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The Poetics of Awakening

Opening the heart and imagination to your own deepest nature
Watch practice sessions & get resourcesReserve your space!

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.

Awake my dear
Be kind to your sleeping heart
Take it out to the vast fields of light and let it breathe
– Hafiz

“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 uncontrivedmindfulness.net

 

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.

Download ‘Ditty of First Desire’ read by Paramananda

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

Paramananda reading from memory the poem ‘Ditty of First Desire’ by Federico García Lorca.

Ditty of First Desire

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
A heart.

And in the ripe evening
I wanted to be a nightingale.
A nightingale.

(Soul,
turn orange-colored.
Soul,
turn the colour of love.)

In the vivid morning
I wanted to be myself.
A heart.

And at the evening’s end
I wanted to be my voice.
A nightingale.

Soul,
turn orange-colored.
Soul,
turn the colour of love.


Welcome to the retreat


Day 1: grounding


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

As we set off together on this poetic journey through awareness, Paramananda begins with a session of exploration and meditation in which he encourages us to relax deeply in readiness.

– Introduction to the retreat
– Guided meditation
– Deep relaxation with drumming

As he continues to set the scene for the retreat, Paramananda calls on the figure of Green Tara whose mantra resounds throughout the worlds – and throughout this session! Then, a space to settle and find out what the deep work of freedom looks like, and feels like.

– Introduction to mantra as a practice on retreat 
– Green Tara mantra
– Just Sitting meditation
– Short Q & A

Bodhilila closes the first day with a session dedicating the retreat, opening into mantra chanting and meditation. An invitation to move deeper into awareness and ease with all of our being.

– Dedication ceremony
– Threefold puja
– Mantra chanting
– Just sitting meditation

retreat resources


Day 2: opening


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Paramananda leads a beautiful session of teaching, meditation and resting awareness all designed to open us into a more intimate relationship with self and world. A training in how relaxation can help soften and undo craving and aversion, and even ego clinging itself.

– Introduction around ‘Song of The Seven Hearted Boy’ by Lorca
– Guided meditation then open sitting
– Resting with crow drum accompaniment
– Sitting still in the space of the heart

Paramananda builds on his theme for the day of opening to life with a meditation, in words and in silence, on what it is makes us who we (think we) are – and how we (think) we have an experience of consciousness. But this is no abstract matter – more the stuff of “through the green fuse drives the flower”. A beautiful challenge for beautiful dreamers everywhere…

– Teaching on the nature of life and experience (reality)
– Green Tara mantra with meditation
– Short Q & A

Bodhilila leads a rich session of ritual evoking the figure of Green Tara, one of the archetypal Bodhisattva figures presiding over this retreat. She touches on many layers of symbolic meaning and experience Tara can bring forth when chanting her mantra, and meditating on her colour, form and attributes. “A green thought in a green shade” is never far away in this lovely practice space.

– Teaching around the figure of Green Tara
– Mantra chanting with images
– Green Tara puja by Vessantara
– Meditation

retreat resources


Day 3: illuminating


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be illumined by myriad things”.

Paramananda takes his lead from Zen master Dogen in encouraging us to let ourselves be open in meditation to what arises and learn to pay attention in light of the Dharma.

– Teaching on how we see our meditation practice
– Just sitting practice
– Crow drum relaxation and meditation

Continuing the retreat practice of calling forth the spirit and qualities of Green Tara, Paramananda moves further into exploring what awareness of reality is and could be when we relax deeply into a truly imaginative relationship with the world around us. The mantra shifts us into a non-rational space – and lights the way to what emerges in meditation.

– Introduction to the session
– Green Tara mantra in call and response
– Open sitting 
– Short Q & A

A beautiful closing session for the day with Bodhilila, beginning with the Maitri (‘loving kindness’) mantra then moving through waves of meditation and ritual – with a gorgeous sound bath from singing bowls followed by a Buddha Puja from The Dhammapada, evoking the Buddha’s qualities and our potential to positively impact the world through skillful action.

– Teaching on love and freedom
– Maitri mantra in harmony
– Sound bath with singing bowls
– Buddha Puja

retreat resources


Day 4: remembering


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Taking his lead from the Greek idea that we have simply forgotten all knowledge and it can be recalled – as well as Sangharakshita’s interest in Karl Jaspers’ ‘Axial Age’ – Paramananda tells the story of the Buddha’s awakening through the lens of episodes involving memory: of being a boy sitting under the rose apple tree, and of his “previous lives”. This brings us to reflecting on meditation as something more profound than a maneuver to avoid suffering, but rather as a way to experience and love ourselves more deeply. Because, finally, being present is an act of love towards the world.

– Teaching around remembering, meditation and finding a loving voice equivalent to that of self-criticism
– Meditation, guided then silent, open sitting
– Relaxation session with the ouroboros drum
– Closing meditation

Today a new mantra emerges into the retreat, that of White Tara, traditionally associated with long life (and death), merit and wisdom. Paramananda and Candradasa chant her mantra together 108 times, followed by a longer quiet meditation. As usual, this space of deep, still practice is followed by a short question-and-answer session.

– Introduction and White Tara mantra
– Meditation
– Short Q & A

Another beautiful space with Bodhilila introduces a new presence – Amoghasiddhi – who brings fearlessness. We are also introduced to ‘Verses that protect the Truth’ (Dhammapālaṃ Gāthā) and the Refuges from the Avatamsaka Sutra, as Bodhilila skillfully weaves a ritual practice taking in mantra chanting, meditation and reflection on how we can move through restrictions to a place of equanimity, freedom and peace.

– Maitri mantra chanting
– Meditation
– Amoghasiddhi mantra
– Verses that protect the Truth

retreat resources


Day 5: releasing


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Paramananda introduces day five by evoking the urgent need to examine our involvement in the conflict between human desire (want and need) and the consequences for the world. This strong session encourages us to see ourselves instead as deeply supported by and embedded in reality: manifesting, arising, and passing away in intimate relationship with all of it, and with each other. In so releasing, we can let go of asserting ourselves as a principal mode of being, moving away from separateness towards connection.

– Introduction and thoughts on our relationship to reality 
– Full guidance through meditation posture and its connection to the context in which we sit
– Open, silent meditation
– Relaxation session with drums
– Final silent meditation 

Paramananda and Bodhilila join forces today to chant the White Tara mantra after some introductory remarks from Candradasa on his relationship to White Tara. As the mantra falls silent, a space of meditation opens up and is followed to close by a short question and answer session.

– Candradasa on White Tara
– White Tara mantra
– Silent meditation
– Short Q & A

“Call forth as much as you can of love, of respect and of faith!
Remove the obstructing defilements, and clear away all your taints!
Listen to the Perfect Wisdom of the gentle Buddhas
Taught for the weal of the world, for heroic spirits intended!”

from Ratnaguna-samcayagatha

Bodhilila takes us further into the world of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with another wonderful session of ritual. We move from the Perfection of Wisdom through the Amoghasiddhi mantra into a mindfulness of breathing meditation. The practice culminates with a special sevenfold puja dedicated to Green and White Tara.

– Amoghasiddhi mantra
– Mindfulness of breathing meditation
– Sevenfold puja with White Tara and Green Tara mantras

retreat resources


Day 6: Freeing


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

“So come, my friends, be not afraid
We are so lightly here
It is in love that we are made
In love we disappear”

Leonard Cohen, ‘Boogie Street’

Paramananda introduces today’s practice by reflecting on the relationship between images and our direct experience. In considering how we hold ourselves in meditation and in the everyday moments, he defines freedom as being in the world based on love and a sense of kinship for all life. Which involves participating in something sacred as part of nature in contrast to our habit of trying to appropriate and manipulate the world. Overcoming our fear of this kind of letting go can be explored when we sit still and practice that mode of being. When you relax nothing bad happens…

– Introduction on living through love
– Guided meditation followed by silent sitting
– Rest and relaxation with drumming
– Silent sitting to close

As we continue to explore where liberation can find its seeds in experience, particularly in meditation, Paramananda evokes mantra chanting as a practice in its own right. He emphasizes the way mantras can help when things feel difficult and we move into the White Tara mantra again with that in mind. Followed as usual by an open, quiet meditation and a short question and answer session, focussed mainly on the breath as an “anchor”.

– Paramananda on mantra practice
– White Tara mantra
– Just Sitting
– Short Q & A

It’s easy to let our level of engagement drop as a retreat nears its end. Bodhilila offers an encouraging practice space for this beautifully simple ritual session, including a classic sevenfold puja and traditional mantras. There’s also a beautiful reading of the Heart Sutra, with an invitation to reflect newly on familiar words.

– Shakyamuni mantra
– Just Sitting meditation
– Sevenfold puja with Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava mantras and Heart Sutra reflection

retreat resources


Day 7: Awakening


Re-watch the Live PRACTICE sessions

Parmananda introduces the final day of the retreat by evoking the foundation of meditation as a mode of being present to the world. He enjoins us to see posture as expressive, in that when we sit we make a gesture of reciprocal relationship with the world; we relax into ourselves and the world. The true nature of things is not separate from our own true nature. We are talking part in reality, opening our sense of self out to all of it.

His encouragement is to have patience with our practice, and remember the fundamentals both of practice and of existence: breath, body, being. Because we are always intimately involved in a relaxed way with love and awareness, practicing radical non-interference, letting things awaken to us and within us.

retreat resources

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We hope you find the Home Retreat helpful.
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May you be well!




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With deep thanks to Paramananda, Bodhilila, Candradasa, Upekshapriya, 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.

Tree photo by Jeremy Bishop
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