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 was a conclusion to 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 (https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/year-long-meditation/#/ ) 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 to the next incoming retreat. We have created a mala of retreats connected by a thread made up of messages of love, unity and peace. 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 (www.poulstone.com) 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

Inner and Outer Prosperity

Poulstone has had a well deserved rest in December 2017 but just as well as 2018 will be a busy year for us.

The website has been updated and a participants leaflet can now be downloaded from the contact page; the cookbook has been refreshed, updated and given a new look and plans are in motion for another edition. Further efficiencies will be introduced in the administration of the office and in administrating retreats so that a more seamless service is offered. We will be implementing an environmental policy to add to what is already in place at Poulstone. This is a priority for 2018 and the coming years. There are plans for organised voluntary work at Poulstone so there is  help with all that we have to do and finally pleased to announce that meditation will be taught at Poulstone for no charge and at least once every other month. We hope you join us in what ever way you can and be part of the Poulstone Community.

Its going to be an exciting year.

We do this so that Poulstone continues to be a wonderful haven for your retreats and visitors leave nourished & refreshed by the energy at Poulstone and to create a supportive community around Poulstone.

This is working at inner prosperity for outer prosperity, which is the central theme at Poulstone for 2018.

Wishing all inner and outer prosperity.

Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rajesh Rai

5 January 2018

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 start of the sobering charms of autumn.

The plum, fig, apple and pear trees and the berry bushes, have all produced a bumper crop. The long overdue pruning of the fruit trees undertaken last year has had the desired effect … and the vegetable organic garden continues to provide.

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 around the garden and house. 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

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 not in the main house but still on the grounds of Poulstone. The flat is called “Cherry Blossom”. This follows the tradition at Poulstone of naming rooms after trees and the flat overlooks into the walled gardens 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 here for quite meditations. Or even wish to have use of self-contained accommodation during a retreat, then we can now offer Cherry Blossom. It has its 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 commerce allows Poulstone to exist, to provide an excellent service and 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

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

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 christmas(es).

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, we forget it is also a Christmas tree, amazing what you can take for granted!

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

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!

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!

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 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