Silent Retreats – March 2016
The last Silent Retreat for healthcare practitioners in Kent earlier this year was led by Dr Craig Brown, retired GP, former chair of the BHMA, and former President of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers (NFSH), and member of the University of the Third Age (U3A). The topic was ‘Mindfulness and Meditation’, a course so oversubscribed at U3A that Craig has to run it as three parallel sessions.
He took us through some easy-to-learn awareness exercises, such as counting the breath, and being in the moment which can create the pathway to wider meditation experiences.
This is the ninth retreat – and the sixth silent day – at Quiet View – a registered Quiet Garden in Kingston, near Canterbury. The format includes a one hour talk by the retreat leader and three hours of silence. Other retreats have been led by Rev Lizzie Hopthrow, Nannette Jackson, Philippa Blackham and myself.
Participants seem to value greatly the spiritual atmosphere, the circular tented space of the yurt, and the beautiful gardens. The different speakers have shared a variety of spiritual practices, with the emphasis on being inclusive, and they also described how they integrate spirituality into their life and work.
The silent days evolved out of a series of seminars and retreats put on by the Kent Group of the Janki Foundation, starting in January 2009, with the launch of the JF Values in Healthcare project in Kent, at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital Post Graduate Centre, followed by ‘Empowering the Practitioner’ (July 2009) and ‘Thriving under Pressure’ in November 2010.
Since 2011, the all-season yurt and gardens at the Quiet View have become home to Kent JF events. Retreat into Peace (October 2011), Retreat into Compassion (June 2012) and A Summer Retreat for Healthcare Practitioners (June 2013) were the initial VIHASA based day retreats which I later felt inspired to simplify to silent days. We plan to continue running four retreats a year, on a not-for-profit basis, for the time being for people from all professional and spiritual backgrounds.
Future retreats: ‘Compassion for Ourselves and Others: Thursday 5/5/16- Dr Julia Ronder, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion.
Thursday 7/7/15 Rev Philippa Blackham, Interfaith Minister, and Previous Presenter and Producer, BBC Woman’s Hour.
Dr Julia Ronder, co-ordinator of Kent VIHASA Group of the Janki Foundation for Spirituality in Healthcare