Welcome to the Gathering Place.

 

We are delighted to share this beautiful place of peace, meditation, contemplation,
healing, renewal and learning.

Interested in venue hire? Skip to enquiry form >>

The history of the Gathering Place

The Brigidine sisters established this as a convent in the 1950s. When the convent closed, the Gathering Place was then created as a retreat and spirituality centre with a contemplative focus in 1994 by Meryl Bollard and Sister Lorraine Gatehouse.

It has been lovingly cared for as a place of contemplation, renewal and healing for over 30 years and has played a very important role in our community.

Simply Mindful was invited to take on the management and vision of the Gathering Place in 2019 and a new chapter of the Gathering Place began in mid 2020. This is now the home of Simply Mindful: Canberra Mindfulness Centre and our mindfulness programs. We are honoured to be here.

The Gathering Place is cool and has its own wacky vibe, being a former convent, and the garden has its own charm and character. — Weekend Retreat participant

Our location

The Gathering Place is nestled in a quiet neighbourhood, five minutes by car from the city centre. It is walking distance to the Dickson shops, local eateries, swimming pool, Dickson wetlands and the Mount Majura Nature Reserve.

Our address:

4 Bancroft Street
Dickson ACT 2602

 

For program participants

When you register for our MBSR program, yoga classes or any of our other programs, you will receive an email with directions to the Gathering Place. If it’s your first time, please plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to ensure that you give yourself enough time to find us and settle in.

Parking is available on Bancroft street or in the church car park (St Brigid’s) next door to the Gathering Place. Entry to the church carpark is off Wilshire St. Please don’t park in the driveway unless you need special access or have mobility issues. There is a pathway from the church carpark to the Gathering Place driveway. There is a bike rack located at the side of the building halfway down the driveway.

Once you enter through the front door, you will make your way to your practice room. This will typically be either the large meeting room (former chapel) or the Garden Room. We ask that you leave your shoes outside the room.

During walking meditations, we use the garden whenever weather permits.

Restrooms are located on the ground floor and upper floor, which is accessible by a staircase. There is also a kitchen with hot water, fridge and microwave, where you can store any items if your program includes a tea/meal break.

A serene and welcoming environment. It’s hard to believe you’re still in Canberra. — Silent Retreat participant

urban retreat centre

A garden oasis nestled in the heart of inner north Canberra.

Bedrooms

Each bedroom has a single bed, cupboard, desk, chair, lamp, mirror and sink. All beds have electric blankets, doonas, pillows and 2 spare blankets. There are shared unisex bathrooms and toilets.

former convent

Although the Gathering Place is now a secular space, you will spot some reminders of its Catholic origins.

art gallery

Our walls frequently display the work of talented local artists.

garden

Stroll through our secluded garden, or find a quiet shady spot to rest a while.

labyrinth

The winding paths of the labyrinth create a safe space for personal reflections and contemplation.

Venue hire

The Gathering Place offers a safe, peaceful, welcoming and reflective environment in the National Capital. It has one medium and one large meeting room, simple accommodation (single bedrooms) and a beautiful garden. It also has a simple kitchen and dining area, bathrooms and showers. All facilities are clean and well maintained.

The Gathering Place offers some elements of the monastic traditions such as simplicity, meditation, reflection and learning, in a contemporary way.

We appreciate the willingness of all hirers to respect the Gathering Place and its purpose and to maintain it as a place of peace and healing.

Who we hire to

These are some of the events we have hosted in the past.

  • Visual arts workshops
  • Day retreats for small businesses and non-profit organisations
  • Private meditation sessions for individuals or small groups
  • Yoga classes
  • Parenting programs
  • Health and wellbeing workshops
  • Choir rehearsals
  • Memorial services

Note that we are not a suitable venue for birthday parties or very large gatherings.

If you would like to enquire about booking the Gathering Place for your event or activity, please fill out the form below.

Room dimensions:

Garden room/medium meeting room
– 8m x 5m
– 20 people seated (fewer if on yoga mats)

Chapel/large meeting room
– 12m x 6m
– Max 36 seated (fewer if on yoga mats)

The hourly cost is $60 for a meeting room and $70 for the whole space (NOTE: fees are up to date as of April 2023; please use the form below to confirm current rate). The hourly fee is reduced when hiring for a half day or whole day.

A discounted fee may be offered at our discretion to small not for profits, volunteer groups, small community organisations, NGOs, and government schools.

contact us to hire the gathering place

Have you booked the Gathering Place previously?

You must have public liability insurance.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about being fully present and aware to all of life. Presence is an innate human capacity, however this capacity is underdeveloped in most people.

Mindfulness training is a bit like ‘mental exercise’. As we practice over time,  we build what’s known as the ‘mindful muscle’ – our ability to be fully present and alive to our lives more of the time.

What does the MBSR course involve?
  • 2 ½ hour class once a week for 8 weeks plus one full day session (held on the weekend)
  • Mindfulness meditation training, access to the online library of guided meditation recordings, and course workbook
  • Learning about the effects of stress on our bodies and minds
  • Exploring patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving and their relationship to stress
  • Developing strategies for applying mindfulness in daily life
  • Learning through brief lectures, group discussion and experiential activities
Who is MBSR for?

This is suitable for absolute beginners as well as those who’ve previously done some mindfulness training.

How can MBSR help me?

"This is the most important thing I have ever done for myself"—this quite literally is the feedback we hear from participants again and again.

If you want to learn how to work skilfully with your own mind, body and emotions and really enjoy being you and feel truly at home in your own skin, then mindfulness training is for you. It is a proven method for improving health, mental health, self-awareness and skilfulness.

Is there science to back this up? Isn’t meditation a spiritual thing?

MBSR teaches the art and science of presence.

It’s an art because everyone’s internal world is completely unique, nuanced and it’s also a creative changing space. No one else can tell you exactly how to meditate or do it for you.

It’s a science because research in neuroscience, medicine and psychology have helped us to understand how this ancient practice actually works, how it not only changes the structure of the brain, but also improves health and mental health, and even slows down the process of ageing. (see our resources for some references)

Mindfulness and MBSR is open to anyone. You don’t have to believe anything in particular to benefit from it. It’s compatible with a wide range of spiritual and religious beliefs. Anything that is important or meaningful for you in your life can be enhanced by mindfulness practice.

I have a really busy mind. I can’t sit still, how am I going to meditate?

Almost everyone in our MBSR courses complains of a busy mind!

The mind’s job is to think. In mindfulness meditation we are not trying to stop thinking, we are learning to relate differently to it.

Throughout the course you will have the opportunity to explore strategies, techniques and practical approaches for relating to your mind.

You will learn to meet your thoughts, mental and emotional habits, fears and stuck places with kindness and curiosity.

Why should I do MBSR when I can go to a local meditation centre for free?

Many people come to MBSR because they specifically want a mindfulness training that is secular and has no particular spiritual orientation or beliefs attached to the process.

As well, most “free” meditation centres rely on people’s generosity to support and sustain their work and the teachings. In order for these centres to survive, they need to be considered as supported by the people who use them.

MBSR is the world’s gold standard evidence based mindfulness training, It has been a major source of the evidence base over the last 40 years as it began in a university hospital setting, the university of Massachusetts medical school and was designed by a scientist, Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Someone down the road is offering a mindfulness course cheaper. What’s the difference?

Check it out! We encourage you to be curious about the differences. It is likely that with a shorter course (ie 4 weeks of 1 hour each week) that you will get ‘mindfulness lite’, a superficial and no doubt helpful course, but not something that sticks, or substantially changes anything in your life.

For over 40 years, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been the gold standard of teaching mindfulness in a secular setting for the relief of physical and psychological suffering. It is taught by people who have committed themselves to training, doing retreats and having a personal practice themselves, over many years.

Training takes place over a long period, is in depth and high standard. MBSR started at the University of Massachusetts Medical School over 26,000 people have participated in the research. This is a major source of the evidence base and current interest in mindfulness.

However, many people are now offering “mindfulness” courses “based on MBSR” or “based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn” with very little personal experience and immersion in mindfulness practice themselves, and little or no training in MBSR.

These courses are often shorter, perhaps 6 sessions of 1.5 hours (ie 9 hours long) or 6 sessions x 2 hours (12 hours long) for around $400. This works out as more expensive than the MBSR program which is 27 hours long, including a silent retreat day, plus email and phone contact with the teacher if you need it during the 8 weeks.