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 as devastation caused by natural disasters could not be controlled. 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. Any retreats booked during this period will be permitted to postpone their retreat to a later available date in our 2020 calendar and deposits will be carried through to the postponed date.

We wish you all well during this time of transition 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 (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 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 (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