Yorkshire is one of England’s most beautiful places to retreat “up North”. This fiercely proud and historic county is known for its unspoiled rugged beauty (for example, Yorkshire Dales) and many fantastic places where we can withdraw from the chaotic world. Buddhist retreats in Yorkshire are becoming more and more prevalent as people turn to meditation and spirituality to counterbalance the effects of the fast-paced lifestyle of the modern technological world. Buddhist Retreats allow you the space and time to escape worldly responsibilities, develop calm and contentment, and re-energize your determination to pursue a more wholesome and stress-free lifestyle. Here we will list some places for those interested in delving into the millennia-old wisdom of Buddhist teachings.
Theravada Buddhist Retreats in Yorkshire
In Buddhism, the Theravada school is commonly considered to be the oldest existing Buddhist school. It is based on the teachings of the Buddha, which have been recorded in the earliest texts called the Pali Canon for over two millennia. Most retreats in the Theravada traditions tend to be more meditation oriented, and they are normally held in silence, with occasional instructions from a teacher interspersed throughout. It offers a more down-to-earth approach. As a result of the Vipassana movement, the Theravada meditation practice was revived for lay practitioners during the modern era, as was the Forest Tradition, which emphasized forest monasticism.
They offer retreats led by teachers associated with Gaia House Retreat Centre in Devon and regular groups for meditation practice. They are linked to the Vipassana (Insight) movement that began in the Theravada (South East Asian) schools of Buddhism in the early 20th century and sought to reconnect with the teachings of early Buddhism. They have regular peer-led sitting groups on Saturdays. Occasionally they run residential retreats (currently offering five or six one-day-retreat or two-day retreats a year) and a New Year three-day non-residential retreat at the Central Sheffield Quaker Meeting House. They offer short courses facilitated by teachers or community Dharma leaders on different themes and topics to support bringing our meditation practice into daily life.
Their space is a new centre in the heart of York, at 17 Walmgate. They are part of the Triratna Buddhist Community. They welcome everyone, no matter if you consider yourself a Buddhist or wish to become one. Also, everything they provide is free of charge. They offer meditation classes, courses and retreats. Retreats are only offered for a day, around six hours.
Sheffield Buddhist Centre is run by members of the Triratna Buddhist Order, who teach and practice a non-sectarian style of Buddhism. They run regular classes for newcomers to Buddhism and meditation and a complete programme of other courses, events, retreats, festivals, and study seminars for those with more experience. All their courses are free, following the ancient tradition of free generosity. Apart from occasional weekend retreats, they hold Sangha Nights every Tuesday.
Tibetan Buddhist Retreats in Yorkshire
The Tibetan Buddhist tradition evolved from the latest stages of Indian Buddhism, which is a form of Mahayana Buddhism. In this way, it preserves a number of Indian tantric practices as well as a number of Tibetan innovations. A retreat can be of any length. It is usually entered into by a student under the guidance of a teacher who has mastered the techniques that will be practised during the retreat. In addition to a wide range of Tantric practices, there are many ways to connect to sound through mantra (sacred words and phrases), gesture through mudra (ritualized sacred hand gestures), sight through visualizations and mandalas (diagrams of the universe), and vital energies through meditation and yoga.
One of the area’s most recognized and popular Buddhist places is undoubtedly the Kadampa Meditation Centre. This centre has many associated centres and groups scattered throughout the county. The main centre is just outside Pocklington, near York. This is one of 1200 such centres situated in 40 countries around the world based on the principles of Kadampa Buddhism. Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Their home is Kilnwick Percy Hall, a stunning Grade 2* listed building within 47 acres of a picturesque 18th-century park with mature woodland, ornamental water, a church, and a deserted village site.
The website invites visitors to visit the Centre and the grounds from morning to evening. “The atmosphere promotes friendliness!” exclaimed one of the visitors. You can also use the World Peace Cafe, Gift Shop, and Wolds Retreat bed and breakfast. There is free entry and parking.
A special place of tranquillity, rest, and reflection also offers activities such as meditation classes, courses, and garden projects. Join them for fifteen minutes of meditation each day. You will experience a calm, spacious feeling in your mind, and many of our usual problems will disappear. Or you could join them in chanting prayers for world peace. Both events are free, and there is no need to book. You might have to book in advance and pay for other classes (if you are not a member). They also organize weekend meditation retreats and weekly retreats.
The Centre aims to make the principles of Kadampa Buddhism accessible to all people regardless of age, gender, ethnic background or religious or spiritual leaning. The accommodation is comfortable and modern. The principle of service applies to all Buddhist retreats, so you will be required to assist in running the Centre if you stay longer than a weekend.
Other Kadampa Meditation Centres in Yorkshire
Jamyang is a community-based organization based in Holbeck, South Leeds. Jamyang Leeds was founded in 1996 under the spiritual direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. They offer courses and events focused on the Buddhist Mahayana tradition; they also provide a range of activities to support your physical, mental and emotional well-being. On their website, they guarantee visitors a warm welcome. In their centre, you will find a vegetarian café, book shop and charity shop, and bright, open spaces for meetings and events. They offer weekly meditation classes suitable for beginners and people with meditation experience. They run a dynamic program of courses, talks and events. They run residential retreats three times yearly and regular weekend group practice sessions for more advanced practitioners. Furthermore, all are welcome to attend classes and courses in their spiritual and well-being programmes.
It is a well-organized community that has a lot to offer. Their compassion is seen in their openness to welcoming anyone. You can sit comfortably on a sofa with a cup of hot tea at their centre if you need a warm space, surrounded by calm, happy, and positive people. You can also use their free wifi access. There is also a beautiful library to read ancient and modern books on Buddhism and Tibet. You are more than welcome to join as a volunteer.
The Tibetan Buddhist Centre is in a beautiful, historic building, Londesborough Lodge in Scarborough. It is a centre for meditation and the health and well-being of the community. It offers instruction in Buddhist philosophy and meditation within the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. They offer a wide range of support: meditation classes, short retreats, teaching about Buddhism and mindfulness, Yoga and Pilates classes, and garden days. Also, there you can wander around the beautiful gardens, a place that continues to get even more decorated with a wide variety of flowers. The centre is devoted to acceptance, love and compassion.
The Centre also offers self-contained en-suite rooms for those who wish to live as long-term residents. However, they do not have any overnight or short-term accommodation available.
Rangjung Yeshe Gomde belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Nyingma & Kagyu and is set on an idyllic 180-acre estate. They have facilities for study, practice and even solitary retreats. The Lindholme Estate, where the main house is located, is part of a rare habitat and is managed to conserve and protect its biodiversity. Every Monday, they host an evening group where they study and meditate, either at the centre or online. Lindholme Hall also offers a pleasant environment for dedicated practitioners to practice. Whether for a short or long-term full retreat or as a base to enable one to focus on practice in the longer term. It is pleasant to know that the resort also offers an individual retreat in their cabins. The retreat cabins are located in a secluded woodland setting. Two are off the grid, located within the orchard and woodland. The houses are newly constructed, fully insulated and self-contained, ideal for practitioners wishing for complete seclusion. Another option would be to have an individual retreat in the Hall. They offer different rooms for retreat, all comfortable and with beautiful views, with facilities and prices to suit different budgets. The community supports the retreat, and meals are served in the retreatant’s room, the private dining room, or the community dining room in the coach house. This suits the practitioner. Another option is to become a part of the residential community. This is if you aspire to help grow and sustain Gomde and all its activities. You can also become an occasional volunteer if you like to share your skills or develop new skills. However, Gomde remains closed to visitors due to COVID restrictions.
Zen Buddhist Retreats in Yorkshire
The development of Zen within Mahayana Buddhism originated in China and later spread to Japan. It emphasizes rigorous self-restraint, meditation practice and the subsequent insight into the nature of mind and nature of things, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life. As such, it de-emphasizes knowledge alone of sutras and doctrine and favours direct understanding through spiritual practice and Dokusan (one-to-one private meetings with the Zen Teacher). A Zen Retreat (Sesshin) is a time of intensive meditation practice and can be psychologically and emotionally demanding. Meditation sessions generally last between 8 and 10 hours a day, but they can provide guidance to beginners as well as long-term practitioners.
York Sangha practises in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, following his emphasis on mindful living and engaged Buddhism. They don’t have a place; however, they regularly meet on Mondays and Thursdays at St Bede’s Centre, a short walk from the railway station, or on Zoom. They, too, organize retreats that operate on a Not for Profit basis. Coming to a Plum Village-style retreat is an opportunity to enjoy simple and peaceful living and to learn how to cultivate the energy of mindfulness to have more freedom, inner peace and happiness in your daily life.
Bradford Zen Group welcomes everyone who wants to join a Zen meditation group. In Bradford, the group has followed Soto Zen since 2011 at the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley. They sit for zazen (seated meditation) once a week on a Tuesday evening. Those newly introduced to Zen meditation are offered an introduction to posture and practice 20 minutes before they start with formal group meditation.
Non-Buddhist Retreats in Yorkshire
And for those who want to check out also for other retreat places in Yorkshire that are not directly associated with Buddhism, check out the pages below:
For more information about other retreats in the UK or around the world, please click here.