Frequently Asked Questions - Solitary retreats

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

    The Barn Retreat offers 5-night 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-night Mindfulness for Beginners, as well as a variety of themed retreats such as walking, silent and for stress/burn-out.

    Coach House Retreats offers 6 night retreats with accommodation in a converted stable couryard 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.

    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.

    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.

  • Will I be working whilst in The Kuti or The Cabin?

    As part of your stay in The Kuti, we ask that you work approximately two hours each day on the upkeep of your accommodation, the surrounding woodland and the vegetable garden.

  • What if someone needs to get hold of me in an emergency?

    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.

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

  • How do I eat and drink there?

    The Kuti has a propane camp stove for you to use. You will have access to a fully-stocked organic and vegetarian pantry in The Barn. Your midday meal is provided by The Barn retreat, and can be picked up at The Barn in a thermos tiffin flask.

    We can accommodate gluten-free and/or vegan dietary needs. However, our kitchen is neither gluten 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.

    Our water is provided from our own spring, UV treated and filtered.

  • When should I arrive to stay in The Kuti?

    If you have not stayed at The Kuti before, it is important that you meet with a Barn Coordinator to receive the information you need.

    Please arrive between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday.

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

    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


  • Why are Sharpham retreats so cheap?

    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.

  • What is and where is The Kuti?

    The Kuti is a small, rustic building in woodland near The Barn retreat centre.

    It has no electricity and candles and torches are provided.

    The Kuti has no running water, though there is water nearby.

    There is a wood burner inside for heat. Clean bedding and wood are provided.

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

  • What is a Mindfulness Meditation Retreat?

    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