Breakthrough to Zen Retreats

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The three-day (64hr) retreat format is inspired by the “group sanzen” format developed by our teacher in Japan,  Zen master Shinzan.  Blending  Zen, the work of Charles Berner and insights of contemporary neuroscience, the Zenways Breakthrough to Zen retreat is a uniquely powerful way to step into the world of awakening.

These retreats are designed specifically for you to find out your true nature – to find out who you really are (enlightenment or kensho in Japanese). This intensive format is suitable for those with no prior meditation experience, but can also be very powerful for those who have an ongoing or developing practice. We offer Breakthrough to Zen retreats in the UK, mainland Europe and the United States, and online.

Upcoming retreats

Thu 13

Breakthrough to Zen Retreat

13 July @ 5:00 pm - 16 July @ 2:00 pm
Minsteracres United Kingdom Tutor/Teacher: Daizan Skinner (zen)
Thu 21

Breakthrough to Zen Retreat in Oregon, USA

21 September @ 6:00 pm - 24 September @ 2:00 pm
Cost: $325 – $480
Saint Benedict Lodge United States Tutor/Teacher: Daizan Skinner (zen)
Thu 28
Mountain Walking Retreat

Mountain Walking Retreat

28 September @ 6:00 pm - 1 October @ 2:00 pm
Glen Feshie Hostel United Kingdom Tutor/Teacher: Daizan Skinner (zen)
Tue 03
Mountain Walking Retreat

Wilderness Retreat

3 October @ 10:00 am - 5 October @ 4:00 pm
Tutor/Teacher: Daizan Skinner (zen)
Thu 07

Breakthrough to Zen Retreat

7 December @ 6:00 pm - 10 December @ 2:00 pm
Noddfa, Penmaenmawr United Kingdom Tutor/Teacher: Daizan Skinner (zen)
Sun 10

Breakthrough to Zen Retreat

10 December @ 6:00 pm - 13 December @ 2:00 pm
Noddfa, Penmaenmawr United Kingdom Tutor/Teacher: Daizan Skinner (zen)

About the retreat

Down the centuries, the Zen tradition has found that concentrated periods of time, devoted exclusively to practice can effectively lead to great openings and shifts of awareness. With wholehearted practice you will experience kensho or satori ­ – the enlightenment of Zen – in which you “astonish the heavens and shake the earth”.

The retreats are suitable for adults who are able for the retreat period to devote themselves solely to the activities of the retreat. If you have been suffering from severe mental health difficulties, a less intensive retreat format may be more suitable for you. Please discuss with us. The retreats are not suitable for children.

The schedule is intentionally full and the days begin early and carry on into the evening. You are asked to participate fully and whole­heartedly with all activities. Every activity can be adapted in the case of physical difficulties. We keep silence as much as possible during the retreat and ask you to speak only when necessary. This helps you to keep awareness and focus as much as possible.

What you will find on this retreat is literally priceless. This being so there is no charge for the retreat and no one is ever excluded due to lack of funds. However there are costs involved. These unique intensive Zen retreats are based in giving and receiving, the ancient principle of open-hearted generosity.

Retreat Donation

It’s important to us that these retreats stay as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. As such, we do not charge a fixed amount for these retreats, and instead encourage you to donate between £100 and £250, depending on your means. This money goes towards covering  Zenways’ costs and expenses, and any extra will go towards establishing a rural retreat centre. If you’re in a condition of hardship, please get in touch and we can discuss what would work best for you. No one is turned away through lack of means. If the retreat surpassed your expectation, there will be the possibility of making an extra donation after the retreat either in cash or by bank transfer/PayPal.

Accommodation should be booked and paid for separately with the venue – further details will be sent to you after you’ve booked your place.

Pete’s account of his first retreat

Pete Hudson was an everyday guy who habitually bottled everything up and it was having a major detrimental effect on his life. He was angry and his marriage was breaking down. In one last-ditch attempt to save their relationship, is wife Emma asked him to attend a Zenways Breakthrough to Zen Retreat. Listen to his experience here.


Naturalhealth-opt“If you do only one thing this month… get Zen.” Article on our Breakthrough to Zen retreats, as featured in the Natural Health magazine (March 2015).
Read the article

Or read a full review of our Breakthrough to Zen retreats on the online blog “Queen of Retreats”.


In this video Daizan Roshi discusses the Breakthrough to Zen retreat, its influences, and why it’s so effective:

Find out more about the background to our 3-day retreat format, going back to the 6th ancestor of Zen, Daikan Eno.



“The group dynamic helped me to really discover myself and develop (slowly) some confidence in being able to live out that deepest part of my being.” Meijia
“I realised that I am part of a large boundless all encompassing being. Everything I see, everyone I encounter, we’re all just leaves from the same tree.” Rene
“The first time I’ve felt, really experienced, there is something deeper, and been able to not grasp and cling to it and accept negativities.” George
“I have woken emotions and reconnected to myself. It’s OK to have damage. It’s OK to have had problems – that’s what makes up our life but not who we are.” Cardine
“I am full of aliveness, in fact I can’t wait to get stuck into my life again.” Frank
“I have had a very deep experience of knowing who I am. I feel I am myself, for the first time in a very long time. I am looking forward to sharing this with friends and family.” Dave
“I have loved engaging with others in this intensive method. I feel in touch again and out of my tiresome ‘bubble’ of existence.” Nigel
“This was the first time in my life that I was able to look inside without being overwhelmed.” Boris
“Horrified by the process … more comfortable … confused with … bored by… feel horrendous … surprise … opening to … flowing without even trying … thinking the worst was over … finding there was more … stillness … peace … thinking I was on the home run … finding more to talk about … more that needed to be said … loving the process … not wanting timer to go off … wanting to sit there all day … learning to not have expectation … HERE.” Katy
“I have everything I need at the heart of me, here: inherent purpose, rest, not chasing. I am becoming.” Sumaya
“It feels like I have found home – but that home is in my heart!” Rebecca

Read more detailed testimonials and stories from past retreat participants.
More testimonials