Carol’s Charney Manor Retreat Experience
“Retreat is an ancient pursuit and plays a significant part in spiritual practice. Coming on retreat is a valuable opportunity. Simplicity, attentiveness and receptivity are the keys to a successful retreat, particularly a silent retreat. Giving yourself the gift of a weekend devoted to yourself in this way will be felt for a long time.
In August 2019, Janine held her first retreat at Charney Manor. Charney is an idyllic and peaceful venue in the Oxfordshire countryside dating back to the 13th century. It is currently owned by the Society of Friends (Quakers). The buildings and acres of gardens were privatised for the retreat which added to a sense of calm and well-being. And that calm was visible as everyone arrived Friday afternoon and the stress of everyday life melted away. We were about to begin our weekend with a group of like-minded people.
The retreat began with a delicious vegetarian dinner and lots of conversation as people got to know each other. There was a constant buzz in the dining room – partly because of the natural meal time chat and partly because we all knew the silence would begin after the meal.
The first session was after dinner and was held in one of the oldest parts of Charney Manor, The Solar. The room had a quiet calm and we immediately slowed down. Janine started us on our journey in the first session and concluded it in our last session on Sunday afternoon. From the first moment, it truly seemed as if Janine was channelling the divine – every word she uttered was a pearl providing us with crystal clear guidance. The session started with chanting – some people a bit hesitant at first – followed by the ancient yogic teachings, pranayama (breathing exercise) and meditation. During the meditation the room stilled and you could sense the ease and calm each of us fell into.
We started early on Saturday morning with a physical yoga session (asana practice) held in the converted Barn which was light and bright and lent itself beautifully to the gentle stretching and postures. This was followed by three further sessions on Saturday in addition to a lovely walk in nature. Each session built on the teachings Janine introduced on Friday night and our voices grew stronger and more confident when we chanted. The meditations also varied and included a walking meditation in one of the lovely gardens and a Buddhist Tonglen meditation.
Our walk took us through the village of Lydford with a stop at Lydford church for a short meditation. The winds and a bit of rain had started as we set out on the walk but miraculously stopped when we exited the Church. Who knows why…
Upon return to the Manor a delicious tea/coffee break with homemade carrot cake was awaiting us. We then had some free time before the remaining sessions and another outstanding dinner.
We awoke to a lovely Sunday morning and returned to the Barn for the second asana session. Both asana sessions were inspired – each was unique and hit the right mix of exertion and rest with lovely words of wisdom interspersed. There were three sessions on Sunday and Janine continued taking us on our journey with the teachings, chanting and meditation. We had an opportunity to learn a ‘circle dance’ during one of the sessions – enabling us to make a personal connection with each other as we paired off.
The vegetarian Sunday ‘roast’ dinner preceded the final session where we came to the end of our journey and had a chance to ask questions and give each other fond farewells. It was amazing how well we got to know one another WITHOUT TALKING and how close we all felt having shared this intimate weekend. The silence acted to open us up to each other and we gained strength from each other’s presence during meditation, the walk, and sharing free time on the grounds. The silence allowed us to absorb and go within since there were no expectations about small talk and idle chat. The meditations took on greater meaning and significance in light of the teachings which of course will continue after this spiritual weekend.”
“What an absolute joy to have been at Janine’s Charney Manor Retreat! Whether it is your very first retreat and new to your spiritual journey or you have been aseeker for many years , I can highly recommend this beautiful retreat.The teachings are conveyed with great clarity, Janine has a great passion and respect for the quest of finding our innermost being and it shines through! There is a lovely mix of Yoga asana practice, meditation, pranayama and free time. Charney Manor has a wonderful energy, is most comfortable and is set in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, the food is wholesome and delicious….. particularly the cakes (you can restrain but I’d definitely recommend you taste!)” – Jayne
“Fabulous Weekend” – Ann
“Have just come back from Charney Manor where Janine ran a silent retreat. A big thank you and well done, you have helped me and the rest of your students this weekend. AMAZING.” – Liz
“A lovely reminder of a wonderful weekend with great people, looking forward to next year” – Lesley