Some of our Zen retreats ('sesshin') follow closely the traditional methods of teaching and practice, and others such as our 'Western Zen Retreat' include adaptations to match the Western mind. Silent Illumination is a profound meditation practice which leads to a mind of great calmness and insight, using ancient Chinese Zen methods which are just as applicable to the modern West. Fiona Nuttall will lead a weekend meditation retreat in the Forest of Dean for this June weekend, Saturday 11 June and Sunday 12 June. Fiona Nuttall has very kindly agreed to lead this weekend which is to celebrate 10 years of the South Devon Chan Group here on Dartmoor. Manchester Chan Group day retreats ("zazenkai") are led by Simon Child Chuan-fa Jing-hong who is a Dharma heir of Chan Master Sheng-yen. The ancient Chinese Zen practices of investigating Huatou and Gongan (Koan) are best practised in a supportive environment such as this intensive silent retreat. This workshop retreat will encourage everyday awareness as a fundamental Chan life practice. The articles on this website have been submitted by various authors and the views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the Western Chan Fellowship. An 'interview' is a private conversation about your meditation practice and any difficulties you are experiencing with it with one of our experienced retreat leaders.


We will undertake this in our daily lives, whether at home or in the workplace, with the silent support of knowing that we are not practising alone. Silent Illumination is the origin of the Japanese Soto practice of Shikantaza but is approached somewhat differently and full instruction will be given. As some of you will know, Fiona recently received Dharma Transmission from the Western Chan Fellowship’s Guiding Teacher Simon Child, his first Dharma Heir. Personal interviews are usually available for those who wish to discuss their Dharma practice with Simon.
As one becomes deeply absorbed in the practice, mental constructions drop away and one is confronted by a realisation that one does not know the nature of existence and one's fundamental assumptions of life are groundless. We will offer individual and group work to develop mindfulness allowing time for exploration and understanding of individual experience through the lens of meditation. Silent Illumination is the origin of the Japanese Soto practice of Shikantaza but is approached somewhat differently and full instruction will be given.This seven-night silent retreat is an opportunity to learn and deepen this practice through intensive meditation, with instruction and personal guidance by individual interviews with an experienced teacher. We intend to raise the tempo of our practice for this period, increasing our capacity to be aware in our daily lives. Those of you who have heard her teach before will know that we are all in for a real treat.


Staying with and cultivating this 'doubt', it can become all-consuming 'Great doubt' which may 'shatter', giving a direct insight into reality which may be what is known as an Enlightenment experience.
Rising early each day, the retreat will also include teaching, silence, interviews and periods for exercise.Open equally to beginners and established meditators. Whether or not a breakthrough to Enlightenment may occur, establishing a practice gives a firm basis for subsequent ongoing mindfulness and compassion in everyday life. This enables you to get the most out of your retreat by ensuring that you are meditating effectively and adjusting your practice according to your individual experience and circumstances.
A Mindfulness Bell will be rung at noon every day, when all participants may pause and be joined in the silence that the bell marks.



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