Embodied Mindfulness and Compassion

Hello! And welcome to Mindsprings' first online course.

I am posting an abbreviated version of the teaching from the courses taking place at St. Mary's Brighton this winter so that people who are unable to attend or afford the course can still have some experience of embodiment and compassion. In these challenging times we need it!

  • Although you will not be getting the full group experience, I am still asking those people who want to do the course to commit to the daily practice in between each weekly session. This will give you the benefit of these teachings that have been helping people for more than two and half thousand years.
  • Each week there will be a guided practice as well as a short excerpt from the weeks teaching giving the kernel of that week's focus.
  • The Embodied Mindfulness course runs from November 16 till December 21. The Compassion course runs from Jan 18 till February 22.
  • The teachings are given for free but if you are inspired, I would encourage you to click onto the Refugee Action website and donate some money to this charity helping some of the least fortunate in the world as they struggle to find a safe place to live and recover from the devastation of their homes and families.
  • If you are taking part in the course, please let me know with an introductory email to This is also the address if you have any questions about the practice.
  • You can find the recordings here.Guidelines about our online community are here.
  • (You need to have signed up to Mindsprings to access the teachings.)

Enjoy! May all beings benefit from our practice.

How to cultivate a joy in stressful world
18 Feb 2017 to 19 Feb 2017
250 Cowbridge Road East
United Kingdom

Alistair is returning to Cardiff to lead a workshop exploring the "four immeasurables" or Brahma Viharas.

Central to almost all Buddhist schools, these four mind states are said to be the perfect 'atmosphere' of the mind for humans negotiating the ups and downs of life. Drawing on his experience as a meditator and as a therapist, Alistair encourages to us to make these mind states come alive in a very vivid, somatic way.

The course will first look at the habitual frames that we put onto life and which typically make us suffer and then look at the somatic practices of 'heart training' that can help us free up our mind to receive the world with love, joy, compassion and equanimity.

It's a course suitable for people with no experience of meditation or Buddhist and for those wanting to revisit these core teachings in a fresh way.

The weekend begins at 10am and finishes at 5pm on both days.

Only for Invited Students
23 Apr 2017
40-42 Upper Gardner Street
United Kingdom

This is a private study group for the participants of the 2016-17 Mindfulness and Compassion course.

It's from 10-5 on Sunday 23rd April.

Please come in comfy clothes - you don't need to bring mats because there are plenty there.

A new exploration of mindfulness
17 Jun 2017 to 18 Jun 2017
40-42 Upper Gardner Street
United Kingdom

The power of mindfulness has been growing over the last years and many of us have come into contact with it in some form. Sometimes our practice can peter out or feel too conceptual... "Beingfulness" looks to expand our experience of this revolutionary Buddhist path.
Combining his insights as a therapist and his long history of practice, Alistair leads this weekend as a relaxed and friendly way to how to practice mindfulness in a more profound and embodied way.
Drawing on the original Buddhist understanding of the practice and some of the recents insights of neuroscience, we will explore the terrain and come away with a solid 20 minute practice as well as lots of useful mini-insights into our day-to-day experience.
This course is suitable for beginners and practitioners looking to refresh.

A weeklong journey into embodiment and peaceful power
1 Jul 2017 to 7 Jul 2017
Lamlash Bay
KA27 8GB
United Kingdom

This summer's Mindsprings retreat on the Holy Isle is looking at the practices of somatic meditation and Earth practice.

From a Buddhist perspective too much investment in the cognitive projections of the thinking mind is like being lost in a hallucination. Rather than tasting, smelling, sensing and feeling the Earth around us, we get caught up in the paper-thin concepts and anxiety-evoking ideas. And yet, much contemporary practice still encourages to find more and more refined ways of thinking our selves out of this dead-end.

Somatic practice - feeling and identifying with the experience of the human body - along with an increased sense of the energetic depths of the world around us - landscape, animals, plants, people, weather offer a very different path. Both these practices start to cultivate a completely fresh mode of being in the world. Over the course of time, we organically shift our centre-of-gravity away from the anxious treadmill of the thinking mind, into the spacious, surprising and alive energies of the body and the earth.

Alistair and Fay will be introducing and guiding us in the basic practices of somatic meditation and helping hold the powerful container of a retreat on Holy Island. Kirsty will be offering daily yoga too. It's a place for real transformation, away from all the distractions and agitations of the consumer-driven world.

This week-long retreat requires no previous experience but will be a deepening for those who practice already. There will be periods of silence and we encourage people to spend the week mobile-, book- and journal-free.

All the holy island bookings and pricings are arranged direct with Holy Island on their website.

A week of creative practice
8 Aug 2017 to 13 Aug 2017
Nr. East Dene
East Sussex
United Kingdom

After the great success of 2016's art and mindfulness course, Isobel and Alistair are returning to Gayles for a slightly longer, 5 day retreat at the beautiful South Downs coastal retreat centre at Gayles.

This is really not a course for people who are 'good' at art or want to improve their technical skills. Using her experience in teaching art, Isobel challenges and tickles us into letting go of our sense of control and perfectionism and with delightful exercises, indoors and out, we gradually expand our sense of possibility to take in all sorts of unexpected experiences.

Using a whole variety of materials and practices, we work singly, in pairs and as a group to create a profusion of art until the Cow Shed yoga studio is full, literally to the rafters, with colour and design.

Underpinning this is the daily structure of Alistair's meditation practices which ground us in the natural world, relax our judgemental minds and expand our sense of the possible over the course of the week.

We supply all the art materials you need. Just bring a curious mind and child's enjoyment of making marks!

Using Meditation to Cut Through Toxic Thinking
9 Sep 2017 to 10 Sep 2017
Spa Road
SE16 3SA
United Kingdom

At the moment of his enlightenment the Buddha defeated the force of ignorance and suffering, known as Mara, by uttering the words: "I see you, Mara".

Taking that as the starting point, Alistair will use this weekend to unmask the 'psychological Mara' that confounds our natural happiness and warm-heartedness with layer upon layer of deadening beliefs about our selves and the world.

Meditation and therapy give us tools to cut through those heavy stories about ourselves - in particular, the Buddha's insight into 'dependent origination', which explains how they arise so compulsively. Once we see 'Mara' in action then we can cut through the distortions and start living in a freer, more spontaneous and more light-hearted way.

This is a course suitable for beginners and practitioners wanting to refresh their practice. Some of the practises will be done lying down.

Starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm each day.

The embodied science of deep meditation
30 Sep 2017 to 1 Oct 2017
40-42 Upper Gardner Street
United Kingdom

In the last few decades of neuroscience, there has been an explosion of fascinating research into 'embodiment'. This field looks at the way that the thinking mind is much less important in a healthy life than we have previously thought. The body becomes central...
Using his mix of research, therapy and Buddhist meditation, Alistair is running a 2-day exploration of this revolutionary way of experiencing ourselves. Using the tools of somatic meditation and focusing, we will look at how a stronger sense of interoception can deeper our understanding of our emotions, lessen the power of toxic thinking, reduce stress and heighten the sense of connection to others and the World.
Research shows that a healthy sense of ourselves as embodied can protect against depression, disordered eating, unregulated anxiety and a lack of vitality.
Come along to the lovely space of the Loft and open up to the wonders of the Body. Beginners and all levels welcome.

7-Day Holy Island Autumn retreat
14 Oct 2017 to 21 Oct 2017
Lamlash Bay
KA27 8GB
United Kingdom

October 2017 sees Mindsprings inviting established practitioners to Holy Island for a special 7-day journey into the heart space of compassion and interpersonal warmth.


If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements please drop us a note at

Most of us have grown up with our hearts buffeted and bruised from a number of causes. And the hyper stimulated world of the internet and consumerism can make us feel bombarded by the outside world. No wonder that many of us end up retreating into smaller and smaller bubbles of security.

Whilst meditation can offer a very profound feeling of safety and tranquillity, Buddhist practitioners have long realised that unless you can live with your heart open to the fluctuations and incursion of the world, then things get stagnant and bitter with alarming speed. Which is why there is a number of powerful meditation practices designed to open the heart: firstly, to ones own experience; then to the presence of other humans; and ultimately to the living experience of the whole world in which we live.

Alistair and the Mindsprings team create a warm and safe container in which you can explore these life-enriching practices with in a group that supports you. Drawing on his 16 years of experience as a meditator and his knowledge of contemporary psychotherapy, Alistair holds the group safely enough that we can use the week to explore:

  • the energy and warmth of our own heart centre and its natural 'feel' for things
  • how the heart can close and harden in response to the world
  • techniques to relax those defences without being overwhelmed
  • an understanding of how interpersonal energies work
  • an embodied understanding of human connection
  • a energetic experience of love in the body and expanded outwards
  • a connection to the natural world of the island with its beautiful landscape and wildlife

This week-long retreat requires will be a deepening for those who practice already. There will be periods of silence and we encourage people to spend the week mobile-, book- and journal-free.

All the holy island bookings and pricings are arranged direct with Holy Island on their website.