear/slippers
  • Suitable seasonal clothes – it can get cold in the evening and in the winter
  • Boots or comfy waterproof outdoor shoes and a waterproof jacket are advisable for local walks
  • A journal or notepad for reflection during your time here

 

Sharing a taxi from Totnes train station
We are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of cars arriving on the estate as well as offering participants the opportunity of sharing the taxi fare.

Our taxi share arrangement is with South Hams Cabs - 0777 2744 598 (tbc)

It takes approximately 10-15 minutes to get to Sharpham from the Totnes train station
 
To join a taxi share

  • Book your taxi in advance on the number above giving your name, phone number, date and time of arrival
  • When you have made the booking, the taxi company 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 (please remember to bring some cash)
  • For Sharpham House, Coach House and Woodland Retreat we recommend you aim to arrive at Totnes station around 2.30pm (registration 3-5pm). For Barn retreats we recommend you aim to arrive around 1.30 (registration 2-4pm)

 

Other Taxi Numbers below: We recommend you book in advance

 

Local taxi cabs, in no particular order or preference: 

Kobi Taxi - 07548 798 957 (runs an electric vehicle

Roadrunner Taxis Totnes - 01803 732834

Badger cabs - 01803 840400

Brutus Cabs - 07979 615349

Sam's Taxi - 01803 220406

Go 2 Taxis Totnes - 07496 163747

South Hams Cabs - 01803 840404

Connect Cabs Totnes - 07443 518087

The Woodland Retreat drop-off point is NOT at Sharpham House itself.

Look out for and follow Woodland Retreat signs once through the pillars and onto the Estate.

If you're coming by taxi the drivers will know the way to Sharpham House, but not necessarily the way to the Woodland Retreat drop-off point. Look out for the signs when you arrive on the Sharpham Estate.

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.

 

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.

We recommend you come on a 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.

You can view all of our retreats, courses and events and book easily and securely online through our calendar  or by phoning 01803 732542 or emailing bookings@sharphamtrust.org

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.

We try to ensure you get the best out of coming to Sharpham and that your group develops a positive sense of cohesion and support during their stay. If you are not able to come for the whole retreat you might compromise your own experience and that of the group. It can be disruptive when people arrive or leave the retreat at different times and the opening and closing sessions are often the most important. If a retreat date doesn’t work for you, we recommend you choose another of our retreats where you can attend for the whole experience, in order to ensure the full benefit of the retreat for yourself and your fellow participants.

The Grade II-listed Coach House has been sympathetically converted to create accommodation in the four wings which surround a central courtyard. Accommodation is in single mostly en-suire bedrooms.

The eastern wing features a lounge, library, catering kitchen and has a new timber frame extension which serves as a dining room and meeting space.

The extension has large French doors which open out on to a patio and garden with direct access out on to the beautiful lawns surrounding Sharpham House, overlooking the River Dart.

Limited bursaries are available for those experiencing financial hardship. Please contact the bookings secretary at least 4 weeks in advance if you wish to apply.

We recommend that you bring loose comfortable clothes for indoors as well as a pair of slippers / indoor shoes. There are some fantastic walks and opportunities to be outdoors including helping out in the garden, so we recommend that you bring outdoor clothes and walking boots / wellies as well as warm, waterproof outdoor clothes for all times for the years. A notebook and pencil can be a good idea for occasional notes / reflections during your stay. A full list of what to bring will be sent to you when you book.

All of the Coach House retreats 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 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 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. 

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 more 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.

We recommend you come on a 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.

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.

The solo retreats follow the flow of the group retreats at The Barn, therefore there are normally 6-night solo retreats, with occasional 3, 4 or 10-night stays available. 

If you are wanting to stay for fewer nights than this, that is possible, but there isn’t a discounted rate for that.  

Please note that if you are booking for longer than 6 nights, lunch will not be served on Saturdays and Sundays so you will be expected to prepare your own food. 

You can find information on our cancellations and transfers policy on the page Terms and Conditions for booking with The Sharpham Trust.

This page also has information on our Coronavirus Cancellations and Transfers Policy.

Please see the Costs tab on this page

Arrival


It is important that you meet with a Barn Coordinator to receive the information you need.

Please arrive between 2pm and 3pm on your arrival day.

Let us know when you plan to arrive either via phone on 01803 732661 or via email on [email protected] so that we can greet you.

 

Getting here


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

 

Leaving The HERMITAGE


You need to depart The Hermitage by 10am on the day that you leave.

No, there is no Wi-Fi access in The Hermitage you won’t be able to come into The Barn to access Wi-Fi.

Some phone networks get signal in The Hermitage, but most do not.

We encourage you to not use digital devices during your retreat, and if you do need to access Wi-Fi during your stay, the closest places are the cafes in Totnes - a 40-minute walk. 

If someone needs to contact you urgently then please ask them to call us on 01803 732661 leaving a message if there is no reply. We will then come and let you know.

This number will be checked regularly during your stay, allowing you the chance to relax into the retreat.

The Hermitage has a propane hob for you to use.

A vegan lunch in a thermos tiffin flask (prepared by Barn retreatants) can be discreetly collected from outside the main building daily (Monday to Friday).

You will have access to a fully-stocked vegetarian pantry in The Barn.

We can accommodate gluten-free needs (though gluten-free bread is not available). However, we cannot accommodate allergies.

You are welcome to bring any food that you would like to The Hermitage. A cooler is provided to safely keep your food in.

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.

Our water is provided from our own spring, but not treated, therefore we suggest boiling it before drinking it.

As part of your stay in the Hermitage, we ask that you work approximately two hours each day on the upkeep of your accommodation, the surrounding woodland and the vegetable garden. We’ll offer jobs that take into account your physical ability.

No - The Barn Retreat team will only be available to greet you on the day of your arrival, and help with any practical requests you may have throughout your stay. They won’t be able to support you emotionally or with your meditation practice, as they will be coordinating group retreats at The Barn Retreat centre.

You can communicate any practical requests with the team using written notes.

You will be expected to create your own personal daily structure which includes meditation and approximately two hours (or optionally more) work meditation on the land.

You won’t have access to teachers whilst on the retreat, and won’t be able to join with any scheduled activities on the group retreats.

A general guideline is that you have been meditating at least 3 times a week for more than 3 years. You’d have a strong desire to meditate and not need support in meditations.

The Hermitage is a new shepherd's hut in woodland near The Barn Retreat centre (roughly a 5 minute walk from the main site).

It is set in a stunning hillside location overlooking the River Dart, on the Sharpham Estate near Totnes in Devon.

It has solar powered lighting.

It has running water, though it is not treated, therefore we suggest boiling it before drinking it.

There is a wood burner inside for heat with wood provided.

Bedding, a meditation mat and cushions, and some food is provided.

There is a compost loo nearby, and you can use a shower in The Barn when arranged in advance.

  • Snack - our lunch will be early and the foraging walk is a long one, so bring a healthy snack if you get peckish along the way
  • Your packed lunch
  • Hat and warm clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Good comfy shoes or wellies
  • Paper and pen if you want to take notes
  • Bottle of water
  • 2 clean glass jars (medium or small, not large)
  • A basket with a handle or similar for foraging, if you have one

•             a packed lunch

•             bottle of water

•             Waterproofs

•             Good comfy shoes or wellies

•             Paper and pen if you want to take notes

•             Camera if you want to take pictures

•             We will supply enough fresh organic veg for all the ferment types you'll be making, but if you'd like to add your own home grown (must be organic) or wild foraged produce them please bring it along

•             4 clean "clip-top" jars (2 x 1 litre and 2 x half litre).  You are welcome to bring other types of jar but clip top jars are "self burping" so are safer and generally more reliable

 

It's a good idea to bring the following:

  • Binoculars! Although if you don't have any, we can supply some
  • Paper and pen if you want to take notes
  • Camera if you want to take pictures
  • Hat & warm clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Good comfy outdoor shoes or wellies
  • Snack - bring a health snack if you get peckish along the way
  • Bottle of water

The Coach House retreat centre aims to connect people with the natural world through mindfulness.

Participants will spend time living in community and doing mindful work or activities on the land.

We also aim to connect people with our rewilding project on the Sharpham Estate.
 

No, but there are similarities in that weekly retreats are facilitated by long-term volunteers.

The Coach House is not Buddhist but its ethos is underpinned by Buddhist philosophy.

There is a strong ecological focus for Coach House retreats.

Unlike The Barn, The Coach House programme may include some external groups running their own programmes.

More participants stay at The Coach House than at The Barn at one time, but there are additional staff to support them including a cook and gardeners.

No. The Manager is there to oversee the operation of the centre and support the Volunteer Coordinators.

They may be directly involved at times during a retreat but the majority of facilitation is done by the Volunteer Coordinators.

The Manager may have to step in if, for any reason, a Coordinator was indisposed.

The Sharpham Trust has a well-established and loyal audience so many people who have already been on our other retreats are likely to book into the Coach House.

Many people come to us on retreat because they may have poor mental health. On our website we indicate that although meditation and mindfulness can be helpful in managing stress, depression and anxiety our retreats may not be suitable for those who are experiencing major depression or other clinically-diagnosed psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder, psychosis or current self-harming. 

We have processes in place to assess this prior to attendance.  
 

Volunteer Coordinators are supported by The Coach House Manager and various members of The Sharpham Trust staff team who are responsible for programming, finance, marketing, bookings, health and safety, property management, gardening and catering.

The Sharpham Trust is governed by a board of volunteer trustees who set the overall direction and strategy.

Volunteer Coordinators are recruited to facilitate retreats for a year, living onsite, in a bungalow close to the Coach House.

Usually, there are two Coordinators facilitating, one supporting and one off.

We teach experiential mindfulness that is not aligned with any specific philosophy or tradition but which tries to embrace many different approaches.

Please view our Mindfulness at Sharpham document here

The Coach House offers contemplative mindfulness practice that is underpinned by the teachings of secular mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy as well as the modern science of psychology and neuroscience.

The Coach House runs regular weekly retreats for 18 participants interspersed with external groups who are hiring the facilities.

These external groups will be running retreats or courses and their numbers may be slightly higher.

Coordinators need to be flexible and prepared for the programme to evolve.

The gardening team organises retreatant tasks in the gardens, but with support from the Volunteer Coordinators.

Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here
 

Not necessarily as we will not be picking retreatants up from the station and food is delivered.

When supporting a retreat, coordinators will be involved from Sunday afternoon to Saturday morning. There will be some periods of time in the afternoon and evening for breaks each day. 

The initial commitment is for a 12-month period as a full-time coordinator as described above. After this there maybe the opportunity to stay on for a further four months in a Support Coordinator role with fewer hours of service commitment.

Further details regarding this can be provided by the Manager on request. Email her here: [email protected]

 

Yes. We provide:

  • expenses of £45 per week 
  • a relocation allowance of £500 at the end of the 12-month (or longer) service period (or pro rata if a shorter period)
  • monthly group support sessions
  • bi-monthly support from a dharma teacher or therapist
  • free food and accommodation
  • after 3 months of service, coordinators can participate in a Sharpham Trust retreat on their rostered week off or up to 3 months later upon completion of service period 
  • Full-time coordinators receive a share of any dana offered by retreatants.

 

What is a mindfulness meditation retreat?

Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally (Jon Kabat Zinn)

A mindfulness meditation retreat offers a valuable opportunity to step out of everyday life to focus on being rather than doing. Without our usual distractions and diversions we meet our experience as it arises with a sense of spaciousness, care and compassion.

 

When we sit in meditation we begin with developing mindfulness of our breathing to help us to steady our minds. Each time our mind wanders and we become distracted (which naturally happens), we bring our attention back to our breath. This practice of focus and awareness can be extended to encompass all of our experience including our physical sensations, thoughts, feelings and emotions. Being with our direct experience in this way can allow us insight into the nature of our lives, which in turn can lead to self-knowledge and wisdom.

Mindfulness and retreating can sometime be portrayed in the wellness industry as being all about generating a sense of calm and relaxation. Although this can sometimes be the case, another perhaps more helpful way of seeing mindfulness practice is the way in which it can support our capacity to be with and transform our difficult feelings, emotions and life challenges. In this way we can live out of awareness rather than reactivity and make better choices for our lives; cultivate positive rather than negative thoughts and feelings states and be better placed to contribute and be of benefit to the beings we share with this planet with.

What happens on a Sharpham Mindfulness Retreat?

When you come on a mindfulness retreat at Sharpham you will experience the following across all of our retreat venues:

  • Three 30-40 minute formal meditation sessions per day. This is mainly sitting meditation, some silent, some guided. Leaders can help with sitting posture which can be on a chair, stool or matt or even lying down where people might have physical difficulties.
  • Nature-based mindfulness practice either through gardening or nature-connection and nature-sensing activities on the land
  • Self-compassion or metta-based practices
  • Some mindful movement or embodiment practice
  • Periods of silence to help you deepen into mindfulness practice
  • The chance to bring mindfulness into some everyday tasks and activities
  • The opportunity to share your mindfulness experience in the supportive company of fellow retreatants (sometimes we learn the most from listening to each others experience)
  • Guidance about how to integrate mindfulness practice into your everyday life

The Sharpham Trust is a registered charity (number: 285767) and a social enterprise which endeavours to keep the costs as low as possible by subsidising various aspects of the courses and retreats.

The Barn Retreat offers 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 meditations, 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 I-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 Mindfulness for Beginners, as well as a variety of themed retreats such as seasonal, walking, silent and retreats for stress/burn-out.

The Coach House offers retreats with accommodation in a converted stable courtyard in the grounds of Sharpham House. The retreats have an ecological focus and offer an opportunity to live in community and explore the benefits of nature-based mindfulness. The daily rhythm of the retreats revolve around mindfulness, gardening and nature connection, including experience of our rewilding land.

Woodland Retreats offer a chance to stay under canvas 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.

Solo retreats are for experienced meditators and take place in The Cabin, within the grounds of The Barn Retreat Centre. They offer the chance to take a personal retreat and be immersed in solitude and nature, with daily work on the land.

All of the above retreats are set at different locations across the beautiful 550-acre Sharpham Estate with views over the River Dart in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.