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The Wisdom of the Heart-Sutra: Emptiness with a Heart of Compassion

May 29, 2018 - June 3, 2018

| 850€ | Early bird price: 650€ until 01/04/2018
The Wisdom of the Heart-Sutra: Emptiness with a Heart of Compassion

The Wisdom of the Heart-Sutra:

Emptiness with a Heart of Compassion

with Bernd Bender and Vivi Letsou

A Zen Sesshin & Yoga Retreat with Bernd Bender & Vivi Letsou

A 5-night, 6-day retreat at a place where Zen Rocks!


These few days will offer us a rare opportunity to go deep and restore body, mind, and heart.

In the beauty and serenity of nature, we will delve into the practice of Zazen (Zen Meditation) and Yoga (both dynamic and restorative.) We will practice several sessions of Zazen per day, and enjoy a daily lecture on the classic Zen text the “Heart Sutra,” with silent healthy vegetarian meals, private practice discussions with the teacher (dokusan,) and yoga movement to help loosen stress, tiredness, and trauma and allow our bodies to heal.   A healing and transformative experience, this meditation retreat will help create space and cultivate the heart of compassion in our lives.

Emptiness with a Heart of Compassion

Detailed Description of the Retreat

In this retreat we will listen to the Zen teachings on non-duality, reflect and discuss them together. We will practice Zen meditation and Yoga in order to prepare our heart-body-mind to receive the teachings and allow them to transform us. In the afternoon we will have time to enjoy our connectedness with the beautiful nature of Mani and the Mediterranean Sea.

Especially now, cultivating wisdom and compassion is of critical importance for individuals and society as a whole. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are living in a globalized world in which everything is interdependent; at the same time, individuals and groups are reacting to this development with fear, separation and resistance. And while this is understandable, it only causes the problems we face to become bigger and more of a challenge.

Studying the Heart Sutra together in this retreat we will investigate the interplay of duality and non-duality so we can become more open, flexible and compassionate. By closely examining how human consciousness works we can gradually let go of our fixation on our dualistic perceptions, making room in our hearts and minds for wisdom and compassion instead.

Personal conversations with the teachers are available throughout the retreat. The practice hall is open for personal yoga and meditation practice 24 hours.

Background on the text: The Heart-Sutra. Copies will be made available at the retreat.

A seminal philosophical text, it originated in the Buddhist culture of India at the beginning of the Common Era, yet it can offer us very timely insights into our current experience.


* There are no requirements for participating in the retreat, aside from an interest in Yoga, meditation practice

and a genuine willingness to examine our own experience from what is potentially a new point of view.




1st and last Day

Tuesday, May 29:

18:00            Introduction to Zen meditation
19:00            Dinner
20:30            Zazen (meditation)
21:00            Chanting
21:10             End of day

Sunday, June 3:

6:00              Wake up bell
6:30               Zazen (meditation)
7:00               Kinhin (walking meditation)
7:10                Zazen
7:40               Chanting of Heart Sutra
8:00               Breakfast & break
9:30               Yoga class
11:00              Tea break
11:30              Lecture on Heart Sutra
13:30              Lunch
14:15               End of retreat



Daily schedule

Wednesday, May 30 to Saturday, June 2:


6:00          Wake up bell
6:30          Zazen (meditation)
7:00          Kinhin (walking meditation)
7:10           Zazen (meditation)
7:40           Chanting of Heart Sutra
8:00          Breakfast
9:00          Teachings on Heart Sutra
11:00         Break
11:15          Yoga class
13:00         Lunch
14:00        Break. Rest or swimming
17:00         Zazen (meditation)
17:30         Kinhin (walking meditation)
17:40         Zazen (meditation)
18:10         Chanting of Heart Sutra
19:00         Break
19:30         Dinner
20:30        Group Discussion or Zazen
21:10          Chanting
21:30         End of day


Retreat Cost (5 nights)

PRICE: 850€

Early bird price until 01/04/2018: 650€

What is included: 

Accommodations, Yoga Practice, Morning Tea, Brunch and Dinner.

* PERSONALISED HEALING PACKAGE (PHP) can be available at 200€ for all bookings. 

This package includes 1 Holistic/ Ayurvedic Massage PLUS 1 Private Consultation with the retreat teacher or with our health therapist.

Extra Options:

♦ Transportation from Athens Airport or Kalamata Airport

♦ Ride to the beach: 10€/round trip per day

♦ Luxury Air-Conditioned Van


Teachers’ Bios

Berndt BernerBernd Bender

is a Zen teacher & priest in Suzuki Roshi’s lineage,  and founder of “Akazienzendo“ in Berlin where he teaches meditation and mindfulness.  He received his training in one of the most important Zen centers of the U.S., the San Francisco Zen Center, where he lived, studied and taught for 15 years. Bernd regularly teaches at Zen Center Athens.  He studied literature and philosophy in Frankfurt and Berkeley, and in his younger years he worked as a dancer.  Having translated over 20 Buddhist books from English to German, Bernd is comfortable navigating in both languages, across a wide spectrum of classical and modern meditation philosophy. People enjoy how he communicates ancient wisdom teachings for a modern world.



Vivi Letsou | Zen Rocks Mani RetreatVivi Letsou

Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Director of NYSY Studios, Co-founder of Zen Rocks, and Avocado Vegetarian Café,  Certified Teacher Yoga Alliance 500 hours, Certified Teacher BASIPilates™, Creator of Abhaya Yoga

Vivi is a strong and charismatic Yoga Teacher and Teachers’ Educator. Through her journey of teaching Yoga, practicing Zen, making films in California for 20 years, and then building the vibrant NYSY Academy for Yoga & Pilates and co-founding the well-loved Avocado Vegetarian Café in Athens, she has been able to find a way of Yoga practice that makes us strong in all levels and helps us to triumph even amidst difficult challenges.


Having taught in the traditions of Ashtanga, Anusara, and Vinyasa Yoga, Vivi has created Abhaya Yoga—a style that combines dynamic alignment based asana, with an empowering philosophy rooted in Tantra and on the Buddhist path of compassion for all beings. With passion and enthusiasm, Vivi shares this incredible Abhaya Yoga journey with friends who are ready.

Zen Rocks is the culmination of Vivi and Eraj’s vision to create an environment that fosters growth, healing, community, and positive life shifts.  She invites friends and students to enjoy their stay at Zen Rocks and embark on their unique journey of deep healing and personal transformation.

When you are ready for POSITIVE CHANGE, your life will CHANGE POSITIVELY!


May 29, 2018
June 3, 2018
850€ | Early bird price: 650€ until 01/04/2018
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Zen Rocks Mani Retreat
Unnamed Road, Ditiki Mani 240 16
+ Google Map
+30 6934 212 039


NYSY Academy
+30 210 3232004


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