'Mindfulness and the Brain' Retreats


No events planned at present

A 2-day, non-residential intensive.

Venue:  Jamyang Centre, The Old Courthouse, 43 Renfrew Road, London SE11 4NA

Cost£170.   Early-bird (before Jan 12th 2016) £145.  including tuition, tea/coffee and lunch.  

Led by:  Mike Bell

Booking form

Enquiries:  phone or text Mike on 07790 299000

Non-residential.  0900-1700  Saturday, 0900-1600 Sunday

Aim:  An experiential weekend retreat looking at what brain research tells us about mindfulness practice.

This weekend brings together effective practices originating in Buddhism, and the latest insights from neuroscience.  It will be a mix of  study sessions, discussion and a variety of practices.

Although there is some theory, most of the w/e will be practice and discussion.
No prior knowledge needed,  but some advance reading/viewing may be helpful.


By the end of this retreat you should:

  • Be familiar with the main brain areas and the jobs they do
  • Be able to explain the reasons and mechanism of worry and rumination
  • Have experienced benefits of traditional meditation practices leading to improved happiness
  • Be able to explain why these methods are effective
  • Have experimented with new methods derived from brain-based theory

Feedback from previous 'Mindfulness and the Brain' retreats

Programme for the weekend

Tour of the brain

5 senses
Actions and speech

What is mindfulness

Working memory
The Default Mode Network

Peripheral v central vision


What are memories?
Transforming negative memories

The higher self

No Separate Self
The Executive


Responses to the question:  “I am interested in the Buddhism and the Brain event because....."

...I'm just fascinated

... I am fascinated in how Buddhist meditation affects the mind.  I would like to see more scientific research into the affects of meditation on brain

... it could tie in with my work as a counsellor, and also help me in my own personal life.

.... it will encourage my practice…

.... I am interested in the latest scientific knowledge suggesting that the brain is much more plastic than formerly believed.

.... the course could be inspirational for me, and give some confirmation of the benefits of meditation not only to myself, but also to sceptics and beginners

... I am interested in how brain function is affected by meditation and also how mindfulness and developing our love & compassion affects how we experience the world”.

...because I suspect that Buddhism can shape the brain, even physically.

……….. I am interested in the changes that meditation and other practices can make on the brain and how this might impact on mental health and learning difficulties like ADHD

...I like to know how things work

...I recently visited a holistic healing centre in Germany and great emphasis was laid upon mind training and belief system changes.

...I am a nurse working with chronically ill and palliative/terminal patients and am interested in how meditation and mindfulness could help such patients with stress relief, pain relief and helping to find meaning to life or be in touch with their spirituality (particularly at the end of life).  I am also interested in how meditation/buddhism and mindfulness can help workers in the field of Palliative care (such as myself) to cope and also be 'there' for the patients more.  I am interested generally in the cross-overs of Psychology and Buddhism.

...  I am curious

 ... It’s fascinating and increases my enthusiasm for mindfulness and meditation

... it is an area that I feel has relevance to every part of my life. The way the brain works influences me in how I work as a business coach and trainer and I don’t think you can really understand Buddhism without reference to the brain. I also think we have so much more to learn about our brains.

...  my personal interest is in Buddhism but for my professional work having a secular scientific evidence base is very useful in promoting mindfulness practice in NHS and secular / mainstream services.  Therefore my particular interest is probably more in mindfulness and the brain rather than Buddhism exclusively / specifically.  I know its difficult  to separate this out but my limited understanding suggests the research is based on effects of meditation on the brain rather than Buddhism per se

... it would seem that we still have a lot to learn about the brain and how it functions and I would like to learn more about it from a spiritual perspective such as Buddhism and possibly learn to better access and harmonise its optimal functioning.

.... I have been reading and learning about the fascinating brain and love to share and learn from others who are interested in the subject.

... One of my earliest and most exciting experiences with Buddhism was when I heard a brown jacketed brother describe how engaging with Buddhism is “like re-programming the mind”. It resonated with me precisely because it was how I was experiencing Buddhism. By developing my own practice I could, literally, change the way I thought ...   My own experience of the practice has always been one of transformation and healing, the manifestation of the four noble truths, and my understanding of this has always been shaped by Buddhist psychology. It is in this context that I am interested in Buddhism and the brain. 

... it is interesting that there is evidence - for the sceptics out there - that the practice does make a difference.

... my degree in Psychology included some neuroscience - but many years ago, I've always been interested in effects of meditation on the brain and try to use mindfulness in my work with children with special needs, and adults with dementia.

... I am interested in thinking about the evidence about how the brain can change if we alter the way we think and work to take control of our thoughts.

.... Whilst at Plum Village a few years back I watched a DVD of a Q&A session with Thay at a retreat for neuroscientists and was blown away by some of the sharing.

 it would be interesting to learn more how meditation influences our brain's functions and what experienced people can share and teach us……..”

I have a brain, I am curious about how it functions, I have children and grandchildren who may be helped by my deepening my understanding of same…..”

... I have found the descriptions of the physiological connections between how we feel and how are brain works very interesting and would like to know more.……

...I read Buddha's Brain and thought the findings were interesting and helpful to practice e.g. the idea of balancing a perfectly normal tendency to notice what's wrong because it has it's roots in survival. I was also very interested in the talk you gave at New Barn during one of the Order/Aspirant retreats.

...……….. I'm a Clinical Psychologist using mindfulness with people with diabetes. I'm also a student of Sogyal Rinpoche. I've also studied Neuroscience to MSc level but haven't looked into Buddhism and Brain for a while

.... ………..I would like to understand more thoroughly the physical and psychological impacts of meditation and mindfulness practice

…it addresses the interconnection between body/spirit……..”

... ……….I believe it is the future of us all to know properly, as much as we can, how we work, and how we can use that knowledge for the good of all.


Responses to the question: “The event or network will be valuable to me if it....."

... takes place? Is relevant to all types of learning/unlearning, not just educational i.e. therapy, art etc. Is affordable.

... focussed on practical application of theory.

... gives advice on how to maximise benefits and shares research on the implications of different practices and particularly the benefits.

... if it seeks the scientific contribution of neuro surgeons or psychiatrists.

.... there were neuroscientists present to give a presentation about latest research. Not sure the purpose of a networking event - what would I be networking for. I'm interested in going to a lecture about it and learning more from people who are professionals and experts in that field of knowledge.

.....includes input from people involved in neuroscience & the behavioural sciences

...helps me in understanding illness and disease

..... encouraged my practice…

... helps me to develop my everyday practice and to understand more about the nature of meditation

.... mentions practical ways to apply techniques such as mindfulness to patient care, therapy and also for care-givers to use for themselves.  Shows there is evidence for e.g. mindfulness benefiting people to cope with stress/depression etc (there is a lot of evidence).

... included input from a professional with good knowledge of the subject

... if it combines meditation with the latest findings eg  from the course that was held at the European Institute earlier this year

...takes my understanding further and provides me with thought provoking ideas

...provided information and opportunity to share and discuss findings and implications for practice and network with others who have similar interests. ………”

.. includes like minded people who are curious, open minded and want to learn for the benefit of themselves as well as others

... different knowledge and experience in the related subject are shared by professionals and practitioners

... If it allows me the opportunity to both broaden and deepen my understanding of what Buddhism can teach us about our brains and how they work, particularly in terms of who we are and how we are.

 ... should show variations how people are affected - i.e. do different or particular meditation practices help people in different ways - could they be "geared" to help specific people?

...was a mixture of information from experts and discussion, plus relaxation and mindfulness

... offers some reading or a chance to hear others' thinking.

... Finds a way of exploring the subject without getting too bogged down in theories and thinking. If we stay true to the practice.

offers and opportunity to deepen my Buddhist practice by understanding my mind better ……”

... goes into the working of the brain more deeply

...adds to my understanding in a similar way to the above. Habits and changing pathways and so on...  The neuroscience of anger maybe.

...... ……… includes lots of practice, networking opportunities and talks on effects of Buddhist practices on the brain

.. ………Gives me empirical evidence of specific changes in brain state and the impacts of these on health and well-being brought about by mindfulness practice.

…clarifies my ideas!……”