SanghaSeva facilitate "Meditation in Action" retreats in Europe, India and Israel-Palestine.
Our retreats integrate meditation, observation and reflection with participation in positive actions for the benefit of others and the world.
We feel that meditation, contemplation & spirituality, are not just passive & solitary pursuits, but can be active & engaged ones. That there is real benefit in, and genuine possibilities of, finding ways to transform self, other & the world through engagement.
Whether we are planting trees on deforested land, openly listening to people's suffering or massaging the stiff limbs of a healed leper, love and wisdom can come through. We can embody, actually bring into being, our deepest aspirations by being "the change we wish to see in the world". (Mahatma Gandhi)
SanghaSeva was initially born from the heart to give back to the world. To take all the love, compassion and wisdom we can cultivate alone and spread them outwards. Yet rather than waiting until we feel ready, have enough, or are perfected, we can already use the form of interacting, sharing, and engagement to help others and ourselves.
In the words of Pema Chodron: 'we work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.'
The name SanghaSeva is made up of two words:
"sangha-" this part means a group of people who feel connected to a similar cause, a community of spiritual friends, a body of heartful activists.
"-seva" means offering the best we have to give. Oftentimes it is translated as selfless service: An action which benefits another as much as it benefits us, as long as we wish to cease being self-centred, that is.
We also refer to our retreats as "Connected actions for active connection". This definition of SanghaSeva further brings the feeling of the mutuality and of reciprocity between activity and contemplation. As we experience it each one deeply supports the growth of the other.
Therefore we aim to offer opportunities to explore living fully through positive actions. This is not just an attempt to 'do good' and then feel better about ourselves, but stems from a deep wish to bring compassion and love to the suffering on this earth.
While at the same time, and hopefully from the same depth, we acknowledge that we are simply a part of everything and therefore growing, learning, and evolving through the process of sharing.
We feel that by utilising the wisdom of contemplative practices we can touch into that which connects us all. When we can act from there we find that we have more freedom to hold conflicting views and opinions, have more space to allow life to unfold, and more wisdom to find the appropriate response.
In our retreats we are called to explore our balance of being and doing, to investigate what is really helping, and to expand our boundaries. Its our wish to widen our circle of friends and what in life we can let into our hearts. In this way we feel we are offering a continuation of the deepening of meditation, contemplation or spirit; of being open, in life, to life, in all its joys and sorrows.
These retreats can be fruitful and transformative, not least because they challenge our edges.
We find the loving patience that helps us to connect and stay steady with ourselves in contemplation, allows us to be fully with others, and with the world. And in a beautiful reciprocal way as we become more intimate with others we can find new depths of intimacy with ourselves.
Although we can each do service work separately we are drawn toward developing an active sangha, whether on retreat or continued connection outside of them. Nourishing each others path, and encouraging each other in developing generosity, we become more than the sum of our parts.
Transforming an idea into reality can take many forms. We aim to offer opportunities around the world for practicing dharma in action on both social and environmental projects. We are also happy to support and encourage more ideas and initiatives, so that we may be a nursery for positive actions.
If you would like more information about any of our projects or help and support creating your own please contact us
Below is some more information about our founders, supporters, and facilitators.
On SanghaSeva work retreats we choose to have facilitators rather than leaders or teachers. A facilitator will hold the structure of the event to allow all of us to find our own way as individuals and as part of the group.
Zohar has been practicing meditation in different traditions since 1995. This journey has taken her from the meditation cushion into exploring further ways of expressing truth and love and in 2004 she co-founded SanghaSeva. She now spends most of her time facilitating retreats that offer service as a spiritual path around the world. Since 2006 she has been teaching on silent retreats and Dharma gatherings in India, Europe and Israel. Zohar's teaching schedule can be found at DependentOrigination.org
Nathan began meditating in 1997, and teaching retreats in 2007. From continued exploration grew a deep love for meditation's alive stillness and creative silence. Feeling the potential for all of life to play a part in awakening opened an interest to cultivate attentiveness in every experience. In 2004 this led to the co-founding of SanghaSeva.org to offer retreats combining meditation with social and environmental action. Nathan's complete teaching schedule can be viewed at DependentOrigination.org
Kirsten has been practising Insight Meditation since 1993, and has been facilitating and co-leading Dharma events in England and in Europe since 2000. She has also been assistant-teaching retreats at Gaia House since 2008. One of her particular areas of interest is the exploration of the nourishing and expression of our Dharma understanding outside of a retreat environment. In 2006 Kirsten began facilitating on SanghaSeva retreats.
James Blake has been practising Insight Meditation since 1997. He has been director and co-director of London Insight Meditation 2011-14 and is currently training to be a Community Dharma Leader. He is looking forward to facilitating SanghaSeva events in London which will (hopefully!) enable participants to practise in new contexts, to explore new ways of engaging with the city, and to work for the benefit of all.
Julia started practicing Insight Meditation regularly after her first week-long retreat at Gaia House in 2005, and is currently training to be a Community Dharma Leader (CDL) with the Gaia House teacher council's CDL programme. She is a trustee of Bristol Insight Meditation, and co-founded the Bristol Dharma Action Network group (Bristol DANCE). She trained as a teacher of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy in 2011 and has taught courses in the private and health sectors in Bristol. Since 2015 she has been exploring responses to climate change through actions organised by Time to Cycle and Reclaim the Power. She loves exploring the interface between meditation and active engagement.
Gareth comes from a background of buddhist monastic training in a forest monastery. He has been assisting on the CAT retreat over the past few years, and brings a passion for Joanna Macy's 'Work that Reconnects', and environmental activism, to dharma practice and contemplative work. Involved in developing the 'Mindfulness in Woodland' project in collaboration with other social foresters in mid-west wales. He aims to integrate the physical and practical benefits of sustainable woodland management and traditional crafts, with the inner-work of cultivating mind and heart in relationship with nature.
Rob co-founded SanghaSeva. He has been practising and studying Buddhist meditation and Dharma since 1985 with a variety of teachers in England and in the USA. He has been teaching since 2004 and is a Resident Teacher of Gaia House and a member of the Teacher Council. He is a Guiding Teacher of Freely Given Retreats, and a co-initiator of DANCE; the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement. Rob is the author of Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising.
To read about retreats around the world that you can join, go to Upcoming Events.
To find out more about continual activities you can get involved in, or other ways and opportunities to attune your life to your hearts wishes, read Daily Life Matters
To gather a clearer picture of what we are doing you can read the feedback of participants and facilitators in Past Events.
Check out Links and Books for more information about meditation retreats and service work organisations around the world, and a list of helpful books.
Please also let us know of any organisations you think we would like to know about, or significant books that have touched you or been useful to you. We will be happy to share your recommendations to others through this page.
Visit Talks to listen online or download for free Dharma Talks given by SanghaSeva facilitators.
At Gifts that Keep on Giving you are offered the chance to give a present to a friend and stranger simultaneously. In this way you are helping people in genuine need.
Or to see more photos visit our Photo Album.
To support SanghaSeva with its running costs or to help another person to attend one of our retreats visit Support SanghaSeva