Autumn Retreat

Register Here

Friday September 22nd starting at 5:30pm
to Sunday September 24th at 4:00pm | 2023
at Sarana Springs near Chatsworth, ON

In Person Fee: $375 (includes catering, accommodations extra, see below)

The retreat fee includes a portion that goes directly towards Sarana Institute, which supports us and allows our work to thrive, as well as a portion to our teacher that supports his work.

  • Tend to Mindfulness daily with both seated and walking practices
  • Contemplate Compassion for self and others
  • Practice Deep Listening with this partially silent retreat
  • Invite nature connection into your daily awareness practices

Register Here for our Autumn Retreat

Mindfulness + Compassion Skills in Nature builds a foundation for loving kindness and a deepening of our sense of interrelationship and oneness.

If you are a beginner to meditation and mindfulness practice, we ask that you contact (Rev.) Andrew, our Retreat Director to discuss your practice and how this can be of best support to you.

An invitation from (Rev.) Andrew Blake and Sarana Institute:

Every year, we gather at Sarana Springs for our autumnal weekend of self-reflection, some silence, and a time to step away from our everyday lives. We become a community, a “sangha,” that holds us no matter where we are personally or where we are in the stream of our meditation practice, beginner or seasoned practitioner alike. In the early days of our centre, Angie’s first husband, Alido, one of three founders, had a vision of the “Earth as a healer.”  Simply said: Our wholeness and interbeing become known through time with nature

Something happens in our hearts, mind, and body when we awaken our interior awareness in nature. We settle, relax, and even find a surprising space to let go of what we hold onto. We become attuned to the natural world, and gradually the heart-mind becomes synchronized with nature’s rhythm rather than our racing and ruminating mind. During a retreat, we step away from our busy lives, and our inner life becomes more vivid and real.

  • The program runs from 5 pm Friday until 4 pm Sunday
  • Fees include all meals (primarily vegetarian). Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions
  • Sarana Springs is a 171-acre refuge and very hilly. Come with appropriate footwear.
  • Camping is available, or book your space in a local B + B.

There are many stories about Buddha in nature. Ancient trees witnessed his enlightenment and his death.  He once said that the fortunate practitioner is one who spends time meditating in a forest of trees. Thich Nhat Hanh invites us to “imagine trees standing together in a forest. They don’t talk, but they feel each other’s presence”. During Shakyamuni’s final awakening, he realized he was utterly alone and asked the Earth to be his witness.

So that’s what we’ll do: spend time walking and meditating with trees and ask the Earth and the land to heal us and be our witness as we witness her. Listening in this way is essential right now, not just for ourselves but also for the survival of our world. The Earth, many say, will adapt, but it’s humans who have the most to lose. Living in a time when we must increasingly stay indoors due to airborne viruses and particles filling our skies from forest fires emphasizes the importance of returning to nature, where we can connect with our “natural state.”

In our retreat, we’ll also invite some time to listen deeply and compassionately attune to our world’s challenges through exploring the elements of fire and water.  In her book, Coming Back to Life, activist, systems thinker, deep ecologist, and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy, Ph.D., describes a community-based process she calls ‘The Work That Reconnects’. Through a spiral approach, we start with Gratitude for all the gifts of our life, then we Honour our Pain, personal and collective. Next, we explore Seeing the World with New Eyes, and lastly, we are Going Forth with compassion, which arises as actions.   

About the first step, gratitude, she writes,

“To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe – to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it – is a wonder beyond words.” Yet, all of life is in grave danger, she warns us, “And of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to nuclear war, none is so great as the deadening of our response.”

Together in our retreat, let us embrace our ability to be present and mindful, to awaken compassion which becomes our willingness to see things as they are and embody loving actions where everyone benefits from our combined efforts to transform inwardly and collectively. Here we can return home to what is most essential and true for us, to a space where we can honour our vows to be the best versions of ourselves and actualize what will benefit our imperilled world.

Two Hands Together,
(Rev.) Andrew and the Sarana Team

Register Here

Accommodation Details:

Camping at Sarana Springs: $25/night per person, $40/night for 2 people

Local Hotels, Inns, and B&Bs:
There are also a number of hotels, inns and B&Bs in Owen Sound and the surrounding area. If you are searching on Airbnb, look for places closest to Holland Centre.

Danby House:
Two Sisters Inn:
Travelodge Owen Sound:
Quality Inn Owen Sound:

Further Questions

Register Here for our Autumn Retreat

On Being Compassionate:
by (Rev.) Andrew Blake

With practice, we learn to be with the qualities present in our moment-by-moment experience, and then with more curiousity and perseverance, we learn to touch into the roots of a reactive emotion or a strong trigger that sets us off into fear, sadness, jealousy, or rage. Slowing down brings us greater awareness of these states and, through this first skill of mindfulness, we learn that we can let them go in any given moment. This gradually brings us ease, acceptance and greater trust of emotionally states. This is not control, but rather what in neuroscience is called “regulation.” But how to we understand the roots of our emotions and even transform those old prickly triggers? How do we direct compassion and kindness to our own reactions and suffering? This is where your meditation cushion hits the pavement…continue reading here.