Traataka – Peace for the Mind

The practice of Traataka – candle gazing, is a centering practice for the Mind in times of external and internal turmoil. It is a practice that helps a distracted mind and practically speaking and in my view, it is great practice for those lost in social media and the blue light of their computer.

Traataka is a reputed to be a helpful practice for emotional disturbance, giving focus and working out what really is going on. It is a simple practice but as in most simple practices, profound.

In its most simplest understanding, it’s gazing at a candle flame without blinking. You want to sit about 3 feet away from a candle flame and stare at it without blinking. Ensure the candle flame is not disturbed by wind.

You may want to start with 3 minutes and then after about 5 days increase this to 6 minutes then 5 days later 9 minutes until you get to 15 minutes.

When tears start to flow from the eye/s, gently close the eye lids, wipe your tears and imagine the candle flame deep in the forehead space. When the image begins to disappear, open your eyes and continue at staring at the candle flame.

It is an excellent practice for focus, determination. and dealing with a distracted mind, giving great peace to a disturbed mind.

The essence of the practice is people do not see what is in front of them. What they see is coloured by their viewpoints and thoughts that come and go. When people first start this practice they do not really see the candle flame although that is what they are staring at – in other words they are not present to the flame. They are only present to the movie clips of the mind. This practice allows you to pierce through the movie of the mind and introduces you to your own light.

This practice brings peace and light to the mind reminding it of its intrinsic nature. It is a foundational practice for many advanced practices. You can add to the practice by adding a mantra such as So Hum and combining this mantra with breath or recite the Gayatri mantra.

This practice is contra indicated if you have cataracts, myopia glaucoma, astigmatism or epilepsy. If in doubt please consult with your yoga teacher.

Rajesh Rai

Knowing the Force of Nature -Navraatri, the 9 nights dedicated to the divine mother

Knowing the Force of Nature and its recipe

Navraatri, 9 nights dedicated to the divine mother

In 2023 Navraatri celebrations start 15 October 2023 and end 24 October 2023

I was asked the question what can we do to acclimatise to the changing season? It inspired me to share what I do during a special period called Navrātri, which starts in autumn.

Navrātri means nine nights and is a period which occurs at least twice in a year; when winter turns to summer (Spring Navrātri) and when summer turns to winter (Autumn Navrātri). Navrātri is based on the lunar cycle, so start and ending dates vary from year to year.

The Spring Navrātri is called the Vasanta Navarātra and occurs in the lunar month of Caitra (March-April). It starts on the 1st day of the bright fortnight and ends on or after the 9th night.

The autumn Navrātri , called Sarannavarātra, occurs in the lunar month of Aasvina (Sept-Oct). It starts on the 1st day of the bright fortnight and ends on or after the 9th night. In fact the day after Navrātri, the 10th day is called Vijayadasami (day of victory).

The Navraatri period and Vijayadasami is celebrated throughout the sub-continent.

This is a spiritually charged period. It is a great time to replenish, to deepen and recommit to meditative practices and give attention to the body, mind, spirit matrix.

Tremendous change occurs in nature during the transition periods from winter to summer and summer to winter. From summer to winter; it gets colder, evenings and mornings are darker, the earth and plants begin their period of conservation. A period of abundance, growth gives way to a period of hibernation and restoration.

The peak period of this transitioning in nature is said to occur during these 9 days and nights called Navrātri.

If there is no change in habits to accommodate for the new season then colds and illnesses tend to follow.  Our inherent intelligence knows of the change occurring in the fabric of nature but our senses hold onto our habits of the last season. We need to attune to this change.

I was introduced to Navrātri in or around 1997 by Divya’s family. Although my family celebrated Vijaydasaami (also known as Dussehra), the celebrations around Navrārti were new to me. Many people in India commit to a Vrat, a fast and eat one sattvic meal (a gentle balanced meal designed to promote stillness) a day and recite an esoteric hymn called the “Durga Saptashati otherwise called the Devi Mahātmyam”. This can be translated as 700 verses to the divine female force in the form of Durga – a hymn to the divine feminine. This is practice is common in Garhwal region of the Himalayas.

Other parts of India celebrate this period in their own unique way. For example, in Bengal elaborate rituals are invoked to different facets of the female energy and in Gujarat, it is celebrated by dressing up and dancing throughout the night. This dance is known as Navrātri Gharba.

For whatever reason, I started to discipline my diet for these 9 days. I allowed myself one meal a day, usually a vegetarian khichari (see below for the recipe). My Navrātri practice has developed since 1997. In this time I have experimented with the practice and in the process have a glimpse into the importance of this period filled with the energy of transformation.

The Navrātri period is infused with change. The attribute of this change, the latency of the change, the causal connection through which change occurs is a power, a force known as Shakti. Shakti, simply translated is power, force or energy. It has vibrancy and a nurturing quality and regarded as feminine in nature. By attuning into this change we can attempt to have a glimpse of this nurturing force, to its latent power and to its energy.

Nature is singing a hymn giving praise to this power effecting change which restores and then nourishes in preparation for next year’s spring Navrātri. It is a hymn whose rhythm is captured in the Durga Saptasati. The Durga Saptashati is an esoteric text multi layered with meaning.

Navrātri is a great time to give the body a break, and allow body, mind and spirit to align and to rejuvenate. Commit to a meditative practice during this period and become aware of what is happening; the changing colours of nature, how plants cease their external growth, to animals changing habits, to the skies, the wind and to your own energies.

Following a practice during this period gives insight into the practical applications of Ayurveda, Tantra, Yoga and develops intuition. It allows one to be in touch with the forces of nature.

The first day of Navraatri is devoted to goddess Shailputri, who brings wealth and the colour orange is worn.

The second day is dedicated to goddess Brahmacharini, who brings wisdom and understanding and the colour white is worn

The third day is dedicated to goddess Chandraghanta who brings grace and valour, and the colour red is worn

The fourth day to goddess, Kushmanda and her colour is royal blue, and she brings power and wealth

The fifth day to goddess Scandamata, who brings happiness, peace and wealth. Her colour is yellow.

The sixth day to goddess Katyayani who brings peace. Her favourite colour is green

The seventh day to goddess Kalaratri who brings strength and resilience. Her colour is grey

The eighth day to goddess Maha Gauri, who brings Tranquility and endurance. Her colour is purple

Ninth day to goddess Siddhidatri, who brings success and wealth. Her colour is Peacock green.

Below is an abridged translated verse from my favourite portion of the Durga Saptashati.

To that divine feminine force that manifests itself as wisdom, I welcome and give homage and respect,

To that divine feminine force that manifests itself as abundance, I welcome and give homage and respect,

To that divine feminine force that manifests itself as strength, I welcome and give homage and respect,

To that divine feminine force that manifests itself as faith, I welcome and give homage and respect,

To that divine feminine force that manifests itself as compassion, I welcome and give homage and respect,

To that divine feminine force that manifests itself as peace, I welcome and give homage and respect,

Peace, Peace Peace

Kichadi recipe for Navrātri


My staple dish throughout the Navrātri period is Kitchadi. Kichadi forms the core of Ayurvedic nutritional healing as the  food is easily digested and also draws out impurities from the body.

As a child, I recall my grandmother would always make either a dish called sondh (a sabzi made up of ginger) or what I now know to be Kichadi. The sondh recipe I use is a panacea for cold or flu but Kichadi is an all-round gentle dish ideal for promoting healing and to help with any detoxification programme. 

Rice and Daal slowly cooked together with gentle spices forms the basic kitchadi dish. The range of spices used differs depending on what you wish to achieve. You can have kichadis, for example, that improves digestion, lung function, liver function, those that cool and so on. This Kichadi recipe is designed to aid digestion.   


1 tablespoon of cumin seeds                                      2 teaspoons ghee or Oil (sunflower or cold pressed organic rapeseed)

1 bay leaf                                                                        2 peppercorns

1 tablespoon coriander seeds                                   1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon haldi powder                                           1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon hing (optional)                                      ½ teaspoon of sea salt

2 tablespoon ginger root (grated)                          ½ cup basmati rice/brown

1 cup split mung daal                                                  6 cups of water (more if required)

3 cups of seasonal organic vegetables (eg carrots/broccoli/courgettes/sweet potatoes/spinach/spinach/sweetcorn)


1.               Wash rice and Split Mung Daal and drain

2.               Warm ghee/oil (in a preferable iron pan)

3.               Add cumin and coriander seeds (about 1 minute)

4.               About 1 minute later add peppercorn

5.               Then add hing, oregano, grated ginger root and fry for about 2 minutes

6.               Add haldi and coriander powder and fry for about ½ minute.

7.               Add rice and daal and water

8.               Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 40 minutes.

9.               Add salt and vegetables and simmer for another 10 -15 minutes.


© Rajesh Rai

18 September 2014

Edited 2nd October 2023



Peace and the Oldest Temple in the World

Gobekli Tepe means “pot belly” and it was, until recently, the name of a hill located in the South-Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. It is now the name of an extraordinary discovery buried in the belly of the hill.

 About 30 years ago, excavations began at Gobekli Tepe revealing a megalithic settlement dating back 12,000 years. The whole site covers an area of about 12 football pitches and the structures are so old and monumental, they are changing our understanding of civilization.

Gobekli Tepe is now described as humanity’s first temple. It consists of limestone T shaped pillars arranged in a a number of circular enclosures built over a period of a 1000 years. The pillars have mysterious symbols of wild animals carved on them. At the centre of each enclosure are two large megaliths, about 6 metres in height with human like figures engraved on them.

 A visitor centre constructed a 2-minute drive from the site, whose modernity juxtaposes the ancient structure showing how far civilization has developed in its art and craft, plays a 2 minute video about the site explaining

“.. A new theory begins to emerge, opening a unique window into our very early spiritual world. The carved human like pillars may represent gods. Animals may be totems or protectors. And a vulture like bird, lifting what could be a disembodied head into the air may hint at ritualised sky burials. The evidence points to Gobekli Tepe as the world’s first known sanctuary. Multiple temples were built over the course of 1000 years, forming an ancient cult centre, bringing people from across the region together for worship”

In 2018 Gobleki was granted UNESCO world heritage status because “The communities that built the monumental megalithic structures of Göbekli Tepe lived during one of the most momentous transitions in human history, one which took us from hunter-gatherer lifeways to the first farming communities. The monumental buildings at Göbekli Tepe demonstrate the creative human genius of these early (Pre-Pottery Neolithic) societies.”

The region around Gobekli Tepe is also seeped with ancient myth and includes the city of Harran, designed in the shape of a crescent moon and regarded as the sacred city of the moon god “Sin”. Other ancient cities including Mardin, Batman, Dyabakir are within 100 km of Gobekli Tepe, all containing memories of ancient pagan belief systems.

The nearest city to Gobekli is Urfa aka Sanlurfia and fabled as the city of prophets. It is reputed to be the birthplace of Abraham, father of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions. You can visit the cave where Abraham was born and listen to the gentle and mesmerising dhikr recited daily at the site.

Similar sites to Gobleki have also been found within 100km of Gobleki and include Hamzen Tepe, Sefer Tepe, Tasli Tepe, Sefere Tepe, Tasli Tepe, Kurt Tepe. They are collectively known as Turkey’s pyramids but built 7000 years before the Egyptian pyramids and 6000 years before Stonehenge. The Turkey pyramids are opening a window into an era and belief systems where even the memory of civilization had been lost.

Gobekli Tepe was discovered because of a mulberry tree that stands silently on top of “the pot belly” hill. It was known as the wish tree and people have been going there to make wishes since, it is claimed, ancient times. Locals would travel to the top of Gobekli Tepe and tie a ribbon around branches of this tree or make sacrifices under the tree. The locals believed this tree granted wishes, especially to those who could not have children. It was a tree of fertility. It was on one of these visits that a worshipper uncovered some sculptures in the  buried site.

Nature’s ability to hold memory is astounding. This tree held the remnants of a memory many, many, many, thousands of years old of a magnificent place of worship, buried by time.

Locals would go to pay respect to this wish tree, not knowing that this tree stood on an ancient place of worship. They did not know why this tree, and no doubt trees that stood in the same place before this tree, were regarded as fertility/wish tree.

I travelled to Gobekli Tepe recently with Divya to fulfil a long-held wish to visit the oldest temple in the world, which I first read about in an article in National Geographic titled The Birth of Religion in 2011. I also wished to visit the surrounding heritage and to pay respect to this remarkable tree, which kept, in its own way, the memory of Gobekli alive.

Whilst sitting under this tree I was struck by the capacity of nature to hold information in its very fabric. Under this tree, whilst looking out across the plain, my eyes ran along to the horizon. They were met by the sky and experiencing the silence filling the space between the sky and plains, I was reminded of a peace mantra that pays homage to peace in the very fabric of the elements of nature.

The peace mantra is to be found in the Yajur Veda, one of the four books of the Vedas written many thousands of years ago.

The peace mantra is an ode acknowledging peace in the elements of nature. These elements hold humanity. The voices of conflict have the capacity to drown out peace, rather like Gobleki being covered for many thousands of years. This mantra is a reminder, rather like the mulberry wish tree, that peace is omnipresent. Nature is pervaded by it. It’s in the vastness of the sky, in the stillness and flow of water, in the capacity of space to be everywhere and be filled, in the earth’s ability to digest and give life to plants and in turn, their ability to nourish.

The mantra is a reminder of peace, and if you do not see it, where to find it.

shanti, shanti, shantih

If you would like to know how to recite this mantra in sanskrit, follow this link (The Peace Mantra at Gobekli Teppe wish fulfilling tree)

English translation of Universal Peace Mantra 

May there be peace in the Space

May there be peace in the Sky

May there be peace in the Earth

May there be peace in the waters

May there be peace in plants

May there be peace in the herbs

May there be peace in the forces

May there be peace in Brahman

May there be peace everywhere

May peace itself be peaceful

Peace Peace Peace


In Sanskrit

Om Dyauh Shaantir

Antariksham Shaantih

Prithivi Shaantir

Aapah Shaantir

Oshadayah Shaantih

Vanaspatayah Shaantir

Vishve Devaah Shaantir

Brahma Shaantih

Sarvam Shaantih

Shantireva shaantih

Saa Maa Shanti Edhi

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti


Rajesh Rai

11 October 23

The Royal Path

The Royal Path is known by a number of names including Raja Yoga, The Eightfold Path or Astanga. It is a system divided into eight steps. The eight steps are sometimes described as rungs of a ladder and as understanding of each rung increases, one climbs to the panoramic view of the beauty that is around you and that is you.

The rungs are:

Yama:             Restraints; Ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacarya, aparigrahah,

Niyama:          Observances; Sauca, santosha, tapah, svadhyah, isvara pranidhanani

Asana:             Seat

Pranayama:     Control of breath

Pratyahara:      Withdrawal, relaxation

Dharana:         Act of holding (concentration)

Dhyana:          Meditation; the continuous act of holding

Samadhi:         Absorption

The eight rungs systematically move awareness from the manifest gross to the subtle. The 8th rung, “Samadhi”, is the experience of complete absorption and ultimately, it is the experience with that which exists beyond the fluctuations of the Mind. “Samadhi” is the inherent subliminal consequence of the previous seven rungs. “Samadhi”, is complete absorption where awareness becomes aware of itself and then loses itself into itself. Even remnants of samskaras disappear and the playground of the field of intuition itself, no longer provides an identity.

The 7th rung, “dyana”, is translated as the continuous act of holding focus. Holding focus on a specific task or ideal also accords with the dictionary definition of meditation.

The focus for the Mind during meditation is subject of the 6th rung known as “dharana”, and includes yantra, mantra and breath. Yantra is a visual focus, Mantra is sound articulated in such a way that its vibration has subtle effects in the space that is you and around you. And breath, at a more subtle level than providing oxygen and eliminating gases, is the bridge between the external and the internal. Breath is the direct link to the Mind and by becoming aware of it, one begins to know Mind.

Pratyahara” is the fifth rung and is translated as sense withdrawal, a moving from the external and beginning the inward journey. Deep relaxation techniques such as yoga nidra fall within this rung where Mind, body and breath quieten and align in preparation for the remaining climb. Pratyahara is the disassociating  of the Mind from the senses and the beginning of the Mind to know it’s own qualities.

Rung four, “Pranayama” relates to breath. More precisely, by becoming aware of breath, one becomes aware of one’s own vital life force. Pranayama is the control of Prana. The breath has a direct relationship with the Mind. When breath is disturbed, the Mind is disturbed. When the Mind is disturbed, the breath is disturbed. Control of breath leads to control of Mind. Breath is a bridge that can be consciously manipulated to calm, focus and understand Mind and it is suffused with a force that also suffuses the Mind. This is the connection between breath and Mind.

Each rung is a spiritual discipline in itself. An example of this is rung three, “asana”, now also known as hatha yoga or for that matter, dyana, where Zen meditation, finds its roots.

Rungs one and two, the Yamas and Niyamas, provide guidance on relationships; The relationship with yourself , with others and with the world. The understanding of the Yamas and Niyamas continue to deepen in this journey, where one realises there is no real distinction between the qualitative external with the subtle internal.

The eight rungs of Raja Yoga are explained in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The rungs are not ordered by priority but rather, in a way the Mind can cognize their relevance. The Royal Path in its linear or logical understanding is a progression from the gross to the subtle but with practical experience, one learns they are different facets of the same because of the profound interconnectedness between them.

If it is the management of stress that one seeks or one seeks an inner journey or insights into fundamental questions such as what is truth, who am I, what is the reason for my existence then this systematic approach will hold your hand in this endeavour.

I was told that the precursor to being a good Hindu, Christian, Muslim or whatever is to be a balanced human being.  If thinking is unbalanced then whatever you do will be unbalanced. Meditation will open you up to yourself, to both the perceived negative and positive grooves of the Mind and allow one to see beyond them.

Going beyond the fluctuations of the mind and learning to abide in that which remains is the gift of meditation.  It is a source of strength, joy, compassion and love. It gives perspective, insight and illumination to life.

It literally allows one to experience “being” and gives insight to the idea of a “deva” – a being of light. Illumination brings light and removes the darkness of fear and self-doubt.

This is the Royal Path, illuminate the Mind and Shine.



Reverence, Joy and Connection – What we leave behind

It is obvious during rush hour on London’s underground the pandemic is just another memory lost in its subterranean tunnels.

The underground is busy. I resigned myself to standing for the entire journey to Southall from Tottenham Court Road tube on the newly opened Elizabeth line. To my surprise, as I prepared to steady myself for the journey, a young man offered his seat to me.

He looked about seventeen years of age. He stood up and beckoned me to sit down pointing at the seat he had just made vacant. I was surprised for a number of reasons, but at the foremost of my mind, are you serious? I first looked around thinking he must be referring to someone else. Do I look that old?

He looked at me again and insisted. I acknowledged the kind gesture with a big smile but declined the considerate offer.

Next tube station was Bond Street and the young man again offered his seat to me and I happily accepted this time as I could see he was getting ready to leave. Nothing to do with age!

An elderly Asian couple then boarded the carriage. A woman who appeared to be in her 20s and sitting in the seat next  to me and a turbaned man in his 30s who was sitting across from me, both offered their seats to the elderly couple.

The elderly couple were taken aback by the gesture. Their profuse thanks suggested they were not used to such considerate behaviour.  They were touched.

Then a young man who was sitting on the other side to me, as if wanting to be part of these exchanges, offered his seat to the young woman who had just offered her seat to the elderly couple.

At this point we all laughed in unison. Something wonderful had just taken place that broke the ice of alienation usually experienced in tube carriages filled with people who try hard to avoid any sort of connection.

The young person who first offered his seat to me, who had by this time left the train did not get to witness what his gesture had started but it made my day, and no doubt it did the same for the others. The unassuming young person who had started this wave of gratitude was not present to witness what he had left behind. I pondered on this.

People are nice, they want to do good, they want to look after each other, they want to feel connected and have a sense of connection and a shared experience that is joyful. He had no idea what he left behind but whatever it was, it connected us for a moment. That connection was pregnant with reverence and joy that still remains with me. Little things matter and what we leave behind makes a difference.

 The last Poulstone blog was written three years ago in March 2020. It was written when the first lock down was announced. I said in that blog, see you on the other side. How were we to know the other side would take so long to get to and once there, filled with uncertainty.

Poulstone wakes up from the pandemic years realising there is a lot of work to do. It is finding its direction through the compass points of reverence, connection, joy and what we leave behind. It’s our new mantra. … and little things matter.

Join us and be part of the Poulstone Community

 5 March 2023

Rajesh & Divya

The “What Connects Us All” interviews


We hope all of you are well. Things at Poulstone have been difficult but we are still here. The grounds are looking and feeling fab and we cannot wait to start hosting retreats again, but this might still be quite a while. We have thus started to think of new ways to use Poulstone and what it stands for, so we have started an initiative, which we have called “What connects us all”. We hope you enjoy it.

As you know Poulstone has been facilitating and providing a conducive physical space for retreats for well over 20 years and in this time it has seen quite a few different types of retreats. The retreats range from shamanic, yoga, tai chi, meditation, counselling, self improvement and the list goes on and on. Each of these disciplines also vary significantly from within, for example, one tai chi retreat may well vary quite differently from another tai chi retreat we host.

On the face of it the retreats who come to Poulstone are diverse. They may sound different, they may originate from different geographies, from different cultures, with different emphasis, using different languages and having different expressions. But fundamentally they all have so much in common and in my mind, and this is the hypothesis, they all remind of the inner connection and connection with the world we inhabit.

It is this commonality that inspires Poulstone to do the work it has been doing.

Over the last three years Poulstone has been actively working with the theme of Unity with for example, Meditate for Unity, a concert for Unity and Connecting Retreat to Retreat Initiative. Poulstone now wishes to introduce a new initiative, “What Connects Us All”.

We wish to host remote interviews over ZOOM, lasting about 40 mins, with many of the facilitators who host their retreats at Poulstone. We wish to interview the facilitators about their retreat, the tradition/discipline they teach, the fundamentals of their teaching, how these fundamentals are expressed and to say something on diversity and unity. We hope to upload these recordings on the Poulstone website, which will be revamped.

We have all had to reflect on the role of Poulstone during the pandemic and how it can share its wisdom. Up until now, our guests have to come to Poulstone to share in its magic. We now are hoping that initiatives such as these, will allow Poulstone to reach out and share its magic with the world.

I hope you enjoy the magic of Poulstone Retreat and Meditation Centre.

5 January 2021

Rajesh Rai

About Meditation at Poulstone Retreat and Meditation Centre

“Illuminate the Mind and Shine”

Meditation and Enlightened Living

Meditation in the Living Tradition of the Himalayan Masters – “The Royal Path”

Meditation has become a generic term used in a variety of ways which includes philosophical inquiry, contemplation, prayer and so on. There are various types of meditative practices. Some defined by their heritage of which, Tao, Jain, Sufi and Buddhist are examples. And others even describe activities such as swimming, running, working hard at a task as meditative.

The word meditation has entered into common parlour usage but in the tradition of the Himalayan Masters it has a specific meaning.

The dictionary definition describes meditation as the act or process of meditating, a devotional exercise of or leading to contemplation, a contemplative discourse, usually on a religious or philosophical subject. The main ingredients of this dictionary definition include contemplation and a spiritual focus.

The system of meditation in the tradition of the Himalayan Masters gently peels away the layers that cover our own reality. This is done through training the Mind by initially creating mental grooves, known as “samskaras” or mental habits, conducive to moving inwards. In this way the Mind is made a tool in which it assists in the process of its own unfoldment. One learns to appreciate the subtleties to and of the Mind in this journey of its own self discovery. This unfoldment of the Mind opens up an existence of an awareness that moves from its engagement with the external world of senses to the internal world of Mind. The journey of this awareness is the Royal Path.

The Royal Path finds its roots in the tradition of the Himalayan Masters. Its heritage is rooted in India and some of the Masters in the tradition include Kapila the founder of Samkhya philosophy, Narada, the primordial sage, Sanatkumar, Parashurama and Shankacharya. All have been written about extensively. The tradition is non-religious and teaches at its most fundamental, we are already divine we just need to learn to be human and value our humanness.  It is a tradition that stretches many thousands of years and through trial and error, insights have been passed from teacher to student in the caves of those divine Himalayan mountains on the practices and techniques of meditation and the resultant blossoming Mind.

It is these insights that are shared in the teachings of the Royal Path. There are no pre requisites to follow the Royal Path but an intuitive understanding that life offers us all the source material required to enable growth at every level.  In this way one develops determination or sankalpa to journey this path known as The Royal Path.

Rajesh Rai

12 October 2012

Overview of Meditation classes at Poulstone Retreat and Meditation Centre


Overview of Meditation classes at Poulstone Retreat and Meditation Centre 

“Illuminate the Mind and Shine”

You can learn Meditation at Poulstone Retreat Centre and if you are interested, please let us know.

The Royal Path Series is rooted in the Living Tradition of the Himalayan Masters and consist of 5 classes of 1 hr 15mins duration for each level. There are three levels of classes; A Beginners class, an Intermediate class and Advanced Classes.

Classes will also be available on Zoom platform

Beginners Classes. “Accessing the Meditative Mind”

Beginners class requires no previous experience of Meditation.

The teaching is systematic and spread over 5 classes. The course teaches deep relaxation, the  importance of the sitting position, working with breath, recognising the relationship between Mind and Breath, the meditative focal point for the mind.

There will be discussions in developing concentration and the philosophy of Meditation.

By the end of this course, it is hoped that the student is be able to sit and and enjoy their meditation practice for at least 20 minutes.

The cost of each class will be £12*

The Intermediate Classes: “Being with the Meditative Mind”

The Royal Path Series Intermediate classes requires some experience of Meditation and ideal for those who have completed the beginners classes. The Intermediate classes work on the foundation created in the beginners class and introduces the use of mantra, how to use a  mala,  pranayama techniques for Meditation, fire havan and the practice of Bhuta Shuddhi. By the end of the 5 classes the seeker’s experience of Meditation will be more immersive and these auxiliary practices will further provide an anchor to the practice of Meditation.

The cost of each class will be £12*

Advanced Classes. “Beyond the Meditative Mind”

The Royal Path series Advanced classes are suitable for those who have been meditating for a long period of time, those who have been initiated into a mantra practice or for those who have completed the intermediate classes.

These classes teach advanced Meditation and Pranayama practices, experiencing and working with  the subtle bodies, fire havan, working with mantras and their evolution through repetition. These classes will assist in the absorption into the practice for significant periods of time.

There is no charge for Advanced classes, although voluntary work at Poulstone is welcomed.

 Weekend Retreats

From time to time weekend programmes will also be offered, which include

  • Mantra and Meditation
  • The Practice of Bhūta Shuddhi Meditation, Cleansing the Elements; Basic form and Sound
  • Practices from Sandhyo Pāsanā, A Twilight Meditation imbibing GAYATRI MANTRA
  • Agnihotra Havan Practices
  • The Mahamrutunjaya Mantra
  • The Journey of a blossoming Mind: The Sutras of Patanjali in the context of Meditation
  • Pilgrimages to sacred sites of India and United Kingdom
  • Pranayāma practices for Meditation


*If you have difficulty paying for classes, voluntary work at Poulstone will be welcomed instead of payment

Spreading Kindness

COVID-19 News

Dear friends,

We have been trying to orientate ourselves to what has happened over the last 2 weeks and what is currently happening. What was unimaginable 10 days ago has become a reality.

Living in this reality is going to take a significant amount of
mental and physical adjustment. I spoke yesterday to a friend who was exasperated by what is happening. He told me he just did not know what he was going to do as he has no income and has a family to take care of. Then he told me – he had a small victory today. He mowed his garden. I too was gardening and told my son, Kaushik, this story.

Kaushik told me we should not underestimate the value of small victories. He is a history scholar studying the history of philosophy and explained a debate between Voltaire and Rousseau. Both 18th century philosophers of the Enlightenment Period. Voltaire, in his “Candide”, a book in which the characters compete as to whose suffering is the greatest, concluded  “just cultivate your garden”. Kaushik explained during the Age of Enlightenment, there was a huge sense of optimism about the future of the world but the 1755 Lisbon earthquake killed an estimated 100,000 people. Philosophers started to question this optimism because of this devastation. Voltaire’s answer was, cultivate your garden. Kaushik explained; Voltaire tried to say, do what is within your control rather than making sense of what is happening around you.

The fact that my friend could garden, is what is important. My friend had a small victory, he, in the words of Voltaire, cultivated his garden.

I hope we can all adjust to this evolving reality by doing what we can do. The Director General of the World Health Organisation said that Covid-19 has taken a lot away from us but it has also given us something special, an opportunity to come together as one humanity. My way of adjusting to this new reality will be to include small acts of kindness that are within my control to assist those who need help.

Poulstone Retreat Centre will not be hosting retreats until at least the end of May. We will then have to review the situation.

We wish you all well during this time and see you on the other side.

Look after each other.

Raj and Divya

23 March 2020

CommUNITY at Poulstone

  1. CommUNITY at Poulstone 15 Jan 2020

Happy New Year and wishing you all prosperity in all its forms.

It’s been a while since Poulstone retreat centre last posted a blog (Jan 2018 inner and outer prosperity !!!) and a lot has happened since then … but this said, not a lot has also happened here.

Some members of the team have moved on but we welcome new members to the team. So, welcoming our very own
“resident sadhu” Raphael, Jack , who lives at Poulstone, Mihaela, who helps in the house and Kaush & Nish – who have always been helping as all rounders but their involvement has grown significantly as they have grown (also significantly). And other members of the team still remain with us.

Divya and I introduced three new notable initiatives to Poulstone over the last year “Retreat to Retreat Mala”, “The future is fluid” and “the fire of illumination and healing puja”. These initiatives have been inspired by the idea of unity.

Unity is very close to our hearts and it is a theme we have promoted over recent years. In 2018 we held a multi faith musical concert at Poulstone, which celebrated different spiritual musical traditions. This event  concluded our third annual non stop 7day meditation “akhanda” practice. The akhanda practice was dedicated to “Meditate for Unity”. In 2020, we intend to again promote Meditate for Unity – so please watch this space (In 2019 Meditate for Unity was put on hold as we promoted  “Year Long Meditation” (YLM) in its place. YLM is worth looking into, it’s a phenomenal practice ( ) and Poulstone is hosting a retreat in March 2020 about YLM and the  positive impact of group practices such as this – contact us if you wish to know more).

The retreat to retreat mala initiative links one retreat to the next retreat with a message of love, unity and peace. We wanted to create a connection between retreats visiting Poulstone. It just appeared odd to us there was nothing connecting some of the amazing retreats we host at Poulstone. So, we introduced a connecting thread linking all retreats by asking an outgoing retreat to leave a simple message of love, unity and peace for the next incoming retreat. We have created a mala of retreats connected by a thread made up of these messages. We hope to get to 108 messages.

This has proved hugely successful and we have some wonderful messages from many retreats connecting the many diverse traditions that visit Poulstone. We now have one years’ worth of messages of love, unity and peace which we hope to make available soon.

The future is fluid initiative was inspired by a trip to the Rubin museum of art in New York. It really is one of my favourite places where I enjoy getting lost in the predominantly Buddhist religious arts of the Himalayan regions displayed over five floors. The future is fluid “immersive art” is on two walls at the Rubin. One wall is headed “I am anxious because …” and the other wall is headed “I am hopeful because ….”. You stick a one line message on one wall about what is making you anxious and on the other wall, a one line message why you are hopeful.

Well …. Poulstone now has a “future is fluid” wall. It is adjacent to the meditation room. If you wish to participate, please leave a one line message of what makes you anxious and a corresponding one line message about what makes you hopeful. Step back and read the messages, you may be surprised by the experience.

The third initiative started in October 2019 and is a monthly havan practice (Vedic fire ceremony/puja ) followed by meditation and lunch. Jan and Desiree, who have been holding annual shamanic retreats at Poulstone for about 30 years (and are our oldest attending retreat), helped launch this initiative by participating in the fire ceremony. We call this initiative, “the fire of Illumination and healing”. This is held monthly, on a Saturday (subject to an available Saturday) at Poulstone and starts at 10:30am. The fire puja is followed by a relaxation and guided meditation session and a simple lunch at around 12:30pm
There is no charge for this and it is in honour of community. Please join us. The next havan and practices will be held on the 29th February 2020 starting 10:30am.

There will be other initiatives celebrating Unity throughout the year but if you wish to know more or join in with any of the initiatives at Poulstone or simply wish to volunteer, please go to the contact us page on our website ( and email us.

A lot has happened at Poulstone over the last year or so and a lot planned for the future but at the same time Poulstone remains the same. The Wellingtonia tree still stands tall and proud watching over the ashram. The moles still dig up the lawn, birds continue to sing and the wall surrounding the gardens, continues to hold the energy that you have fed over the years.

I am reminded that today it is “Makara Sankranti”, when the Sun moves into Capricorn. But the Sun at Poulstone still rises in the east and sets in the west.

A lot of activity at Poulstone but somethings “still” remain unchanged.

In Unity

Rajesh Rai

15th January 2020