All overseas travel has been cancelled, in line with governmental advice on COVID-19.
Therefore the planned retreat to Sri Lanka has been postponed for 2020.
We are hopeful that the retreat will take place in 2021.
Please re-visit this information for updates later on this year.
We are pleased to announce that there will be a seven-day Introduction to Samatha meditation retreat in Sri Lanka from before lunch on Saturday 20th June to lunchtime Saturday 27th June 2020, taken by Keith Munnings, under the aegis of the Samatha Association, a registered charity in the UK and the USA (www.samatha.org).
This retreat will take place at the Sri Subodha Meditation Centre in Gampola, Sri Lanka. Accommodation is available as individual kutis or individual rooms in blocks and vegetarian food is provided.
The cost for those from outside Sri Lanka is $200 (£155) and LKR16,000 for locals. Reductions can be considered and suitable medicants accepted free of charge supported by donations. There will be up to about 12 participants including the teacher.
As this is a retreat for beginners you may freely share this with those who may be interested. Contact the organiser Rajith via firstname.lastname@example.org (Twitter @Kalandakanivapa, DM possible) in the first instance.
This will be the ninth course of this kind run in Sri Lanka, the first of these was in 2011/12 taken by the late Lance Cousins.
There have been meditation practices around for millennia and some of these were used and developed by the Buddha. In particular, he advocated the use of breathing mindfulness (ānāpansāti) as a technique that is suitable for most people and which, when cultivated and developed, is of great benefit. It helps to bring about both calm (samatha) and insight (vipassanā) which, when combined together, bring about greater happiness and freedom and, ultimately, liberation. The roots of this samatha practice reach far back into the history of Buddhism in South Asia and the Khmer Empire, predating the ‘reforms’ of the early 19th century and the 1950s onwards. It shares many characteristics of the Yogāvacara path; the practices of spiritual exercises (especially jhāna) earnestly and at home with endeavour.
In this school of Samatha, the emphasis is primarily on developing ever deeper states of calm through mindfulness of breathing so that insight might arise naturally. However, both calm and insight come into play and either may take precedence at any given time. So, in order to assist the development of the practice, meditators regularly report to a meditation teacher who can offer individual guidance. The opportunity to report online (via skype) will be available to meditators after the retreat.
Alongside the practice of developing the sixteen stages of breathing mindfulness, meditators may also be encouraged to pursue other areas of development. These might include such things as walking practice, maintaining periods of silence, mindful work, physical activities, dhamma talks on Buddhist Psychology and dhamma discussion including some exploration of the role of Ahbidhamma in supporting meditation practice.
Keith Munnings lives in Derbyshire, England. He has practised Samatha meditation since 1973 and has taught the practice for over thirty years. This has included running a number of one-week residential practice weeks in mid-Wales and Sri Lanka, He has taught weekly Buddhist meditation classes and run study groups in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Stockport. Keith was involved from the early days of developing the Samatha Association in the UK and took responsibility for running programmes of mindful work sessions as an adjunct to meditation practice and as a means of completing building work and decoration of the meditation centres in Manchester and mid-Wales. In recent years he has been working in hospitals and universities as a Buddhist Chaplain and has been involved in developing training programmes to develop the pastoral skills of those interested in this work. Keith has a large family and enjoys life as a grandparent.