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Weekend retreat: Opening the Heart

Compassion for self and others

7 February 2025 at 14:00 to 9 February 2025 at 14:00

line drawing of people at a retreat

A long-weekend retreat from your own home. You’ll be supported to deepen your mindfulness and compassion practice and experience stillness and silence. A chance to open your heart and listen to your deep intentions.

Brief overview

This retreat will offer mindfulness and compassion practices designed to deepen self-care and our intention to benefit others. There will be a mix of teaching, guided and unguided practice, inquiry and time off. Most of the weekend will be held in silence with opportunities for sharing in small online groups. 

Where is it?  


Who is the retreat for? 

The retreat is designed for people with some experience of mindfulness and/or compassion practice who want to deepen their practice in a supportive, safe environment. As a minimum, participants should have done an eight-week mindfulness-based or compassion-based course and have an established, regular practice of their own. It is also a great opportunity for more experienced mindfulness-based and compassion-based teachers. The retreat will count towards the annual retreat requirement for teachers and supervisors on the BAMBA Register. 

Retreat leaders

Paul Johanson is a social worker, mindful self-compassion teacher and cognitive analytic therapist in private practice. He has worked in many areas of health and social care, including criminal justice, substance misuse, serious mental illness, psychological therapies, cancer and palliative care.

Paul has worked as a strategic leader for the NHS in implementing national programmes in mental health, psychological therapies and patient experience. Paul is a long-term Buddhist practitioner, beginning his journey over 35 years ago in the Rinzai Zen Buddhist tradition, and has been a student in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism since 1991. He has been the Buddhist Chaplain at the University of Sussex since 2013.

Robert Marx is co-lead for the Sussex Mindfulness Centre and leads the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in Talking Therapies in NHS services training centres collaboration. He is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist and has been teaching mindfulness to patients and staff in the NHS for 18 years. He teaches MBCT and Mindful Self-Compassion.  He has been practising Buddhist meditation for over 30 years, initially in the Theravadan tradition and then in the Tibetan tradition.  He is passionate about building compassionate cultures in organisations and about integrating relational and mindful approaches to work. 

How much does it cost? 

If you book by 1 October 2024 you can get the Early Bird discount and pay just £190. From 2 October 2024 onwards the cost is £220.

How do I apply?

  1. Please request an application form from smc@spft.nhs.uk, and when completed return it to the same email address. The purpose of this is to understand what we need to know to support you properly. If we have any concerns about anything in your form, we will contact you.
  2. On offering you a place we will issue an invoice for the full amount.
  3. Your place is confirmed once we receive full payment. Please note the terms below for refunds.
  4. Any bursary reductions will be offered by 1 Dec 2024, and earlier if possible.

Are bursaries and payment instalments available? 

Once we break even, we will offer reductions to those who request them in their application form. These are likely to be very modest and we won’t know what we can offer until fairly near the start of the retreat. We can offer payment in two instalments.

Please contact smc@spft.nhs.uk to request a bursary or to pay in instalments. Any bursary reductions will be offered by 1 Dec 2024, and earlier if possible.

What is the cancellation policy?

You may withdraw your application up to three months prior to the event start date (i.e. on or before 7 Nov 2024) at which point you will be offered a full refund, minus £30 admin fee.

If you cancel your place less than three months before the event start date (i.e. after 7 Nov 2024), no refund will be available.

In the unlikely event that the event has to be cancelled by us, we will offer an alternative retreat, either residential or online, or a refund. Our liability is limited to crediting only our event fees, and not any personal expenses you may have incurred.