21 day enlightenment retreat

21 Enlightenment Retreats on Madeira

Welcome to the 21 Enlightenment Retreats – September 2024

Start Date: 23rd September 2024 (up to 21 days)
Location: Island of Madeira
Price: (Subject to change) €100 for 1 day, €300 for 7 days, €500 for 14 days, €650 for 21 days.
Activities: 21 days with me, including meditations in various locations throughout the Island (details will be given nearer the time for locations and times to attend)
Optional: the number of days you want to stay; hiking; camping; and any other activities.
Not included: Flights; Accommodation; Food; Transfers and Taxis.

Swan around the island of Madeira with me while we put ourselves in the way of enlightenment.

When I first heard about enlightenment, it was the stuff of myth and legend, far away and magical. The more I learned about it, the closer it got. I discovered it was a real thing, there were real people alive today who were enlightened. You could learn from them. It was possible. Then I met someone who was enlightened and I spent as much time around them as I could, hoping it would rub off on me. Then in 1996, I met another enlightened person and it did.

That was 28 years ago. I have been living with it ever since. Quietly to myself for the first 15 years, then talking openly about it since 2011 when I wrote Maya Noise. A book I had no intention of writing because the few people I had mentioned I was enlightened to hadn’t responded well. The idea of writing a book that had my enlightenment story as its first chapter seemed like a terrible idea. It didn’t make any difference, in 2010 Maya Noise made its presence felt and wouldn’t leave me alone until I had written it.

A similar thing is happening now. Something is pushing its way to the surface. It is not full formed yet but here is what I have so far.


Towards the end of last year, I was getting clear on my intentions for the coming year. As I worked on the list, out of nowhere I found myself writing, “21 day enlightenment retreat attended by 500 people.” I sat blinking at what I had written for a long time. I had gone from having no intention of holding anything to do with enlightenment to what I had written. 


At the beginning of last year I came across this video of man silently hiking across the island of Madeira.

I found it captivating. Madiera seemed like a magical place with a lovely mix of wildness and gentle civilisation. I discovered Madeira was a territory of Portugal. I got the impression it was a couple of miles off the coast of Portugal. That was until I looked it up. It is off the coast of Africa!  Now I understood why it is called the Hawaii of Europe.

When the idea for the 21 day enlightenment retreat began to come forward I wondered where I would hold it. The answer was clear and definite – Madeira. 

When and for how long?

Starting on Monday the 23rd of September for 21 days. You don’t have to come for the full 21 days but we all start on the same day then people leave as they need to.


As I looked into what the retreat would look and feel like, I had an image of Elmer Fudd dressed in hunting clothes holding his finger to his lips saying, “Shush. . . I’m going wabbit hunting.”  This was followed by Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, encouraging her daughters to put themselves in the way of eligible young men, so that they might find themselves husbands.

So we are going to put ourselves in the way of enlightenment. We are going to stalk it around the island. 

When I looked into how the retreat would go I was very clear there would be no stage. I had seen firsthand how counterproductive it was to step in front of people to, “teach,” them anything. It is much more efficient to stand beside them and explore and learn together. 

I know that answering questions is an important part of helping the mind to ease its grip and allow some space for enlightenment to occur. I also know how much I got from simply being around someone who I recognised as being enlightened. To be up close and personal with them had a powerful effect on the parts of me that were stopping me from being enlightened too.

While meditation and presence are vital, the idea of sitting in the same place for 21 days didn’t feel like the way to go. Retreats are great for becoming familiar with the silence within but for enlightenment, a more robust and integrated approach is needed. Your enlightenment needs to be integrated with ordinary life, distracting life, annoying life. It needs to stand up to distraction and frustration. 

Also the idea of breaking up old structures and not allowing new ones to form made it very important to keep moving meditation locations. I kept coming back to the original video of walking through the beautiful nature of Madeira and how the act of walking is such a lovely counterbalance to seated meditation.

Then the Barkly Marathons came back to me. Every year in Tennessee the most difficult trail race in the world is held. 100 miles in 60 hours or less in the woods of Frozen Head State Park. The whole event is run by two men with no marshals or support crews and only two water stations. Runners demonstrate they have completed the course by bringing back pages from books placed along the trail that can only be found by compass coordinates. The event is built on the self-reliance of its participants. 

When looking at how the retreat will run the spirit of the Barkley Marathons came back to me. Not the grueling, ultra marathon, hide and seek, side of things but the self-reliance. The stripped-down bare essentials of the event. 

So there will be a list of meditation locations for the 21 days. These meditation locations will be where the meditation and questions and answers happen, where the enlightenment focus happens. The rest is freestyle. These are not accommodation venues. Food will not be provided. In fact nothing will be provided except the focus on enlightenment, presence and meditation. 

How you get from one meditation location to another is up to you. You can walk with me, or others, or alone, or you can cycle or drive if that is what you prefer. Meditation locations will be everything from Scout halls to five-star ballrooms.


For the majority of people, enlightenment stays in the realm of myth and fairytale, something that other people did at other times.

For the remaining minority, enlightenment is something they may be drawn to discover more about and they learn about it as an academic subject.

Some may even go to study with someone who is recognised as enlightened.

Then there is an even smaller group who have the audacity to entertain the possibility that enlightenment is something they could achieve for themselves. It calls to them.

If you recognise what I have written here and enlightenment calls to you, then this retreat is for you.

More to follow

So that is what I have so far, a sort of Camino Way, meets The Cannonball Run, meets the Barkley Marathons, meets a Meditation Retreat.
If that sounds like your cup of tea and you want to be kept up to date on how it develops, fill in the form below and I will keep you posted.

Registration of Interest







Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash


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