The MLE Retreat was first organised by Mind & Life Europe in 2019, following the tradition of the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI) to support young scholars in the area of contemplative studies..

About the MLE Retreat

This MLE Retreat offers an opportunity to systematically explore our individual trajectories, motivations, challenges, and opportunities using contemplative practice and other tools for self-exploration and self-development. What choices and circumstances have brought us to where we are? What is it we are striving for and why? How might we move forward towards this goal? What might be the cost, and are we willing to pay it? 

Emphasising both individual and group work, and employing an intensive contemplative and dialogic approach, the retreat is facilitated by experienced scholar-practitioners. As contemplative practice will be a key element of the retreat, younger and/or early-career academics and professionals who have an established, regular meditation practice are encouraged to apply. The MLE Retreat is open to all, but it is preferable if one has already participated in one or more Mind & Life Institute or Mind & Life Europe events. 

Please watch the introductory video (below), where retreat facilitators, Dr Marieke van Vugt and Dr Martijn van Beek, explain the history and thinking behind the MLE Retreat.

MLE Retreat August 2024: “Living in Groundlessness with Responsibility”

The application period is currently open: Click here to find out more and apply!

The next MLE retreat will take place in-person at The Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy, from 31st July – 2nd August, 2024 (arrival on the 30th).

This year’s retreat invites participants to probe “Living in Groundlessness with Responsibility”. Groundlessness is the basis of meditation. Sitting in silence and being aware is a way of becoming more familiar and more comfortable with groundlessness. Groundlessness is also fundamentally the spirit of science, where things are only true up to the moment they are overturned by new evidence. Can groundlessness be the field where science and contemplation meet?

Previous MLE Retreats

MLE Retreat August 2023: “Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times”

In August 2023, there was an in-person retreat connected to the European Summer Research Institute 2023, which took place at The Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy, from August 17th – 18th, 2023. It was led by Martijn van Beek and Marieke van Vugt.

Through contemplative and dialogical practices, the in-person retreat in 2023 invited participants to explore how their lives, experiences, and innate capacities could provide insights into how they navigate a world in which challenges abound. Wisdom traditions and science tell us that we are, in fact, inextricably embedded in webs of relationships that at once constitute us and which we ourselves shape. What does it mean to be a human being in these times of uncertainty? How might we balance responsibility for ourselves, for other sentient beings, and for the planet as a whole? How can we cultivate the kindness, clarity, and insight that are necessary to care for life in ways that are sustainable both for ourselves and for the worlds of which we are a part?

The retreat took place over two days and included silent and guided meditations, dialogical exercises, journaling, and gentle movement practices. There was periods of silence throughout the two days together.

MLE Retreat August 2022: “Contemplating Connection”

The August 2022 retreat was connected to the European Summer Research Institute 2022, and was led by Martijn van Beek and Anne C. Klein. The world’s wisdom traditions emphasise the interconnectedness of humans and other species, our planet, and the cosmos beyond. Science shares this perspective. Albert Einstein referred to the idea of a human being as somehow separate from everything else as a kind of optical illusion of our consciousness. Realising this insight as a way of being in relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the world is at the heart of contemplative life. And although each of us walks our own path, the unfolding of the journey is always in and through connection – with fellow students and practitioners, with teachers, and with the lineages of realisation and wisdom that reach across time and space.

This Mind and Life Europe Retreat seeks to provide inspiration and tools for (re)discovering our innate resources for orienting ourselves, for recognising how we arrived at where we are in our lives at present – standing at the edge – and how we might take a next step.

MLE Retreat March 2022 (online): “Standing at the Edge in Contemplative Life: Integrating personal, professional, and spiritual aspects of our path”

The March 2022 online retreat was led by Martijn van Beek and Hanneli Ågotsdatter. The retreat loosely focused on the theme of “standing at the edge,” which has provided inspiration for the current year of inquiry at Mind & Life Europe, weaving itself into the various events and programs of 2022. “Standing at the edge” can be understood in a multitude of ways: in the context of this retreat, we have in mind how contemplative life involves a process of discovering, meeting, exploring and – when we are ready – crossing over edges and boundaries into unknown terrain, in an inner as well as an existential sense. Again and again, in our inner practice and our experience, as we seek to integrate personal, professional and spiritual aspects of our lives more deeply, we come to stand at the edge of the territory with which we are familiar and comfortable. 

Participants explored and shared experiences of discovering, meeting and transcending these kinds of boundaries: when we find ourselves standing at the edge, where might we find help to orient ourselves? What might we rely on? And where can we find the wisdom to know whether we should pause for a while or push ahead, laying down a path in walking as we enter an unknown inner and, also most likely, outer territory? As with all shifting horizons, as we advance, we will continually find ourselves standing at some new edge, wondering what the next step will be…

MLE Retreat 2019: “Exploring Contemplative Life: Integrating personal, professional and spiritual aspects of our path”

The MLE Retreat 2019 took place directly after the Contemplative Science Symposium in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany.

The MLE Retreat was led by Martijn van Beek and Hanneli Ågotsdatter. More than thirty participants from eighteen countries made these two days a unique experience.

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