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

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