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Author: Raj

Rajesh sees Poulstone as a refuge in a fast-moving world and is inspired by guests leaving Poulstone renewed and re-centred. He regards the energy of Poulstone to be perfect for retreats and manages Poulstone to maintain and sustain this energy. Rajesh has been attending retreats for a very long time and occasionally runs meditation retreats. He was introduced into the many different faiths of India including Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Sufism and Buddhism from a very early age. These faiths have formed a large part of his upbringing. He is a barrister by profession specialising in human rights from Chambers in London. He is also a humanitarian and environmentalist and has worked with and founded organisations around the world whose objectives include the rejuvenation of land, communities and promoting human rights. He also founded the first Indian vegetarian restaurant in Worcestershire with his family. His joys include cooking, gardening, playing the sitar, reading Eastern philosophy and loves being with his family and friends.
The Magic and Beauty of Flow

The Magic and Beauty of Flow

Summer is coming to a close but we are entering my favourite period at Poulstone – the harvest and the beginning of the sobering charms of autumn.

The plum, fig, apple and pear trees, not forgetting the berry bushes, have all produced a bumper crop. It seems the overdue pruning of the fruit trees undertaken last year, has had its effect. And the vegetable organic garden keeps on providing.

The gardens have been very, very generous. We are trying to use as much of the crop as we can but the fruit trees are going to provide more than Poulstone can use or store!

Summer at Poulstone has seen a steady number of retreats but the autumn months will be busy with retreats and additional tasks. We are also planning an update to the website, installation of a new fire alarm system for the house, a review of the flower beds, a review of our recycling policy and to publish it and to make further additions to our popular cook book. This should keep us all busy!

Emma, Jess and Kaushik are leaving Poulstone for University. They will be missed but we all wish them success in what will be an exciting period for them. So, if anybody wishes to volunteer their time at Poulstone or to work at Poulstone, please let us know.

Things never stay still, its the magic and beauty of flow.

Rajesh Rai 5 September 2017

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

Many people have asked for more self-contained accommodation to be made available at Poulstone.

Well at last we can offer self-contained accommodation for two people, which is away from the house but still on the grounds of Poulstone. The flat is called “Cherry Blossom”, following the tradition at Poulstone to name rooms after trees and the fact that the flat overlooks the delightful walled garden and the cherry blossom tree.

If you wish to volunteer your time at Poulstone and need a place to stay or wish to spend some time at Poulstone for quite meditations. Or even, wish to have u se of self-contained accommodation during a retreat, then we can now offer Cherry Blossom. It has its very own kitchen dining room, bathroom and bedroom.

At one level, Poulstone Retreat Centre is a business at another level, Poulstone provides a conducive space for retreats. I am very mindful of the potential of commercial activity affecting this space. This said, it allows Poulstone to exist, to provide an excellent service and it helps to maintain the house and grounds. It has a purpose!

But Poulstone does not survive because it is a business organisation, it survives because of the love and affection its guests have for the space. This is priceless and continues to nurture Poulstone. Paying someone to do a job at Poulstone is very different to someone offering their time and love to work at Poulstone voluntarily. I am very grateful to wonderful individuals like Anne who looks after the shop and does so, solely, out of love. This is what Poulstone is about and this is what it needs.

We now have had three people stay over in the flat, who have provided their time and lovely energy, on a voluntary basis to add to Poulstone’s energy. Isabelle, “Shamanic” Dave and Michael. All found their stay at Poulstone to be healing. Thank you.

It is this service that nurtures the energy at Poulstone. The wonderful pictures in this blog are part of the contribution made by Michael during his stay at Poulstone.

Much love to you all

Rajesh Rai

8 May 17

Farewell and Welcome

Farewell and Welcome

Many of you will know Gail, who has been part of Poulstone’s furniture for the last eight years. Gail recently retired and has bid Poulstone farewell. Poulstone wishes her a fun packed retirement although from what she tells me, her retirement is going to be very busy. Gail tended the organic vegetable garden, dealt with food ordering and generally kept an eye on how Poulstone ran. This included, ensuring the high standards visitors to Poulstone have come to expect, were met. Gail certainly set a high bar! She will be missed.

Divya and I, on a more personal note thank her for deciding to remain at Poulstone for another year after Steve and Mel left to ensure we settled into Poulstone in our first year.

It has been difficult looking for a new gardener but just when we needed one, Merla arrived looking for work as a gardener. So, welcome Merla, is now looking after the gardens with Jane. Merla is an experienced organic gardener and from what I have seen, loves nature, organic gardening and the open outdoors. Just what Poulstone needs. Merla has been busy pruning all the fruit trees and shrubs, cutting back all the overgrowth of the last few years and preparing our new strawberry bed. She has given the garden a well needed “short, back and sides”. We have been making plans for the beds and the garden for the coming years and the theme will be healing and rejuvenation. I am looking forward to how the garden develops with this theme over the next few years.

The calendar on Poulstone’s website (www.poulstone.com) is “fully operational”, so if you wish to know what is going on, please just have a look.

We are creating a database so we can update you on what’s happening at Poulstone, including forthcoming events that are open to the public. If you wish to know what’s going on, please “contact us” (which again, can be found on our website) and ask to be on our “whats on data base”.

Much love

Raj

 

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

At the end of year staff meeting we discussed whether there should be a Christmas tree in Poulstone. Poulstone is not usually decorated for Christmas, so this means no Christmas Trees.

Some felt uneasy about having to cut down a tree for decoration for Christmas. Some suggested a real Christmas tree will cause too much of a mess and others, a fake Christmas tree will just not be authentic enough.

After much debate, it was decided, we should grow our own Christmas tree in the gardens and decorate it for future Christmases.

Later, I took a walk in the gardens of Poulstone. I was reminded that Poulstone has one of the largest Christmas trees in the country (we think!) on its grounds. It was planted almost 150 years. It is soooo big that we forget it is also a Christmas tree, amazing what you can take for granted!  Soon it will have a baby sibling.

Well, it has taken a year, but we have at last updated and published our new website www.poulstone.com. We hope you enjoy it.

We also welcome Merle to the team who will help look after the gardens. She has been working hard raking the leaves and pruning the fruit trees.

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to all.

Rajesh

15 December 16

A Years Reflection

A Years Reflection

It’s been just over a year since we took over custodianship of Poulstone. Cannot believe a year has passed by, almost seems we have been in a time warp. When I think about it though, it does not surprise me as this is the “Poulstone effect”. It lives in its own time zone where time itself seems to be suspended and all there is, is nature reminding you of change.

When we took over Poulstone there was a level of apprehension, particularly in ensuring our guests’ expectations were met but there have been no regrets in the decision taken to run Poulstone. I fell in love with Poulstone when I first came to Poulstone. In fact, I even fell in love with the journey to Poulstone; the grazing cows in the orchard, the trees, the width of which still leave me in awe and if you are lucky, the peacocks guarding the gates and welcoming you into Kings Caple, the winding lanes and the magnificent views of rolling country. We still love Poulstone even though its personality requires a lot of care and attention. What has made this all worthwhile, though, are the guests and friends of Poulstone and their affection for Poulstone. We hope that we continue to meet your expectations and more.

Our recent apple harvest from the gardens has produced quality apple juice which is now on sale at Poulstone shop. We had many friendimage1s who volunteered, in what proved to be a fun packed day harvesting apples and preparing them for juicing.

Poulstone’s Facebook page is also now live and we have begun posting. Our new website will go live in Mid-December. I hope you visit and if you wish to have Poulstone newsletters, please let us have your email.

We also welcome Kirti (and her daughter Shriya) who has joined the team at Poulstone as the Business Administrator.

Again, thanking you for helping us through our first year at Poulstone. You really are the heart of Poulstone that brings out its soul.

 

Rajesh Rai

24 November 20161 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

February Reflections!

February Reflections!

I think of January and February as hibernation months. A time when nature restores itself making way for the vibrant activity of the Spring and Summer months. I expect January and February to be cold and look forward to wrapping up warm, for snow to fall and preparing, in the event of a heavy fall of snow, for guests of Poulstone to arrive at and depart from the retreat centre with relative ease. I planned very little outside work and most of my time planned for staying indoors, catching up on administrative tasks and preparing the house for spring.

Well, we have had a big surprise, the predicted cold winter never arrived at Poulstone and marched directly to the east coast of the USA. Poulstone has had incredibly windy days, particularly in January, with significant rainfalls in Herefordshire but no snowfall, or cold weather.

The excess rainfall has brought its own idiosyncrasy to Poulstone. The view from south of the house towards the River is nothing short of enchanting. The river has broken its banks and flooded the surrounding plains.

I take great delight in standing next to the Wellingtonia tree, to the front of the house, looking across the fields towards the River Wye as morning begins to break, taking in the vitalising morning dewy air.

I now have a picture imprinted in my mind of the views from Poulstone towards the river on a January morning. It is made up of bright orange skies, clouds stretched out like dough allowing the morning sun to peep through the gaps. A blanket of water over the front paddock reflects the overhanging trees and clouds. Birds and rabbits playing on the green beach of paddock touching the spread of the river.

This vista is completed by ancient trees, whose wisdom lingers in the air. This must be what one of the Guardians of Poulstone, the Wellingtonia Tree, sees and experiences every morning in the beginning months of the year.

Nature must be bewildered by the warm start to the year. Its February and the grass has started to grow, maybe it never stopped growing. The garden has required more attention than anyone planned. The mower has been out for the first cut of grass in 2016. The smell of cut grass in early February has confused our senses, as has mowing grass whilst having to avoid budding snow drops and daffodils.

We are grateful to Malvern Bhavan group for volunteering to do some work in the garden for a few hours as a part of their retreat. This has helped Poulstone catch up on the outdoor garden work and turned out to be a fun and rewarding part of their retreat. If any retreat would like to spend some of its time helping in the garden, please let us know. We can prepare a small schedule of outdoor garden works for your group.

We also organised massage therapy on behalf of a Cultural Leadership retreat. We had to temporarily convert the shop and the overflow dining room into massage therapy rooms. Our therapists, all qualified at the Bristol School of Massage, ended up providing eleven massage therapies. Again, if you wish to have massage therapy during your stay at Poulstone, please let us know in good time and we will do our best to organise a therapists.

A big thankyou to all the groups who have used the house in January and February. It’s been a very pleasant start to the year and spring, it seems, is already upon us. I do not wish to count “my eggs before they hatch” and ever mindful of the fickleness of English weather; my overcoat is at the ready, I am still making plans for guests in the event of heavy snows but doing so whilst “on the mower” in readiness for the next grass cut.

With much love

Rajesh Rai

22 February 2016

Happy New Year & Seasons Greetings!

Happy New Year & Seasons Greetings!

Wow, I cannot believe two months have gone by since taking over Poulstone!

Getting to know Poulstone has been a steep learning curve and has taken up most if not all of our time. The house, the gardens, the people, the surroundings and three retreats later, we are beginning to understand what it takes to run Poulstone. Mel and Steve did this so seamlessly and theirs will be a tough act to follow. We take this opportunity to wish Mel and Steve well in the next phase of their lives in the Pyrenees and thank them for their efforts in looking after Poulstone over the last eight years.

In June 2015, I ran a retreat at Poulstone for Malvern Bhavan. In July, Mel and Steve asked whether I wished to take over the running of the retreat centre and by the 9th November, I took over the management of Poulstone Retreat Centre. It’s been a rollercoaster journey and if I was told this is what I would be doing in a year’s time, I would have completely dismissed the idea.

Life ceases to amaze at how beautiful it is. It really does give you what you ask for. A year is a very long time and anything can happen, including the fulfilment of your hopes and wishes.

I am assisted by my wife, Divya and James. James now lives in the Bothy where Steve and Mel used to be. Together, we hope to continue acting as guardians for the space that has been created by your work and practices at Poulstone Court.

For those who do not know Poulstone, it’s been running as a retreat centre for over 25 years and one can sense the whole space at Poulstone to be pervaded by the spirit of many years of practice. This was the predominant reason for the decision to take over guardianship of Poulstone. I wish to honour, preserve and add to the energy created in Poulstone by over 25 years of work and practice by its guests. Poulstone’s guests really are the custodians of Poulstone and we look forward to getting to know you all over the coming months.

We will continue to maintain the high standards of service that you expect from Poulstone, retaining all staff. We do not intend to alter much in the running of Poulstone although in 2016 we hope to paint some of the rooms, change some of the carpets, purchase fresh bedding for all beds, update the website and also undertake some long overdue works on some of the windows. In the walled garden, we hope to introduce a rose garden and build an outdoor havan kund. We have already started on some of these works. The key in our minds to any change is to maintain Poulstone’s charm whilst improving the experience of your stay. We will be guided by you in this endeavour and your comments about your stay will always be valued.

We are grateful to our first three “retreatees”; Bill Wood who ran a Yoga retreat, Tim Bartlett a massage retreat and Sally Bogle, a Mindfulness retreat, for allowing us to serve and thanking you for enriching the space at Poulstone by your work.

2015 has been filled with generosity and opportunity, I hope this continues and hope and pray that 2016 brings love and joy to you all.

Happy New Year & Seasons Greetings.

Raj

Poulstone Retreat Centre

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all!  We hope you’ve had an enjoyable Christmas – jolly or quiet as you wished?!  Our thoughts were very much with those who experienced flood damage and power cuts over the festive season, as well as those much less fortunate both in the UK and around the world.

The Wye flooded which is usual when we have storms and heavy rainfall and we awoke several days running to a transformed watery landscape which the swans and ducks readily colonised.  The above picture and the ones below are actually the park in front of Poulstone and the field next to it!! With blazing sunshine glittering off the water surface, we had a beautiful walk along Poulstone meadow on Christmas morning.  As a New Year resolution to get a bit fitter started to kick in, we took our new bikes out for a road-test and came back happy and mud-splattered, feeling about twelve years old!

We have another week or so before work really kicks in so we’re enjoying this quiet time before Poulstone gets busy again.  We’re looking forward to meeting up with all the staff prior to work on the 8th for a New Year lunch at All Saints Church in Hereford (a great cafe if you’re ever in Hereford before or after a Poulstone visit: http://www.cafeatallsaints.co.uk/).

May 2014 be all you wish it to be.

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Thoughts and Reflections

Thoughts and Reflections

Our guest blogger today is meditation teacher, Burgs, who teaches meditation and healing retreats regularly at Poulstone throughout the year.

Burgs has been teaching meditation in Europe and Asia since 1998. His teaching style draws upon a wide range of traditions he studied whilst in Asia. He has been recognised and trained by many highly-regarded teachers including the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw in Burma (the first person in Burma for 500 years who can teach the complete teachings of the Buddha) and the Tibetan master, His Holiness Dodrupchen Rinpoche.

Burgs has a deep grounding and understanding in all aspects of meditation and energetic cultivation, and has a profound appreciation of how different spiritual practices and traditions fit together as a whole. It is rare to find someone that can deliver such teachings and practices whilst providing the energetic support for progress on the path to the highest level.

As with all our contributors, we asked him to write something that would be useful to all of us in these demanding and changing times.  He writes:

“Over the years that I have been running retreats at Poulstone, I have often wondered what is the most important factor in creating the optimum retreat environment. In the past it was always the ambience of the place, the surrounding environment and, of course, the quality of the food. But I realise in recent years that a new factor has come to the forefront, and perhaps one that many people haven’t considered. And that is providing the opportunity to take a break from the constant bombardment from modern technology and in particular the huge increase in electro-magnetic field (EMF) exposure that most of us encounter these days.

 I recently called a hotel near an airport where I needed to stay overnight and asked “Do you have any wifi free rooms” to which the receptionist proudly announced “Yes, sir, all our rooms have free wifi.” So well-appointed were they that there was no facility to switch off the wifi in any part of the hotel.

Yes, we live  in  a cloud of EMF and microwave frequencies these days and the debilitating effects are just starting to become apparent. Anyway, I do not wish to go into the emerging scientific evidence which can be researched on-line. I simply wanted to suggest to all of you who come to Poulstone, that perhaps the most nourishing part of your experience these days, may be to switch off your phones and keep the wifi off for the duration. Mel and Steve switch off the wifi router for the whole of our retreats and it makes such a tremendous difference to the depth to which people are able to meditate. I am sure the effects would be the same for anyone coming to Poulstone to do energy work. People do try to complain that they need to access the internet while on retreat, but really, what actually IS a retreat if it isnt time out from our ordinary lives?

For many people it is not easy to create a totally EMF-free environment, but luckily for us, Poulstone can be that for the time of our stay. All we have to do is switch off the wifi router and agree not to use our mobile phones in the house. If you try this I guarantee you will go home feeling even more refreshed that you usually do.

 I know it may sound dramatic, but it is my opinion, (and being a meditation teacher I do not say this lightly) that if we are currently heavily exposed to wifi and the like, if it was a choice between being free from all RF–EMR (electromagnetic frequencies and their fields) exposure and not meditating, or meditating and remaining highly exposed, I personally would choose the former, because I believe the benefits to our general state of well-being would be greater. Luckily we are not in a position where we have to choose, but we can inform ourselves, pay attention and make choices accordingly.

In essence it is heavy and persistent exposure that worries me. Occasional exposure is inevitable and I do believe our energy and nervous systems are capable of adapting to that. So I just want to suggest that you consciously make efforts to reduce the level of RF–EMR’s  that you expose yourself to.

A few simple steps can reduce this by 50-80%. So here are my suggestions:

1. Never take a mobile phone call directly to your ear for more than a minute.

2. Use the speaker phone wherever you can.

3. Switch off your phone when it is in your pocket or carry it in a bag. Check your messages from time to time.

4. Use text messages instead of phone calls as often as possible.

5. Change your wireless DECT walkabout home phones back to plugged in corded phones or get a power saving /eco cordless phone ( these wireless phones are AS damaging as wifi and many people don’t know it).

6. Change your wifi (wireless) internet router back to the old style plug-in cables ( ethernet ) and live with the minor inconvenience of having to use your computer in designated areas.

7. If you can’t get rid of your wifi router, then only switch it on when you need it and NEVER leave it on at night while you sleep.

8. Do what you can to encourage your colleagues/ boss at work to put your working/office environment back over to plug-in cable (ethernet).

9. DON’T upgrade to 4G when it is offered to you. It is a VERY strong signal (way more than 3G and we have NO idea what the effects of long term exposure to this will be). Leave it at least a year and watch to see how others respond/ feedback on it.

None of these suggestions are actually in any way extreme, and they are all really easy to do if you set your mind to it. Just remember 10 years ago NONE of us had any wifi! And certainly no 4G.

These steps will, depending upon your current exposure and living conditions, reduce your exposure from between 50-80%. Certainly enough to make a real difference in the long term. And remember there has been no long term studies with this stuff yet so let’s not just wait to find out.

If you wish to inform yourself more on the subject there is a lot of material gathered on the Dangers of Wifi Facebook page. If you want it in a well put- together and concise format, please send a message through Facebook to Cablesnotwireless and request the information pack they are offering”.

Well, definitely some food for thought! We have both certainly found a huge benefit in switching off the wi-fi and returning to corded phones and wired mouse, keyboard, printer etc.  It cost virtually nothing to do and we feel less drained after a day in the office, have more energy and better mental clarity (not that sludgy computer-head we used to come home with!).

Burgs will be running a number of 5 day and week long retreats at Poulstone in 2014 as well as two exciting on-line meditation courses starting in January for those who find it difficult to take time away. For full details click here: http://theartofmeditation.org/online-meditation-courses/.  We took the one year on-line course last year and found it a powerful tool for deepening and stabilising our daily meditation practice at home.  We highly recommend it to anyone serious about developing their meditation.

Warm wishes and love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Quiet and golden

Quiet and golden

All very quiet and autumnal here as we approach the end of the year.  We have the second of three silent retreats in (http://theartofmeditation.org/) who complete the Poulstone year for 2013.  The house feels lovely – quiet and focussed and still.

Outside everything is wonderfully golden.  The cherry tree in the walled garden and the beeches are glorious at the moment!  Leaf raking will begin in earnest soon and Gail is also tidying up the veg plot, removing courgette plants and nasturtiums that have finally succumbed to the first frosts.  Steve has taken up the dahlias for storing and done some general tidying around the garden.  We thought you might enjoy a few autumn photos from around the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre