Contemplative School of the Heart
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2016 Holy Island   |  2017 Holy Island   |  2020 Holy Island

Abiding in the Heart of Love

This seven day retreat is being offered to gather together in prayer and spiritual friendship on this ancient, beautiful and sacred island. Each day we will meet for silent prayer, Holy Communion, lectio divina, chanting and spiritual conversation around Christian mystical writings that illuminate the deepest call on our life. There will also be opportunities for conscious work in the garden, walking meditation and a pilgrimage to the cave of St Molaise.

August 26th – September 2nd 2017

Led by Julienne McLean, Judy Barber, Rev Michael Gartland and Roger Ferguson


The ancient and sacred location of Holy Island is what the Celtic bards call a ‘thin place’ where spiritual realities are powerfully present. Gathering together in prayer and spiritual friendship on this retreat allows us to be drawn more deeply into the mystery of this beautiful island and a place of sublime stillness and infinite spaciousness.

The second half of the last century was one of deepening encounter between spiritual traditions of East and West. In particular, the Christian ‘desert’ tradition of prayer strongly resonates with the Buddhist tradition of meditation, as expressive of deepest reality. Holy Island, as a sanctuary of peace, holiness and radiance has a long history of Christian pilgrimage and has been owned by a Tibetan Buddhist community since 1992. It is, uniquely, a place where ancient spiritual currents of East and West intertwine and flow swiftly and deeply together.

Each day we will meet for silent prayer, creative liturgy, lectio divina and spiritual conversation around Christian mystical writings that illuminates the deepest call on our life. We will share selections from the writings on prayer from the Spanish and English mystics, St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, Francisco de Osuna and Richard Rolle. Simple and inclusive forms of chant and rite will take us deeper into silent prayer. There will be opportunities for conscious work in the garden and walking meditation that bring us into the radiant stillness of the heart.

The Venue

Holy Isle, located off the Isle of Arran on the south west coast of Scotland, is officially designated as a UK Sacred site and has a long spiritual history, stretching back to the 6th Century. It is endowed with an ancient healing spring, the hermit cave of a 6th Century Celtic monk, St Molaise, and evidence of a 13th Century Christian monastery. The island was bought by Tibetan Buddhists (Kagyu tradition) in 1992 who run the Centre for World Peace and Health on the north of the Island. Alongside their ongoing retreat and course programme (see their vision is for the Centre to also become a focal point for multifaith work and retreats, as well as being a peaceful refuge from the hectic modern world.


Daily Retreat Schedule

7.00 am

Silent Prayer

8.00 am

Breakfast (silent)

9.00 am


10am - 12

Morning Session


Lunch (silent)


Work in the Garden

5 - 6pm

Walking Meditation and prayer


Supper (silent)


Evening Session


Booking Form

The cost for the retreat is £190. To book, please send an email to, with your name, address, phone number and accommodation preference.

Could you also send a deposit cheque of £50 made out to the Contemplative Spirituality Network to Flat 20, Christchurch Court, 171 Willesden Lane, London. UK. NW6 7XF. The remaining £140 is due by 31st May, 2017.

The cost of the accommodation and full vegetarian board during the retreat (7 days) is £385 for a single room, £280 for sharing a twin room and £224 for sharing a dormitory. This cost is paid directly to the Holy Island Conference Centre at the beginning of the retreat.

For all enquires, further information and booking, please contact Julienne on 020 8 451 5255, 07527 993696, Judy on 07816 155 483 or email


The Retreat Leaders

Julienne McLean is a psychologist, Jungian analyst and spiritual director in North London. She has had a lifelong involvement in the Christian mystical tradition, and teaches, writes and runs retreats on Jungian psychology, prayer and Carmelite spirituality. She co-facilitates the contemplative school of the heart programme. She is the author of ‘Towards Mystical Union’ (2003, 2013), a commentary on St Teresa of Avila’s book, ‘The Interior Castle’.

Judy Barber is an experienced bereavement psychotherapist and has a particular vocation in Christian healing. She is a spiritual director, runs meditation groups and co-facilitates retreats. She has a background in nursing and psychology, and is engaged in the creative practice of painting, writing and glass icons.

Rev Michael Gartland is an Anglican priest and transpersonal psychotherapist working mainly in the NHS, leading a multifaith mental health chaplaincy and counselling service in West Yorkshire. He has research and teaching interests in fourteenth century English mysticism and Buddhist psychology. He has extensive experience in leading retreats and of involvement in Buddhist-Christian dialogue.

Roger Ferguson is a retired solicitor and has been a Quaker and a meditator since the 1970s. He has a particular interest in the Christian and Buddhist contemplative traditions. He is a spiritual director with experience of facilitating retreats and weeks of accompanied prayer.

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Holy Isle picture gallery










Holy Isle picture gallery








Holy Isle picture gallery





Holy Isle picture gallery











Holy Isle picture gallery





Holy Isle picture gallery