Course Information

Retreat: Mindfulness-based Compassionate Living (in-person)

When: 21 Apr 2024 - 26 Apr 2024
Where: The Nightingale Centre, Buxton
Tutors: Bridgette O'Neill, Erik van den Brink

What’s involved?

This retreat provides an opportunity to explore the framework of the mindfulness based compassionate living programme within a retreat setting.

What is Compassion?

"Compassion is the capacity to be sensitive to the suffering of ourselves and others and the willingness to relieve and prevent it" (Paul Gilbert, 2014). It is a capacity inherent in all of us but for many reasons does not always come to flourish. Fortunately, it can be trained, developed and deepened through practice. Compassion is characterised by kindness and receptivity as well as courage and responsibility. Many believe compassion should be directed towards others rather than ourselves but self-compassion is not selfish. Research increasingly shows that self-compassion is – like mindfulness – key to mental health and goes hand in hand with greater openness and empathy towards others.

What is Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living (MBCL)?

MBCL is a mindfulness-based programme that supports the development and training of compassion (including self-compassion) to enhance physical, emotional and relational health and well-being. It is grounded in science and integrates work of Paul Gilbert (Compassion Focused Therapy) and Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer (Mindful Self-Compassion) as well as elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Positive Psychology. The MBCL programme is suitable as an advanced course after having followed a mindfulness training (MBSR, MBCT or equivalent). It was originally developed in a mental health setting but the scope of its application extends much further. It can be helpful to anyone – care-seeker or care-giver – wishing to deepen mindfulness 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 tutors includes guided meditations and exercises, inquiry and teachings during the formal sessions and meetings with 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; 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 limiting habitual patterns; loving kindness towards ourselves and others; compassionate breathing; a compassionate bodyscan; walking and moving with kindness; compassionate letter writing; practising sympathetic joy, gratitude, forgiveness and equanimity; informal practices for daily life.

Further details about the MBCL programme can be found in the following book: A Practical Guide to Mindfulness-Based Compassionate Living - Living with Heart by Erik van den Brink & Frits Koster, with Victoria Norton (Routledge, 2018). This is a self-help guide and workbook used by participants in a standard MBCL course.

Who is the retreat for?

This 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 8 week MBSR or MBCT course or equivalent mindfulness training.

Please ensure you are able to attend the entire event. If this is not possible, please contact us to discuss before submitting an application.


Please arrive by 4pm on 21st April 2024. The retreat will finish by 12.30pm on the last day, followed by lunch.

What to bring/wear:

Please bring equipment to support your practice (e.g. a mat, cushion or bench, blanket).


The retreat will be held at the The Nightingale Centre and although seeming “away from it all” Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and the Midlands are all nearby. there are few places more central to the country as a whole and along the ridge above Hucklow you can see five counties on a clear day!  

Our rates:

Full rate for a single room: £1,063 (includes £100 non-refundable deposit)

Bursary-assisted places are available on this event until three months before the event starts. If it is less than three months before the start date of the event, please get in touch to discuss if an application is possible.  When applying for a bursary-assisted place, please first register on the event and select the fee ‘I’m applying for a bursary-assisted place’. Once you have registered for the event you will also need to complete and return a bursary application form.  

To find out more about our bursary schemes, criteria for bursary applications and to complete the bursary application form please visit:  

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. 

The Application 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 £100 non-refundable deposit or for the full amount (for Single accommodation), depending which option you choose when you complete your application.
  3. Your place is fully confirmed once we receive your deposit or full course payment.
  4. If you selected to pay the deposit only, we will invoice you for the balance four months before the course starts.
  5. 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

Click here to sign up to our waiting list - unfortunately this event is now full.