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An Invitation to Sit a Solitary Retreat
For experienced meditators. Totnes, Devon, England
I woke up one morning in June 2023 with an idea to install a cabin in the garden for personal retreats for experienced meditators.
Few meditation centre offer personal retreats with teacher guidance. Daily rates at some centres, who offer such retreats, can prove beyond the financial circumstances of meditators.
Prices of new huts/cabins were prohibitive so I requested my two builders to keep an eye open for a suitable hut. They found a hut built in the garden of a home for senior citizens.
When Covid-19 started, children and grandchildren were unable to visit their elderly parents or grandparents. Tens of thousands of UKs elderly citizens died from Covid.
The manager of the home for the elderly saw a way to ensure residents could have safe contact with their loved ones. The home bought a cabin. The cabin included at one end a double glass door for a resident to enter with a wheelchair if necessary. Thick perspex divided the cabin into two. This single screen enabled visitors to meet a resident, sit close and talk to each other without risk of transmission of Covid in either direction.
With the major threat of Covid over at the start of 2023, the manager placed for sale on Facebook Market the cabin. It proved to be the perfect size and style. I felt blessed to secure it. Manager, staff and residents were happy to hear of its use.
The Gods were with us.
Photo shows the kuti in the back garden of Christopher’s home.
My two builders rented two trucks to drive to the centre in Exmouth, Devon, to spend a day carefully dismantling the cabin in the garden of residents’ home and reassembled it with additions to make it suitable for a round-the-clock meditator. Peter, a guardian angel of my home for 30 years, gave the coats of wood preservative, installed curtains, two garden lights and more.
Name of the cabin is The Kuti - the Thai word for hut for monks, nuns and lay meditators. The builder painted the words The Kuti below and between the windows.
An Invitation to Meditators
You are invited to spend seven or nine days starting on a Friday evening at 19.00. A seven-day retreat finishes at lunch on Friday or lunchtime on Sunday.
Meditators are welcome to make a personal retreat providing you have sat a rock bottom minimum of 3 five day (an evening, four full days and morning) residential insight meditation retreats in the past seven years, whether as a student or teacher.
The kuti has all year-round insulation. Totnes rarely experiences snow in the winter months.
Contents of the kuti contain warm bedding, electricity, small table, upright chair, zafu and meditation stool, plus a small heater for the winter. There is a yoga mat, herbal tea and snacks. The toilet is in the conservatory, just metres away.
A solitary meditator will have access to audio talks, guided meditation and printed PDF of meditation instructions and guidelines, along with 15 Dharma books.
Christopher and the practitioner will meet for a 15 minute 1-1 three times during the retreat, either in the garden or conservatory. This is a condition for sitting a personal retreat in the kuti.
Priority given to immediate world
The meditator hands in her/his mobile phone for safe keeping in a drawer in the house. One or two calls per day are only permitted to ring children, elderly parents in need or a sick loved one. There is no use of a computer or tablet in the time of the personal retreat.
Outside the back gate, there is a quiet pathway suitable for classic mindful walking meditation (see photo on flyer). A 20-kilometre track starts three minutes’ walk from the cabin for meditators wishing to take an extended walk with beautiful views of the River Dart in South Devon. See photo on flyer.
Food is vegan. Breakfast consists of muesli, slices of bread, condiments and tea or coffee in a flask.
Mealtimes are 7.30 am, main meal at 13.00 and soup, rye/rice crackers/fruit at 18.00.
To book the Kuti
In the first instance, please write for and complete the registration form which requests name, age, meditation experience and more. Please provide two dates up to one year ahead for booking. The cabin will be available for one week/nine days per month.
Please go to www.christophertitmuss.net/schedule to see dates when kuti is not available due residential retreats. Dates will be added during the months ahead.
There is a registration fee of £20.00 per day. £140.00 for seven days and £180.00 for nine days. Upon acceptance for a personal retreats, the meditator will receive payment details information. This money will go towards the expense of setting up the cabin and payment to builders, cost of meals and more.
At the end of the week or nine days, I will invite a donation (dana) – cash, Paypal, bank transfer or card reader - to support daily life expenses.
Christopher Titmuss, a former Buddhist monk, spent nine months in solitary in a cave in 1973 in the hills of Ko Pha Ngan Island, off the coast of Thailand. He wrote extensively about his six years as a monk in his 525-page memoir TEN YEARS AND TEN DAYS (published by Amazon).
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