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Eastertide Retreat at Gayles

29th March - 2nd April 2023

Let the natural state shine out...

This Mindsprings retreat is created for people who are familiar with meditation and who perhaps have been with Alistair on a longer retreat before. It's not suitable for complete beginners. 


But if you're inspired to re-invigorate your practice and explore a radical re-think of what sitting meditation means then, join Alistair for four days in the beautiful South Downs countryside, a short walk from the Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven, at the wonderful Gayles Retreat Centre

We will be exploring the wild practice of "Sitting Out. Rooted in shamanic and natural yogic practices, this is a stripped-down version of meditation that sets up a simple container (a 2m squared area in nature) and encourages us to watch the mind as it twists and wiggles over longer and longer periods of time. We start with an hour and, over the course of the four days, build up to four hours at a stretch.  

Although it sounds gruelling, it's actually the most intense and wonderful engagement with your body and mind. You don't have to sit still - you can stretch and stand and look around - but you do have to sit out in the elements. (So bring you waterproofs!). What you might discover is the natural luminosity of your mind emerging from under all the busy routines of habit. It's a fascinating practice. 

And Gayles is a perfect place to do this nature work. It's an intimate but comfortable venue, with space for seventeen participants. There's a variety of accommodation.  Derry's mouth-watering vegan/vegetarian food to keep you nourished. And you are slap bang in the middle of a gorgeous, luminous landscape which will turbo charge your experience. 

What is Sitting Out practice?

  • "Sitting Out" is a stripped-down, elemental form of sitting practice.  

  • You commit to staying put in the natural world for long stretches of time. 

  • We chose a spot 2m x 2m and stay there for an hour or two. 

  • We are not 'doing sitting meditation', you don't need to sit in a posture or be still. 

  • You can look around, stand up, stretch, sit down, smell the flowers. But don't leave your spot.

  • Within this simple constraint, you simply watch your mind and your impulses.  

  • With time something magical unfolds as the habitual mind stills and the natural mind shines.

  • We will support everyone in this process, starting small and building up to 4 hour sessions. 

  • This is a nature practice so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. 

  • There will plenty of time to integrate our experiences as a group and communal sessions at the start and end of the day. 

What to expect from a Mindsprings Retreat

  • Our first evening together on Wednesday is a chance to arrive, enjoy some food and get to know one another. Most people are tired from travel and we'll have an early night after some relaxation. 

  • The daily schedule for the Thursday-Sunday is fairly similar

  • We start with some gentle stretching and a silent sit before breakfast. This is a great way to start the day. 

  • After Derry's delicious breakfast, Alistair will frame the practice instructions for the day and then we will practice out in the open air. 

  • After lunch, the afternoon is a period for rest or walking or exploring practice further.  

  • We will meet for a second session before supper in the later afternoon. 

  • After supper, there is a to sit together and integrate what we have learned during the day. 

  • Generally, it's light's out and silence after 9.30pm - so early nights, though you could go for a moonlight walk!

  • This is not a completely silent retreat but we do encourage the afternoons (and obviously the sitting out sessions!) to be silent. Or at least respectful of other people's wish for silence. 

About the teacher

Alistair is a broadcaster, psychotherapist and meditation teacher.


He's worked for the BBC for more than 20 years and works as a UKCP-accredited therapist in East Sussex. Since 2004, he's run Mindsprings, his therapeutic meditation organisation which teaches body-based and Buddhist solutions to many of our everyday problems.


Mindsprings offers popular meditation-based courses on many subjects:

  • helping people with anxiety, dissociation, stress.

  • working with mental health in the LGBTQ community.

  • exploring the growing field of embodiment and somatic practices.

  • teaching Buddhist practices for mental health and well-being


Alistair teaches in England, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands.


Food, Accommodation and Pricing

Derry who, along with Roz, runs the Gayles retreat centre is also a wonderful cook and he will be providing delicious vegetarian food throughout. Much of it grown on the centre's own allotment. There will be breakfast, lunch and supper and tea and snacks available throughout the day. Vegan and wheat-free diets are also catered for.

There are a number of options for accommodation: 

  • 8 places in the spacious, comfortable female dormitory

  • 4 places in the smaller male dormitory

  • 3 private rooms in the house: a double, a single and an ensuite-single

  • 3 tents for camping in the orchard. 

The price of the retreat including the teaching, food and 4-nights's accommodation ranges from £400 - £690. You can reserve your accommodation when booking. 

Don't let money stop you coming on retreat...


Mindsprings would like people to practice even if they are struggling financially, for whatever reason. We offer a limited number of partial bursaries for these retreats. 

Getting to Gayles

Gayles is situated off the A259, mid-way between Eastbourne and Seaford and just a mile from the picturesque village of East Dean. Being an hour and a half from central London and just over half an hour from Brighton, whether driving or taking public transport, it is easy to find and access is excellent.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My login doesn't work anymore. Can you help?
    This new site needs a one-time signup. If you have a email/password combo from the Mindsprings School (Beingfulness, Anxiety courses etc.) then I suggest using the same one. But you will need to sign up one time only to access the site (use those same details if you like) and then you'll be able to access everything with that login the next time you visit!
  • Where have my online courses gone?
    All the online self-study courses are still on the Mindsprings School. You can access this under Courses > Self Study on the navigation bar. I'm trying to find a way to synchronise the school with the new site - but everything is safe and sound there for your perusal.
  • When are the live online classes starting again?
    I'm starting to teach online three times a week from the 20th October 2022. You can find out more and book your classes here.
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