A retreat for busy people who would like to pause, contemplate and make a fresh start. 

Information in brief

A select group of 10 to 20 participants, will come together to spend a memorable long weekend at the exquisite new facility of St John's School. The retreat offers a unique opportunity for personal growth and reflection, with the option of on-site accommodation included in the residential rate. While the main language of the retreat is English, our instructors are proficient in both Russian and Estonian, ensuring a rich and inclusive experience for all.

The concept

In our retreat, we embrace the concept of tabula rasa as a way to tap into the power of mindfulness and other contemplative practices. This idea has a rich philosophical and artistic history, spanning from Aristotle to the contemporary Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt. For the latter, the phrase tabula rasa marked a pivotal moment in his artistic journey, signifying a transition from one style to another and leading to a burst of musical works inspired by the new tintinnabuli style

For us, tabula rasa represents the potential for a fresh start, a way to move beyond a crisis and engage in deep introspection that can lead to a creative rebirth. Through mindfulness and other contemplative practices, we offer a safe and supportive space for individuals to embrace the power of tabula rasa and unlock their full potential.

Most of us feel the stress of everyday life, the never-ending stream of unpleasant news and toxic comments in social media. When we feel stressed and anxious, our ability to think creatively is impaired. Yet, our mind and senses have untapped abilities to cope with stress, to engage with our surroundings and to feel the deep spirituality of nature and the created world.

At our retreat, we believe that everyone has the potential to live a fulfilling and creative life, regardless of their background or current circumstances. Our experienced facilitators provide a safe and supportive environment to explore one's inner world, learn new skills, and connect with nature and the world around you. We offer a variety of activities, such as mindful walks and mindful eating, art therapy, contemplative walks in nature, deep listening sessions, lectures on mindfulness and iconography.

We invite you to join us for a transformative experience that will help you recharge your batteries, connect with like-minded people, and discover your inner potential. Let us be your tabula rasa, a blank slate where you can start afresh and write your own story of personal growth and fulfillment. 


FOUR main methods that help to you to make a new start

 1. Mindfulness

2. Deep listening

3. Contemplation

4. Creative flow

The language of the retreat is English, but instructors speak Estonian and Russian. 

Retreat activities

• Introductions by the instructors

• Individual and group exercises

• Contact with nature

• Rediscovery of your senses (deep listening)

• Mindful walks in the forest

• Mindful eating

• A workshop in the Arvo Pärt Centre 

• Support of the group

• One-to-one consultation with an instructor

• Reflection

The cost of the retreat per person is 360 euro (residential) and 270 euro (non-residential). Participation by the day is also possible. Please, send an enquiry to the address 

Price includes:

 • 9 wholesome organic meals (individual diets will be taken into account)

• unlimited use of herbal tea and coffee during the retreat

• 3 nights in the centre (separate rooms for men and women, up to 5 people in a room; folded beds, the use of common showers)

• lectures (introductions), exercises, materials (if applicable)

• transfer from and to the airport or harbour 

• transfer to and from Arvo Pärt Centre

• towels and bed linen

• the use of yoga mats and sitting pillows for exercises

Day-by-day timetable 

Friday 4 August  


Transfer to the Centre

Tea and snacks

15:00 Introduction

16:00 Session 1 Mindfullness 

18:00 Dinner 

19:00 Session 2 Mindfullness. Exercises 

20:00 Mindful walk in the forest with the instructor


Saturday 5 August  

08:00 Breathing exercises  

09:00 Breakfast 

10:00 Transfer to Laulasmaa. Visit of the Arvo Pärt Centre  

12:00 Session 1 Deep Listening in the forest

13:00 Lunch 

14:30 Session 2 Deep Listening and music 

17:00 Transfer back to the retreat centre  

18:00 Dinner

19:00 Session 3 Creative Flow. Introduction 


Sunday 6 August

 08:00 Breathing exercises 

09:00 Breakfast

10:00 Session 4. Contemplation and nature (alternative: Orthodox liturgy at the parish of St John the Evangelist, Tähe 2) 

13:00 Lunch

14:00 A bike trip to the natural protected area of Astangu

15:00 Mindful walk

17:00 Session 5  Icon and Contemplation. Lecture by Deacon Nikita Andrejev

18:00 Dinner  

19:00 Creative flow exercises. 

A mini-concert

Monday 7 August  

08:00 Mindfulness exercises.

09:00 Breakfast

10:00 Reflection. 

13:00 Lunch 

Farewell and Departures

The retreat is organised by St John's School (Püha Johannese Kool) and the Holistic Education Foundation in Tallinn, Estonia

The Tabula Rasa Retreat will be held at St John's School, located on the outskirts of Tallinn, Estonia, nestled among the pine trees. This day school for 7-19 year-olds has a distinctive personality, as its pedagogical approach is inspired by the concept of the human person as imago Dei, and contemplation influences how the school teaches art, technology, sciences and humanities. In addition to teaching children, the school's  Holistic Education Foundation organizes conferences, public lectures, and icon workshops.

To get more information about the school, press here

Find out more about our international conferences



Irina Paert
Instructor of “creative flow” and the retreat’s organiser

Around my late 40s, I experienced a deep sense of dissatisfaction with my life. It was a challenging time, as the pandemic had heightened many people's concerns about their health and wellbeing. But for me, the pandemic offered an unexpected opportunity to reflect on my life and rediscover my passions. I spent countless hours in nature, gardening, and exploring new hobbies like ceramics and creative writing. I used a variety of exercises to unleash my creativity, and to my surprise, I found that I had a talent for writing. In fact, several of my essays and short stories have been published, which has given me a newfound sense of fulfillment and purpose.

As a church historian, I've always been interested in spirituality and religion. My ancestors were Old Believers from Siberia, and some of them suffered tragically during the Stalin era. Yet, the family stories have fuelled my fascination with Orthodox tradition, contemplation and spirituality, and I've authored two books on the subject: one on Old Believers and another on Spiritual Elders.

I'm currently the chair of the Spirituality and Asceticism group with the International Orthodox Theological Association. I have organized several international conferences for St John's School in collaboration with the Arvo Pärt Centre.

I'm excited to be leading a retreat and sharing my knowledge and expertise with others who are looking to explore their own creativity and spirituality. 

Pavel Levushkan
Instructor of mindfulness and contemplation

For over 12 years I have been helping people to solve their problems and find inner harmony and fulfillment in life. To achieve this, I have traveled a long road: In the early 2000s, I experienced a deep mystical experience that forever changed my life and relationship with God as the profound Ground and Source of Being. Thus my journey took me from journalist and communication specialist to priest, theologian, and professional coach. However, all these competencies serve one main goal: to help you solve problems in your relationships with yourself, other people, this complex world, and the Creator.

 Who am I today?

•       Lutheran priest, theologian, modern Christian mystic

•       Founder of the Center for Contemplative Life (Latvia)

•       Teacher of mindfulness and silence practices

•       Benedictine Oblate

•       Certified Professional Coach and Mindfulness Teacher

•       I share part of my accumulated knowledge and experience with my students and clients

•       I mostly live in Latvia, but sometimes in Israel, Poland, and other countries

Helena Tulve
Instructor of deep listening 

Helena is an Estonian composer whose music is characterised by constant change and continuous processes, which grows out from simple primary impulses, being influenced by natural patterns, organics and synchronicity. No sound can be excluded from Tulve’s music: each timbre can always find its meaningful time and place. Besides composition, she has studied Gregorian chant thoroughly, and various oral musical traditions are also her subject of interest. 

Helena Tulve has been commissioned by the NYYD Ensemble, Ensemble U:, ensemble diferencias, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Courage, Ensemble Aleph, Seattle Chamber Players, Deutschlandradio, Schumannfest Düsseldorf, Fondation Prince Pierre of Monaco, Nieuw Ensemble, Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, and Gaudeamus Music Week, among others.

In 2006, Helena Tulve was the featured composer at the Estonian Music Days Festival. In 2012, she was the Composer-in-Residence at the International Pärnu Music Festival Järvi Academy. During the season 2012/13, she served as Composer-in-Residence with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. 

Tatjana Johannes-Kozlova
Instructor of deep listening 

We live in a very visual world today. We are constantly surrounded by all kinds of screens, eye-catching advertisements, and even when it's dark, we move around on well-lit streets. The environment around us is filled with noise, and our senses are overloaded. We rely heavily on our vision for navigation, while trying to turn off our hearing by any means necessary.

I am a composer from Estonia with Russian roots. My music career began when I enrolled in music studies at Georg Ots Tallinn Music School in 1995. Four years later, I pursued composition studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, where I learned from Jaan Rääts and later, Helena Tulve, who became my mentor in my second year. Under her guidance, I completed my master's degree in composition.

I have further developed my craft by attending masterclasses in different countries such as Hungary, Latvia, and Germany. I also studied composition with Fabio Nieder at Conservatory G. Tartini of Trieste, Italy in 2003-2004. I now teach composition at Georg Ots Tallinn Music School and collaborate with Helena Tulve in conducting masterclasses on "sound objects" to enhance and restore listening skills.

My works have been performed by various prestigious ensembles in Estonia and abroad, including Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Klangforum Wien, and Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, among others.

I have been recognized for my work with numerous awards, including the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis at the International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt, the Heino Eller Music Prize, and the Annual Prize of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia. In 2004, my work "Made of Hot Glass" won third place in the youth category at the International Composers Rostrum in Paris. In 2011 and 2018, my compositions "Disintegration Chain" and "Lighting the Fire," respectively, were voted among the top 10 works in the general category at the International Composers Rostrum in Vienna and Budapest.

Anri Kivil
Instructor of mindful contemplation of nature 

We have, in our haste, somewhat forgotten who we truly are, willingly chaining ourselves to the wall of screens. Instead of birdsong, nature, and movement, we prefer Netflix, iPods, and cars. Our modern world of glass and steel seems to us just as beautiful as the world we have breathed alongside for millennia. When you move more slowly, you notice the scents, tastes, people, and life around you, which, when rushed, melts into a uniform film strip.

I have moved through nature alone and with companions, seeking silence, peace, and balance. I have learned on my own and tried to teach others about the complexity, fragility, and beauty of life. I have studied molecular biology at the master's level at the University of Tartu. I now invent, travel, and teach science as a teacher at St John's School, and organize camps, hikes and training for both young and old.

Nikita Andrejev

During the retreat Deacon Nikita Andrejev will carry out his iconographical workshops in the same venue. For the participants of the retreat it will be possible to participate in the lectures about iconography and watch the process of icon painting. 

Deacon Nikita is an iconographer and instructor working out of Estonia and the United States. He heads the Tallinn, Estonia, studio of the Prosopon School of Iconology and teaches intensive workshops in Europe and North America. He paints commissions, both portable icons and murals, and designs mural programs. He also lectures on iconology. In 2017, Nikita was ordained a deacon of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Nikita aspires to the spiritual and artistic culture of ancient Byzantine icon painting in its various historical manifestations. As an iconographer of the Prosopon School, he strives for the living continuation and expansion of the tradition of Orthodox iconography rooted in the understanding of the inner principles of this art.


Register before 1 July 2023 by fill the form 

Participation fee can be paid to 

Püha Johannese Kooli SA 
Coop Pank AS EE154204278618639109 (for detail of payment: "retreat" and your name)

We will send you a confirmation of registration by e-mail. 
All inquiries about the retreat can be addressed to and