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We are very happy to welcome Mark Ovland to lead this one day retreat for Oxford Insight Meditation. Mark says “Every breath that we take invigorates the body and mind, energising our being and keeping us alive. It is an intimate and extraordinary process and potentially a very deep resource for our meditation. And yet the simple instruction to ‘watch the breath’ can sometimes feel a bit stale to us, if we don’t have an engaging way to interact with it and relate to it.

On this retreat we will imagine, observe, and play with the breath energy in ways that take us beyond our usual everyday sense of it. These meditative techniques include the whole of the body and can lead towards a profound harmonizing of the being, bringing more spaciousness, lightness, and ease into our experience. The meditations are gentle and calming – there’ll be no holding of the breath and we won’t be pressuring it in any way.” The day will be held in silence, and include time for stillness and movement practices alongside meditation instruction and Dharma reflections. The day will include a lunch break of about 1 hour. The retreat is suitable for beginners as well as those with experience of meditation practice. Everyone is welcome, no matter if you’re new to meditation or an old hand. We ask that you commit to staying for the full day.

Mark Ovland began practising meditation in 2008 and spent a number of years living and working in retreat centres and monasteries around the UK and Asia. Wishing to make the deeply liberating teachings he’d picked up more widely accessible to those in need, in 2013 he co-founded Freely Given Retreats, and soon afterwards pioneered taking 8-week meditation courses into UK prisons. In more recent years Mark has been especially engaged with environmental and social justice issues and the question of how the wisdom of the Dharma can serve society more widely. He was a close student of Rob Burbea and is a director of the Hermes Amara Foundation, an organisation set up to preserve Rob’s teaching legacy.

If you are participating in person please arrive for registration between 9.15 and 9.45am.

Dana: In the spirit of generosity, our teachers offer their teaching freely. We invite you to make a ‘dana‘ donation to support Mark in continuing to offer the teachings in this way. There will be an opportunity to offer dana on the day if you are participating in person. You can also make donations to Mark via Paypal, using his email address: markovland@gmail.com

Please note we are unable to process donations for our teachers through Eventbrite.

Booking fee: The fee for online participation is £5/£3 (concessions) and for in person participation £15/£5 (concessions). The fee covers general running costs of the online and in person retreats, including Zoom costs, Eventbrite fees, hall hire and teachers’ travel and accommodation expenses. Our teachers receive no payment from the booking fee; instead you will be invited to offer a donation to our teachers in the ancient tradition of dana.

Concessions: We invite you to pay the full rate if you are reasonably able to do so, as this supports the continuation of our retreats. We also offer concessionary rate tickets to those who are unemployed, full-time students, on a low income, or are otherwise finding it difficult to meet the full cost. If you are unable to afford our concessionary rate, for any reason, please contact us on the email address below, as we’d like to ensure that these days are accessible to everyone.

Cancellation and refunds: Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel your place on a retreat – otherwise, someone else may be turned away unnecessarily. Please contact oxfordinsightmeditation@gmail.com to let us know that you can’t be there. We offer refunds up to 24 hours before the retreat. Please see instructions here for how to claim a refund.

For those participating online:

Zoom link: This will be emailed to those who have registered one week before the retreat, 24hrs before the retreat and again 1 hour before the retreat begins. Please check your junk mail if you have not received the email.

For those participating in person:

Venue: St Margarets Institute, 30 Polstead Rd, Oxford OX2 6TN

The hall is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible toilet. There are two disabled parking bays in the street outside the venue. Please contact us if you need any support on the day to enable you to attend.

See here for a map of the location and for public transport travel information. Please allow plenty of time to travel so that you can arrive at the hall between 9.15 and 9.45 for registration.

Parking: there is no street parking in the area without a permit, except for two disabled parking bays, which are immediately outside the venue. We have made an arrangement for use of the car park at Makespace, a short walk from the venue. Makespace is at 1 Aristotle Lane, Oxford OX2 6TP. There will be space for about 8 cars. Please note: the Makespace car park can only be accessed via Frenchay Road and Hayfield Road, and not via Polstead Road. If you park at Makespace, we ask that you make a donation equivalent to the cost of parking for a day in Oxford, which we will pass on to Makespace.

What to bring: The hall is heated, but uncarpeted, and some windows will be open for ventilation, so please bring warm clothing, and a mat or rug, plus meditation stool or cushions if you wish to sit on the floor. You may also wish to bring slippers or warm socks. There are also chairs available, you may wish to bring a cushion or two for padding.

Lunch: will be held in silence. We invite you to bring your own vegan or vegetarian packed lunch. A selection of teas, herbal drinks, dairy milk and plant milk will be provided. There is also a fridge where you can store your lunch.

All are welcome: We are committed to creating an inclusive retreat space. We welcome people irrespective of religious or political beliefs, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, age, ability and culture.

Contact: Please get in touch if you have any questions or need to cancel, or change your booking at oxfordinsightmeditation@gmail.com

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