Touching Freedom

 Summer Retreat 2013 - Copy

Wake Up UK’s Annual Mindfulness Retreat for Young Adults

21st to 26th August 2014
Binley Farm, Gloucestershire, England

“For me, there is no happiness without freedom and freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Experience mindful living for 5 days with other young adults in the tranquil countryside in Gloucestershire, south-west England.

In today’s hectic world, we all experience stress, pressures, anxiety about the future and strong emotions – how can we touch peace and freedom in the midst of all this?

On this retreat, we will:

  • explore and practice mindfulness inspired by the tradition of  Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh
  • share our life’s aspirations, joys and challenges in small groupsmaddie's smile summer retreat 2013
  • have workshops to discover and express our creativity
  • go for long walks in nature
  • have sessions of deep relaxation and mindful movements
  • listen to talks
  • enjoy simple home-cooked organic vegetarian meals
  • have space for personal reflection and solitude
  • learn how to stop and listen more deeply to ourselves and others
  • explore what binds us and what can make us more free

Practising together as a community of friends, we can create a strong collective energy of mindfulness that can nourish our joy, heal our pains, develop our understanding and love and touch freedom in the here and now.

The retreat will be facilitated by former monk and teacher Michael Schwammberger and practitioners from Wake Up communities in the UK.

Check out the recent blog post about what we’ll be doing on the retreat.

Retreat enquiries

To book your place
£200 for a bed in a dormitory – fully booked
£145 for campingfully booked

For those who cannot afford the full price, please contact us here.

50 people

Open to both new and experienced practitioners aged 18 to 35-ish. We welcome people of all backgrounds, cultures and faiths.

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Where your money goes to
£20 from each £145/£200 booking goes towards covering the teacher’s expenses and supporting Wake Up UK’s future events and initiatives. The rest of the money goes towards Binley Farm to cover retreat expenses and to support the general up-keep of the farm and practice centre.

As the teacher does not charge for his teaching time, you are warmly invited to make a contribution to enable him to continue teaching and support his livelihood at the end of the retreat.

Thursday 21st August at 5pm for registration (please do not arrive before then!). A light supper will be served upon arrival.

Tuesday 26th August at 3pm

Binley Farm, Waterley Bottom, North Nibley, Nr Dursley, Gloucestershire, GL11 6EG

Read more about Binley Farm.

Watch this 3 minute clip to give you a feel of the place:

How to get there
See directions. The nearest train station is Cam & Dursley. The retreat centre can offer a return transport to Cam & Dursley station for £14 only at the times stated below:

Arrival Day – Thursday 21st August –  pick up at 5.15pm from Cam & Dursley

Departure Day – Tuesday 26th August –  drop off at 3.15pm to Cam & Dursley

Please make sure you add this return transport to the cart when booking the retreat.

If you are arriving and departing outside of those times, taxis from Cam & Dursley are approximately £15 to £20 (15 minutes drive).

Other stations: Bristol Parkway, where taxis to the retreat site are approximately £40 (45 minutes drive).

We would strongly recommend that you travel with others if you can only arrive and depart outside of the pick up/drop off times. We have created a Facebook group to arrange group travelling and a Freewheelers page to request or offer lists – email us at to ask for details.

Camping and limited bedrooms which sleep between three to five persons. No single rooms available. Shared bathroom with separate toilets/basins.


Simple vegetarian. Please specify any vegan and special dietary requirements by email.

If camping, your own tents (or share with a friend), sleeping gear, towels, torchlight, meditation cushion and mat if possible, wet weather gear (just in case!), blanket/shawl for deep relaxation. Comfortable shoes for the hike.

If in a room, you will need to bring your own linen: single sheet and duvet cover, pillow case and towel.

Musical instruments are also encouraged!

The schedule will be posted at the beginning of each day in a designated place. There will be periods of sitting and walking meditation each day, group discussions and talks, as well as time to share eating and working together. At the start of the retreat, there will be an orientation.

The exact schedule has yet to be confirmed, but here is a sample:

6:00 – Wake up
6:30 – Sitting meditation
7:15 – Exercise
8:00 – Breakfast
9:00 – Working meditation
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10.00 –  Talk
11.30 – Walking meditation
13.00 – Lunch
16.00 – Workshop
18.30 – Dinner
20.00 – Sharing
21.00  –  Sitting meditation
21.30 –  Noble silence

Five Mindfulness Trainings
We ask retreatants to observe our way of mindful and ethical living as expressed in the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Specific practices include refraining from sexual activity, not smoking and not using alcohol or intoxicants. Please do not bring non-vegetarian foods, alcohol, or other intoxicants to our practice centre.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings were formulated by Thich Nhat Hanh and are  guidelines that encourage and inspire us to act more mindfully,  bringing happiness and meaning to all that we do.  At the end of the retreat, there will be the opportunity to receive these trainings formally if you wish.

Noble silence
We will be observing noble silence at certain times during the retreat. Silence supports us in deepening our practice of mindfulness and looking into ourselves and our habit energies. As still water reflects things as they are, the calming silence can help us to settle, and to see things more clearly. The practice of silence need not be oppressive. Although we do not speak, we can acknowledge the presence of each other with a smile.

Please note however that there are young children living at Binley Farm and so it may not be possible to be in complete silence during the allocated times.

Working meditation
The schedule for the retreat will include the opportunity to practice working meditation. If certain activities will not be suited to you for working meditation, please let us know at

Special skills
If you have any special skills that you wish to offer on retreat, please also let us know by email. This could be anything from a yoga or tai chi session, a music or creative arts workshop, or a dance workshop.

Cancellation policy
£25 non-refundable fee
Up to 3 months before 100%
Up to 2 months before 75%
Up to 1 month before 50%
Thereafter no refund available


The retreat organizing team


Elina Pen
“Born and grew up in Kent, England and of Cambodian origin. Having visited Theravada Buddhist monasteries as a young girl with my parents, I felt naturally drawn to the spiritual path. I discovered mindfulness in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh at 24 (4 years ago) when I came across the Heart of London sangha, a friendly community that comes together to practise every week. Several months later,  I went on my first retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh in Nottingham and became greatly inspired by the energy of peace and warmth I felt from everyone I met. Soon afterwards, I helped to set up the Wake Up London sangha with new friends I made from the retreat. Because I’ve benefited so much from this practice and feel enriched by the connections I’ve made with others who share this path, I feel inspired to become more and more involved with the Wake Up community and raise awareness of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings in the UK. Last year, I decided to leave my job (which felt a bit scary to do) and dedicate more time to Wake Up and other mindfulness related projects. I feel following my heart and doing what makes me truly happy is the best thing I can do for myself.”

kareem wake up tshirt summer retreat 2013

Kareem Ghandour
“I moved from Jordan to the UK to start university in 2008 and I first discovered the practice of mindful living in 2009 when a spontaneous curiosity lead me to Plum Village. Since then my connection to mindfulness practice has continued to grow deeper and has now become a huge part of my everyday life. Practising with Wake Up London for around 3 years has transformed my life in many different ways, and I have drawn great strength and inspiration from strong friendships and connections within the community. I get lots of creative energy from practicing with friends and I enjoy throwing it into music, writing and creating visual multimedia. My biggest passions currently are : Walking meditation in nature and exploring the crazy relationship of technology to mindfulness practice.”

meFelipe Viveros
“I was born on the shores of the River Bio-Bio in Chile, a region home to indigenous cultures and is rich in both wildlife and spirit. Growing up in this region has definitely shaped my worldview.  I left Chile in search of a deeper connection and understanding of nature and spirit. Hence I trained with a traditional healer in the Peruvian Amazonian jungle.  Since this time I have worked for a number of environmental projects globally; including conservation and education projects, as well as utilising herbal medicines and practising traditional spiritual ceremonies and rituals.

I have lived in the UK since 2006 and I am currently based around Glastonbury, Somerset. Here I have been involved with mindfulness practice, engaged Buddhism, counselling and other disciplines. I came to the UK to bring the spirit of what I had learnt throughout my years in South America to the heart of the western world, and I hope also to bring the innovations and ideas that I have studied here in the UK back to my homeland. In this sense I feel I am a bridge between worlds, fortunate enough to bring the gifts of two cultures together with the intention of transformation and healing of both myself and the planet.”

jasmineJasmine Shaw
“Born and living not far from Binley Farm in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Currently working as a part time care worker and helping out on Wake Up projects. 

I love to be not far from nature in all weather. I feel that my mindfulness practice is similar to being outside in all weathers, whether sun, rain or biting cold, through mindful and gentle living I am learning to take care of my inner landscape. It’s definitely not always easy, but I receive great deal of joy from seeing a little more deeply myself and the world, and slowly untying the knots of suffering inside of me. I enjoy photography, which I use as my ‘appreciation tool’ for the world, helping me look at things with more detail, creativity and  curiosity. 
I started meditating when I was 18, and remember enjoying every minute of my first sitting meditation, not knowing how such a simple but often challenging thing could end up being a life project that has taken me on a huge inner journey that still continues. I met the community practising in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition when I was 20, and felt a deep connection to helping to build Wake Up and be part of a community of young people practising mindfulness. My favourite practices are sharing and listening to others, being able to hear others very human experiences really inspires me, and I also love deep relaxation, being able to release tension and getting in touch with my body.”

1397133_10200711073163380_1789094584_o with support from Michael Schwammberger
“I was born in the UK, and grew up on the island of Ibiza, Spain. I started my meditation practice in 1992 with my first teacher Christopher Titmuss and moved to Totnes. I continued to practise in Devon, at The Barn, Sharpham College and Gaia House where I also worked as a coordinator. In June 1996 I visited Plum Village after reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book: “Peace Is Every Step”. Inspired by the energy of community and Thich Nhat Hanh, I stayed and became a monk in February 1997, receiving full ordination in 1998. I travelled extensively with Thich Nhat Hanh and was also based in the monasteries in the US. In 2004, I returned to Plum Village, France and became abbot of Son Ha temple in 2005. In 2012, I left the monastic life and now continue to serve the community and lead mindfulness retreats in the UK, Ireland, France, and Spain as an Order of Interbeing member and lay dharma teacher. My aspirations are to build community and to further integrate Buddhism into our Western society.”

…..and support from Will and Rose Stephens from Binley Farm

See their biographies


Video of previous retreats

Last year’s summer retreat

See photos from last year’s Wake Up UK retreat

and read the feedback below:

“A beautiful three days in the lush Gloucestershire countryside spent re-engaging with ourselves and others.”

“This was my first retreat and I was quite apprehensive about it, but I had the most wonderful time. It felt like  my eyes were being opened to a way of living that I had not experienced before, but found hugely nourishing. In  that sense I really think it will end up being life-changing. Thank you Wake Up!”


“The retreat was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It is so rare in day to day living to experience that amount of love in a non-judgemental atmosphere of pure acceptance. The feeling of being part of a community is so valuable. Moreover, my practice was strengthened incredibly as a result of the retreat. Most noticeably with my relationship to food and other attachments. I have been able to maintain the habits of happiness that I established on the retreat in my daily life. There was also plenty of healing and untying of knots. I had one low point on the retreat but with the collective energy of the sangha I was able to be there for this and quickly got back to enjoying the experience. Comparisons are always difficult but this experience has really been just as powerful and inspiring as being in Plum Village, if not more so. I was so touched by the whole experience…..I felt that I was a bit stuck in my practice before the retreat, like I did not know where to go from here. Now I know exactly what I need to do. Thanks.”

“I thought it was an amazing experience, the people, the organisation to everyone at Binley Farm. It was by far one of my favourite experiences to date and it has changed me a lot.”

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Group photo from Nourishing Happiness 2013 Retreat

Hope to see you there!

London events 5-13 Sept.
Local Wake Up communities in UK