Urban Retreat 18th-25th Jan

Find and follow your golden thread…

The idea is simple but the effect can be profound. You take a week of your ordinary life (living at home, going to work, whatever) BUT you live it with the kind of intention and awareness you’d have if you were going away on retreat.  It’s a bit like being on retreat ‘in secret’ – outwardly it might not look much different, inwardly we’re following more consciously staying in touch with that ‘golden thread’ of practice that started in our lives at the moment we first thought to practise the Dharma.  It’s like ‘upgrading’ our Dharma practice for a week and seeing what the effect is.  And it’s open to anyone who’s done one of our Introductory Courses.

(The retreat involves one day at the Buddhist Centre on Saturday 18th January (10am – 5pm please bring veggie lunch to share) and an afternoon on Sat 25th (2pm – 5pm).  On the first day there will be an introduction to Urban Retreat and workshops and support to help you ‘design your own retreat’ – everyone’s urban retreat is different because everyone’s life is different.  You might decide to meditate more, watch telly less, switch off your phone (for an hour a day – or entirely!)… you might recite the dedication ceremony each morning to remind yourself of your purpose, do yoga,  meet up with Sangha friends to talk the Dharma.  There will the option to come to the Centre for early morning meditations Mon – Fri (7.20 – 8.20 am)and to buddy up with someone else taking part in the Urban Retreat, if you wish.  We’ll also have a special puja night on Friday 24th.
The theme for the retreat is the Golden Thread and there’s a poem by American Poet William Stafford which conveys the heart of the image (which came originally from William Blake):

The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread. 
William Stafford

If you’d like to take part in the retreat, please email info@bristol-buddhist-centre.org to register so we know how many people are planning to come. Thanks!

We haven’t done Urban Retreats for a while in Bristol, but our history with them goes back to 2006, when Taranita led the first one, and we’ve done several since then.  In 2007 Satyalila co-led one and wrote a short account of the experience for ‘The Spark’ magazine:  “Cold, dark January mornings and I wind my way up the Gloucester Road on my bike to arrive by 7 and sit before lighted candles and smoking incense at the foot of the Buddha.  Five of us are spending a week on “Urban Retreat”… not far away in the mountains, but here in the heart of Bristol.  We meet together for a day, plan and dedicate our week, set some aims..(meditate more… surf the internet less, in my case).  I hang golden stars on my PC monitor and in the toilet at work to remind me I’m on retreat… creating sacred space within time. I read poems and reflect on following a golden thread through the dark: Blake, the Buddha, the American poet, Stafford, are my guides.  I walk an ancient, sacred path through Bristol in midwinter.”. 

Sheffield Buddhist Centre website said of ‘Urban Retreat’: “This is for some a turning point in their lives.  You decide what you want to do to make the coming week a focus for practice while going about your usual routine.  Particularly for those who find it difficult to get away on retreat, and who want to make their every day life a crucible for change.”

Attached below is a link for the ‘user guide’ from previous Urban Retreats – it is from our archive but most of the information is still useful and relevant.

Urban Retreat Guide

Fire Heart

Eco crisis practice group – First meeting : Sunday 19th January 2020 7 – 9pm

Fire Heart


“Everything is burning” said the Buddha, “….with the fires of greed, hatred and delusion.” In answer the Buddha radiated love, suffusing ‘the whole world, everywhere, always, with a heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, unbounded, without hate or ill-will”. How do we put the Buddha’s teachings into practice as fully as we can as we engage with this burning world?

From January 2020 there will be a monthly space at the Buddhist centre to explore our practice in relation to the world’s eco-crisis. It will be a place for those of us who are engaged in action of any kind in relation to the eco-crisis to get support for this through Dharma practice. And a place to explore how waking up to the reality of the crisis can enliven and strengthen our practice. Our aim is that the group will meet monthly, at the same day and time each month and we’d like to fix that at our first meeting. We hope you will join us, to share ideas and experiences, practice together, and reflect on our dharma lives.

Communication Weekends 2020

Dates and details of weekends in Bristol Buddhist Centre 

Minimum experience of 6 months meditation within Triratna.
Booking through the Centre essential.
Limited places.
Bring Vegetarian food to share.
10am – 5pm both days

This year there are three weekends which offer the opportunity to take part in the Dharma/Sangha practice of Crucible Communication. The practice can be seen as a facilitated meditation practice focusing on both internal and external experience. The unique aspect is that there is an opportunity to express our experience as it emerges to other participants in the practice. This allows us to not just feel, but to articulate the shape and texture of our thoughts and habits, especially in how we relate to ourselves and others.

We start with a talk which lays out some reference points or maps of the Dharma to orientate ourselves. Then, after some warm-up exercises, helping us come into relationship with each other a bit more, we sit in the circle and see what arises amongst us; a simple and sometimes profound practice.

1. The Great DescentFeb 15th/16th  

The path of descent into the body that welcoms home regret and grief as a way to nurture faith in the capacity of Sangha and the shared filed of awareness to transform our lives.

2. The Great MandalaApril 18th – 19th

The doorway of Receptivity that welcomes all.
(Appreciative engagement that returns the gift of play) 

3. The Great LongingOctober 31st – Nov 1st 10am – 5pm both days.

The path towards that which appears always beyond
(Freeing the hands from the throat of that which longs to live)

We will also be offering an 8 day retreat in Jan 2021, dates and venue yet to be confirmed.

This is what four Order members and Mitras who took part in recent weekends at the Glasgow Buddhist Centre say about their experience:

“A remarkable space – to explore absolutely live the intricacies and conditioning we bring to communication, in the moment of that communication. The sessions are held in a Dharmic context and with Sangha, both of which feel important to me. Bhadra brings a depth of commitment, experience and a raw honesty to this model of group process that is very inspiring.” Ab 

“I not only feel different in myself, but witnessed this weekend a growth in others who have been on a few of these with me, and that was quite beautiful to see! Something special happens in that circle, I’m not sure how, but with most things that are special they just take time to develop. I felt it happen last time and watched with my own eyes this weekend! Just Beautiful.”  M 

“It is difficult to know what to say as the experience has been mysterious in that I can’t be clear about why it has had such a profound effect on me. The Dharma input from Bhadra has always been very clear and inspiring. Most of the time we sat in silence and words arose from our felt experience. I found I contacted deep parts of myself that needed to be heard. This could be quite painful but through this my heart has opened more and more”. D

“It’s a great context for spotting what our mind gets up to in relationship, seeing it kindly and responding creatively…” A