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Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall Abbey is a ruined Cistercian monastery in Kirkstall, north-west of Leeds city centre. It is set in a public park on the north bank of the River Aire. It was founded c.1152. It was disestablished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII.
Ancient traditions from East and West will come together in the historic grounds of Kirkstall Abbey next month during a festival of mindfulness and meditation.

The beautiful ruins of the 12th Century Cistercian abbey will be the setting for a two-week programme of events to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10.

And among the festival’s free drop-in events will be a session on the art of Chi Kung, also known as Qi Gong – which originated in China more than 3,000 years ago.

Combining principles of movement, breathing and meditation, the Chi Kung workshop will be delivered by local practitioner John Mackie on October 12 from 1.45pm until 3pm.

John said: “Qi Gong is over 3,000 years old and is an ancient Chinese health art combining slow movement, posture, breathing and awareness.

“It can be practised by anyone regardless of the level of fitness and is an excellent antidote to the stress of 21st-century living. The workshop will contain some principles of traditional Chinese medicine followed by a practice session of some simple dance-like movements help to release tension.

“The mind focuses on the movement, helping to bring you into the “here & now” and a place of stillness.”

John’s workshop will be one of a string of events at the abbey during the Mindfulness festival, which runs from October 9 until October 18.

Other events include an introduction to mindfulness and meditation on October 9 at 1.45pm followed by a study of mindfulness, healing and the elements on October 10.

A workshop on Islamic contemplation will be held on October 12 at 3pm and on Wednesday, October 17, Leeds Mindfulness Co-operative and Breathworks Leeds will host a workshop on soothing stress.

There will also be a chance for visitors to attend a regular drop-in Tuesday group hosted by Steve Hart of Leeds Mindfulness during the festival. The sessions run on Tuesdays throughout the year at 1.45pm.

Kirkstall Abbey has been working in partnership with Leeds Mindfulness since 2016 to bring regular mindfulness sessions to the Abbey.

All events are free and no booking is required. The festival will be held in the Colonel North Room at Kirkstall Abbey visitors centre.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults said:

“As a city, we’re extremely very proud to once again be supporting World Mental Health Day and to be encouraging people to come together and discuss new and innovative ways to support their mental wellbeing.

“The discussion around mental health has quite rightly become increasingly prominent and there has finally been real, sustained progress in breaking the stigma.

“We need to continue that positive trend and by organising and promoting events like this, we can encourage good mental health and show those who are experiencing any problems they are not alone and that there is a help, guidance and support out there.”

Monks began building Kirkstall Abbey in 1152 on land gifted to them by wealthy nobleman Henry de Lacy.

They flourished in their new home until the Dissolution of the Monasteries when, on November 22, 1539, Abbot John Ripley surrendered the abbey to King Henry VIII’s agents.

In the late 1800s the abbey buildings were bought by Colonel John North, who donated the grounds to the Leeds Corporation in 1890. Today, Kirkstall Abbey is one of the country’s most well-preserved monasteries.

For more information about Kirkstall Abbey, visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries