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.

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.

 

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

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

Freefall 2015


Such a wonderful week of Spring sunshine!  Primroses and daffs are brightening everywhere and the first martins arrived yesterday – we heard them around the nests above the utility room.  Our Freefall writing group are having their final celebratory meal at the end of their week-long course and, inspired by the Spring weather, we’ve been decorating the tables with primroses, forget-me-nots and tulips for their last evening.
Barbara Turner-Vessalago (http://www.freefallwriting.com) runs this course here at Poulstone annually and all the writers and would-be writers who attend rave about her ability to facilitate and guide their writing.  We send out an invitation to the course each autumn so send us an email if you’d like to be added to the mailing list – it books up fast!  It makes a nice change for Mel to have regular visitors to the office each morning as people come to print their work and have a chat.  This group has at least two published authors attending which is testimony to the usefulness of the course.

Last week we hosted Manda Scott (http://mandascott.co.uk)and Chris Luttichau (http://northerndrum.com) bringing Manda’s advanced students here for a shamanic course on death and dying. Both teachers have a strong reputation in shamanic circles and we enjoy hosting them every time.  Manda’s new novel “Into the Fire” is out in June and details are on her website.  The synopsis sounds really intriguing: http://mandascott.co.uk/book_item/into-the-fire.

Next week we say hello again to the Gordon Moody Association (http://www.gordonmoody.org.uk).  This is the second residential part of their 12 week programme for women with a gambling addiction. The group really enjoyed the supportive environment here when they came in January and we look forward to seeing them all again.

Things are really getting going in the garden.  Steve is on a pruning-fest around the place and Mel has been weeding between the paving in the kitchen yard to smarten up the back.  Gail’s been weeding the top yard and working in the veg garden. Mel has sown the beetroot, carrots and parsnips into the raised beds as well as sowing the courgettes and squash indoors.  The window ledges in the barn cloakroom are full of Gail’s seedlings including kales, peas and beans.  It definitely feels like the year is getting underway now!

Right!  Time to slope round to the kitchen to see if there’s any of the delicious walnut and cashew wellington left!

More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre


Silly glasses, blossom and lots of yogis!

Bit of a delayed start to the day today as we sat in the garden and watched the eclipse.  Well, you have to, don’t you?!!  Mel had saved the 1999 eclipse glasses (which hadn’t got any more stylish in storage!!…) and Gail, Mel and Steve had breakfast sharing the silly specs and watching the moon move across the sun. With all the little details that need attending to in our lives as in everyone else’s, it felt good to have them all put into perspective by this mighty event. I think it was Professor Brian Cox who said that an eclipse always reminds him that we are living on a very small rock in a very big universe!

And after that we unpacked the grocery deliveries!!!!

Richard & Marigold Farmer (http://www.tmwtraining.com/ and http://www.soulmoves.co.uk/) and their Giant Leap 1 group are arriving tonight and just having their supper.  It’s lovely to see all our old Rising Dragon Tai Chi chums arriving and settling in. Over the last few weeks we have had a steady stream of yogis moving through the house. Burgs and The Art of Meditation (http://theartofmeditation.org/) brought two retreats in, pretty much back to back and it was very restful having the house in silence for that period. And Burgs was followed by Feel Hot Yoga (http://feelhotyoga.co.uk/) who were new to Poulstone and really enjoyed their first stay.  Tutors Nina, Shasha and David were great to work with and Shasha has written a very lovely account of their time here at http://shasharishi.grokbox.co.uk/?p=236. We were particularly pleased that they enjoyed being without mobile phones and wi-fi, seeing it as part of decompressing from busy urban life. We hear news of their return and look forward to it!

Chief amongst our garden pleasures this week is the blossoming cherry plum. This is an annual delight and usually one or two groups are lucky enough to be here when it bursts forth!  The bees were loving it today and the fragrance is wonderful.

 

That’s all from us right now!

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Spring is around the corner

Despite the icy rain of yesterday, Spring definitely feels like it’s around the corner.  Daffodils are coming up in enough quantity now to use on the dining tables and it’s been warm enough to sit outside in our tea breaks and take in some sun.  Swans have migrated in numbers to the field the other side of the walled garden and we can see them every morning from the bedroom window. The helibores are looking lovely as too are the dogwoods and snowdrops outside the dining room windows. Steve and Dave have been putting a mulch down on the borders which has had a very neatening effect (it’s an experiment and remains to be seen if it suppresses weeds effectively or provides a rich medium for their growth!!). A couple of days ago, Mel had a wander around the garden to take some February pictures.  We hope you enjoy them.

We’ve had three groups in since last writing.  We met More to Life trainers Pascale Ascher and Richard Perry for the first time and greatly enjoyed hosting them and their group.  You can see more information on their work at: http://moretolife.org/index.cfm.  We’ve also had Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork here for their annual winter residential.  Andy Fagg and his team have been synonymous with massage in Bristol for well over 20 years (http://bristolmassage.co.uk/) and we always enjoy supporting their work here.

BCMB were followed by Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery of Ancient Harmonies who bring their advanced shamanic students here three times a year.  They have been coming to Poulstone for over two decades now and enter into the house like a hand into a favourite glove! As usual it was great to have their work in the house and we look forward to seeing them in May.

We have a number of new teachers visiting in the coming months. This Spring we will also be saying hello for the first time to Nina Sebastiane and her team from Feel Hot Yoga (http://feelhotyoga.co.uk/), Clive Tempest of Conscious Connections with his Chi Gung group(http://www.bigger-picture.net/), Joy Hicklin-Bailey of Secret Garden with her Joyful Loving retreat (http://www.secretgarden.eu.com) and Alaric Newcombe (http://www.alaricyoga.com) bringing his Iyengar Yoga retreat for advanced students.  All their courses are open to the public and details are on the calendar on the website or click direct to: http://www.poulstone.com/courses.php for full details.

That’s all for now!

Much love,

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Back in the swing of things

Happy New Year from us all at Poulstone!  After a very refreshing break, we are now thoroughly back in the swing of things with our second group now here with us.  Last week we hosted the Gordon Moody Association (http://www.gordonmoody.org.uk/) which helps people with an addiction to gambling.  This was a new residential programme for women and we really enjoyed providing the residential support for this excellent work and meeting all those involved.

Last night we were joined by Chris Luttichau of Northern Drum (http://northerndrum.com/) and his group.  Chris is a shaman of many years standing and after 30 years of study with indigenous teachers and elders, Chris is the keeper of an integral body of teachings that he shares in workshops and ongoing one-year and three-year training groups. The teachings cover a broad range of topics from healing and dreaming to spirit contact and self-development. This weekend we understand that the group is working with plants and herbs and they have a beautiful crisp, sunny day today for working outside with the plants. Chris’s book “Animal Spirit Guides” is available in the Poulstone shop or direct from Northern Drum. 

Poulstone is enjoying the presence of a large number of swans and geese at present camped out on the field next to Poulstone.  We’ve had some beautiful frosty mornings just recently and it’s lovely seeing them flying overhead in the early morning light.  Steve and Dave have done the winter pruning of the apple trees and cut back the perennials in most of the beds now the birds have had a chance to eat the seeds up so we are nicely tidied up in the garden.  Mel and Steve have relaid all the garden irrigation piping  before the plants in the borders start to bush up and were kept company all day by a lovely little robin. Gail has re-lined all the curtains in the group room so it feels extra cosy in the evenings.  We all sat down the other evening and have ordered all our onions sets, potatoes and seeds for this year’s growing in the veg plot.  It was a nice time to review what worked and what didn’t last year and also order a few new varieties to see how they do.

We were very sorry to hear this month that Windhorse Trading is shortly to cease doing business.  Products from this wonderful Buddhist trading company have been in the Poulstone shop for 20 years and they were a great organisation to work with.  We wish everyone well with whatever they do next, particularly David and Jim who used to bring the mobile showroom around for us.  The search is now on for another ethical and fairtrade company for craft goods, incense, candles and the like.

That’s about all from us at the moment.  We hope the year is starting very well for you all.

Warm wishes

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court

Masseurs, skeletons, squirrel frenzies and messing about on the water!

We are joined by Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork’s Worcester branch this week (http://bristolmassage.co.uk/).  It’s always a pleasure showing in new groups of people and enjoying their pleasure at finding out they have a beautiful old country house to themselves for the weekend or week! (we’re on hand throughout each course, but very much in the background unless needed).  We’ve enjoyed having Sarah Cohen, their tutor, back here again with her new team – Sarah used to come with the Bristol team until 2010 and has been gradually building up her branch of the college in Worcester.  Despite torrential rain this morning (much needed by the garden – and quite exhilarating after all the heat!), they’re hoping to let their hair down on Saturday night and have a fire outside and a bit of a party after all the hard work of their course assessments. It’s Anatomy & Physiology this afternoon and anyone passing the group room windows yesterday would have come face to face with a life-sized skeleton, wearing a sun hat, looking out across the fields!

It was also a nice surprise to find out that Tara Kane, who used to work here with us a couple of years ago, is now a fully qualified masseur (or masseuse?!) and working as an assistant teacher on this course.  She’s clearly loving it and has found her new vocation.

Generally we’ve been blessed with a heatwave here the last couple of weeks.  We’ve been out watering the veg plot every other night which is quite a nice relaxing after-work job, watching the swallows and martins wheeling around.  We’re supplying lots of kale, spinach, mange tout and rocket to the kitchen at the moment as well as nasturtium and calendula flowers for decoration.  Everything is thriving out there (apart from some rather stubborn lettuce seeds!!) and there’s been time for annual jobs like weeding the kitchen yard and Mel’s been revamping the hanging baskets out there.  Good to get these jobs done before the summer work really gets under way. Masses of poppies are coming out now and the white roses along the side of the house are full of blooms now, and are finally growing up the wall by the office and group room windows – and on past performance will now be flowering until November!

We’re so abundant with wildlife here. This morning saw the return of the kestrel we saw a lot of a couple of months ago – he came in low across the back lawn below our bedroom window, much to the alarm of the smaller birds…..He’s fascinating to watch and often camps out on the little platform where the old bell used to be so we can watch him through our telescope.  Young squirrels are out and about – if you’ve ever seen your cat having a “cat frenzy”, you will be able to imagine what an early morning squirrel frenzy looks like!  They were randomly attacking low branches on the cherry tree, rolling on their backs and attacking their own back legs and racing up and down tree trunks and across the lawn in erratic high-speed fashion! Highly entertaining! If you’re here over the next couple of weeks, 7.30-8.30am on the back lawn seems to be where the action is!

Away from the garden, we’ve also had some time for cycling and wonderful walks along the Wye and even managed (after living by the river for over seven years!) our first canoeing trip from Ross-on-Wye to Symonds Yat – a wonderful day meandering along the river in bright sunshine with cool river breezes, with a couple of picnics along the way.  We even saw a kingfisher!

Well, time for supper now!

More soon

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Spring giveaways!

We’re still very much blessed with Spring weather here.  No stock has been put on Poulstone meadow as yet and so it looks beautiful with dandelions and buttercups coming up all over it (we’ll try to remember that when the dandelions start popping up in the garden!). Burgs’ Towards Samadhi retreat was in for seven days and really saw the blossom in the garden at its peak – drifts of petals came down like gentle snowfall against impossibly blue Spring skies.  Very lovely.  The group were able to do their Qi Gong sessions outside and enjoy the gardens during their breaks, walking meditations and rest period. The swallows and martins arrived on the Sunday of that week too, adding their chitter-chattering song to the dawn chorus.

Burgs was followed by Barbara Turner-Vesselago with her annual Freefall Writing course here with us for a week.  Half the group were new to Freefall and Poulstone and many have already asked to sign up again for next year!  The group has a long break after lunch while Barbara studies their daily manuscripts and there was plenty of time for people to go walking and explore the gardens and along the river – or do more writing! Everyone said their writing benefited hugely from the week and Barbara’s expertise and the support of the group.

We stock both Barbara and Burgs’ books in the shop and are giving away some free copies.  We have two copies of  Barbara’s “Writing without a Parachute: The Art of Freefall” **and five copies of Burg’s “Beyond the Veil” book to give away as gifts. We also sold a lot of recipe cards during Freefall for the newer dishes in the Poulstone repertoire and are giving away five sets of the illustrated recipe sheets (unlaminated in a plastic wallet). To claim a free gift, all you have to do is email the name of your choice of gift (one per person) and your full postal address to info@poulstone.com together with the answer to this question: what type of tree grows in the new Japanese style stone garden at Poulstone? The first emails received will be sent the gifts. Good luck!!!

With much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

**please note, for Freefall gifts, we will add your email address to the Freefall once-a-year mailing list unless you ask us not to**

Intermittent basking!

Well, we’re intermittently basking in Spring sunshine between the odd thunder storm.  Last Friday afternoon as the group was coming in we had thunder rattling the sash windows in their casements and a hailstorm, which then gave way to the most blissful weekend of Spring sunshine!  We’re all getting drawn into the garden.  Mel has finished tidying the kitchen yard and planted up some baskets and tubs with edible flowers which we use to decorate our salads at lunchtimes.  It’s nice to have a splash of colour out there after the winter gloom.  The little faces of the violas are particularly lovely.

Steve and Dave have finally admitted defeat in their battle against the invasive plants in the flower bed under the barn and abandoned the ideas for a new planting scheme there. Despite the best efforts of Ian and others on the work retreat last year, the plants have come up as strongly as ever so we’re going with that and instead  have grassed it over to provide a pleasant sitting area under the apple blossom in springtime.  In the autumn we will plant some spring bulbs to come up around the bench that will go there.  

Mel & Steve have been weeding in the veg garden ready for planting and Gail’s been busy moving muck and compost up onto the raised beds.  Mel’s just off to sow her courgette and squash seeds in the potting shed once her stint in the office is over for the day.

Mel’s also been busy with the year end stocktake so anything not actually moving has been counted!  She finished in the shop today and has placed an order for some of the popular Japanese bowls that some of you were asking about earlier in the year.  They’ll be in soon!  We’re also featuring some new cards by the talented artist Anne Thomas.  Hilary first came across her work and told us about it.  We particularly like her nature mandala cards which are now in stock here.  Here are some examples and her website for buying direct is: http://www.shiningedge.co.uk/.   'Samhain' or 'Oak' mandala  'Midwinter' mandala by Anne Thomas

We’re on our third group since last writing.  We had a very lovely yoga group in two weekends ago with teacher Rowena Harris (http://www.herefordshireyoga.co.uk/rowena-harris) who lives nearby in Longtown in the Black Mountains.  Rowena hadn’t been with us for a few years and so it was nice to be reminded by her and the students of all the changes that have taken place in the house and gardens since that time.  A week later we were joined by Chris Luttichau and an advanced shamanic group.  We had met Chris when he taught here with Manda Scott a year or so back and it was really great to have him return here with his own students.  We very much hope we can host them again at some time in the future.  Chris’s website is http://www.northerndrum.com. We now have Burgs in with an introductory meditation retreat till Friday (http://theartofmeditation.org/).  In between the meditation sessions and discourses, there’s been some lovely weather for sitting quietly outside and letting the work settle.

That’s probably it for now.  More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre