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Summer Retreat
on Holy Isle

22-29 July 2023

Brighten your life with Beingfulness

Enjoy your mind afresh.

For almost 20 years, Alistair has been running Mindsprings Retreats on the beautiful Holy Isle off the coast of Arran in Scotland. This year we are holding a summer week of Beingfulness on the Island, a practice that celebrates the joy of being human.

Come and enjoy the powerful energy of the Island, the delicious island-grown food and the wonderful presence of good-hearted people practicing together. Friendships are born on Holy Island that last for years! 

We will be exploring Alistair's embodied meditation practice, Beingfulness. A comprehensive way to deepen and enjoy your experience of the world and yourself. It's a beautiful and profound practice - something precious to take with you when you leave the retreat. And it's suitable for beginners and more seasoned meditators. 

The Centre for World Peace on the Island is a comfortable and well-staffed place to stay with single, double, sea-view and dorm rooms available. The food is delicious and vegetarian. And the Island itself has a transformative magic. 

What is Beingfulness?

  • Beingfulness is a form of meditation that helps us enjoy life more.  

  • It's a simple step-by-step process.

  • First, we learn to recognise when we are aware

  • Then we master moving awareness from object to object

  • The next step is to anchor awareness on restful objects like the breath or sounds. 

  • Then we sift all the various phenomena of our here-and-now into four fields: body, emotions, senses and thoughts.  

  • In various exercises, we deepen our enjoyment and curiosity about these phenomena 

  • Next, we explore the 'fifth field' of our unexamined preferences

  • And finally, we relax into a wide-open enjoyment of the kaleidoscopic display of the human mind.

  • The practice allows us to be full of being, not just full of thinking! 

About Holy Isle

Holy Island is a stunning granite outcrop in Lamlash Bay off the isle of Arran in West Scotland. It's been a holy site since the times of Celtic Christianity when St. Molaise lived in a cave here. In the last few decades, it's been a place of Buddhist-inspired contemplation under the auspices of Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche. But the World Centre for Peace and Health where this course takes place is open to all faiths or none. It's a uniquely nurturing place for practice and draws people from all over the world.

You can watch an aerial tour of the island here.

What to expect from a Mindsprings Retreat

  • Our first evening together on Saturday 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 Sunday-Friday is fairly similar

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

  • Before our  delicious breakfast, Alistair will lead us in some t'ai chi on the beachfront which is optional. But does involve hugs - which everyone seems to love. 

  • The morning sessions are exploring the Beingfulness practice with breaks for tea.

  • After lunch, the afternoon is a period for rest or walking or taking the practices out into the natural world

  • We will meet for discussion of the practice and a short period of meditation before supper. 

  • After supper, there is a further chance to practice 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!

  • We often have the mornings silent and one full day of silence somewhere in the middle. It's a very friendly silence and, again, many people love this element of the retreat. 

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.


Alistair will be leading this retreat supported by Kirsty. We will begin each day with some gentle embodiment practices and then move into exploring Beingfulness. 


Rough timetable:

On Saturday 22nd at 7.30 pm, we have a welcoming circle after soup and the beginning session of the retreat ending around 9pm. 

Then from Sunday to Friday:

7am- 8am: Early morning yoga + silent sit  

8am-9am: Breakfast break

9am- 12.30 pm: Practice and  Alistair teaching

12.30pm - 4pm: Lunch self-practice, rest

4pm - 6pm: Practice

6pm -7.30pm Supper time 

7.30pm-8.30pm: Sitting practice

Team and schedule

Food, Accommodation and Pricing

One of the greatest joys of Holy Isle is the fantastic food harvested directly from the biodynamic and organic gardens that surround the centre. The resident kitchen team will be providing delicious vegetarian food throughout. There will be breakfast, lunch and supper and tea and snacks available throughout the day. Vegan and wheat-free diets are also catered for.

The cost of the retreat is £310 per person and then you will need to book your accommodation through the Holy Island office separately. They have single rooms, a couple of double rooms and male and female dorms. The dorms (and the doubles) have sea views! You will have to book the retreat AND then your room separately!

Please note that Holy Island is not taking accommodation bookings until the beginning of 2023. 

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 Holy Isle

Reaching Holy Island is part of the experience of going on retreat there. It is a pilgrimage. 

Details can be found on the Holy Island site here. But in essence, you need to get to Lamlash pier by lunchtime on the 22nd July. Ideally, you might want to come a day early to give yourself some time. The little ferry from Lamlash to the Island is very weather sensitive so it's a good idea to speak to the Island closer to the retreat. Also you will need to book your ticket with Grant at this site

A little bit of planning and double-checking never goes amiss! 

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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