Zen Mindfulness & Small Circle Yang Style Tai Chi : Pisa, Tuscany, Italy : May 5th-11th 2017
This retreat holiday is open to anyone with an interest in exploring Zen Mindfulness & Meditation in stillness, movement and connection with others.
It will be a chance to experience Zen Mindfulness and Small Circle Yang Style Tai Chi on a personal scale in a small friendly group.
The Retreat will comprise :
- About 16 Hours of Meditation Sitting, some guided, some not.
- 15-20 Hours of day time Tai Chi based Movement and other Mindfulness based activities
- 6 Nights Accommodation, Rooms are twin bedded. Sharing may be necessary.
- Evening dinners will be prepared by a caterer provided by the house.
We will probably have lunch out in the village restaurants each day (not included in the fee), and prepare breakfast amongst ourselves. We can create a kitty to buy extras for breakfast from the local supermarket. I will provide basics.
There will also be plenty of time to socialise and chat and enjoy the surrounding countryside .
What I aim for with this retreat is to find a healthy balance between silent meditative time and social contact and connection with group members and the local Tuscan culture!
The villa has a real home feeling to it, so it will not be like a formal meditation retreat, but from experience on our last course, members found their practice deepening day by day.
This makes for a pragmatic and useful experience, relevant to daily life, but still allowing most of the benefits of a silent retreat.
It is also a much more gentle experience suitable for those who might not be comfortable with a total silence retreat.
The meditation part of the course is based on a fusion of Zen and Western Mindfulness, both of which influence my own practice. I combine my teaching with my Tai Chi which brings the Mindfulness into the body and daily movement.
This will not be a full Mindfulness course, I don't want to teach the cognitive aspects in a formal way, but we will pass through the stages of the course with different themes each day, and we can discuss the topics informally over dinner or afterwards if participants wish.
My Zen Mindfulness courses are divided up into six modules, the titles of which are:
- It is Good that You Are
- You are a Sensitive Human Being, not a Doing
- You are also the Dark Side
- Because the Wind loves to Caress the Leaves of the Trees
- You are 'An Open Heart' – Abide where there is no Abiding
- Love is all there is.
There are also influences from Japanese Ki Master Akinobu Kishi and Brazilian Dance Therapy teacher Pio Campo.
I call this Zen Mindfulness or Contemporary Zen.
I see Zen Mindfulness as a spiritual practice and not as a religious one. As such the course is open to anyone of any religious or non-religious persuasion. We will bow to each other at times (Gassho) and to the group, but otherwise there won't be any other ritualised activity.
The course is suitable for people who don't have an existing meditative practice, but at the same time, those who do have a meditative practice are most welcome. This retreat will allow individuals to find their own way.
Many of the meditations will be guided, especially at the beginning, and then we will gradually progress towards more independent meditation practice.
Each evening, there will be an informal group discussion of the day's practice if we wish, and possibly a short talk on a relevant aspect of the Western Mindfulness and Buddhist teachings.
We are aiming for a reasonably gentle experience. The meditation practice may be done on a cushion or chair.
The morning and early evening sittings will last for about an hour each. We will sit for periods of 20-25min at a time, with 5 minutes walking practice as a break before sitting for the second time. We'll also sit before lunch for 25 min and before bed.
During the daytime Mindfulness based activity classes we will explore the Tai Chi movement system, which complements the meditation practice and deepens it. The movement I teach is based on my personal training over many years with Small Circle Yang Tai Chi teacher Yang Dong Bao. I will also share some Qi Gong practices.
Taoist Ba Duan Jin is a beautiful Qi Gong sequence which takes about 10 minutes to do and is easy to learn. This is one of the oldest health exercises in China and has been used in various forms by most martial artists in China to strengthen and open their bodies.
Traditional Small Circle Tai Chi is an incredibly gentle form of Tai Chi, with emphasis placed on the yin aspects, which nourish our vitality.
It is ideal for developing Qi sensitivity as well as strengthening the Dantian or Hara. It is also a great complement to sitting meditation and most of my students have found that it helps their meditations.
It is suitable for those new to Tai Chi as well as practitioners who seek to connect more deeply with their Tai Chi movement.
The retreat fits into a Saturday evening to Friday morning holiday schedule so you can fly out to Pisa on the Friday evening or Saturday morning, spend most the day in Pisa or Lucca then make your way to the house for the Saturday evening.
The following weekend could then be spent exploring Tuscany before flying out on the Sunday.
About the Teacher
Anthony (45) is British and has spent much of his adult life in India, Thailand & China exploring Vipassana & Zen Meditation, Yang & Chen Style Tai Chi, and many different styles of therapy and bodywork.
He also completed a Mindfulness Teacher training course with Breathworks in the UK between 2013 and 2015.
He practiced and taught Modern Yang Style Tai Chi for 10 years and then spent a further six years learning Traditional Small Circle Tai Chi in China. He has been teaching Zen Mindfulness courses for the past year in Luxembourg.
His main teachers are Father Ama Samy for Zen, Yang Dong Bao for Tai Chi and Akinobu Kishi for Sei Ki.
The retreat will start on Saturday 1st October around supper time, 6.00pm. We will end the following Friday after breakfast.
We will gather for an introductory session after supper on the Saturday.
The schedule for the week (Mon-Fri) will be :
- 07.30-08.30 : Zen Mindfulness Sitting
- 10.00-11.30 : Morning Activity Class - Tai Chi
- 11.30-12.00 : Zen Mindfulness Sitting or Lunch Preparation
- 15.00-16.30 : Afternoon Activity Class
- 17.30-18.30 : Zen Mindfulness Sitting
- Dinner / Supper
- 20.00-21.00 : Informal Sharing & Teaching
- 21.00-21.30 : Zen Mindfulness Sitting
Nb. This is just to provide an idea. The final schedule may have to vary slightly to fit in with the meal timing and what we want as a group!
The retreat will be taught in English.
Accommodation & Food
Accommodation will be in double or twin bedded rooms. Sharing with another person of the same sex may be necessary depending on the number of attendees.
The food will be vegetarian in the house. We can eat as we wish while out in the village.
The Location - Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
The Location - Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
Firenze is also close by and it's worth spending some time there if you've not been already.
Getting to the Centre
The nearest airport is Pisa. Pisa is used by EasyJet, Ryanair and other airlines.
It is an easy taxi journey from the airport or the city centre to the villa in Calci. Costing 25-30 Eur.
Course Training Fee & Details
The fee for this course is 750 Eur. A deposit of 150 Eur is required to secure your place. The remainder is payable one month before the retreat, (before September the 1st).
This covers attendance on the course and accommodation for six nights. Flights, transfers and any other expenses are the responsibility of the individual participant.
Evening meals will be provided by the house caterer.
Lunches will be either be out in the village cafes or restaurants or arranged by the group at the house. Great Italian meals usually cost 10-15 Eur. Lunches are not covered in the price, but I will help with the cost of basic provisions for breakfast at the house. We can create a kitty amongst ourselves to buy extra treats! On the last retreat, we did enjoy local wine in the evenings and why not... the secret is not too much.
Course numbers are limited to 8 people, so please reserve your place if you wish to be sure of attending.
Reservation & Payments
Paypal securely handles card payments and there is no need to register with Paypal itself.
Nb. Your deposit payment secures your place on the course and is non-refundable. Payments for the remaining amount may be refundable at our discretion but may be subject to administration fees.
Please contact me to book or if you have any queries.