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Former Tibetan Buddhist Monk, Choden, will introduce us to compassion practices. These help to cultivate inner safeness and self-care. Self-compassion means extending compassion to oneself in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering. We can extend self-kindness to others and the planet. Drawing from Buddhist insights, compassion is vital to the integrity and sustainability of the world we live in. We will introduce practices to build on the compassion we have cultivated for ourselves and extend it to all living beings and the environment we live in.

For those who have participated in Rob Nairn’s Mindfulness-based Living Courses, this is the next step. We move from mindfulness to compassion, to insight and wisdom.

The retreat consists of talks, guided practices, meditations in nature, silent sitting and group inquiry. There will also be opportunities to discuss the ethic of Ubuntu/Botho as a follow up to HH the Dalai Lama’s Dialogue in Botswana.


Scientific research shows that compassion is an evolved capacity within the brain. It has the capacity to soften and heal the stress and compulsiveness that so characterize modern life. Although compassion is generally linked to kith and kin, our new brain propensities enable us to extend this to people of different races and cultural backgrounds. Compassion enables us to find a stable place within ourselves. From here, we can relate with wisdom and kindness to the strong forces of emotions of anxiety, anger and sadness that move through us. We can also relate to the struggles of other people and find a place of genuine empathy for them.


Buddhist contemplative practice reaffirms the transforming power of compassion. It charts a path to move from genuine self compassion to compassion for others. We will use the model of the Four Immeasurable Contemplations of love, compassion, joy and equanimity. Mindfulness is key to this process, where we find a place of stillness and stability within ourselves. But mindfulness on its own is not enough. We need also to bring a warmth and kindness to ourselves, to bring self compassion into the mindfulness practice. This lays the ground for resilience and self care. And then too, self compassion is not enough. It is the basis for compassion for others: seeing how others suffer just as we do. This connection with others is the basis of transformation.

We will introduce practices to cultivate inner safeness and self-care that are crucial to building emotional resilience and healthy relationships. Then, we will then draw on insights from Buddhism to show that compassion is vital to the integrity and sustainability of the world we live in. We will introduce practices to build on the compassion we have cultivated for ourselves and extend it to all living beings and the environment we live in.

Retreat Leader and Support

Formally a monk for seven years within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Choden (aka Sean Mc Govern) completed a three year, three month retreat in 1997. He has been a practicing Buddhist since 1985. Originally from South Africa, Choden trained as a lawyer and learned meditation under the guidance of Rob Nairn. Now Choden is involved in developing secular mindfulness and compassion programmes. These draw upon the wisdom and methods of the Buddhist tradition, as well as contemporary insights from psychology and neuroscience. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Aberdeen and teaches on their Postgraduate Study Programme in Mindfulness (MSc). This is the first of its kind to include compassion in its curriculum. In 2013 he published a book with Paul Gilbert, entitled ‘Mindful Compassion’. The book explores the interface between Buddhist and Evolutionary approaches to compassion training.

Choden will be supported by Lucy Draper-Clarke, who has a doctorate in mindfulness and teacher education. She has practised yoga for 20 years and taught yoga and mindfulness in Botswana and South Africa since 2006. She has been lucky enough to study with inspiring Buddhist mindfulness, and Vinyasa yoga, teachers, and offers a combined practice known as Mindfulness Yoga. Her light-hearted approach to teaching allows participants to learn through a joyful, yet transformative practice.

Retreat Costs

The cost covers accommodation (including bedding and towels), food (including 3 ovo-lactarian vegetarian meals per day, snacks and teas), environmental levy to support the Tikologo permaculture site, and a contribution towards the facilitator’s flight cost:

Single, shared bathroom:              R4562
Twin/double en suite:                    R4100
Twin/double, shared bathroom:  R3500
Dormitory:                                        R2830
Camping (own tent):                       R2357

A deposit of R1800 should accompany the booking, to confirm your room choice. There are only five en suite rooms available. If they have been taken by the time your deposit arrives, you will be allocated to a twin/double with shared bathroom. The deposit is non-refundable, but is transferable to another retreat, or another person on the waiting list.

To book, please fill in the online booking form here: https://goo.gl/forms/kp3VByarzR3Tc97N2

Dana will be accepted by the retreat facilitator in appreciation of the teachings.

For more general retreat information, click here