Lay Sangha Gatherings

Lay Sangha Gatherings are weekend retreats which provide an opportunity for us to train together in an informal, grounded and peaceful setting. By training together and getting to know each other better we hope to encourage a lay sangha refuge and explore more deeply how we can train in the world as lay people.

Sue Gittins has this to say about the weekends and discussions that we hold:

"The Story So Far:

It's been fun, not doing things the usual way-quite. We don't do meditation, bows, scriptures differently, but the new thing is we talk! Talk about whatever comes to mind. Yes, it's mindful. Someone self-appoints to ring the small gong at five minute intervals. That person isn't in charge. They just ring the gong every five minutes, whatever. And the talk starts up again. When we go back into silence and sitting, it's fine.

And what is there to say? Well, when you speak from the heart, what you say isn't as important as that you are heard. But the question What is meditation? is quite alive at present. The passion comes alive. What's your question?

We talk at other times too. And we enjoy the profound peacefulness of the place. A blessing, nourishment. Also nourishing is the fellowship of meditators from other traditions.

Last weekend, we were approached by a lady from a Catholic group on retreat. She wanted to know about our practice, and what we had in common. It turned out there was a great deal. It was very enjoyable to share our experiences in this way. Mostly I found pleasure in the fact that neither of us was trying to tell or persuade the other, just finding out.

So, we meet together to meditate and conduct ceremonies following our lineage traditions; we speak from the heart. We share meals and relaxation. We offer each other the opportunity to find out about who we are.

In the process, we explore what this thing we call Buddhist training really is for us.

These gatherings are an entirely natural outcome of people from our tradition wanting to train together.

We welcome you to join us.
We recommend the peace and friendliness of Minsteracres,
the comfort, the food, the fellowship.

What and Where?

We hold our Lay Sangha Gatherings at Minsteracres Retreat Centre near Slaley, Consett, a very peaceful and beautiful place. We have a retreat schedule which includes meditation, services, meals, "Speaking from the Heart" discussions, and free time to walk, talk, and enjoy the company of your fellow practitioners. Meals are cooked for us by Minsteracres volunteers.

All events on the schedule are optional. The intention is that you can make of the weekend what you need to. If you need to rest then you can, if you want to meditate more, or spend time on your own in quiet reflection or walking in the grounds then you can. All retreatants have their own rooms, which are basic but very comfortable.


We run these retreats twice each year, dates publicised on the groups mailing lists.

The weekends cost about £125 per person for the full weekend, less if you come for part of the weekend, and we have a fund available to assist people who can't afford the full fee. If you would like to be booked onto a future retreat then contact Sue or Steve. A £20 deposit is required in advance and bookings should be made no later than two weeks before the retreat to allow Minsteracres time to plan meals and accommodation for us. Please advise of any special dietary requirements when booking.

If you have any questions speak to Steve or Sue, or email Steve at: newcastle 'at' northeastserenereflection 'dot' org 'dot' uk (please replace the explicit spellings with characters; we have spelt this out to avoid spam)