Minutes from P&E – Dec 2019

Practice & Education Meeting

Wednesday 17th December 2019



Present:          Paul Gerstmayr, Tessa Watt, Jane Hope, Ariela Cravitz, Merlin Cox,

David Morris, Jim O’Neill


Apologies:     Rachael Cheang


Chair: Paul. Minutes: Ariela





  1. Check/-in
  2. Review of previous minutes
  3. Continued: how to proceed with P&E business from Feb/March 2020
  4. Feedback from Council: new protocol for programmes
  5. Question from Council: youth rep
  6. Discussion: Sakyong‘s most recent message to students
  7. Sadhana practices at LSMC
  8. Brief overview of programming to Summer 2020
  9. AOB
  10. Date of next meeting





  1. Check/-in



  1. Review of previous minutes


Item 7 – Werma Feasts: Merlin has yet to find dates, as he’s been busy.

Item 10 – Programming / Teachers: Jane has contacted Sarah Coleman, and is awaiting response (Sarah has been travelling). Jane will be seeing Shenpen at Xmas. Paul offered to send Sarah Coleman a whatsapp message.

Action: Paul



  1. Continued: how to proceed with P&E business from Feb/March 2020


There is a role description for Director of Practice & Education which can be referred to. The role requires: the person liaising with everyone regarding teaching; e-mails; keeping track / view of what people say; in terms of the programming, having some sort of vision and overview; negotiating with all the stakeholders ensuring there is quality assurance and seeking feedback. The role also requires diplomacy.

  • It should be ensured that when Paul steps down there is some kind of handover – e.g. question marks over particular weekend teacher, etc. It was suggested that it would be helpful if Paul sends a handover e-mail which goes to the whole group.
  • P&E representative to the Council might be able to be a different person from the Director role. The programming role is devolved to the whole group in lieu of an individual. The Council rep. role could also be devolved, so not involved with programming – e.g. Jane represented P&E at the Council meeting when Paul was away

Action: Paul to provide a handover e-mail before he steps down.



  1. Feedback from Council: new protocol for programmes

In terms of budgets, forms to fill out, approval to be sought before programmes set, etc. Does this need to be for every single programme – e.g. uncontroversial and tested courses. Paul raised this with Council delegates. The general feedback is that the new structure is not completely set in stone, as it’s all new. More specifically, Adam replied that it is his understanding that the application form and process should only be applied to new, controversial or non-standard projects. This relates back to David’s template which he shared, which could be used as inspiration – a risk assessment to help grade proposals. To reduce the amount of time spent on gathering agreement for things which are quite standard, but that more controversial proposals can garner feedback from a wider range of ‘stakeholders’.

E.g. David Schneider? David is an Acharya, and it is a standard kind of programme, similar to arts programmes which have taken place before. Schenpen would be different, because it’s bringing in a new teacher from outside the Mandala.

Action: David M and Jane H to work together on this.


  1. Question from Council: youth rep

There was the idea of maybe creating a delegate position on the Council for young people (i.e. from the Ziji group). Cailin Burney O’Dowd would be happy to join as that youth rep. Paul was asked to raise at the P&E meeting how the P&E Team feel about it, and it was agreed that it would be wonderful to have young people involved, as Ziji have operated somewhat independently for some time.


  1. Discussion: Sakyong‘s most recent message to students

Some space was offered for people to talk about the recent letter from the Sakyong, and a suggestion that the team maybe focus on how this will / might affect our work as the P&E Team.

It was suggested that John Seex facilitate a weekend for people to speak / be heard, and felt that it was more important to do that than have a weekend of teaching, so this should be clarified before Paul invites him to do a weekend of teaching.


  1. Sadhana practices at LSMC

Next meeting – or dealt with by e-mail.


  1. Brief overview of programming to summer 2020 (Paul)
  • Winter Retreat: Deepening our Practice – Peter Conradi
  • Learn to Meditate, January – Jez Taylor
  • Level 1, January – Jane
  • Awakening Joy and Equanimity, January – Peter Conradi
  • Open Meditation Weekend, February
  • Path of Compassion Programme with Merlin, March. Merlin can no longer do that. It was suggested that Angie Newton / John Seex / someone from Bristol be invited.

Action: Paul will write to John Seex to see if he’s free and invite him to teach.

  • Another Level 1, March 28-29 – maybe Tessa?

Action: Tessa will check and confirm.

  • Weekday evening slot: Paul is unsure whether to offer LTM or FIEL, as just had JIEL, and it seems many would like to continue with the series. Not offered FIEL for a long time now, so be nice to offer it. Feedback from Merlin on JIEL – relatively small numbers; there were six, all seemed pretty committed, and probably most of them would want to continue. So, maybe offer FIEL in next slot. There was a question as to how many have previously done JIEL who might be interested, and what number of participants would be acceptable? There are the current 6 who just attended JIEL and perhaps three or four from the database. It was agreed that if six people sign up, it would be worth going ahead. Merlin would be interested in teaching, with Jez.

Action: Paul to check (i) how many have done JIEL; (ii) Ask Jez what seems like a worthwhile number; (iii) Would Jez like to teach with Merlin.

  • April – FIEL continuation. Offer another Easter meditation weekend? Angie Newton to teach? Tessa also suggested to Angie that she might like to have a programme where she brings in walking on Clapham Common – weekend retreat Easter would be nice for that.

Action: Paul to ask.

  • LTM – Maybe Jane Hope – check calendar.
  • Absolute Bodhicitta, April – Jim O’ Neill.
  • May – Last two weeks of LTM. Sarah Coleman – Love and Relationships, 9th May (or maybe suggest her own topic). Level 2 – Peter Conradi, 30th – 31st


There was some confusion over pricing: first time attending Level 1 it is £130, the second time £70. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot having such a high price for Level 1? Also raised a question about the Buddhist programmes. They were meant to be for Shambhala people on the path. Revisited pricing question. Half price for Shambhala volunteers. Not yet publicised that, as we’re waiting for Jez to take it to finance team meeting. Not just the pricing, but the fact that there are so many programmes, and so close to the Level 1’s. Not envisaged as a set of beginners programmes.

Action: Jane to ensure pricing strategy goes to Finance Team at tomorrow’s FT meeting. Want to get an e-mail out about the revised pricing if Finance Team are happy with it.


It was agreed that we stick with the new pricing strategy for now and see how it goes. So, regular attenders should be getting everything for about £70. However, visiting teacher programmes will still cost everyone the full amount, as there are travel costs, etc. involved.


  • June – maybe LTM. JIEL. Tessa can’t do June, but might be able to if it starts a fortnight earlier (so in May), and Paul will check with Jez, especially if he can do last couple (Tessa away).

Action: Paul

  • Last Way of Compassion. There had been an idea that this weekend would be about applied Practice in Everyday Life, and that perhaps Bodhissatva vows would be offered. Doubts were expressed about this last programme. It was suggested that Orhun Cercel be asked to teach this weekend. A question is, how many people would be interested in taking Bodhisattva vows. One way of gaging this might be seeing how many people go to the other programmes. It was said that the opportunity to retake the Bodhisattva vow is quite compelling for some people. The worst case scenario is that we would have to postpone the programme.

Action: Paul to e-mail Orhun, (highlighting that while we would really love him to teach that weekend, it will depend on numbers).

  • Arts Programme – David
  • Maybe transfer the third Level 1 to Level 2.


There are now some gaps in the calendar compared to couple of months ago. This is due to some people in the group commenting on perhaps too many courses, resulting in lower attendance.



  1. AOB


It was suggested and agreed that instead of having refreshments at the end of every evening the course runs that maybe there just be tea at the beginning. If people were so inclined, that could maybe go to the pub at the end. The usual refreshments of cheese, etc. can be offered just at the reception at the end of the course.

Action: AC to communicate this to Jez.


  1. Date of next meeting: Monday 27th January, 8-9pm