February retreat with Bernd Bender


Our dear dharma friend Bernd Bender will offer a retreat in Belfast the weekend of February 15-17. The retreat has three modules: Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday, and you are welcome to come to one, two or all three parts of the retreat. This offering is dependent on a sufficient number of attendees, so please lease email us here to register in advance.

Introduction to Zen Meditation:
How to find ease and joy in your everyday life

Zen meditation is a very simple practice which helps us to cope with the stress and increasing complexity of our daily lives.

By just sitting upright in the middle of our thoughts and emotions we can train our mind to be present, flexible and joyful, experience these qualities and integrate them into our daily activities.

This retreat is open to beginners as well as people who already have a meditation practice.

Friday evening will start with an introduction to meditation, followed by a talk on Zen practice. Saturday and Sunday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect about our own experience.

Please bring lunch to share, and we will eat together in silence.

“I think the 2,500-year-old teachings of Zen are very compatible with our modern forms of living and thinking. Not only has science proven that meditation is a beneficial practice for our well-being, but science is very close to what can be called the ‘world view’ of Zen. So I try to find a contemporary language to express these practices and views in order to make them available to all people.”

—Bernd Bender

Bernd Bender has practised Zen since 1987. He went to California in 1994 to continue his studies at San Francisco Zen Center. Bernd received Dharma transmission (authorization to teach), and in 2012 he moved to Berlin to open Akazienzendo, a place for a contemporary expression of Zen.

In order to make this practice available to anyone who is interested, it is offered on a donation basis. If you can, please give in order to support Zen practice in Belfast. The suggested donation to cover Bernd’s flights and travel costs is £25 for the whole weekend, or £10 for each module. If your funds are limited, please feel free to come and give your interest and effort. 

Rohatsu One-Day Sitting, December 8


On Saturday, December 8, we will sit together from 7 am to 9 pm to celebrate Rohatsu, the Buddha’s enlightenment. Rohatsu is a Japanese word meaning “the eighth day of the last month of the year”, traditionally the date on which Shakyamuni Buddha saw a star at dawn and was fully awakened. In this intensive one-day sitting, we manifest the Buddha’s determination as he sat beneath the Bodhi tree. We will follow the sesshin schedule of a short service before each meal, and a mid-morning dharma talk, and we will eat three meals together in silence. Every student contributes to and takes strength from the powerful energy and determination of all, creating an unsurpassed opportunity for deep practice and realization.

Meals will be very simple: breakfast will be cereal, fruit, yogurt, and toast; lunch will be soup, salad and rice; and our dinner will be a bowl of curry. If you have special dietary needs, let us know.

For those who can’t make 7 am, we will break for breakfast at 9 am and welcome you to join us then.

Suggested donation £20-£30 – please join us if even you can’t afford to contribute.

As we will be organizing food, please email to let us know that you plan to attend.