In the Buddhist context Mindfulness is a wholesome mental factor which opens the door for loving kindness, clear knowing, spaciousness and tranquility.
From that place of peace and friendliness we gain insight and wisdom leading us towards a more balanced and fulfilling way of life.
In ‘letting-go’ of the cherishing of our likes and dislikes space is opened-up and we enter a world of vast potential.
Mindfulness, or Satipatthana, is a practice for the well-being of oneself and others.
“ When all striving ceases the mind’s essential peace will be revealed”.
Reflecting on the un-avoidable reality of impermanence and the preciousness of the present moment, will turn the mind towards the dharma.
It was after having been confronted by illness, old age and death, that the Buddha started his quest for “the cessation of suffering”.
For our practice to make sense, we need to reflect on our motivation. Why are we doing this practice? Each time we embark on a formal practice session, each time we breath out we need to ask ourselves “what is my true aspiration, my true intention?”
The Buddha asks us to reflect on the effects of our actions of body, speech and mind, those of the past, present and future. Are they coming from a wholesome state of mind, are they leading to happiness, to ease of self and others?
Sati – Mindfulness is the indispensable factor for the development of wisdom and that of skilful means, i.e. the four Brahma Viharas
“that which looks over the various factors which arise in meditation is “sati”, mindfulness. Sati is life. Whenever we don’t have sati, when we are heedless, it is as if we were dead. If we have no sati then our speech and actions have no meaning. Sati is simply presence of mind. It is a cause for arising of self-awareness and wisdom" (Ajahn Chah).
In the Satipatthana Sutta the Buddha addressed the bhikkhus as follows: "This is the only way, O bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of Nibbana, namely, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness”
Sati is a surrendering to and resting in the moment that presents itself at the time, fully and joyfully with lightness of heart and mind.
So, at The Orchard the practice of Sati - Mindfulness continues and can be joined by whoever wishes to do so on their journey towards ease-fullness, joy and balance in mind and body.
“When all striving ceases, the mind’s essential peace will be revealed”
T’ai-Ji is a practice of friendliness for the well-being of oneself and others. It is a gentle yet profound practice.
In “Touching Stillness” T’ai-Ji is presented in a non-intrusive manner, allowing for space and lightness. By not forcing ourselves into a preferred direction, we yield to the moment, stay grounded and approach any activity with ease, clarity and strength, making T’ai-Ji the healing force it is meant to be.
With the form of the Five Elements and the First Circle as our base, we share our learning with joyful mindfulness, embracing with loving kindness whatever comes our way. By letting go of the cherishing of our likes and dislikes and by surrendering to the moment, T’ai-Ji will spontaneously express itself. “it is in the non-doing that the mind’s essential peace is revealed”.
All T’ai-Ji retreats can be joined with or without any previous experience. Groups are on purpose of mixed levels of experience to enhance our learning through sharing with each other. Each retreat focuses on the practice of mindfulness through T’ai-Ji movement, relaxation and breathing exercises, sitting and walking meditation, emphasising the integration of this practice in daily life.
His search for happiness led him to the practice of Mindfulness Meditation and T’ai-Ji starting in 1975. Dutch by birth, he came to the UK in 1979 to work more closely with his first meditation teacher John Garrie Roshi.
Until 1989 he worked for a period of 18 years in Africa. First for 6 years as a hydro-geologist in Tanzania and Kenya and then as a project consultant for rural development with local communities in both east and west Africa.
As Ad’s teaching commitments increased he stopped working in Africa to solely focus on developing his teaching skills and The Orchard as a meditation centre.
“Touching Stillness” expresses a unique blend of mindfulness meditation and T’ai-Ji as evolved over a period of more than 30 years of teaching both in the UK and abroad.
A profound deepening of his meditation practice occurred under the late Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche with whom he studied intensively during retreats ranging from two weeks to six months.
His deepest gratitude goes to his teachers for their generous sharing from their treasure of wisdom and compassion: John Garrie Roshi, Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche, Chungliang Al Huang and Suprapto Suryodarmo.
To enhance his teaching skills he completed a diploma course in counselling and a one-year training in sensorimotor psychotherapy for trauma recovery.
What others say about the leadership:
“ ...leads with care and humour..”
“ ...committed, powerful, patient and fun...”
“ ...relaxed, non-dogmatic, experiential approach..”
"..no gimmicks, nothing superficial, or"instant", just a generous sharing of his belief.."
Two weekends of T’ai-Ji practice days for all levels
T'ai-Ji is a practice of loving kindness towards oneself, a practice of "breathing out, of softening mind and boby and coming back to belly".
Through mindfulness of body and mind, the t'ai-ji practice leads to a place of ease and stillness within.
Cost: £50 pd (accommodation if needed: £12 per night).
Participants can join for the whole period or just for the first three days (4th (eve) - 7th Sept.)
This event will replace our annual Holy Island seminar with the beautiful surroundings of The Orchard and the Black Mountains. There will be opportunity to explore T’ai-Ji “in the wild”.
Every time I meet with Chungliang over his Easter seminar, the first few days are the most rewarding and enriching because we revisit again the basics and are surprised at the depth still lurking below the surface. I receive enormous benefit from going back to my teacher with an open mind and heart.
My invitation for this summer is to share this exploration, whether you are a “beginner” or a “teacher”.
We will explore T’ai-Ji’s invitation to enter our inner source, to enter each movement as if for the very first time. How will our practice be transformed if we allow the movement to guide us, rather than being directed by what we believe it would need to look like?
Our “knowing” will block the true potential to surface; be surprised by what comes up. It may not be what expected. But it surely will enrich us and be full of joy. The form is “free”!
Open to all levels
Satipatthana - the Way of Mindfulness - is a traditional Buddhist meditation training, also described as Skilful Means.
It is a way of cultivating an honest and clear awareness of who we are at a physical, emotional and mental level. Our tendencies and characteristics, our motives and intentions are identified as they arise and thus we see that we can choose to let go of our conditioned ways of reacting and relating.
Through this process we come gradually to operate and live from a whole place within. A place where there are no-needs: no-need to prove who we are, no-need to cling on to a particular sense of identity. A place of inner certainty and knowing, from which ease and contentment can flow into our daily life.
Skilful Means is a training of the Body and the Mind. It is uncomplicated, down to earth and direct. It is acutely relevant to everyday life, and to anyone who wants to investigate how to live with less friction and discomfort within his or her environment, occupation and relationships.
The practice of Skilful Means is the greatest act of kindness to oneself and others as we come to see and understand the true nature of suffering.
The format of the training consists of residential workshops. These are intended to be a support to one's life-process and change. They are tailored to give participants continuity and regularity of input, as well as personal guidance from Ad.
Through cultivating compassion we transform unwholesome mind states such as hate or anger into wholesome ones, such as loving kindness and compassion.
Through compassion we loosen the grip of “I”, “Me” and “Mine” and the more “outward” focused mind creates spaciousness, ease and happiness.
The retreat will end with the simple visualisation meditation on Chenrezig to enhance our innate capacity for compassion.
Mindfulness of the body is the gateway to awakening and making physical changes within the body enables us to let go of our holding patterns on a physical and mental level.
Through re-exploring the basic exercises, the out-breath, and the backward circle, we deepen our understanding of how our mind states are reflected in our posture, breathing and gestures.
Having attained this precious human existence,
Like a ship that crosses the ocean of samsara,
Without falling into distractions or laziness of mind through ignorance,
Allow yourself to awaken to the preciousness of this moment.
A wake-up call to realise how precious indeed each moment is, how true the un-satisfactoriness of life and how each act, thought and speech do matter.
Contemplating and exploring The four thoughts that turn the mind towards the Dharma is a fundamental support in our practice, a reminder of why we are meditating and the conscious choices we can make.
Do we wish to meet each moment with bright non-clinging awareness, with a letting-go of our wanting and not-wanting, or do we allow that precious moment to slip through our fingers by blindly going yet again through another cycle of our habitual patterns?
The three realms are as impermanent as autumn clouds.
The birth and death of beings are like a dance performance.
Flashing by like lightening in the sky, the life span of beings races swiftly like a waterfall over a steep mountain.
How to book
“Be an island unto yourself
be a refuge unto yourself
seeking no external refuge
Make truth your island
Make truth your refuge
There is no other refuge”
By Taking Refuge we commit ourselves to cultivating awareness of body and mind, wisdom and compassion. It means we are clear about the importance of being careful with our actions of body, speech and mind, of the need to let go of grasping, ill-will, jealousy, of not harming self and others.
Traditionally, Taking Refuge is renewed every year to update our motivation and as a support for ourselves and others on the path.
The first three days of each of these retreats will be devoted to teaching on the Four Noble Truths.
The remaining days offer an opportunity for group and personal practice times.
I will also welcome any requests for teachings on a subject of your choice.
At times the strong incentive to turn to the practice arises when faced with the inevitable reality of pain, illness and decay of the body-mind in our loved ones or in us. How ready are we to meet these changes with gentleness, patience and skill?
This retreat offers the tools to activate the powers of healing and to cultivate a strong conviction and reliance on our own wisdom and potential for healing.
The Medicine Buddha meditation increases the healing powers for oneself and others; it decreases physical and mental illness and suffering. It is considered to be a strong wholesome practice that can clean up unwholesome states and establish the practitioner in the perfections of the parami - giving, morality, patience, energy, concentration and wisdom.
These meditations can purify, balance and strengthen the being. These practices are designed to bring you face to face with what is paralysing you in your quest for liberation. They are three areas to look at: your blocks, your lacks and your strengths " the do your own thing".
As part of the practice of the Blue Healer these meditations will give a deeper understanding into the healing process.
Skilful Living, a meditation course that gives you the opportunity to contemplate, to study and to put into practice the teachings of the Buddha at your own pace and in your own environment.
The course is strongly based on Mindfulness Meditation – Satipatthana and will cover all the main themes found in the teachings of the Buddha, like the cultivation of an appreciation of our human existence, the impermanence of all that we know, not-self, the attitude of loving kindness in our body, speech and mind, to name a few.
There will be a special module dealing with the emotions.
This course is not an academic one, rather a Way or Skilful Means to living a life with less hurt and suffering for ourselves and others and to cultivating the good qualities that lead us to a fulfilling life.
The emphasis of the Skilful Living course will be on its application in your everyday life, in your relationships, in the activities and the environment you live in.
You are recommended to spend 30 mins per day for five days a week on the contemplation and study or meditation and to see and note how during the rest of the time it influences your everyday interactions.
The distant learning course is online and you will receive at one-month intervals some new material and plenty of suggestions on how to practise within your life as it is now. This is where we start.
The course can be completed within a year but allowing for the ups and downs of life you could take up to 18 months.
During that time you will have unlimited access to Sonia via email and a monthly conversation over the phone.
I divided the year into six modules, spending about two months on each module.
The first module.
Laying the foundations: the Four Contemplations on the Precious Human Life, Death and Impermanence, Causes and Effects and Samsara.
Introduction of sitting and walking practice.
The second module.
The four Brahmas Viharas : Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity
The third module.
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness – Satipatthana.
Mindfulness of the body and of the feelings.
The fourth module.
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness – Satipatthana.
Mindfulness of the mind and of the mind contents.
The fifth module.
Dealing with emotions. Applications to your life conditions.
The sixth module.
Returning to some specific aspect of the course as you wish to deepen your understanding.
The cost for the full course is £375; if paid in full at the time of enrolment you get a 20% reduction, i.e. £75. If after the first two months you realise that this is not the course for you, we will refund your payment minus £75.
Otherwise you pay by installments via standing orders starting with a deposit of £75 covering the first two months; thereafter £30 per month for the remaining ten months.
To enroll send me by email or in writing what your experience in meditation is and a brief summary of why you would want to enroll in this study together with your non-refundable deposit of £75, or £300 for those who wish to pay in full.
Thank you for contacting Ad Brugman.
We will reply to your query as soon as we can.
The Orchard, this beautiful place set in a rural hamlet on the border between S.Herefordshire and Wales, was bought in December 1985. It was bought to serve as a place for teaching and the practice of healing-shiatsu, mindfulness meditation and T’ai-Ji.
Sonia was running at that time her three year professional training course in healing-shiatsu and Ad his T’ai-Ji programme. Meditation retreats were then forming a smaller part in the curriculum though they were also taught as an integral part of the healing-shiatsu and T’ai-Ji courses.
In September 1986 The Orchard, its activities and all those who would come and benefit from it, was blessed in a ceremony by John Garrie Roshi, Sonia’s and Ad’s meditation teacher since 1974.
By 1990 the facilities at The Orchard became insufficient for the number of participants on its courses. For that reason from 1990 to 1995 all healing-shiatsu courses and the longer meditation and T’ai-Ji courses were held at Taliaris, the meditation centre of John Garrie Roshi in mid Wales. The Orchard was housing the smaller events.
In 1995 the “zendo“ a large wooden building was built at The Orchard to provide more space for the teachings and practice. It was blessed by John Garrie Roshi in September 1995.
From that time onwards all events took again place at The Orchard and Sonia began to decrease her healing-shiatsu courses to have more time to devote to the meditation retreats as these became more predominant in the curriculum and since 2006 have become the main activity of the Orchard Centre.
In 2007 Sonia and Ad ‘s students formed the Orchard Sangha as a response to the demands made on both Sonia and Ad as teachers and organizers of the Orchard leaving more time for them to devote to the teachings.
In 1997 the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche was invited to teach in the UK for which purpose The Orchard was made available. From then on until his death in October 2003 The Orchard received Rinpoche for his annual, sometime twice a year, teachings in the UK. Rinpoche also became Sonia’s and Ad’s main meditation teacher since Roshi’s passing in 1998.
In 1999 the Crystal Group bought Maitreya House next door to The Orchard. Since 2001 The Orchard is renting Maitreya House for its retreats providing the necessary accommodation for students. In addition in 2005 one of Sonia’s students bought a house nearby, Cwn Cottage, which has also become part of the set up, providing extra accommodation.
Throughout the years The Orchard has become a second home for many of its students. It is a place of simplicity and of internal beauty and strength, situated in a still unspoilt and quiet rural countryside overlooking gentle rolling hills towards the south and east with the Welsh Black Mountains of the Brecon National Park marking the west. It offers an abundance of natural environment in which to practice, to walk in or just resting and enjoying. It offers the perfect antidote for a busy and noisy world most of us now live in.
May it continue to support, nurture and enrich many more people who come and stay, be it for a short or longer time.
"The fragrance remains in the hand that gives the rose"
In the tradition of the Buddha, Dharma teaching is given freely. The course fees for the retreats cover organising the events, running costs of the centre, accommodation and rental of Maitreya House/Cwm Cottage
At the end of each retreat students are invited to give dãna to the teachers for their guidance, time and availability.
Generosity is characterized by the inner quality of letting go or relinquishing, it reverses the forces that create suffering. It is a profound antidote to the strong habits of clinging, grasping, guarding, and attachment that lead to so much pain and suffering. Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression: we experience joy in forming the intention to give, we experience joy in the action of giving, and we experience joy in remembering that we have given.