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Retreat: Cultivating the Heart-Mind with Serenity and Insight

  • Mt Carmel Retreat Centre 247 St Andrews Road Varroville, NSW Australia (map)

Training and practice in mindfulness, focused attention, loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.

Ten days (9 nights with 3 and 6 nights options) silent meditation retreat.

For More Information and to Register:

Dates and times: 

All three options begin Friday 30/8/19 at 4pm.   Three-night retreat finishes lunchtime Monday 2/9/18 or as required by participants. Six-night retreat finishes Thursday 5/9/19 at lunchtime or as required by participants. Ten-day retreat finishes Sunday 8/9/19 at lunchtime or as required by participants.

Who is this retreat for?

This silent residential retreat is for anyone who has had some prior experience with meditation and wishes to enhance and practice his or her skills. The retreat is suited to the general public as well as health care practitioners, therapists, educators, programme leaders and it will partially fulfill CPD requirements for some professionals. For those with aspirations to teach, this silent retreat will also partially fulfill requirements for teacher training in programmes such as Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).


The whole retreat is limited to 31 participants. In order to provide consistency, 18 places will be reserved for 10 day retreatants up until 3 weeks prior to the beginning of the retreat (9/8/19).  


Fees for 9 nights (10 days) option: $1280 + dana for private ensuite room. Share* = $1165 + dana.

Fees for 6 nights (7 days) option: $900 + dana for private ensuite room. Share* = $820 + dana.

Fees for 3 nights (4 days) option: $610 + dana for private ensuite room. Share* = $560 + dana.

*”Share” involves sharing with one other person who is a partner and/or a friend. The share arrangements need to be organised by the retreatant.


 The venue has a meat and fish menu for their residents and they will cater for vegetarian, vegan (dairy free) and general non-coeliac gluten free diets.


Meditation Teacher: Malcolm Huxter:

Yoga Teacher: Lisa Brown:

Onsite Manager: Amy Dempsey


In Buddhism, one Pali term that is often used for meditation is citta bhavanaBhavana means “bringing into being” or “cultivating” and Citta (pronounced as chitta) translates as heart-mind, which implies both reason and intuition. Citta is also considered as the aware part of a person or the subjective knower of experience. Citta bhavana therefore translates as cultivating the heart-mind.

From a Theravada Buddhist perspective all meditation involves some form of effort, mindfulness and concentration or focussed attention. The effort involved with meditation is not the same as strain or struggle. The type of effort required in meditation can involve rousing enthusiasm, energy, and commitment to persist. It can also involve knowing when there is too much energy or enthusiasm and letting go or letting be.

One way mindfulness has been defined is: to remember to be attentive to immediate experience with care and discernment (Bodhi according to Sharpiro 2009). In meditation, concentration is the gathering together, collecting, focussing and placing of attention. It is the stabilising, centring and unification of attention.

In the Buddhist traditions there are two aspects of meditation: serenity and insight. A feature of insight meditation is enquiry into the nature of experience. With insight meditations we enquire into experience asking what is happening and how it is happening in order to gain understanding. The features of serenity meditation include stillness, quietude, calm and clarity. Insight and serenity work together. When our minds are settled and clear with serenity, we are more able to see clearly and understand with insight. As we progress towards awakening we thrive with the support of four heart qualities: benevolence, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.

During this retreat you will be invited to cultivate serenity, insight and four heart qualities. We will focus on the development of mindfulness, focussed attention, kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity.

Mindfulness is considered as a meditation practice, a core therapeutic process and a coping skill. Mindfulness has become a powerful psychological strategy for an array of mental health presentations as well as a practice to increase psychological wellbeing. Mindfulness has also been shown to enhance effectiveness in areas that include parenting, education, relationships, the workplace and more. Some of the core contemporary third wave approaches that use mindfulness include: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  

Developing focussed attention or concentration is a key component of most meditation practices as well as many psychotherapeutic interventions. When cultivated systematically it can result in relaxation, a calm mind, a peaceful heart and profound transformations in consciousness.

The health and relationship benefits of compassion and loving kindness are becoming evident with current scientific research. The development of therapeutic and educational approaches such as Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT), Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB), Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) and Rick Hanson’s Positive Neuroplasticity Training (PNT) are gaining popularity with therapists and educators because they work to reduce mental and emotional suffering. The four heart qualities also help to harmonise interpersonal relationships, increase wellbeing, peace, joy and generally enhance functional agility in our complex modern world.