A Sesshin—Silent Zen Meditation with Healing Yoga practice
Description of the Retreat
Following the schedule of a traditional Zen Sesshin, we will spend a few days in silence, allowing the mind and our nervous system to release, to fall gradually into the depths of our inner terrain, where our Buddha nature (or awakened nature) abides.
Here, at the space of the inner heart, compassion naturally blossoms; healing energy starts to flow as the inner wisdom arises. We will take meals together in silence, Japanese Oryoke style, and keep silence throughout the day.
We will do two short yoga sessions daily. A slow embodied Abhaya Yoga practice in the morning will help our body-mind to move and unlock, and in the afternoon to gently restore & relax.
Our Invitation to you…
“Seize the opportunity,” was what a wise teacher used to say to me.
Seize the opportunity to practice looking in deeply and to live life in its fullest.
6.00 Zazen—Seated meditation
6.40 Kinhin–Slow walking
8.00 Breakfast in silence.
9.30 Αbhaya Yoga: Embodied slow-dynamic practice
11.00 Dharma Talk by a Zen Master, on video
16.30 Abhaya Yoga: Restorative Therapeutic practice
19.30 Zazen, two sittings
21:00 Chanting the 3 Refuges
When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original selves.
Special Zen Package – Price for 2 nights (minimum stay for this package is 2 nights)
(including practice, meals, accommodations)
In a Tent: 160€ in your own tent, 200€ Zen Rocks Tent (subject to availability)
In a Triple: 280€ (the room has to have 3 persons to get this rate)
In a Double: 310€ (the room has to be guaranteed for 2 guests to get this rate)
Small Room @ Nikolaos: 340€ (only one unit available at Nikolaos)
Villa Small Ground Unit: 400€
Villa Large or Upstairs: 450€
- You can join for the program only, 6am-9pm Daily.
Daily pricing as follows:
Zen-Yoga Program: 40€/day
2. Option to stay extra nights (i.e. Sunday night)
Accommodation Pricing for extra nights:
In a Tent: 20€/day
In a Triple: 60€/day (the room has to have 3 persons to get this rate)
In a Double: 75€/day
Small Single: 90€/day
Villa Small Single: 120€/day
Large or Upstairs: 145€/day
Work Exchange & Scholarships available for those who need assistance.
A visionary and activist for positive change, Vivi returned to her homeland, Greece, in 2004 with a strong impetus to effect positive change through building enlightening communities. In her life and work she has been trying to integrate Yoga, Zen, and Tantric Philosophy, the spiritual paths she has sought to combine for over 20 years, while a filmmaker in California.
Through her journey of teaching and practicing Yoga, Pilates, and meditation, Vivi has been able to find a way of practice that makes us strong in all levels and helps us to triumph even in challenging circumstances.
For over 30 years, Vivi has followed her Zen teacher Tenshin Reb Anderson(link), in meditation retreats at the San Francisco Zen Center (link), and marveled at the clarity and luminosity of his teachings. Had she been a better Zen student, she would have been enlightened by now, but not wanting to miss the opportunity of studying with this rare master, she keeps staring at a blank white wall and trying to open her ears and heart to the Buddhist teachings on wisdom, compassion, and interbeing. Reb, meanwhile, keeps giving away the secret to Enlightenment: “it is the way we help each other; the mysterious intricate way through which we are all inter-connected.” Vivi’s gratitude also goes to her long time Zen comrade Bernd Bender(link), of Akazienzendo(link), in Berlin, who has invested so much in sharing his compassionate Zen practice with fellow meditators in Greece. And to the venerable Koten Roshi from Saikenji Temple (link), in Japan, who generously shares his Zen wisdom with the Greek community around the Athens Zen Center. (link)
“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.” ― Dogen
More on Vivi’s background & philosophy…
Through her journey of teaching and practicing Yoga, Pilates, and meditation, Vivi has been able to find a way of practice that makes us strong in all levels and helps us to triumph even in challenging circumstances. Amidst the Greek economic crises, Vivi and her beloved husband, Eraj, have managed to create successfully: NYSY Academy for Yoga and Pilates, and Avocado Vegetarian Café—two bright centers in the heart of Athens. Recently they completed another life-long dream, building Zen Rocks, a stunningly beautiful retreat center in Mani/Southern Greece, dedicated to maximizing our human potential through the healing practices of Zen, Yoga, Tantric meditation, nutrition, permaculture, and restorative living.
The Abhaya Yoga Tree of Yoga Studies was inspired by the sturdy olive trees surrounding Zen Rocks. Studying these trees, she invites practitioners to discover their seed desire or dream–their iccha, to root deeply in their power through yoga practice, and establish a strong trunk for teaching before they branch out to expand and reach their full potential as teachers, communicators, and strong human beings.
Teaching Pilates was a later discovery for Vivi, but she fell in love with the practice, especially through the approach of BASI Pilates. Now she incorporates Pilates core exercises to all her classes and teacher training programs.
Teamwork: Our Working Philosophy
Vivi’s passion for a brave and upright way of being in the world is contagious. Hundreds of bright yogis and yoga teachers have emerged from her workshops and teacher training programs, now spreading their unique light and making our whole planet brighter!
Vivi’s gift and passion is to bring excellent talented teachers, artists, and participants together to create opportunities for good working projects, deeper practice, and growth. In California she founded the first Ethnic Dance School with dances from around the world, the San Jose Kinisi Worldance Center, in 1987, and produced Ethnic Dance Festivals and Carnival events for the city of San Jose, raising awareness and appreciation for ethnic arts/dance to the dry silicon valley area. In San Francisco she worked as the director of the Latin Mission Theater, La Mission, and produced/directed several plays, films, documentaries, like the award winning political documentary, “Hidden in Plain Sight” featuring Noam Chomsky, and the feature film “Skeleton Woman” among others. “The spirit of teamwork is what leaves positive traces behind, once a project vanishes in past tense,” says Vivi about all this experience.
Through the years with the amazing team of NYSY they have organized successful Yoga and Pilates Conferences, Festivals, in Athens, and Yoga-Pilates-Meditation retreats all over the Greek islands and now at Zen Rocks in Mani.
Vivi shares: The motto of our NYSY, Avocado, and Zen Rocks team is: «Oμάδα όχι Μονάδα» meaning that we work as a team not as an individual unit. Our goal is to be a great support for each other in our common dream to bring more beauty and happiness unto our world.
Discovering yoga in the 80s, Vivi feels immense gratitude for her first teacher Kali Ray (https://triyoga.com/yogini-kaliji/ ) who illuminated the path of Tri-Yoga, a beautiful flowing vinyasa style of yoga. Ashtanga was the next discovery with senior teacher, Tim Miller (https://www.ashtangayogacenter.com/tim-miller ), being a true inspiration in dynamic practice. Having the good fortune to study with many inspirational yoga teachers, she is blessed to have heard the simply powerful words of her beloved teacher and friend, Rusty Wells (https://rustywells.com ): “Be Kind, Be Love!” and to be taught the grace of Bhakti Vinyasa Flow through the many teacher training courses they have offered jointly in Greece.
Vivi was been greatly motivated by such vibrant teachers as Anusara’s Desiree Rumbaugh (https://desireerumbaugh.com ), who stands firmly for what she believes: “Love is Stronger than fear.” Vivi’s deep knowledge of precise structural alignment and therapeutics is largely attributed to her practice in Anusara yoga (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anusara_School_of_Hatha_Yoga), and her erstwhile teacher, John Friend, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Friend_(yogi) ). Vivi was the first certified Anusara Yoga teacher in Greece, pioneering a new way of therapeutic practice in her native land. She is eternally grateful to her yoga sister and mentor, Sue Elkind, of Dig Yoga (https://www.digyoga.com/about-dig-yoga ), for sharing her wisdom for “walking the walk, and talking the talk” in today’s yoga business and ethics. With Sue she studied also pre-natal yoga, and yoga therapeutics with Sue and her husband, Naime Jezzeny of Dig(https://www.digyoga.com/about-dig-yoga ).
Another exceptional teacher and friend on the path has been the wise Ayurvedic therapist and educator, Arun Deva of Rasayana (https://yogarasayana.com ). Together they have led retreats to India and offered Ayurveda training courses at NYSY in Athens, and retreats in Mani at Zen Rocks.
Vivi is grateful for all these new and old friendships with great teachers and sincere practitioners. It is her joy to invite great minds and spirits to NYSY and Zen Rocks and to share their light, compassion, wisdom and love with the Greek and international community of seekers and practitioners.
Through the path of Abhaya Yoga Vivi loves to uplift and empower people so they can embody their full potential.
Her two favorite mottos:
“If you are ready for positive change, your life will change positively.”
“Empowerment through Yoga. Experience it. Teach it. ”
For over 30 years, Vivi has followed her zen teacher Tenshin Reb Anderson (https://www.rebanderson.org ), in meditation retreats at the San Francisco Zen Center (https://www.sfzc.org ), and marveled at the clarity and luminosity of his teachings. Had she been a better zen student she would have been enlightened by now, but not wanting to miss the opportunity of studying with this rare master, she keeps staring at a blank white wall and trying to open her ears and heart to the Buddhist teachings on wisdom, compassion, and interbeing. Reb, meanwhile, keeps giving away the secret to Enlightenment: “it is the way we help each other; the intricate way through which we are all inter-connected.” Vivi’s gratitude also goes to her long time Zen comrade Bernd Bender(https://www.akazienzendo.de/en/people.html ), of Akazienzendo(https://www.akazienzendo.de ), in Berlin, who has invested so much in sharing his compassionate Zen practice with fellow meditators in Greece. And to Koten Roshi from Saikenji Temple (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiken-ji ), in Japan, who generously shares his Zen wisdom with the Greek community around the Athens Zen Center. (https://www.zencenterathens.com )
After years and years of meditation Vivi discovered in the powerful pithy teachings of her teacher, Sally Kempton, (https://www.sallykempton.com ), an immediate experiential path, a shortcut to enlightenment…
In Tantric philosophy “everything is a play of consciousness,” and to recognize that this auspicious power of divine awareness imbues every instance and particle of life is simply liberating. To study it through the ancient scriptures of Tantra the way that Sally illuminates their meaning is a rare gift; and to fully embody their meaning through the Tantric meditation techniques that Sally imparts with deep wisdom and eloquence is no less than miraculous.
With great joy Vivi shares her understanding of this uplifting philosophy any chance she can.
Vivi’s training in Pilates includes studies with the Physical Mind Institute, Ellie Herman Pilates, and BASI Pilates (https://www.basipilates.com ), a system she has grown to love and teach with great enthusiasm. She teaches classes and privates, and incorporates BASI Pilates exercises in every yoga class. It is a great affirmation to see students grow healthy, aligned, and supported by a strong core. Vivi believes that the key to good Pilates is good training. Forming a strong partnership with Rael Isacowitz and BASI Pilates back in 2006, and establishing the first BASI base in Europe, Vivi and NYSY Academy have spearheaded BASI Pilates Teachers Courses with great diligence and the highest educational standards in Greece for over 15 years now.
Over 300 excellent BASI Pilates instructors have graduated from these programs and have gone on to establish solid Pilates careers locally and internationally.
It has been a joy for Vivi, to see the team of teachers & administration at NYSY & BASI growing harmoniously to support each other and the global Pilates community.
Vivi also spearheaded the annual Athens Pilates Symposium, a fun, experiential, and highly educational international Pilates conference, one of the first and most successful in Europe.
Looking into the future, Vivi and her team are embarking on a new effort:
Organizing the “New Era Pilates Summit” slated to open the curtains to a new Pilates vision in the spring 2021.
Deluxe Triple Room with Sea View. This triple room features a balcony, dining area and minibar. Share a room with two of your friends or two other retreat guests.
Deluxe Quadruple Room with Sea View. This quadruple room features a balcony, dining area and minibar. Share a room with three of your friends or three other retreat guests.
Have a question?
All our retreats aim to create a nurturing and welcoming environment for all levels of practice and all student needs. All programs offer the opportunity for a dose of daily good exercise through yoga or pilates, walks in nature and/or swimming in the sea, and both restorative and meditation practice. A weekly program offers a complete experience of well-being. Our teachers are highly experienced and skilled. If a program seems enticing to you, it is probably the one you need. Make a bold step and trust it: Go for it!
Book early, as soon as you know the retreat you are interested in, and your schedule. Click here to send us your questions or to register. Link: REGISTER
We would be happy to help arrange your transfer from Athens or Kalamata to Zen Rocks.
The retreat is located about 30 minutes south of the city of Kalamata, in a quiet olive grove amidst sea and blue skies. The closest village to us is Kalianeika, about one kilometer from us. There is airport access both from Athens Airport (3 hours from ZR) and from Kalamata Airport (30-40min from ZR).
-Flights to Athens International Airport (ATH) and transportation to Zen Rocks
All major airlines fly to Athens international airport, called Eleftherios Venizelos. Zen Rocks is about a 2.5-3 hours’ drive from Athens. We can arrange a private transport for you and/ or your group or you can rent a car to drive yourself to Zen Rocks. The ride is beautiful, and you can enjoy a direct ride along the new Athens-Kalamata highway, or you can make stops in places like the sites of Ancient Mycenae, Ancient Nemea, the city of Nafplion, and the town of Kalamata.
-Flights to/from Kalamata (KLX)
More and more there are direct and/or charter flights to the small airport of Kalamata from different European cities. Also, new 30 minutes flights have just started from Athens to Kalamata regional airport are very reasonably priced if booked well in advance.
Alternatively, you can fly to Kalamata from the northern Greek town of Thessaloniki.
-Transportation options while in Greece
The way to reach Zen Rocks is either with our luxurious Mini Van for 8 people or by renting a car from Athens or Kalamata and drive around on your own. Our office can assist you with your car rental reservation. Or you can make your booking directly. During your stay at Zen Rocks our minivan is available for hire along with an experienced driver. The rates for transfers with our minivan are in the attached document titled: ZenRocksRates.
Allow us to book your transfer from Athens or Kalamata. Simply email us at: email@example.com
The retreat is located about 30 minutes South of the city of Kalamata, in a quiet olive grove amidst the sea and blue skies. The closest village to us is Kallianeika.
1. Drive on the new freeway from Athens to Kalamata, and be prepared to stop frequently for tolls. Expect to pay around 15€ each way. It may take you 2-2.5 hours to reach Kalamata.
2. Stay on the freeway and exit Kalamata heading towards Areopolis and Kitries. After the freeway ends, you will pass Lidl, and a café called Cosi on the right, and then the road forks and you see a road sign. At this point you have the option of heading up towards the mountain towards Areopolis and Kardamyli, or taking a right towards the sea and Kitries. You can reach us either way. We are giving you directions through the coastal road here, as it may be easier to find our location this way.
3. Take a right towards Kitries and drive down the coast for about 10-15 minutes. Right as you approach Kitries, the road goes uphill. There is a big retaining wall right in front of you, causing you to almost stop. You see a road sign for Doloi.
4. Make a sharp left up the mountain towards Doloi.
5. Drive for 5 minutes until you reach the village of Kalianeika.
6. When you reach Kalianeika, stop in front of the church and set your odometer to 0.
7. Drive for one kilometer, and you will come to switch back turn where you will see a fence with big cacti and a huge rock. You are getting close.
8. Immediately afterwards, you see a second switch back turn and a couple small signs for Zen Rocks. At this point leave the asphalt road and enter a smaller cement farm road. Drive 200 meters on cement, and then another 400 meters of dirt road. At this point you will see the electrical posts and a cement road up on your left. This is our private drive way to Zen Rocks.
(Attention: our drive way is the SECOND paved road you see on your left. Do not take the first one, right where the cement ends… wait till you drive the extra 400 meters of dirt and pebble road and you come across the electrical wires and big posts… at this point you will also notice that the farm road you are on is covered with the cement of our paved drive way.)
9. Go left on our cement road. It is a sharp incline. Come up on first gear and full throttle. Small cars will do fine if you know how to drive fearlessly.
10. Welcome to Zen Rocks.
As Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn says: YOU HAVE ARRIVED!
Το Zen Rocks Mani βρίσκεται σε απόσταση περίπου 30 λεπτών Νότια από τη πόλη της Καλαμάτας, ανάμεσα σε ήσυχους ελαιώνες, τον ουρανό και τη θάλασσα! Το κοντινότερο χωριό είναι τα Καλλιανέικα.
1. Πάρτε τη νέα εθνική οδό απο την Αθήνα προς τη Καλαμάτα οπου θα χρειαστεί να σταματήσετε συχνά σε σταθμούς διοδίων. Υπολογείστε οτι το συνολικό κόστος των διοδίων θα ειναι 15€ η διαδρομή. Η απόσταση ειναι περιπου 2-2.5 ώρες απο την Αθήνα μέχρι να φτάσετε στη Καλαμάτα.
2. Μείνετε στην εθνική οδό και βγείτε στην έξοδο της Καλαμάτας με κατεύθυνσή προς Αρεόπολη και Κιτριές. Όταν τελειώσει η εθνική οδός, θα συναντήσετε ένα σούπερ μάρκετ Lidl και μια καφετέρια στα δεξιά σας που ονομάζεται Cosi. Σε εκείνο το σημείο ο δρόμος χωρίζεται και θα δείτε μια πινακίδα. Σε αυτό ακριβώς το σημείο, έχετε την επιλογή είτε να συνεχίσετε προς το βουνό με κατεύθυνση προς Αρεόπολη και Καρδαμύλη είτε να πάρετε το δρόμοι που είναι στα δεξιά σας που πάει μέσω του παραλιακού δρόμου στις Κιτριές. Όποιο δρόμο και να πάρετε μπορείτε να έρθετε στο Zen Rocks Mani. Εμείς παρακάτω σας δίνουμε οδηγίες από το παραλιακό δρόμο μιας και θεωρούμε ότι είναι ο πιο εύκολος δρόμος για να έρθετε.
3. Κάνετε δεξιά προς Κιτριές και οδηγείτε στο παραλιακό δρόμο για περίπου 10-15 λεπτά. Στο σημείο που έχετε φτάσει σχεδό στις Κιτριές, ο δρόμος έχει μια ανηφόρα. Στο σημείο αυτό υπάρχει ένας μεγάλος τοίχος μπροστά σας που σας αναγκάζει σχεδόν να σταματήσετε. Εκεί βλέπετε μια πινακίδα προς Δολούς.
4. Εκεί αριστερά προς το βουνό με κατεύθυνση προς Δολούς.
5. Οδηγείστε προς τα επάνω αυτόν τον δρόμο με τις στροφές, για 5 λεπτά μέχρι να βρείτε το χωριό Καλιανέϊκα.
6. Όταν φτάσετε στα Καλιανέϊκα, σταματήστε μπροστά από την εκκλησία και ρυθμίστε το μετρητή χιλιομέτρων σας στο 0.
7. Οδηγείστε για 1 χιλιόμετρο και θα δείτε μια στροφή φουρκέτα, η οποία σας φέρνει προς τα δεξια. Εκεί θα δείτε ένα φράχτη με μεγάλους κάκτους και ένα τεράστιο βράχο. Πλησιάζετε!
8. Αμέσως μετά βλέπετε μια ακόμα στροφή φουρκέτα που στρίβει τον δρόμο προς τα αριστερά. Θα δείτε δύο μικρές πινακίδες για το Zen Rocks. Σε αυτό το σημείο αφήνετε το ασφαλτοστρωμένο δρόμο και μπαίνετε προς τα δεξιά σε έναν μικρό αγροτικό δρόμο από τσιμέντο.
Οδηγείστε για 200 μέτρα στο τσιμεντένιο επαρχιακό δρόμο και άλλα 400 μέτρα σε χωματόδρομο. Ακολουθήστε τις πινακίδες για να μην μπείτε στον ελαιώνα που είναι πριν από εμάς. Περιμένετε να δείτε το σημείο με την πινακίδα του Zen Rocks να δείχνει τον ανηφορικό ιδιωτικό τσιμεντένιο δρόμο στα αριστερά σας. Είναι που θα σας φέρει στο κατάλυμα.
Σε αυτό το σημείο και μόνο θα δείτε και τους στύλους της ΔΕΗ να ανεβαίνουν προς τα πάνω.
9. Κάντε αριστερά σε αυτόν τον τσιμεντένιο δρόμο. Έχει έντονη ανηφορική κλίση, οπότε βάλτε πρώτη ταχύτητα για να ανεβείτε. Ακόμα και μικρά αυτοκίνητα ανεβαίνουν άνετα. Είναι λίγο σα να ανεβαίνετε ίσια πάνω στον ουρανό, στα σύννεφα… Απογειώνεστε λοιπόν.
10. 5 Δευτερόπτα μετά: Καλώς ορίσατε στο Zen Rocks Mani. Χαλαρώστε και απολαύστε τη διαμονή σας!
Όπως λέει και ο δάσκαλος του Ζεν Thich Nhat Hahn: You have arrived! Pause. Enjoy!
Let us know about your needs and preferences and we can pre-arrange the perfect nurturing massage or related therapy session for you.