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Vivir - Vital Vipassana Retreat

Vivir - Vital Vipassana Retreat:

The Vital Vipassana-retreat is a 10-day program

based upon mindfulness en self-compassion.

Full-board accomodation,

inbetween the beautful mountains of 

High Vosges (Hautes Vosges), France,

facilitated by Patrick Smolders, mindfulness-facilitator at B-Present.nl.

The upcoming Vivir retreat takes place from sunday 29 april until wednesday 9 may.



given from a mindfulness, self-compassion and heartfulness-approach

 sitting meditation (open-awareness, AKA choiceless awareless)

yoga and walking meditation

meditatively playing percussion

 walks in the beautiful and silent nature of the High Vosges

mild approach (avoiding the extremes such as indulgence on the one hand and harsh ascetism on the other hand)

mindfully listening and speaking AKA Deep Perception (©B-Present.nl)

 the retreat program is customized toward men and women from age 25 to 65, who speak either English or Dutch, or both languages.  One's nationality and one's ethical and religious origin are of no importance. But indeed, - especially seen in the light of self-compassion, heartfulness and mindfulness - one's openness to self-observation is of importance, which is to notice what goes around inside of you. Without this openness, enrollment wouldn't make any sense.  

 Full-Board accomodation


Practical info

A 10-day stay in the High Vosges, full-board accomodation at PtitMonde,
which is...
 • 6 hours by car from Utrecht (NL),
 • 6 hours and 30 minutes from Le Havre,
 • 4 hours 45 minutes from Paris,
 • 4 hours 20 minutes from Bonn,
 • 3 hours from Stuttgart,
 • 2 hours and 40 minutes from Bern,
 • and only 1 hour and 40 minutes from Freiburg im Breisgau.

Arrival: Sunday 29 april 2018, room available from 16:00 o'clock (4 PM). 

Depart: Wednesday 9 may before 12:00 o'clock.

Location: 5 Boslimpre, 88300 Ban-sur-Meurthe-Clefcy, France.

De amount for all of this 

- including the retreat program, the accommodation, the meals -

varies between € 975,- and € 1.035,- (depending on the accomodation you opt for). 


- including the retreat program, including the accommodation, and including as well the healthy and delicious meals - 
the all-included price for this 10-day retreat is between € 975,- and € 1.035,- (depending on the accomodation).
To register, please use the web form.


Ten days away from the crowds, away from daily routines, away from the familiar noise and unrest

Ten days of QUIETUDE and SPACE for yourself,

amidst the beautiful NATURE of the High Vosges,

so quite naturally a CLARITY is able to arise within you,

so - both on a large and small scales - DETERMINING COURSE
will be EASIER and effortless.

Which means: Less worrying; less stress; more freedom and more FULFILLMENT in one's daily life.

10-day Vital Vipassana Retreat (abbreviated 'Vivir')
on a mindfulness, heartfulness and self-compassion base, 
facilitated by Patrick Smolders.

Grant yourself ten days amidst the  
beautiful mountains of High Vosges, France.  
Full board at PtitMonde.  

Being in touch with what goes around in you.  

Personal deepening from an unforced and uninhibited approach.

Being in touch with what drives you in your current life,
finding clarity, discovering one's actual passion in life,
so one can easily live one's life with this connectedness, 
also shaping your life in a very practical and daily sense,
connected to what really moves you.

A 10-day meditative program in a beautiful accommodation in the High Vosges, including

• Sitting in quietude

• Mindful Listening & Speaking (Deep Perception ©B-Present)

• Walks in quietude in the beautiful nature of the High Vosget,
the mountains, the forests, the pastures. Eye in eye with the wildlife.

• Mild yoga

• Meditative percussion
(everyone can join, one's prior experience doesn't matter)

This daily part, too, has an unhibited character. There is nothing to achieve, 
and there is no one going to judge your playing. Percussion is such a joy to
take part in. So, also if you have got no prior experience in it, you are 
invited from the heart to join the daily one-hour session.  
So in the daily percussion-hour, daily from 5:00 PM (17:00 h. MET) to 6 PM:
Not so many words.... but a lot of drum rolling.  

Maybe you already had an intuition about the role or place of percussion
in a retreat-program. Still a few words about it:  
Percussion is probably one of the few
activities that strongly appeal to one's presence, 
one's actual being present in this moment.

Playing percussion in a group. 
Which means: Timing.
Timing appeals to our being fully present in the moment.
Which includes our senses (ears, eyes, and tactile sense), and even more.
And the instantaneous connection between these faculties.  
Which means that quite naturally, we find ourselves 
fully functioning in the Now  - in this moment -
whilst playing percussion. 

Besides, this way of functioning can't be aimed for, 
and there is no need to (or encouragement to) strive anyway in this retreat.
This way of functioning arises quite spontaneously, 
which is something you'll easily witness yourself, don't worry  😉 

Percussion is an easy way to play music together as a group. 
And while it has a very uninhibited character, to one's brain it is top sport. 

That's why Erik Scherder, professor in
neuropsychology at the Amsterdam VU Universy says:
"For each music teacher we are firing,
one has to hire a hundred police officers." 

The case is: Just like practicing open-awareness meditation, 
practicing music has a direct influence on the structure as well as
on the funcioning of the human brain. It promotes - even a a
very young age - social cognition, or to put it plain:
empathic ability.

"Practicing music not only appeals to the hearing faculty,
it also appeals the integration of auditive, visual,
motoric en emotional impulses", that's how it is
being summarized by Mark Mieras, a science journalist 
& physicist, specialized in brain research.

Bringing your own percussion instrument(s)?
If you like, you could bring own percussion instruments to this Vivir-retreat.
However, there is no obligation. And, as said, everyone can join in
- no matter if one has or has not any prior experience in percussion playing. 

• Breakfast, lunch, dinner plus the accommodation (room, bathroom, towels)
fully included, so you'll really find the time and space for yourself, 
letting daily hassles behind. 

"Switching off the world"
For the same reason, it is offered to you
to renounce from the use of one's telephone during the program. 

Just to make this a little easier, it is offered 
to remise one's mobile telephone upon arrival 
at the retreat, just because the seduction to use it
is very strong to many of us. 

(Besides, there is no psychological pressure involved;
And of course, one might have reasons to renounce from
remising one's mobile telephone upon arrival). 

Good to know: Your relatives - just in case of any emergency -
will always be able to reach you by means of the telephone number
of PtitMonde, our accommodation. 

The food is simply TOP CLASS: Tasteful, healthy and freshly freshly prepared. Enjoyment allowed.
Yes, you just read very well.
For the ascetics and for the sectarians among us, this retreat is unsuitable.  
That's because we're not going to starve, nor will we be acting like ascetics  😉

• Our stay is at Ptit Monde, located in Ban-sur-Meurthe-Clefcy
in France in the High Vosges. Beautiful mountain sight 
from our medition hall (12 m x 18 m).
Free parking 🙂

• Optional (at extra cost) one can visit the nearby
ayurvedic massage studio.

• The healthy air of the High Vosges mountain area.
Also, it is good know that no incense is being used.

• This retreat does not intend to
"make you feel light in the head". 
Nor is it meant to give rise to any other
'special' or 'specific' mental state.
• So that is why this Vivir-retreat 
offers you varied, tasteful and healthy food 
in the form of three (3) meals a day 
(vegetarian meals optional, certaintly not obligatory)
as well as sufficient physical activity
and time to be on your own
(inside or outside, just what does you good). 
Not to forget that there is enough time to sleep: 
This, too, is of great importance, especially in a retreat.

• Everything in the retreat program is focused on
facilitating the inner space to actually be
with whatever presents itself inside of you.

• In it is also the space to simply enjoy,

• Last but not least enjoying the delicous, healthy and freshly prepared food 
and the beautiful natural environment of the High Vosges.

• Because 'retreat' doesn't have to be synonymous with maun,
with a will to starve or with any monastic tradition. 

For some, the words 'meditation' and 'retreat' are synonymous with fleeing from life.  
The approach of the 'Vivir' (Spanish for 'to live') is quite different:
This retreat facilitates you to take the leap into the life you actually are.
Which means a closer and more intimate connection to yourself, to life, to the other and to the world. 

•The 10-day Vital Vipassana Retreat (abbreviated as 'Vivir')
is being facilitated by Patrick Smolders

• an experienced mindfulness facilitator and meditator,

• not having links with any monastic tradition whatsoever


Practical info

10-day stay at the High Vosges, Full Board at PtitMonde,
which is...
 • 6 hours driving by car from Utrecht (NL),
 • 6 hours and 30 minutes from Le Havre,
 • 4 hours 45 minutes from Paris,
 • 4 hours 20 minutes from Bonn,
 • 3 hours from Stuttgart,
 • 2 hours and 40 minutes from Bern,
 • and only 1 hour and 40 minutes from Freiburg im Breisgau. 

Arrival: Sunday 29 april 2018, room available from 16:00 o'clock (4 PM). 

Depart: Wednesday 9 may before 12:00 o'clock.

Location: 5 Boslimpre, 88300 Ban-sur-Meurthe-Clefcy, France.

- including the retreat program,   
including the accommodation,
and including the tasty and freshly prepared meals - 
the ALL-INCLUDED price for this 10-day retreat
(depending on the accomodation)
is between € 975,- and € 1.035,- . 

This retreat has many special qualities,

helping greatly 

to transfer whatever develops inside of you (in the retreat)

to your daily life. 

Let's take a look at just two of these qualities:
In this 10-day program we will practice on a daily base
Deep Perception,
which encompasses: listening mindfully and speaking mindfully.

The Nature- and Quietude Walks  
in the beautiful High Vosges nature,
directly from our residence Ptit Monde, at 680 meters above sea level.

The unique character of the Vivir-retreat 
Before Patrick Smolders developed this Vivir-retreat program, 
he participated as a participant in several quite diverse retreats,  
and so he came to speak with several people taking part in very different retreat programs. 

The bottom line: In many 'regular' retreats, at the end of the retreat participants experienced
an abrupt transition, a kind of shock-like experience. 

Because the transition
from days of silence
back to normal life
to many of them was an abrupt one, 
which is unfortunate: 

In such a transition, 
much is lost of what has been discovered and perceived in the retreat, 
all of the self-knowledge one has acquired, 
all of the insights that became clear. 

All that is lost - something which is quite regrettable. 

Having seen all that, in all those 'regular' retreats, 
the 'Vivir' (Vital Vipassana Retreat) has been shaped in a quite different form.

Deep Perception
(speaking mindfully and listening mindfully), 
the full-hour Percussion-session and quietude walks in nature: 
Each is a daily part of this unique retreat program. 

Deep Perception is a special form
of mindful social contact,
listening mindfully,
and speaking mindfully.

And, as said, at a daily base one has the opportunity 
to dwell in nature:
Walking, or simply sitting. 

The whole approach present in   
the Vivir (Vital Vipassana Retreat) 
makes it easier for you 
to embody the gained insights in daily life.

That which you develop already start being embodied by you
- in the Deep Perception exercise and by spending time in nature - 
– via de Deep Perception en het contact met de natuur –
so you can more easily 
give it a place in
the period of your life that starts after the retreat. 



There are a couple of contra-indications  
to participate in this Vital Vipassana-retreat.
Those who are inclined to psychosis 
and those who are in psychiatric treatment,
are resolutely dissuaded to participate. 

There are retreat programs
(fortunately not the majority of them)
that allow participants who don't have any prior
experience with open awareness meditation at all. 

Therefore with emphasis: 
A 10-day retreat (whichever)
is not meant 
to get a little acquainted with open awareness meditation 
- which is something to develop gradually.

No prior experience with open awareness meditation?
So, if you haven't got any prior experience with regard to open awareness meditation
– in whichever form, such as mindfulness-meditation –
then please first participate in a suitable meditation group, 
or participate in an 8-week MBSR training. 

"Open awareness meditation"?
"Open awareness"?
  What is it?

There are a lot of synonyms for 'open awareness'
(and for the formal 'exercise' of it
in the form of open awareness meditation)
- originating from several languages and
(mostly Buddhist) traditions.

To mention just a few of these synonyms: 
Zen, chan, son, vipassana, direct perception,
paccakkha, pratyaksha, offenes Bewusstsein,
mindfulness, and choiceless awareness.  

Open awareness is best to describe
by pointing out what it is not
A 'choosing' or 'picky' awarenss is
an awareness that functions very selectively.
It is very selective in its perception: 
This kind of awareness 'chooses'
(in its ignorance, in its naivity)
to perceive some things and 
not to perceive other things
- leaving them unnoticed.

And - no matter if 'the world' / 'the other' /
'the self' and one's functioning is concerned
(and all cross-connections between these factors): 
There is (as pointed out above) a filtering going on,
in how we perceive and function.
This filtering looses  its power
as soon as we become aware of it:
As soon as we notice the preferences
and aversions in our functioning. 

Precisely because of the absence of strive
- whatever strive - 
we will easily notice the preferences
and aversions in our functioning. 

Which - in a practical sense -
means for the 10-day Vivir program: 
We only have to observe the mind
in the present moment.
No matter the content of it
- thoughts, a certain mood,
an itch, or anything else -
all is welcomed into one's awareness.

Simply taking notice of these phenomena or impulses
- they arise and disappear, at their own will as it were, 
and spontaneously other impulses / phenomena will appear.  

Only observing. Nothing to persue, nothing to strive after.  
So there isn't any need for any neurotic hassle to achieve
or accomplish anything at all,
there isn't any effort or strive involved.  

No strive after accomplishing 'a calm mind', 
no strive after achieving 'new insights', 
you name it.... - nothing of it all. 

Observing, to witness, to watch
whatever presents itself inside one's mind. 
That's all. And that's what is called 'open awareness'. 

Finally, another contra-indication:
Goals, strivings, expectation

Some people do have a very strong attachment
to goals, strivings and expectations,
often from a less conscious level.

Some do hold tight to the expectation
of really getting very very quiet in a retreat
(and from meditation in general).

Others indulge in ascetic aspirations
and have mental preoccupations
such as reaching 'enlightenment'.

And there are those whose hope is
to indulge in some 'chilly' of 'spacy' kind of mind.

Bad news for all  these goals and strivings.
In the Vivir-retreat,
one moves closer to what lives inside
- one doesn't move away from it.

Not the escapism (disguised in the form of
goals, strivings, expectations) but instead 
being present in an open and uninhibited way,
to get more familiar with what lives inside.


Interview & Agreement
Out of care, a short interview is part of the enrollment procedure.  
In addition, you're asked as to whether you can fully endorse and sign the retreat-agreement,
indicating you agree with the applicable retreat rules.

The idea behind it:
Everyone's freedom and space shouldn't harm the freedom and space of the others.
For the same reason, a confidential adviser has been assigned. 
(besides, not being the same person as this retreat's facilitator).

After approving the retreat agreement, you will receive the confirmation and invoice.
Payment of the amount concerned
is what makes your enrollment definite.

In case the program has to be cancelled, 
- no matter the nature of the unforeseen calamity that would cause it - 
the organizer, knowably B-Present.nl, by Patrick Smolders, 
fully guarantees the return on your banking account
of 100 % of the amount of your payment.


Program structure / times

As a human being we are (part of) nature. A body, 
a nervous system, and senses. The senses are:
eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and tactile sense. Not to forget interoception,
which contains a lot: the sensations of the bodily temperature
(the continuous scale of coolness-warmth), heartbeat perception,
respiratory perception, hunger and thirst, plus the sense of balance.
As a human being, to function in a sane way can't be seen apart from
all our senses. We are sensory beings.   

Something special about our species -  homo sapiens - is the brain,
in particular the neo-cortex, which demands a lot of energy. 
The neo-cortex is the brain area par excellence that grants us
our typical human characteristics. It takes energy, fuel, nourishment. 

It makes sense to ponder a moment at it all:
Mindfulness - no matter what we call it (open awareness, etc) - 
is something that appears without any effort. That's how 
we perceive it. However, this way of functioning takes  
 energy, when we look at it at the physical (or brain) level
- just as is the case with any other activity (or way of functioning).  

From that fact, it is evident that the bow can't be tense on
a non-stop base. 

To put it differently: One can't be mindful 24 hours a day, 
one can't meditate uninterruptedly.

The Vivir-retreat chooses knowingly
and purposely for a balance in all of this. 
More specific: 
Sufficient resting time, sufficient leisure time, 
sufficient food, and sufficient hours of sleep. 

Evidently, food (besides the quantity of it,  
especially the nature of it) and sleep
(the amount of sleeping hours per day)
are determining how we feel, they are co-determining
our inner state. And quite naturally,
if one has to deal with little (and proteine-poor) food, 
and has to deal with little sleep, one is going to feel
'a bit different' - let's say 'a little light in the head'. 
However, that's not what this retreat is after.

Hence the choice for sufficient food
and sufficient sleep. And, as said before, 
sufficient rest and leisure time. 

The day structure facilitates feeling at ease,
which in turn facilitates the act of
being close to oneself, observing whatever
presents itself inside one's mind. 

In the morning at 06:45 o'clock 
you will hear a bell ringing from the corridor:
That's how we are awakend. 
One has the opportunity to wash or to shower.
Or to take a leap in the pond. 
If you are willing to sleep a little longer, that's fine.
Structurally, at 7:30 o'clock the second (and last)
bell will be ringing from the corridor.
In this case you can join in at the meditation hall 
between 7:55 and 8:00 o'clock, during  
the up-tempo walking meditation. 

The program starts at 7:15 o'clock 
in the meditation hall with Yoga (lying postures).
Subsequently sitting meditation
alternated with up-tempo walking meditation. 

Breakfast takes place in silence and
is ready at  8:20 o'clock. 

After the silent breakfast first
calm walking meditation, subsequently 
30 minutes of sitting meditation. 

The Morning walk in quietude
from 9:30 to approx 11:00 o'clock
in the beautiful Vosges nature
surrounding our residence PtitMonde. 

(Given the walking routes,
the exact time frame will vary a little each day). 

The second part of the morning includes
sitting meditation, mild physical exercise,
and Deep Perception ending with sitting meditation.  


Lunch time 13:10 until 13:55 o'clock. 
You would't want to miss it...

Leisure time from 13:55 to 17:00 o'clock 
You are free to...

 • spend this time in whole or in part 
in the silence hall (the meditation hall)

 • to take a refreshing dip in the pond, and / or...

 • to abide in the surrounding nature
Would you prefer a somewhat longer walk,
you could renounce from the percussion hour
while joining at 18:00 o'clock at dinner.

Daily percussion-hour 
17:00 until 18:00 o'clock.
Percussion is tact and timing.
It appeals to being fully present
in this moment.

There is nothing to achieve.
And no one is going to judge your play.  
In other words:
This part part of the program, too,
has an uninhibited character. 

Nevertheless, percussion is top sport
to our whole nervous system:
The senses (ears, eyes, tactile sense)
and the hands, muscles, etc. Percussion
is top sport, also to the brain. It promotes
the mutual communication
(and mutual connections) between the
various brain parts.

Well, that might be enough tom-tom and drum-roll... 😉
Probably you'll simply enjoy 
the sounds, the interaction, the rhythms
Wellicht zul je simpelweg genieten van
de klanken, de interactie, de ritmes
just as they arise.

Dinner 18:00 - 19:15 o'clock. 
How detached would you like to be...  😉
These PtitMonde meals...
- prepared by Nathalie who has a great culinary reputation -
...one wouldn't want to renounce from them.

Besides, only at breakfast noble silence is being observed.
So, as wished it is possible to speak at lunch and at dinner.

A final note as far the meals are considered
(breakfast, lunch and dinner): 
Any personal diet wishes are respected as much as possible.
Evidently, a retreat isn't meant to indulge,  however
one can absolutely feel free to enjoy a glass of wine 
at dinner. And who wants can have vegetarian meals. 
Please indicate your preferences in advance.

The meditative evening program:

 • 19:15 until 20:00 o'clock
a calm meditative program,

in the meditation hall. 

 • From 20:00 o'clock (for those who want) 
an evening walk until about 21:20 o'clock. 
A beautiful sunset is possible. You might even be
face to face with the wildlife. But no one can give you
any guarantee 😉

The walking times (and the rest of the program)
will be adjusted in case of expected extreme rainfall.

After the (optional) evening walk you're welcome
in the meditation hall until 22:15 o'clock.

In many respects, a retreat program is relaxed, but
but to the brain it is topsport. So it might happen 
you'd want to go to sleep earlier, and that's all very fine.

The nights: the Noble Silence is kept
Silence has its place and value in this retreat.
The nights are really silent,
since during the Vivir retreat
no other guests around at PtitMonde.
So, during the night time,
the Noble Silence will be kept. 

If one would not be willing to keep Noble Silence
during the night time, then, to him / her,
the Vivir isn't the right thing to take part in. 

And then...
...the next morning we'll be awakened  
again at 6:45 o'clock 
by the bell sounding from the corridor.  


Option 1 
Apart from the rooms there is a garden shed available at PtitMonde.
In this case, for the 10-day retreat
you pay € 975,- ALL-IN pp (= per person). 
The 1-person garden shed
maybe isn't the most luxurious option,
it is the least expensive option anyway.

Option 2
If you've got a partner, and he / she  likes to participate too in this Vivir-retreat, then - if you prefer -
you could be lodged in the same room, which is a  
two-person-room with own shower and toilet. 
Optionally the Indonesian style room or the Aboriginal-style room.
In this case, for the 10-day retreat
you pay € 1.035,- ALL-IN pp.

Option 3
The third option is to spend the nights in a two-person-room with shared shower and toilet, these are the rooms 'Perles' and 'Réunion' in French colonial style. 
In this case, for the 10-day retreat
you pay € 1.015,- ALL-IN pp.

Option 4
And last but not least is the option for a three-person-room.
Optionally in Marrakesh- or in African  style. 

In this case, for the 10-day retreat
(inclusively the program + the meals, and VAT and tourist tax included)
you pay € 995,- ALL-IN pp.




























Default setup of the beds:
The default (or standard) setup of the beds  
is that the beds are placed apart (separate) from each other. 

Then, for the sake of completeness, 
two clauses for couples will follow:

Info for couples (part 1): 
A couple has got the option to choose for 
a two-person-room and to link both beds together.

Info for couples (part 2): 
A three-person-room can be booked by a couple
provided their nights keep platonic and
provided the beds keep in apart (seperate) setup.

So there are four (4) accomodation options.
If you've got a strong preference for one option, 
then be sure to book timely using the Web Form

"ALL-IN" (as above) means:
The total package as formed by the program, 
the accomodation and the meals. And of course
VAT and tourist tax are already included
in all amounts as mentioned on this web page. 

Questions? Special requests?

The Vivir-retreat, its web page and its facebook-spin-off 
are part of B-Present.nl Authentic MBSR Mindfulness. 

In the case of some of your questions still remaining unanswered, 
or having a special request: 
Please don't have the slightest hesitation and
just ask what you'd like to ask. 

The Web Form provides an open field
called 'Questions and / or Remarks'.
So be welcome to ask any questions. 
Generally speaking, an answer will be 
provided by e-mail within 48 hours. 

On facebook too (click to open a new tab)
there will be information, pictures and videos 
about this retreat. The answers to any remaining questions
might be published there also.

Of course we will deal discretely
with traceable personal data 

(such as your name), conform the Code of Ethics
of B-Present Mindfulness. 



Practical info

A 10-day stay at the High Vosges, full board at PtitMonde, at 6 hours of driving from Utrecht, etc.

Arrival: Sunday 29 april 2018, room available from 16:00 o'clock (4 PM). 

Depart: Wednesday 9 may before 12:00 o'clock.

Location: 5 Boslimpre, 88300 Ban-sur-Meurthe-Clefcy, France.

De amount for all of this 

- including the retreat program, the accommodation, the meals -

varies between € 975,- and € 1.035,- (depending on the accomodation).