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The Power of Compassion, with Choden 20-26 Aug


From Healing the Self, to Transcending the Self

20th - 26th August 2017

6-night retreat

Scientific research has shown that compassion is an evolved capacity within the brain that has the capacity to soften and heal the stress and compulsiveness that so characterise modern life. Although compassion is generally linked to kith and kin, our new brain propensities enable us to extend this to people of different races and cultural backgrounds. Compassion enables us to find a stable place within ourselves from which we can hold and relate with wisdom and kindness to the strong forces of emotions of anxiety, anger and sadness that move through us. From this place we can relate to the struggles of other people and find a place of genuine empathy for them.

Buddhist contemplative practice reaffirms the transforming power of compassion and charts a path of how we can move from genuine self compassion to compassion for others. The model that is generally used is that of the Four Immeasurable Contemplations of love, compassion, joy and equanimity. What is key to this process is mindfulness, finding a place of stillness and stability within ourselves. But mindfulness on its own is not enough. We need also to bring a warmth and kindness to ourselves, to bring self compassion into the mindfulness practice. This lays the ground for resilience and self care. And then too, self compassion is not enough; it is the basis for compassion for others: seeing how others suffer just as we do. This connection with others is the basis of transformation.

We will introduce practices to cultivate inner safeness and self-care that are crucial to building emotional resilience and healthy relationships. We will then draw on insights from Buddhism to show that compassion is vital to the integrity and sustainability of the world we live in. We will introduce practices to build on the compassion we have cultivated for ourselves and extend it to all living beings and the environment we live in.

The retreat will consist of talks, guided practices, meditations in nature, silent sitting and group inquiry. There will also be opportunities to discuss the ethic of Ubuntu/Botho, in the context of Africa and the world.

Retreat Leader and Support


Formally a monk for seven years within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Choden (aka Sean Mc Govern) completed a three year, three month retreat in 1997 and has been a practicing Buddhist since 1985. He is originally from South Africa where he trained as a lawyer and where he learned meditation under the guidance of Rob Nairn, an internationally renowned Buddhist teacher. He is now involved in developing secular mindfulness and compassion programmes drawing upon the wisdom and methods of the Buddhist tradition, as well as contemporary insights from psychology and neuroscience. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Aberdeen and teaches on their Postgraduate Study Programme in Mindfulness (MSc) that is the first of its kind to include compassion in its curriculum. In 2013 he published a book with P399 aul Gilbert, entitled ‘Mindful Compassion’ that explores the interface between Buddhist and Evolutionary approaches to compassion training.

Choden will be supported by Lucy Draper-Clarke, who has a doctorate in mindfulness and teacher education. She has practised yoga for 20 years and taught yoga and mindfulness in Botswana and South Africa since 2006. She has been lucky enough to study with inspiring Buddhist mindfulness, and Vinyasa yoga, teachers, and offers a combined practice known as Mindfulness Yoga. Her light-hearted approach to teaching allows yoga students to learn through a joyful, yet transformative practice.

Retreat Costs

The cost covers accommodation (including bedding and towels), food (including 3 ovo-lactarian vegetarian meals per day, snacks and teas), environmental levy to support the Tikologo permaculture site, and a contribution towards the facilitator's flight cost:

  6 nights
Twin/double, en suite R4 100
Twin/double, shared bathroom R3 500
Dormitory, shared bathroom R2 900

A deposit of R1800 should accompany the booking, to confirm your room choice. There are only five en suite rooms available. If they have been taken by the time your deposit arrives, you will be allocated to a twin/double with shared bathroom. The deposit is non-refundable, but is transferable to another retreat, or another person on the waiting list.

To book, please fill in the online booking form here:

Dana will be accepted by the retreat facilitator in appreciation of the teachings.