The Big Picture

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This six-day retreat draws on key Buddhist teachings to explore how our present-moment experience is constructed.

These teachings include the Buddha’s outline of the ‘five aggregates’ (khandhas) which are often used as his answer to the question ‘what is a person’? Instead of being some sort of ‘permanent’ entity, we are all the sum of our own unique experiences and characteristics – which are usefully broken down into five different nominal categories, or khandhas.

The other framework we’ll explore is that on ‘dependent arising’ (paṭicca samuppāda). Here, the Buddha describes the process of becoming and how we are born with certain drives – such as the desire to want to discover who we are. We develop a ‘world view’ and go through life using it to filter our perceptions – often to our overall detriment. The Buddha suggests ways in which we can learn to notice, challenge and change our own ingrained patterns of thinking and reacting in this way and ultimately free ourselves from their limiting grasp.

Together, these teachings map the complexity of our own experience – opening up possibilities for insight and transforming stress-patterns that run through our everyday lives. Both address what Buddhist psychology calls ‘becoming’ and ‘identification’, offering specific tools and a pragmatic approach to freeing ourselves from unhelpful self-constructs and the suffering that these entail.

Important: This stand-alone and dana-based retreat is part of our Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness programme. However, it is possible to attend only this one.

Event Details

Additional Information:

  • Mornings will be dedicated to silent, sustained practice. Afternoons and evenings will be opportunities for collective inquiry and personal practice.
  • Participants are asked to contribute 1 hour of work a day, in order to help with the running of the centre
  • A limited number of bursary places are available for each module


The retreat, while primarily aimed at people teaching Mindfulness Based Approaches or in training to do so, is also open to people with experience of previous silent meditation retreats who are interested in the dialogue between the early teachings of mindfulness and contemporary approaches.


  • This retreat is offered on a dana basis – you will be asked to make an additional monetary donation at the end of the course to support the livelihood of the teacher
  • If paying a deposit – balance to be paid no later than 4 weeks before the module start
  • A limited number of Bursary places are available for this course



YUKA NAKAMURA has practised Buddhist meditation in different traditions since 1993, has a PhD in Developmental Psychology and is a certified MBSR-teacher. Trained as a Buddhist meditation teacher by Fred von Allmen she teaches meditation at Beatenberg (Switzerland), Gaia House (UK), Insight Meditation Society (Barre, MA) and other places. Yuka offers MBSR-courses and MBI-trainings at the CFM Zentrum für Achtsamkeit (CH).


Jaya new
began meditating in the 1980s and practised for eight years as a nun in the Thai Forest tradition in England with Ven. Ajahn Sumedho as her teacher.  She later trained to teach at Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock in the US and continues to teach Insight Meditation at these centres, at home in the UK and internationally. She is a member of the Gaia House Teacher Council. Jaya also teaches qigong.