on Holy Isle
7-14 October 2023
The Sitting Out Retreat
The natural world & the natural mind
For almost 20 years Alistair has been leading meditation retreats on the beautiful Scottish Holy Isle off the coast of Arran. This year he's doing something different there.
After discovering the power of 'sitting out' practice, Alistair is leading a radical practice week for people who have done a fair amount of meditation and are looking to 'cut to the chase'.
Sitting out practice involves staying put in a 2m x 2m spot out in nature for longer and longer spells. We start with an hour or two and build up to one big sit at the end of the retreat. You don't have to sit still, but you are encouraged to be in nature for a long time with minimal distractions. No phones, no conversations, not many options: just opening more and more deeply to the miracle of your human mind.
"Sitting for a long time out in the natural world is like a revelation", Alistair says, "You're not doing anything in particular, but gradually - within the framework of the practice - the mind becomes more and more obvious. And by the end, I felt transparent..."
Doing this practice in the potent landscape of Holy Island and held within the supportive cradle of fellow retreats promises to be a unique chance to experience the mind in its natural state.
What is 'sitting out' practice?
Sitting out is a form of very simple but very profound mind-magic.
You stay put in a 2m x 2m spot in the natural world for long periods, simply watching the mind and watching the world.
There is no particular meditation instruction - everyone finds their own insight as the practice unfolds
Traditionally done for 24 hours, this course is going to build up slowly to one magnificent 10-hour session on the penultimate day of the retreat
The practice is best done in the natural world with just a bottle of water for sustenance, so it requires wet-weather gear.
This retreat will be held as a group though the 'sitting out' sessions are done on your own. We will meet at the start and end of the day to compare notes and practice together.
This is a chance for more experienced practitioners to get back to the 'wild roots' of outdoor-living yogis. But with a warm meal and hot shower at the end of the day!
Please do consider coming but also recognise that it does involve long stretches of time practising outside!