Full Details of our Annual Spring Retreat - May 2020

A Space for Wellbeing, Wisdom & Awakening

The HaMakom Annual Spring Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Retreat

Thursday 7th May - Sunday 10th May, 2020

Join us for a unique long weekend dedicated to the practice of Jewish mindfulness meditation, and an experience of the Jewish path to wellbeing, wisdom & awakening. The retreat will be led by HaMakom faculty members Rabbi Dr James Jacobson Maisels, one of the world’s leading teachers of Jewish meditation and spiritual practice, Bev Cohen, Rabbi Danny Newman, Gidon Fineman & Mika Hadar. (for details of the faculty see: https://hamakom.community/our-team/ and  https://www.orhalev.org/our-team.html).

Together we will explore how the practice of mindfulness meditation gives us insight and wisdom into the nature of our experience and our minds, and helps us cultivate the qualities of wellbeing, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and others. Daily instruction in meditation will help guide all participants from beginners through to advanced practitioners into the sacred space of the retreat process. There will be daily talks and teachings,  Q & A sessions, as well as small group meetings and private interviews with the instructors.

Throughout the retreat, we will maintain social silence (see the “Social Silence” tab above for an explanation). The retreat also offers, on an optional basis, daily periods of Subtle Yoga led by Mika Hadar (see: https://www.subtleyoga.co.uk/), chanting led by Rabbi James (see: https://www.orhalev.org/chanting.html) and devotional practice. There will be space and time for those who follow the traditional rules of davening to fulfil their obligations. We welcome people of all ages, and of all faiths or none, as well as beginners through to experienced practitioners.

The retreat will begin at 5.30pm on Thursday 7 May and end at 2pm on Sunday 10 May 2020.

Please arrive at the Retreat centre any time from 2pm on Thursday 7 May and no later than 4.30pm.

Registration will be from 3pm to 5pm.

HaMakom endeavours to keep costs as low as possible and aims to be accessible to everyone, regardless of financial circumstances. The price of our retreats is set to reflect just the basic costs of arranging the retreat at the beautiful St. Cassian’s Retreat Centre (https://www.thekintburyexperience.com/) just outside the village of Kintbury in Berkshire, and includes all meals and basic accommodation (in twin rooms and with shared bathrooms) There are a small number of single rooms available with a supplement payable. These will be offered on a first come first served basis. You will have the option to choose a single room on the registration page. However, because of the limited number of such rooms we apologise that we cannot guarantee you will get one. Your supplement will be repaid if a single room is not available.

The meals provided by the Retreat Centre will all be vegetarian. We are also able to offer vegan, dairy free and gluten free options. If this does not suit your kashrut practice please contact Rabbi Danny (rabbidanny@hamakom.community) so that we can let you know what arrangements we are making for strictly kosher participants.

If you require your own room and bathroom, we offer the option for you to be an offsite participant and to arrange your own accommodation. If you prefer this option you will pay a reduced rate and will need to make your own accommodation arrangements. Please see details below of hotels that participants have previously stayed in.   Alternatively, some participants have had success finding accommodation through www.airbnb.com.

In the Jewish tradition of Generosity/Chesed, the teachings at this retreat are offered freely and many people give of their time and energy to help support the work of HaMakom. At the end of the retreat, you will have the opportunity to give a donation to the teachers who have guided your retreat and to offer financial support to HaMakom.

Retreat Rates (for onsite and offsite accommodation):

The prices for this retreat are at three different levels: Standard; Supported and Sponsor Rates:

The Standard Rate is £204 and covers the basic running costs of the retreat. If you choose accommodation that is offsite, the Standard Rate is £134.

The Supported Rate is £129 and is available on request to all who cannot afford the Standard Rate. (No financial details required.)

The Sponsor Rate is £274 and is an invitation to help keep HaMakom accessible to all, by paying a higher rate, and thereby enabling those who would not otherwise be able, to come on the retreat by paying a subsidised rate. On behalf of those that you help we are extremely grateful for your generosity. If you choose accommodation that is offsite, the Sponsor Rate is: £204.

Details of offsite accommodation:
Both hotels below are appox. a 10 minute drive from the retreat centre.

Three Swans Hotel
117 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0LZ
Tel: 01488 682721

The Bear
Charnham Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0EL
Tel: 0845 6086040

There is also a more expensive hotel in the village of Kintbury itself, a few minutes’ drive from the retreat centre:

The Dundas Arms
Tel: +44 (0) 1488 658 263
53 Station Road, Kintbury Hungerford RG17 9UT

IMPORTANT: Please make your own arrangements with the hotel if you choose to stay offsite and let us know where you will be staying.

Being in Peace & Quiet / Social Silence

You are invited to experience the Retreat in peace & quiet/social silence. This means that after Thursday night dinner until we break the silence on Sunday morning, we invite you to observe silence at all times.

Spending time in silence can be a very powerful way to support the deepening of meditative calm and insight. Being together in this way is an opportunity for us to explore a degree of solitude, while having the support of the group.

Being in silence can foster a sense of safety and refuge. Through letting go of the familiar world of words we can give ourselves the opportunity to find space from the complexity of personal interaction, and to see our mind and its activity more clearly.

Experiencing life directly, rather than through language and concepts allows us to develop insight into the way things are. This direct seeing is the foundation for inner peace, wisdom and compassion.

There will be periods each day for asking questions with the whole group. Each person will also have the opportunity for a private or small group time with one of the teachers over the weekend, where you can describe your practice and discuss anything that is arising for you.

We will explain how the silence will work, what to do if you need to speak to someone and answer any questions at the start of the retreat.

The Benefits of Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

(from: The Institute for Jewish Spirituality)

We are dedicated  to introducing this practice into the Jewish world for several reasons:

  • to enliven and enhance Jewish prayer, celebration, ritual and community;
  • to be part of working for the betterment of our fragile and vulnerable planet; and
  • to recognize the true and deep sources of happiness in a world filled with seductive, competing and ultimately unsatisfying short-term fixes.

How can Mindfulness Meditation Help?

Mindfulness meditation is training the mind. Just as we go to the gym to make our bodies stronger and more flexible, so mind training helps make our minds more spacious, perceptive and most of all free.

We train our capacity to pay attention by turning our attention, like a flashlight, on our own minds. This helps us see more clearly the nature of our own minds. We become aware of the patterns and habits that run our lives but have not been previously visible.

We begin to realize that these patterns and habits may serve our goals, desires, and purposes – but often they do not. We start to realize that there actually is a “pause button” built into our system. This pause button can be activated when we become triggered by an event outside ourselves and are tempted to act in reactive, patterned and unskilful ways.

The “pause button” wakes us up, creates a space in our mind where we can ask the question: ”What is the skilful, wholesome, wise, goal oriented action I need to take in this moment?” “What are my choices here?” The development of this capacity for inner freedom is why we train in mindfulness. This can be profoundly useful in our lives, especially in our relationships, and in any task we undertake to realize our dreams or express our creativity.

By cultivating attention, we are also able to feel more satisfied with each moment of our experience.

We learn to rest in this moment as it unfolds.

We learn to bring our awareness to the flow of energy in the body which is the very miracle of our aliveness. We learn to be more receptive to the fullness of each moment, rather than resisting what has already occurred or projecting what is not yet here. We learn to notice the arising and passing of all experience, recognizing how short and precious this life is.

We learn to treasure each day for the miracle it is. This is itself a source of happiness. According to modern neuroscience, the mind is a dynamic flow of experiences rather than a fixed state. When we experience this for ourselves, we feel less isolated, less caught in judgment and adversity, and more open to the mystery and majesty of this very life.

Source: www.jewishspirituality.org/our-spiritual-practices/jewish-meditation


Intensive Meditation retreats can be a beautiful and powerful journey of healing and transformation. However, due to the intensity of the experience it is not necessarily safe and appropriate for everyone. We therefore ask potential participants to be aware of the following: If you have suffered a manic episode in the last six months this retreat is not safe and appropriate for you. Please do join us on retreat when there has been more than six months since your last manic episode. If you have ever received a diagnosis of psychosis, intensive meditation retreat is not safe and appropriate for you. If you have a history of trauma or serious mental health difficulties, retreat may be appropriate and beneficial for you; it is important that you be in touch with us in advance to ensure that this retreat will be appropriate and supportive for you. We want to make retreat as welcoming as possible and we look forward to hearing from you.

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Email: rabbidanny@hamakom.community

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