Introduction To Samatha Meditation: A Course in Sri Lanka

Meditation Retreat in Sri Lanka 2018

We are pleased to announce that there will be a seven day beginners Samatha meditation retreat in Sri Lanka from Friday 29th June to Saturday 7th July taken by Dr Francis Beresford.  This event will take place at the Ambuluwawa Retreat Centre, (elevation ~1500’) Gampola, that belongs to Sri Subodharamaya in Kandy. This will be the 8th course of this kind which has been run in Sri Lanka.  The first of these was in 2011/12 taken by the late Lance Cousins, and Dr Beresford then took retreats in 2013 and 2014. 

There have been meditation practices for millennia and some of these were used and developed by the Buddha. In particular, he advocated the use of breathing mindfulness 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.  In this school of Samatha practice, 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.  Alongside the practice of developing the sixteen stages of the practice, meditators may also be encouraged to pursue other areas of development. These might include such things as walking practice, chanting, mindful work, physical activities, Dhamma discussion and periods of silence.

         Places are strictly limited to around 12 in total due to accommodation constraints.  One to two external participants from abroad may join at the cost of £150, particularly to meet the teacher’s air-fare.  The cost for locals would be RS12,500.  Prices include the possibility of return transport to Colombo.

         There is a pleasant guest-house about 30 minutes from this centre, where familiar tourists could stay and may contribute by joining us for chanting etc with no formal charge in the context of the retreat.  Apart from opportunities to explore Sri Lanka, flights can be booked locally to Asia often more cheaply than from the UK.  Those wishing to donate to support the teacher’s airfare are invited to do so.  For applications, inquiries and donations, please contact  Rajith


About the teacher: Dr Francis Beresford was born in Buckinghamshire, England and started practising meditation regularly in 1978 while training at the University of Manchester.  He considers himself extremely fortunate to have found a meditation class teaching the samatha/vipassana practice originally introduced to Britain in 1963 by Nai Boonman Poonyathiro.  His first teachers were Charles Shaw and Keith Munnings followed by Lance Cousins and more recently Nai Boonman.  He is a long standing member of the Samatha Trust, which fosters this practice, and is a past chairman and President of the Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation.  He has been teaching meditation for 27 years and has taken a number of retreats in Wales & Sri Lanka and has been invited to give public talks on Buddhism.  He has a long standing interest in Buddhist theory from both Abhidhamma and Sutta traditions.   In 2001 he took a four-month sabbatical from work and ordained as an Upasampada Buddhist monk at Rama IX temple in Bangkok spending part of his stay at a forestry monastery in the North-East Thailand.  He has strong memories of the deep sense of happiness and peace that the homeless life gave him.  Dr Beresford has worked as a Principal in General Practice in Manchester since 1986.  His particular interests include depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol problems and how Buddhist theory and practice can help in the understanding and treatment of these conditions. He has travelled to Thailand several times as a member of the Samatha Chanting Group.  He lives in Manchester with his wife, Kasia, whom he married in 2006.