When we trust deeply, when we know we are loved, held and safe, there is an ease and openness which emerges which allows a clear seeing. When we see clearly, when we see the genuine nature of ourselves and the world, we can relax into a deep trust in ourselves and the world. In Hebrew such trust is referred to as Emunah.
In the Jewish tradition, we as a people are defined as those who trust in the divine, in Hebrew Yisrael batach bashem. This is not in a simplistic sense of thinking everything will turn out well, but rather a sense of letting go into something wider, more beautiful and more reliable than any particular conditions or circumstances.
On this retreat we will practise developing both trust in our experience and a deep clear ‘seeing’. We will explore how this relationship of trust is both the beginning and the end of the practice: a springboard for insight, and the fruit of insight.
This retreat will include sitting meditation, walking meditation, sacred chanting, Shabbat practice, talks, Q&A and the opportunity to share experiences in small groups. Everyone is welcome, whatever experience of meditative or Jewish traditions you have or have not had.
Join us for a unique weekend dedicated to the practice of Jewish mindfulness meditation, and an experience of the Jewish path to wellbeing, wisdom and awakening. The retreat will be led by Rabbi Dr James Jacobson-Maisels, one of the world’s foremost teachers of Jewish meditation and mindfulness. Please see below for Rav James’ bio. He will be supported by members of the HaMakom faculty.
Throughout the retreat we will maintain social silence (see the “Social Silence” tab above for an explanation of this). The retreat will also include periods of Qi Gong movement practice led by Matthew Rosen Marsh. Matthew works as a Clinical Psychologist and has been practising Qi Gong for 12 years. There will be space and time for davening (prayer), for those that wish to. We welcome people of all ages, of all faiths or none, beginners or experienced practitioners or anything in between.
Our venue is: St. Cassian’s Centre, Wallingtons Road, Kintbury, Berkshire RG17 9SR.
About Rabbi Dr James Jacobson-Maisels
Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels Ph.D. is the founder and executive director of Or HaLev: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation (http://orhalev.org). He has been studying and teaching meditation and Jewish spirituality for more than twenty five years. He received his Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago and rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Daniel Landes, the Rosh Yeshiva of Pardes. He was the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Romemu Yeshiva and has taught and innovated programs in Jewish thought, mysticism, spiritual practices and meditation at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Haifa University, Yeshivat Hadar and in a variety of settings around the world. He strives to integrate his study and practice and to help teach and live Judaism as a spiritual discipline.
If you have a question, or you would like to discuss something, we welcome hearing from you. Please contact Zac: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The retreat will begin at 3.30pm on Friday 28 April and will end at 2.00pm on Monday 1 May 2023.
Please arrive at St. Cassian’s Retreat Centre no earlier than 2.15pm on Friday 28 April.
We endeavour to keep costs as low as possible, and 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/), outside the village of Kintbury in Berkshire. This includes all meals and accommodation (in double rooms and with shared bathrooms).
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 us so that we can explore what arrangements will support you. We aim to accommodate everyone’s dietary and kashrut requirements, as best we can.
We also 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.
We also offer an onsite camping option. Please be in touch if you would like to know more about this.
*At the end of the retreat you will have the opportunity to give a donation to support the livelihood of the teacher. The registration fee you pay goes towards the retreat’s operating costs. It does not include payment to Rav James.*
Retreat Rates (for onsite and offsite accommodation)
The rates for this retreat are at three levels: Standard, Scholarship and Supporter.
Standard Rate: the Standard Rate is £239 and covers the basic running costs of the retreat. If you choose accommodation that is offsite, the Standard Rate is £194.
Scholarship Rate: the Scholarship Rate is £155, and is available to all who cannot afford the Standard rate.
Supporter Rate: the Supporter Rate is £325. If you choose accommodation that is offsite, the Supporter Rate is £280.
The Supporter rate 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, to come on the retreat at a subsidised ‘scholarship’ rate. We are deeply grateful to all those who allow us to offer scholarship rates to those who need them. In so doing these supporters make more widely accessible the practices for grounding and healing, rooted in the Jewish tradition, which we are privileged to share.
If you cannot afford the Scholarship rate please contact Zac at: email@example.com. No one will be turned away because of their financial circumstances.
Single Room: We have 10 rooms available for single occupancy at a supplement of £75 to whichever rate you choose. It will be first-booked, first-served, so please do book early if you would like a bedroom to yourself.
Update: We have made some more single rooms available due to high demand. We can only guarantee them to those who have already registered for one. If you would like to book a single room and have not yet done so, you can request and pay for one through the registration form. If possible, you will be allocated one. If this is not possible, the single room supplement will be refunded to you in full.
Cancellations up to 2 weeks in advance are fully refundable. Cancellations less than 2 weeks in advance are not refundable. However, if you have to cancel less than 2 weeks in advance on Covid-19-related grounds, please contact us and we can discuss this individually.
Details of offsite accommodation:
The two hotels below are approx. a 10 minute drive from the retreat centre.
Three Swans Hotel
117 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0LZ
Tel: 01488 682721
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.
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.
Being in Peace & Quiet / Social Silence
You are invited to experience the retreat in peace & quiet/social silence. This means that after Friday night dinner until Monday afternoon, we invite you to observe silence at all times.
Spending time in silence can be a 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. Each person will also have the opportunity for 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.