The Myth of Meditation

Restoring Imaginal Ground Through Embodied Buddhist Practice
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Day 1    Day 2    Day 3    Day 4  

Day 5    Day 6    Day 7

What is a Home Retreat? (click to read)

Home Retreats can be tailored to your needs.

We provide:

  • Live Home Retreat events daily
  • Specially curated Dharma resources
  • A chance to catch up each day on the event sessions by video if you missed them – so you can do the retreat in your own time
  • Share your own inspiration and reflections on the private retreat Padlet space
  • A chance to connect with the retreat leader to ask questions about your practice

Whether you have the time to engage with a full-on, urban-retreat style week at home – or are super occupied already with kids or work and just want some useful structure to book-end your days with a little calm and inspiration: this is for you.

A Home Retreat with Paramananda and Bodhilila

🧘🏽‍♀️ 🧘🏽‍♂️ Seven days of meditation, soulful exploration, and strong, supportive friendship: a safe space to go deeper into experience and practice.

You can access video recordings of all sessions below under each day’s resources. 

🎧 Listen to daily talks around the retreat theme

📖 Download a practice diary to use during the retreat

About the retreat
With his deeply grounded approach to Buddhist meditation and practice, Paramananda offers an approach that is a challenge both to the way we experience ourselves, and the way in which we see and ‘be’ in the world.

He guides us in rooting meditative experience in the body, turning towards whatever comes up in a kindly and intelligent way, and seeing through to another way of understanding and being in the world.

We’re also delighted to welcome to the team for this Home Retreat, Bodhilila, who will be guiding the ritual sessions every day live from the West London Buddhist Centre shrine room.

What to expect
The sessions are a mix of meditation, poetry, presentation, practice, interaction and inquiry.

“Paramananda beautifully examines how spiritual practice is both a deeply intimate relationship with oneself, and inextricably connected to the world we live in. He brings far-reaching Buddhist teachings down to earth and encourages us to be curious, as we simply sit with the breathing body, or open to suffering – our own and others’ – in such a way that liberates the heart.

– Vajradevi, meditation teacher and author of

Bodhilila has been meditating and practising mindfulness for 27 years. She is a fully accredited Breathworks mindfulness trainer as well as a qualified counsellor, teacher and massage therapist. She worked for many years as a classical musician and more recently as a nursery manager. She is currently Chair of the West London Buddhist Centre, where she has been teaching meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism, as well as helping to run the Centre, since 2012. She regularly leads retreats for the WLBC and at Taraloka women’s retreat centre.

Paramananda reading from memory the poem ‘The Distribution of Happiness’ by Robert Hass.

All our events are offered by donation. If you can, donate to allow others who can’t afford it to access these vital Dharma resources when they need them most. Thank you!

Suggested donation for the whole retreat:
£125 / $175 / €150 or £25 / $35 / €30 per day.

Donate and support Dharma classes online

Welcome to the retreat

Day 1

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Our retreat begins with morning meditation live from London, led by Paramananda, channeling the mythic and poetic background to an embodied approach to practice.

Bodhilila leads a beautiful meditation around kindness, and introduces this essential aspect of effective practice.

Our first evening of ritual, wonderfully led by Bodhilila. Together with Paramananda she starts us off with a dedication ceremony, before introducing an evening of mantra chanting and meditation with a special focus on Amitabha, the Buddha of light and love.

retreat resources

Day 2

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

The second day of the retreat opens with morning meditation live from London, led with his usual mix of warmth, humour and embodied experience by Paramananda.

Paramananda takes us deeper into the intimacy of this kind of Dharma practice, sensitive to whatever is arising and being curious around how our sense of practice sits in relation to our whole life and the wider world. This session also features, with their consent, Q & A exchanges with some friends taking part in the retreat.

After a strong day of practice, rooted in both the earth and sky, Bodhilila takes us through a meditation and sevenfold puja from the beautiful West London Buddhist Centre shrine room. She encourages us first to sit deeply grounded in the silence, then to give voice to the freedom of the Dharma.

retreat resources

Day 3

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

On day 3, Paramananda takes us into a space of receptivity: poetry and the drum resonating through morning meditation. Sometimes a challenging day on retreat when what matters begins to swim more fully into our awareness, the encouragement is to relax into the space of practice and meet it with an open heart.

Another session of meditation and shared, conscious inquiry into the Dharma as it manifests in our lives. Before today’s Q & A exchanges, Paramananda lead us through a practice where we’re invited to be alive to the body and its centres of energy. A needful grounding at the mid-point of any day.

Another visit from Padmasambhava sets up this session of ritual with Bodhilila. We hear advice on relaxing the mind and body, and on doing what we can at the time. Then with poetry and chanting, Bodhilila magically invokes Amitabha to help aid our meditation and open up the mythic space of a deeply relaxed heart.

retreat resources

Day 4

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Welcome to day 4, and the midpoint of our retreat. Paramananda explores in meditation grounding as a calming process, considering the different “vessels” of our being and the centres of head and heart. He also looks at different models of integration, asking us to be curious about what we place at our core—and what constellates around it…

This session of meditation and discussion includes chanting of the Avalokiteshvara mantra, and a reading of a Zen poem by Ryokan. Paramananda also shares some advice on how to work on the throat chakra with mantras.

“Loving ourselves and loving life encourages the heart to open.” Bodhilila starts off today’s practice of ritual with a poem to Awakening and a Metta Bhavana (loving kindness) meditation. We’re then treated to a sevenfold puja taken from the Dhammapada, focussed on the Buddha with Shakyamuni mantras and passages from the Udāna.

retreat resources

Day 5

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Paramananda wakes us up (whatever time zone we’re in!) by engaging with the myth of the bodhi tree—the seat of the Buddha’s Awakening—as the axis of the world, a symbol of the “divine” power of the earth. The meditation that emerges imagines our whole body as sacred gesture or posture touching the earth. We finish to the sound of the drum with the Vajrasattva mantra, then just sitting, just resting.

Today’s second practice session begins with a reading of Derek Walcott’s ‘Love After Love’, which beautifully sets up the space for two meditations and breakout groups focussing on metta (loving kindness and goodwill).

Welcome to an evening of ritual and mantra chanting with Bodhilila, recollecting the qualities of the Buddha Shakyamuni, as well as Akshobhya and Amitabha. We hear from Sangharakshita on the language of the depths that we need to engage along the path, and we have a reading from the Purābheda sutta.

Bodhilila evokes the importance of mantra chanting as a way to be in touch with the qualities of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. “We all have those qualities in ourselves as seeds, that we need to cultivate and develop”.

retreat resources

Day 6

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Paramananda opens today’s practice with a moving story of impermanence manifesting in his life, reflecting on the possibility of insight arising whenever things fall apart in ways large and small. Followed by a depth body scan meditation, and drumming with the Green Tara mantra. Featuring poems from Federico García Lorca and Dogen.

Paramananda takes us through another session of meditation and exchange, starting off with chanting the Amitabha mantra as a way to bring us into the body. He also explores what a figure like Amitabha might represent within a Buddhist perspective on conditionality. The session includes a reading of the poem Carmel Point by Robinson Jeffers.

Our evening begins with a meditation guided by Bodhilila using different bell sounds to focus the mind, helping us stay focused on the present moment. Then we have a special sevenfold puja, in which Bodhilila leads chanting of the Avalokiteshvara mantra with a drum accompaniment.

retreat resources

Day 7

Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

After an appeal to support Home Retreats like this one, we’re invited to a final morning of shared practice. Paramananda recites The Song of The Seven Hearted Boy by Lorca, and explores how the arts can open up the imagination, which is vital.

He also discusses working with vulnerability and shame, and in this context hear the story of Kisa Gotami and the mustard seed. It’s a tale about grief moving from something that isolates us to something that can give rise to a deep empathy with others. This all sets the scene with grace and dignity for our first session of double meditation, with drumming and the Vajrasattva mantra, ending with just sitting together.

In the penultimate session of our retreat, Paramananda guides us in a meditation focusing on the breath as the seat of our practice.

We then have a Q & A session, Paramananda and Bodhilila speaking to how we might maintain an attitude of love through heartbreak; different approaches to the mundane and Buddhist discourses about “conditioned existence”; how we engage consciously with the imagination; how to deal through the body with ‘spacing-out’ and fear in meditation; and how to work on meditation posture and learn the difference between pain and discomfort, bringing kindness and compassion to our body.

The last session of this inspiring Home Retreat ends here with a simple but lovely meditation led by Paramananda, and a sevenfold puja replete with mantras led by Bodhilila, with Paramananda responding and harmony chanting by Bodhilila and Sanghadhara.

“‘Come my friend, be not afraid,
in love we are born
and in love we pass away’

~ Leonard Cohen

May all be well!

retreat resources

Everything we offer is by donation – give today and help us keep it free for everyone!

We hope you find the Home Retreat helpful.
 As we all take care of each other through this extraordinary time we are committed to staying online with you for as long as it takes – and beyond.

If you can, donate and help us reach more people like you.

Thank you from our team and from the online community around the world!

May you be well!

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With deep thanks to Paramananda, Bodhilila, Sanghadhara, and the West London Buddhist Centre team for their generosity in setting up the conditions for this retreat, as well as leading live events each day.

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