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 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

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

 

 

Signing off for the year-end

Well, our last group has come and gone for the year.  We said goodbye to Burgs’ Introduction to Meditation, Mindfulness and Chi Kung group on the 7th (www.theartofmeditation.org) and are now winding down for the end of the year.  Steve is outside tidying the garden up and he has also been planting cyclamen with Dave to provide what we hope will be a lovely white carpet of flowers on the triangle before the barn car park, under the fir tree there.  Gail has been re-lining the group room curtains for extra warmth and Mel has been doing the end-of-year housekeeping jobs around the place.

Quieter times are also when we have time to try out new recipes to add to our menus.  These delicious cinnamon caramel rolls taught Steve a lesson in reading the recipe right through to the very end before starting!  After several knockings-back and risings and restings and so on, they took

 

 

 

 

over four and a half hours!!  Which would have been OK…………..if we hadn’t started so late…..We finally got them out of the oven at 1am!!  Utterly delicious though!

With the place empty of guests, we also get a chance to invite friends and family to stay and enjoy Poulstone.  Mel’s book group had their Christmas meal here on Wednesday and both sides of the family will be joining us here over Christmas.  It should be a busy but enjoyable time.

Today’s been another cracking day – brilliant sunshine and as the mist cleared this morning we saw that the Wye had flooded into nearby fields so Poulstone meadow was sparkling in the sun.  And geese and swans were exploring this extension to their territory.

Anyway, that’s all from us at the year end.  We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a lovely time however you celebrate the season.

Much love

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

A busy January

Well, January has been unusually busy this year.  We enjoyed meeting Dutch trainers Thomas and Alet de Neve (http://www.parabole.nl) who gave their first weekend training here at the beginning of January.  They brought a lively group of English and Dutch students, some of whom we already knew from Christian Pankhurst’s groups here in previous years.

Then we had a week off before Richard and Marigold Farmer (http://www.soulmoves.co.uk) brought their Giant Leap groups in on two consecutive long weekends.  These guys all know the house like the back of their hands and it’s always lovely seeing them and catching up with old friends.  Some of them were on the very first course we both did at Poulstone in 1993 so we go back a long way!   A couple of Richard and Marigold’s students, Helene & Catriona, stayed on afterwards for a few days and volunteered a bit of work in the house and garden which was very welcome.

This weekend we are joined by Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork (http://bristolmassage.co.uk) who’ve brought a lovely group of trainee masseurs and masseuses for the residential part of their one-year massage training.  There’s lots of laughter around the house and despite the very stormy weather here this weekend, they’re really enjoying their time together.

As we write, the wind is pelting rain against the windows and the river has once again flooded the surrounding fields.  Gail even looked out earlier and saw that the flooded fields had waves moving across them!  There’s not much gardening going on as everything is saturated, although Steve did manage to do an afternoon’s weeding yesterday in a few hour’s bright sunshine between storms…

We also welcome new member of staff, Jessie, to the team.  Jessie has just moved from London and is enjoying her new life in the countryside.  She’s also a very talented maker of felt creations which we will soon be featuring in the shop.  We thought her work might particularly appeal to some of the shamanic groups who come to Poulstone.  If you want to look at her fabulous felted animal totems or buy directly from her, her work is at http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CloverFourteen.  Here are a few delightful examples:

Sitting Brown Bear Totem, Needle FeltedCustom-made Elk, Needle Felted We hope Jessie does well in setting up her new business with them.

Well, that’s about it for now.  It’s the delicious Mushroom, Stilton and Pumpkin Pie this evening, perfect for such a chilly, blustery night, so we will be sloping off to the kitchen shortly to see if we can score some tasty leftovers!  We now have recipe cards for this and many of our new supper dishes available in the shop, with wonderful illustrations from our friend, Kevin Kimber (http://www.kevinkimber.co.uk/):

   

More soon!  Hope you’re staying dry!

Mel & Steve xx

Poulstone Court 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

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