Course Information

Retreat: Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living - CANCELLED

When: 17 May 2021 - 23 May 2021
Where: The Nightingale Centre, Buxton
Tutors: Erik Van den Brink, Bridgette O'Neill

 What is Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (MBCL)?

Nowadays, mindfulness courses are widely offered in preventive and clinical health care, education and other fields. It is therefore not surprising that the interest in follow-up programmes is steadily rising. MBCL is such a programme, building on already established mindfulness skills acquired through standard mindfulness courses. MBCL was developed by two experienced mindfulness trainers, psychiatrist/psychotherapist Erik van den Brink and meditation teacher/ health care professional Frits Koster. Erik and Frits pioneered mindfulness-based work in the Dutch mental health services.

The overall mission of MBCL is to deepen the mindfulness-based path to alleviate suffering and enhance physical, psychological and social wellbeing by offering a secular advanced training in compassion practice towards oneself and others. The programme integrates ancient wisdom from the contemplative traditions with modern scientific insights drawn from evolution and attachment theory, neuroscience, positive psychology and therapeutic models, such as Compassion Focused Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Compassion is defined as the capacity to be sensitive to the suffering of ourselves and others and the willingness to relieve and prevent it (Gilbert, 2014). Compassion has a transpersonal quality, as it involves commitment to alleviate and prevent suffering, whoever is the (potential) sufferer. Therefore, whenever we speak of ‘compassion’, we include ‘self-compassion’. Many recognise their tendency to overlook themselves while trying to be compassionate and the subjective goals most often expressed by those who apply for the course are: to develop a kinder and warmer relationship with themselves; to find a healthy balance between caring for others and caring for themselves; and to find ease with life’s inevitable pain and ‘dis-ease’.

MBCL is designed as a group training for participants who previously followed MBSR, MBCT, Breathworks or equivalent programme. Experience with a programme based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or an established meditation practice may also give sufficient grounding. MBCL is very much a training and not a (group) therapy. As with MBSR and MBCT, participants learn to become their own mentor, coach and therapist. They can share their inner processes, but do not have to.

The MBCL programme can be offered as a preventive programme and is also suitable for those with current health problems to support conventional treatments. It is trans-diagnostic as it provides a way of dealing with suffering in whatever form it presents itself, not as a substitute for methods aimed at cure, but to complement these by cultivating an attitude of care. MBCL is not only suitable for care-seekers, but also for care-givers, non-professional and professional. In fact, it can be offered to everyone who benefitted from mindfulness training and would like to deepen their practice with heartfulness.

The Retreat Programme:

There will be a daily meditation programme, with formal guided practice sessions in the mornings, afternoons and some evenings, offering practices from the MBCL programme. Some themes in these formal sessions will be explored with Interpersonal Mindfulness practices. Outside these formal sessions, the retreat setting will offer ample space for individual silent sitting practice, yoga or walking meditation. The guidance by the tutor includes guided meditations and exercises, inquiry and teachings during the formal sessions and interviews with the participants in small groups or individually at request.

Content of the formal practice sessions:

Although the emphasis is on experiential work, embedded in silence, key themes of the MBCL curriculum will be integrated in the teachings, such as the evolutionary perspective and multi-layered brain; the three basic emotion regulation (threat, drive and soothing) systems and how to cultivate a healthy balance; deepening the understanding of stress reactions like fight, flight, freeze and tend & befriend, including their psychological equivalents and how to compassionately deal with them; cultivating a compassionate mind and an inner helper; over-identifying and de-identifying; common humanity and the Four Friends for Life (a secular naming for the Brahmaviharas): loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.

Key practices include: soothing breathing rhythm, compassionate imagery (safe place, compassionate companion, embodying compassion); dealing compassionately with resistance, desire and maladaptive patterns; loving kindness (secular metta) towards ourselves and others; compassionate breathing (secular tonglen); a compassionate bodyscan; walking and moving with kindness; compassionate letter writing; practising sympathetic joy, gratitude, forgiveness and equanimity; informal practices for daily life.

Who is the retreat for?

This secular retreat is intended for those with an established mindfulness practice and particularly aimed at mindfulness teachers, therapists, health care workers, counsellors and other professionals working with mindfulness-based interventions, who wish to deepen their personal meditation with compassion focussed practices.

This retreat will help mindfulness teachers who wish to be included on the UK Network Listing of Mindfulness Teachers fulfil the requirement to attend an annual mindfulness retreat.

Requirements to attend:

Completion of an eight-week MBSR or MBCT course or equivalent mindfulness training.

About the teachers:

Erik van den Brink

Bridgette O’Neill


Please arrive at 3.30 pm on 17th May.  The retreat finishes after lunch on 23rd May.


The Nightingale Centre, Great Hucklow, Buxton SK17 8RH

Set in the beautiful Peak District.

What to bring/wear:

There will be a limited amount of equipment at the venue so please bring equipment such as a yoga mat, blanket and cushion for sitting if possible. It’s advisable to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing.

Our full rates have no hidden extras and include deposit, teaching, room and board. 

 Fee Option:

  • Full rate for SINGLE accommodation (1 to a room): £945.00 (includes £200.00 deposit, of which £100 is non-refundable)
  • Full rate for SHARED accommodation: £845 (includes £100 non-refundable deposit)
  • Employer's rate for SINGLE accomodation: £995 (includes £200.00 deposit, of which £100 is non-refundable)
  • Employer's rate for SHARED accomodation: £895 (includes £100 non-refundable deposit)
  • Please note that there is limited availability for single rooms, which will be allocated by health need priority and then on a first come, first served basis.
  • If the full rate for SINGLE accommodation is paid but we cannot meet your request for a single room due to lack of availability, we will allocate you SHARED accommodation and refund £100.00 to you or your employer.
  • Employer's rate - Recognising the large administrative overhead of dealing with employers, we will be adding a £50 surcharge if the employer is paying directly; where possible we would advise applicants to pay themselves and reclaim on expenses to avoid the charge. We will be applying this to all our offerings with effect from September 2020.

Please note: The majority of our venues have shared bathrooms including for SINGLE rooms. Please contact us if you have any specific needs that we need to be aware of.

The Application and Payment Process:

Our application and payment process involves the following steps:

  1. We receive your application form and assess it to ensure that this retreat is suitable for you. We endeavour to make assessments within a week, but if the retreat leader is on annual leave or on retreat then this can take a little bit longer.
  2. Upon offering you a place, we will then invoice you either for the deposit (of which £100 is non-refundable) or for the full amount, depending which option you choose when you complete your application.
  3. Your place is fully confirmed once we receive your deposit or full retreat payment.
  4. If you select to pay the deposit only, we will invoice you for the balance four months before the retreat starts.
  5. If the full rate for SINGLE accommodation is paid but we cannot meet your request for a single room due to lack of availability then we will allocate you SHARED accommodation and refund £100.00 to you or your employer.
  6. We will email you the joining instructions in advance of the course.

Payment and Cancellation Policy:

Please read our Terms and Conditions for information regarding payments and cancellations.

For more information:

Please email us at

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