BuddhaThe Philosophy

Satipatthana - the Way of Mindfulness - is a traditional Buddhist meditation training, also described as Skilful Means.

It is a way of cultivating an honest and clear awareness of who we are at a physical, emotional and mental level. Our tendencies and characteristics, our motives and intentions are identified as they arise in the present moment giving us the choice to either follow our habitual patterns or to let go of our conditioned ways of reacting and relating.

Through this process we gradually come to operate and live from a more wholesome - updated - place within. A place without needs to prove who we are, without the need to cling on to a particular sense of identity. A place of inner certainty and knowing, from which ease and contentment can flow into our daily life.

When we are truly relaxed, the mind can rest in its natural condition of spaciousness and all-encompassing wisdom.



sonia's hands sitting


The Training

Skilful Means is a training of the Body and the Mind. It is uncomplicated, down to earth and direct. It is acutely relevant to everyday life, and to anyone who wants to investigate how to live with less friction and discomfort within his or her environment, occupation and relationships.

The practice of Skilful Means is the greatest act of kindness to oneself and others as we come to see and understand the true nature of suffering.

The format of the training consists of residential workshops. They are tailored to give participants continuity and regularity of input, as well as personal guidance from Ad.
Participants are introduced to the means to deal more skillfully with the changes and uncertainties that life presents us.

As part of our practice we will attend to the patterns in the body as an important tool to ease the mind.

head of stone buddha

Wisdom and Loving-Kindness

Meditation Programme for 2024

with ad brugman



"Beyond the rightness and wrongness of things, there is a field. I will meet you there"


Having been confronted by the un-avoidable realities of impermanence, of suffering, of illness, old age and death, the Buddha started his quest towards “the cessation of suffering”.

In his teachings he is asking us to reflect on the effects of our actions of body, speech and mind, those of the past, present and future. They have consequences; it matters what we do.
Are they coming from a wholesome state of mind, leading to happiness, to ease of self and others? Or are they motivated by self-interest, leading to harm of self or others?

Our practice, on and off the cushion, is a path of constant investigation, of inquiry about our motivation and aspiration. Are my actions, my speech and my livelihood in alignment with my understanding, my values? What are my priorities?

Sati – Mindfulness is the indispensable factor for these investigations and for the development of wisdom and that of the skillful means of Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.

The renowned Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah defines Sati as follows:
“that which looks over the various factors which arise in meditation is “sati”, mindfulness. Sati is life. Whenever we don’t have sati, when we are heedless, it is as if we were dead. If we have no sati then our speech and actions have no meaning. Sati is simply presence of mind. It is a cause for arising of self-awareness and wisdom" .

In the Satipatthana Sutta the Buddha addressed his followers as follows: "This is the only way, O bhikkhus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for reaching the right path, for the attainment of awakening, namely, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness”.

Sati is a surrendering to and resting in the moment that presents itself at the time, fully and joyfully with lightness of heart and mind.

The practice of Sati - Mindfulness at The Orchard can be joined by whoever wishes to do so on their journey towards ease-fullness, joy and balance of mind and body.

Programme of Events at The Orchard in 2024

The philosophy and Training

Thursday 6th (6pm) - 11th/13th (2pm) June
with Ad

Practice Times at The Orchard

Sundays from 6 -6.30pm (UK time)
April 20th - 21st, October 19th - 20th, 

Retreats at the Orchard


Stillness in movement; movement in stillness

A four-day meditation and T’ai-Ji retreat
with Simon Michaels and Ad Brugman


When we develop tranquillity in meditation, we find that within the stillness there is movement; movement of the breath and the heart beating, movement in sounds and sights around us. Then, when we move mindfully, we can experience a sense of stillness in the movement.
After an orientation in Wednesday evening, the retreat will intersperse tranquillity meditation exercises with Tai J’I practice, and with quiet times for personal practice inside and outside.

Whilst his teaching is secular, Simon has been a committed meditation practitioner in the Buddhist tradition for over 20 years, and was ordained in 2017. He continues to study the subject intensively, and has been teaching mindfulness and meditation since 2011, with a focus on workplace stress reduction.

Ad started his T’ai-Ji training in 1975 in The Netherlands and has been studying under Chungliang Al Huang since 1991. His approach to T’ai-Ji is a unique blend of mindfulness meditation and T’ai-Ji as evolved over a period of more than 30 years’ experience as a meditation and t’ai-ji teacher in the UK and abroad.

Simon will lead the retreat and the meditation sessions, whilst Ad will guide the T’ai Ji sessions. This retreat is designed for those with some experience of meditation and mindfulness, not for complete beginners.



Cost for accommodation, food and teaching will be between £295 and £365 depending on numbers attending.

Silent Reteat - taking refuge in Presence of Mind

Thursday 6th (6pm) - Thursday 13th (2pm) June

picture of "be still and know"

Our practice will be grounded in wisdom, generosity, loving-kindness and compassion.
Apractice of caring and of creative engagement with the world

I intend to give plenty of space in the daily schedule for reflection, being in nature and rest.
Participants will devote some daily time to karma yoga, the practice of giving support to the centre and each other.

A server meditator will be available throughout offering practical support and guaranteeing a smooth running of the event. He/she will also take care of buying in the food and doing the cooking.
It will be possible to attend for shorter periods but to keep disruption to a minimum, that will only be possible at the beginning of the retreat and with a minimum of three days and 3 nights.

Course fee:
For the full seven days: £ 425; 5-days will cost £ 325 ; 3-days: £ 250
Fee includes accommodation and food.

Teaching and guidance will be given on the basis of dãna.

If the cost would prevent you from attending, please contact me and I would be happy to discuss a possible discount.

Participants will need to be aware that we will observing strict silence throughout the retreat. Newcomers will be welcome but if they don’t have any previous experience I would advise them to start with committing for the first three days only with the possibility of staying on if they wished to do so.

May all being have happiness and the causes of happiness
May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering


Practice times at The Orchard

Weekly meditation sessions via Zoom.
Sundays from 6 - 6.30pm (UK time).


If you would like to join these sessions, please let Ad know by email and he will post you the required ID and Password.

I am running these meetings free of charge as an offering of gratitude for the teachings I have received myself over the years.
If however you wished to give dana, I will receive that with gratitude.

Looking forward to seeing you.



water lily


Practice Weekends in 2024

April 20th - 21st, October 19th - 20th

“Happiness cannot be found through great effort and will-power but is already there in relaxation and letting-go” (Gendun Rinpoche)

These practice weekends offer an opportunity to practise together and to rest in the ground of mindfulness and kindness.

Opening our heart and mind to the vastness of the aware mind, free from “like or dislike” - we will find ease and joy.

"A retreat is a time of renewal of the ease and trust in the humility of the moment.
A time to bow to the here and the now”. (John Garrie Roshi)

There will be teaching and guided loving-kindness meditation sessions as well as times for rest and being in nature.

Cost: for daytime only participants: £ 15 per day.
If staying overnight: £ 30 per day
Participants will need to bring food to share.

Teaching is given on the basis of dãna.

These weekends are open to all levels of experience.

We will start each day at 9am and finish at 6pm on Saturdays and 4.30pm on Sundays

Personal Retreats

This is a time to be on one's own and to give oneself the conditions and permission to take refuge in the Practice in an uninterrupted way so  that when it is time to "go back into the world", we will act in a more compassionate and skilful manner.

"A time of gentle watchfulness from the Sanctuary of "where we are coming from", a time to bow to the Here and the Now".

We'll also explore and experience the support and importance of the Sangha, the community of meditators practising together.

You can arrange any length of time for retreat, but minimum stay is 3 days. A personal programme will be discussed with you on arrival.

Dulas kutiCost:
£35 per day for stays up to and including 7 days;
£30 per day from 8 up to 14 days
£25 per day from 15 days onwards
Special arrangements can be made for stays of a month or longer

Bring your own food and dãna for guidance by the teacher.

To book for a personal retreat, contact Ad at The Orchard


Reflections on Private Retreat, Amarana, Aug. '05

"After the outbreath a space opened. And the next inbreath comes out of that space, without any thoughts. When we meet ourselves in that space we can meet ourselves truly with openness.
The inbreath, if not coming from that wide-open empty space, can be dangerous as it then feeds the thinking mind.
We students are here at The Orchard in order to allow our "ego" - the opinion that we have of ourselves - to dissolve, to free ourselves from it so that the wide-open empty space can show itself to us and we can come to meet everything in a wholesome way.
We students are here at The Orchard to learn, to stand on our own feet, to become "MATURE".
You, Sonia, supports us with your strength and the clarity of knowledge of the liberating wholesome path".

Weekly meditation sessions via Zoom.
Sundays from 6 - 6.30pm (UK time).
Starting on Sunday 18th February.


After having received the many positive responses to my offer to run meditation and t’ai-ji sessions via the zoom medium, I realised it would indeed be helpful for me to know beforehand who are interested in joining.
So, for those of you who are interested and haven’t yet done so, I would appreciate it if you could let me know. That way I can create group e-mails and send weekly invitations for the sessions only to those interested and not to everybody on my database.

NB: showing your interest does not mean that you have to join a particular meeting.

Some of you did ask about costs. I am running these meetings free of charge as an offering of gratitude for the teachings I have received myself over the years.
If however you wished to give dana, I will receive that with gratitude.



water lily