IT was a place of solace and spirituality for monks when it was built more than 850 years ago.
Now, those searching for a moment of stillness amid the backdrop of the 21st century rat race will find it at Kirkstall Abbey once again during a festival of mindfulness and meditation.
Ancient traditions will come together in the ruins of the 12th century Cistercian abbey as it hosts a two-week programme of events to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10.
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 practitioner John Mackie on October 12 from 1.45pm until 3pm.
He 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 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 and now’ and a place of stillness.”
Other events during the Mindfulness Festival, which runs from October 9 to 18, 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.
Coun Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults, said: “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 help, guidance and support out there.”
Kirkstall Abbey have been working in partnership with Leeds Mindfulness since 2016 to bring regular mindfulness sessions to the Abbey.
It hosts sessions every Tuesday, led by Steve Hart, at 1.45pm - and these will continue during the fortnight of the festival.
Other events include a workshop on Islamic contemplation on October 12 at 3pm. All events are free and no booking is required.