forest floor

Chinese Zen Meditation Retreats, Silent Retreats

Event Calendar

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Try one of our retreats to develop your mindfulness and take the next steps to investigate the self. Our events are open equally to both Buddhists and non-Buddhists aged 18 and over and are held at various UK venues, principally England and Wales but also sometimes in Scotland. 

Walking Meditation on a zen retreat

Alongside group instruction we provide a significant amount of individual instruction through personal interviews with participants. An 'interview' is a private conversation about your meditation practice and any difficulties you are experiencing with it with one of our experienced retreat leaders. Typically each participant will be offered at least one interview opportunity during each shorter retreat and two or three during a retreat of five days or longer. This enables you to get the most out of your retreat by ensuring that you are meditating effectively and adjusting your practice according to your individual experience and circumstances.

Some of our Zen retreats ('sesshin') follow closely the traditional methods of teaching and practice, and others such as our 'Western Zen Retreat' include adaptations to match the Western mind. Our meditation retreats are usually silent retreats. We also hold other events such as conferences, local group day retreats, etc.

Event Calendar

Click an event title to view more details.

TitleFrom / ToTypeVenue
Manchester Day RetreatSun 01‑Feb‑2015Day RetreatElms Community Centre, Manchester
Silent Illumination RetreatSat 14‑Feb‑2015
Sat 21‑Feb‑2015
Residential Retreat
7 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Exeter Day RetreatSat 28‑Feb‑2015Day RetreatKenton, Exeter
Western Zen RetreatSat 07‑Mar‑2015
Thu 12‑Mar‑2015
Residential Retreat
5 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Shattering the Great DoubtSat 04‑Apr‑2015
Sat 11‑Apr‑2015
Residential Retreat
7 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Exeter Day RetreatSat 09‑May‑2015Day RetreatKenton, Exeter
Silent Illumination RetreatSat 23‑May‑2015
Sat 30‑May‑2015
Residential Retreat
7 Nights
Bala Brook Retreat Centre, Dartmoor
Emotional Awareness RetreatSat 27‑Jun‑2015
Thu 02‑Jul‑2015
Residential Retreat
5 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Shattering the Great DoubtFri 31‑Jul‑2015
Sun 09‑Aug‑2015
Residential Retreat
9 Nights
Hourne Farm, E. Sussex
Western Zen RetreatSat 01‑Aug‑2015
Thu 06‑Aug‑2015
Residential Retreat
5 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Silent Illumination RetreatFri 11‑Sep‑2015
Sun 20‑Sep‑2015
Residential Retreat
9 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Shattering the Great DoubtSat 07‑Nov‑2015
Sat 14‑Nov‑2015
Residential Retreat
7 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales
Western Zen RetreatSat 05‑Dec‑2015
Thu 10‑Dec‑2015
Residential Retreat
5 Nights
Maenllwyd, Wales

 Click to View more events and retreats which may be of interest to you but which are not organised by WCF.

Non-Residential Day Retreat
Day Retreat

Manchester Day Retreat

Day Retreat, Sunday 1st February

Leader: Simon Child, Venue: Elms Community Centre, Manchester

Manchester Chan Group day retreats ("zazenkai") are led by Simon Child Chuan-fa Jing-hong who is a Dharma heir of Chan Master Sheng-yen. Personal interviews are usually available for those who wish to discuss their Dharma practice with Simon.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Silent Illumination Retreat

7-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 14th February to Saturday 21st February 2015

Leader: Simon Child, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

Silent Illumination is a profound meditation practice which leads to a mind of great calmness and insight, using ancient Chinese Zen methods which are just as applicable to the modern West. Silent Illumination is the origin of the Japanese Soto practice of Shikantaza but is approached somewhat differently and full instruction will be given.

This seven-night silent retreat is an opportunity to learn and deepen this practice through intensive meditation, with instruction and personal guidance by individual interviews with an experienced teacher. Whether or not a breakthrough to Enlightenment may occur, establishing a practice gives a firm basis for subsequent ongoing mindfulness and compassion in everyday life.

Non-Residential Day Retreat
Day Retreat

Exeter Day Retreat

Day Retreat, Saturday 28th February

Leader: Jake Lyne, Venue: Kenton, Exeter

The retreat provides an extended period of meditation, spending the day in silence, with a Dharma talk and meditation instruction. Personal interviews are available for those who wish to discuss their Dharma practice with Jake. Lunch is in silence and is provided by each participant bringing vegetarian food to share.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Western Zen Retreat

5-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 7th March to Thursday 12th March 2015

Leader: Hilary Richards, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

Who am I? Thoroughly confronting this question can take us directly to the centre of our being. Over the course of this five-day retreat you will investigate the question "Who am I?" within a standard retreat framework, using silent meditation in conjunction with a unique method of verbal inquiry. This format allows you to use words to go beyond words and thereby enter the main gate of Chan.

The intensive nature of this process of inquiry drives each practitioner into a self-presentation that is difficult to experience in other ways. To guide and support you, personal interviews with the teachers are offered regularly throughout the retreat. With whole-hearted engagement this retreat may lead to the acceptance of self, the experience of "self at ease," and may even provide an opportunity for direct insight into the ground of being.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Shattering the Great Doubt

7-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 4th April to Saturday 11th April 2015

Leader: Simon Child, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

The ancient Chinese Zen practices of investigating Huatou and Gongan (Koan) are best practised in a supportive environment such as this intensive silent retreat. As one becomes deeply absorbed in the practice, mental constructions drop away and one is confronted by a realisation that one does not know the nature of existence and one's fundamental assumptions of life are groundless. Staying with and cultivating this 'doubt', it can become all-consuming 'Great doubt' which may 'shatter', giving a direct insight into reality which may be what is known as an Enlightenment experience.

Non-Residential Day Retreat
Day Retreat

Exeter Day Retreat

Day Retreat, Saturday 9th May

Leader: Jake Lyne, Venue: Kenton, Exeter

The retreat provides an extended period of meditation, spending the day in silence, with a Dharma talk and meditation instruction. Personal interviews are available for those who wish to discuss their Dharma practice with Jake. Lunch is in silence and is provided by each participant bringing vegetarian food to share.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Silent Illumination Retreat

7-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 23rd May to Saturday 30th May 2015

Leader: Jake Lyne, Venue: Bala Brook Retreat Centre, Dartmoor

Silent Illumination is a profound meditation practice which leads to a mind of great calmness and insight, using ancient Chinese Zen methods which are just as applicable to the modern West. Silent Illumination is the origin of the Japanese Soto practice of Shikantaza but is approached somewhat differently and full instruction will be given.

This seven-night silent retreat is an opportunity to learn and deepen this practice through intensive meditation, with instruction and personal guidance by individual interviews with an experienced teacher. Whether or not a breakthrough to Enlightenment may occur, establishing a practice gives a firm basis for subsequent ongoing mindfulness and compassion in everyday life.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Emotional Awareness Retreat

5-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 27th June to Thursday 2nd July 2015

Leader: Hilary Richards, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

Travel the Great Way on this workshop retreat inspired by the teachings of Ken Jones. We will work with emotional awareness as a fundamental Chan life practice. Rising early each day, the retreat will include teaching, silence, meditation and periods for exercise. There will be both individual and group work to encourage awareness of feelings, allowing time for exploration and understanding of emotional experience.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Shattering the Great Doubt

9-night Residential Retreat, Friday 31st July to Sunday 9th August 2015

Leader: Simon Child, Venue: Hourne Farm, E. Sussex

The ancient Chinese Zen practices of investigating Huatou and Gongan (Koan) are best practised in a supportive environment such as this intensive silent retreat. As one becomes deeply absorbed in the practice, mental constructions drop away and one is confronted by a realisation that one does not know the nature of existence and one's fundamental assumptions of life are groundless. Staying with and cultivating this 'doubt', it can become all-consuming 'Great doubt' which may 'shatter', giving a direct insight into reality which may be what is known as an Enlightenment experience.

To progress in these methods requires a sustained focus and so this retreat is recommended particularly for those with previous experience of intensive retreat, and prior attendance at a Western Zen Retreat is advisable, but serious beginners are also accepted.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Western Zen Retreat

5-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 1st August to Thursday 6th August 2015

Leader: Jake Lyne, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

Who am I? Thoroughly confronting this question can take us directly to the centre of our being. Over the course of this five-day retreat you will investigate the question "Who am I?" within a standard retreat framework, using silent meditation in conjunction with a unique method of verbal inquiry. This format allows you to use words to go beyond words and thereby enter the main gate of Chan.

The intensive nature of this process of inquiry drives each practitioner into a self-presentation that is difficult to experience in other ways. To guide and support you, personal interviews with the teachers are offered regularly throughout the retreat. With whole-hearted engagement this retreat may lead to the acceptance of self, the experience of "self at ease," and may even provide an opportunity for direct insight into the ground of being.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Silent Illumination Retreat

9-night Residential Retreat, Friday 11th September to Sunday 20th September 2015

Leader: Simon Child, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

Silent Illumination is a profound meditation practice which leads to a mind of great calmness and insight, using ancient Chinese Zen methods which are just as applicable to the modern West. Silent Illumination is the origin of the Japanese Soto practice of Shikantaza but is approached somewhat differently and full instruction will be given.

This seven-night silent retreat is an opportunity to learn and deepen this practice through intensive meditation, with instruction and personal guidance by individual interviews with an experienced teacher. Whether or not a breakthrough to Enlightenment may occur, establishing a practice gives a firm basis for subsequent ongoing mindfulness and compassion in everyday life.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Shattering the Great Doubt

7-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 7th November to Saturday 14th November 2015

Leader: Simon Child, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

The ancient Chinese Zen practices of investigating Huatou and Gongan (Koan) are best practised in a supportive environment such as this intensive silent retreat. As one becomes deeply absorbed in the practice, mental constructions drop away and one is confronted by a realisation that one does not know the nature of existence and one's fundamental assumptions of life are groundless. Staying with and cultivating this 'doubt', it can become all-consuming 'Great doubt' which may 'shatter', giving a direct insight into reality which may be what is known as an Enlightenment experience.

Residential Retreat
Residential Retreat

Western Zen Retreat

5-night Residential Retreat, Saturday 5th December to Thursday 10th December 2015

Leader: Fiona Nuttall, Venue: Maenllwyd, Wales

Who am I? Thoroughly confronting this question can take us directly to the centre of our being. Over the course of this five-day retreat you will investigate the question "Who am I?" within a standard retreat framework, using silent meditation in conjunction with a unique method of verbal inquiry. This format allows you to use words to go beyond words and thereby enter the main gate of Chan.

The intensive nature of this process of inquiry drives each practitioner into a self-presentation that is difficult to experience in other ways. To guide and support you, personal interviews with the teachers are offered regularly throughout the retreat. With whole-hearted engagement this retreat may lead to the acceptance of self, the experience of "self at ease," and may even provide an opportunity for direct insight into the ground of being.

(errors and omissions excepted)