Thoughts and Reflections

Our guest blogger today is meditation teacher, Burgs, who teaches meditation and healing retreats regularly at Poulstone throughout the year.

Burgs has been teaching meditation in Europe and Asia since 1998. His teaching style draws upon a wide range of traditions he studied whilst in Asia. He has been recognised and trained by many highly-regarded teachers including the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw in Burma (the first person in Burma for 500 years who can teach the complete teachings of the Buddha) and the Tibetan master, His Holiness Dodrupchen Rinpoche.

Burgs has a deep grounding and understanding in all aspects of meditation and energetic cultivation, and has a profound appreciation of how different spiritual practices and traditions fit together as a whole. It is rare to find someone that can deliver such teachings and practices whilst providing the energetic support for progress on the path to the highest level.

As with all our contributors, we asked him to write something that would be useful to all of us in these demanding and changing times.  He writes:

“Over the years that I have been running retreats at Poulstone, I have often wondered what is the most important factor in creating the optimum retreat environment. In the past it was always the ambience of the place, the surrounding environment and, of course, the quality of the food. But I realise in recent years that a new factor has come to the forefront, and perhaps one that many people haven’t considered. And that is providing the opportunity to take a break from the constant bombardment from modern technology and in particular the huge increase in electro-magnetic field (EMF) exposure that most of us encounter these days.

 I recently called a hotel near an airport where I needed to stay overnight and asked “Do you have any wifi free rooms” to which the receptionist proudly announced “Yes, sir, all our rooms have free wifi.” So well-appointed were they that there was no facility to switch off the wifi in any part of the hotel.

Yes, we live  in  a cloud of EMF and microwave frequencies these days and the debilitating effects are just starting to become apparent. Anyway, I do not wish to go into the emerging scientific evidence which can be researched on-line. I simply wanted to suggest to all of you who come to Poulstone, that perhaps the most nourishing part of your experience these days, may be to switch off your phones and keep the wifi off for the duration. Mel and Steve switch off the wifi router for the whole of our retreats and it makes such a tremendous difference to the depth to which people are able to meditate. I am sure the effects would be the same for anyone coming to Poulstone to do energy work. People do try to complain that they need to access the internet while on retreat, but really, what actually IS a retreat if it isnt time out from our ordinary lives?

For many people it is not easy to create a totally EMF-free environment, but luckily for us, Poulstone can be that for the time of our stay. All we have to do is switch off the wifi router and agree not to use our mobile phones in the house. If you try this I guarantee you will go home feeling even more refreshed that you usually do.

 I know it may sound dramatic, but it is my opinion, (and being a meditation teacher I do not say this lightly) that if we are currently heavily exposed to wifi and the like, if it was a choice between being free from all RF–EMR (electromagnetic frequencies and their fields) exposure and not meditating, or meditating and remaining highly exposed, I personally would choose the former, because I believe the benefits to our general state of well-being would be greater. Luckily we are not in a position where we have to choose, but we can inform ourselves, pay attention and make choices accordingly.

In essence it is heavy and persistent exposure that worries me. Occasional exposure is inevitable and I do believe our energy and nervous systems are capable of adapting to that. So I just want to suggest that you consciously make efforts to reduce the level of RF–EMR’s  that you expose yourself to.

A few simple steps can reduce this by 50-80%. So here are my suggestions:

1. Never take a mobile phone call directly to your ear for more than a minute.

2. Use the speaker phone wherever you can.

3. Switch off your phone when it is in your pocket or carry it in a bag. Check your messages from time to time.

4. Use text messages instead of phone calls as often as possible.

5. Change your wireless DECT walkabout home phones back to plugged in corded phones or get a power saving /eco cordless phone ( these wireless phones are AS damaging as wifi and many people don’t know it).

6. Change your wifi (wireless) internet router back to the old style plug-in cables ( ethernet ) and live with the minor inconvenience of having to use your computer in designated areas.

7. If you can’t get rid of your wifi router, then only switch it on when you need it and NEVER leave it on at night while you sleep.

8. Do what you can to encourage your colleagues/ boss at work to put your working/office environment back over to plug-in cable (ethernet).

9. DON’T upgrade to 4G when it is offered to you. It is a VERY strong signal (way more than 3G and we have NO idea what the effects of long term exposure to this will be). Leave it at least a year and watch to see how others respond/ feedback on it.

None of these suggestions are actually in any way extreme, and they are all really easy to do if you set your mind to it. Just remember 10 years ago NONE of us had any wifi! And certainly no 4G.

These steps will, depending upon your current exposure and living conditions, reduce your exposure from between 50-80%. Certainly enough to make a real difference in the long term. And remember there has been no long term studies with this stuff yet so let’s not just wait to find out.

If you wish to inform yourself more on the subject there is a lot of material gathered on the Dangers of Wifi Facebook page. If you want it in a well put- together and concise format, please send a message through Facebook to Cablesnotwireless and request the information pack they are offering”.

Well, definitely some food for thought! We have both certainly found a huge benefit in switching off the wi-fi and returning to corded phones and wired mouse, keyboard, printer etc.  It cost virtually nothing to do and we feel less drained after a day in the office, have more energy and better mental clarity (not that sludgy computer-head we used to come home with!).

Burgs will be running a number of 5 day and week long retreats at Poulstone in 2014 as well as two exciting on-line meditation courses starting in January for those who find it difficult to take time away. For full details click here:  We took the one year on-line course last year and found it a powerful tool for deepening and stabilising our daily meditation practice at home.  We highly recommend it to anyone serious about developing their meditation.

Warm wishes and 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 ( 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

Apples & pears, and all things shamanic




















So another busy time since last writing.  Unusually, we have had three shamanic groups in one after another.  Manda Scott re-joined us in early October for one of her advanced courses (  Manda is also a prolific author and writes under the name M.C.Scott for her historical novels.  Do take a look at her website to find out more.  She’s particularly well-known for her series on Boudica.

Her group was followed by Jonathan Horwitz’s Peace and Power retreat which was with us until last Sunday.  A much-loved Poulstone regular, Jonathan is resident in Southern Sweden but comes to Poulstone annually in the autumn, usually with a course for advanced students.  (  (One of Jonathan’s students, Faith Nolton, created the beautiful picture above.  See her website for more images and downloadable pictures,

A few days off and Jan Adamson and Desiree Emery will be joining us with their shamanic group until Sunday.  We greatly enjoy having all four teachers and their groups here. Respect and gratitude seem to shine out of these groups and we feel that the land and nature around Poulstone benefits from the work that the groups do here.  It’s wonderful seeing trees and plants and creatures receiving a deeper kind of attention than the every day.

In the garden we’ve been busy harvesting our apples and pears, and enjoyed the final pear-picking yesterday in blazing sunshine.  We even had lunch outside!  Then we took a van-load of pears and apples up to Ragman’s Lane Farm for juicing (  We shall look forward to collecting our bottles of juice next week and sitting and labelling bottles for the shop.  We’ve also been picking the last of the plums from the trees on the drive for freezing.  At the other end of the journey, Gail has been planting our garlic for next year which is always a nice job at this time of year.  There’s still plenty of produce in the garden – the courgette plants are still going for it, the carrots are tender and tasty and we have oodles of greens coming through.

Today has been torrential rain which is rather perfect weather for getting the house ready and doing the book-keeping!

Time to get back to work!

Much love, Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Too busy to blog!

We do seem to have packed a lot into the last couple of weeks.  Burg’s meditation group ( went out last Wednesday, Clare Gennon and Richard Farmer’s Metatronic Healing weekend came in on the Friday ( – and Burgs returned for his seven day retreat on the Monday!  Phew! Interestingly, these quick changeovers, which are very frequent these days, seem to get easier and easier as we get more used to doing them and trust more that everything will fall into place if we just stay quietly engaged with what needs to happen.  Anyway, Burgs’ retreat is now in till next Monday so a chance to catch our breath!

Steve has taken a bit of time off recently, roaming the Brecon Beacons with a back pack.  He’s come back looking very aired and extremely bearded!  He’s been easing back into work with some mowing and mending, and cleaning all the outside windows of the house now that the swallows and martins have finally left their nests in the eaves (making it now worth doing!).

We continue to be inundated with produce.  Hilary has been using up some courgettes that we accidentally let grow to marrows, spinach and chard, turning it into delicious minted pea, spinach and courgette soup.  A wonderful colour as well as taste!  Not quite time to pick the apples but we continue to freeze the windfalls for puddings next year.  We’ve been juicing windfall pears too which make a beautifully tasty, sweet juice.

There’s still a fair bit of colour in the garden – pink, orange and yellow dahlias, cosmos in various pinks and whites, nasturtiums, heleniums…..Today’s so warm, you can hardly believe autumn is here.

Well, time to turn our attention to next week’s menus and collect up today’s windfalls,

More soon!

Much love

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Harvest time

The apple-fest continues in amongst our other jobs.  Gemma is becoming a dab hand with the rotary apple peeler.  We are also picking plums, mulberries and damsons.  The two plum trees donated by Spectrum Psychotherapy’s Women in the World group have yielded the first fruit we can pick from the new trees.  They have a very nice flavour and we have frozen this first harvest so the group can enjoy them in a crumble or almond sponge pudding when they come in November.  Our squash harvest is a little disappointing – only six (admittedly pretty large) squash from 10 plants!  Ah well, they are very beautiful and there’s something quite magical about them even if there aren’t very many.  Recent groups have also been able to enjoy home-grown rocket, beetroot, spinach and chard, kale, dwarf beans and potatoes.

We are probably saying goodbye to our sweet peas now as autumn arrives – we’ll be picking our last nostalgic few bunches before the first frosts arrive.  The dahlias are now coming into their own and will take their place in posies on the dining tables during the autumn.

The Reiki Gathering enjoyed their stay last weekend and we hope we shall see them here again.  On Monday we were joined by Ruhani Satsang ( and are greatly enjoying the silence and feeling of peace that their meditation practice is bringing to the house.  Many of them have been students of their Master Sant Kirpal Singh (deceased) since the 1970s and meet annually to meditate and listen to discourses, travelling from Europe, Canada and America.  It’s very inspiring to see such devotion to their practice.  They will be departing tomorrow and we will be joined the following day by another silent retreat with Burgs (  So pretty busy for us today and tomorrow!

More soon!

Warm wishes

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Newton has nothing on us!

Apples are dropping off the trees as we speak!  Gemma, Gail and Mel collected and prepared the first batch for the freezer a couple of days ago.  Whilst most of the apples aren’t quite ready yet for picking, it feels great not to waste the windfalls.  The pears that have fallen however are too tiny really to be worth using so they will go to the compost and delight the wasps. Large drunken parties of wasps can already be seen in their pear dens!

We said goodbye to James Reeves and his Bliss Divine Yoga group ( on Sunday afternoon.  It was their first visit to Poulstone and we greatly enjoyed having them here.  They will be revisiting us next summer and James’ groups are open to the general public so do have a look at his site or our courses page if you’re interested.  It was nice to have some guests from the Hereford and Welsh borders area with us, even though James is based in Oxford.

We’ve now had a few days to do some gardening and gear ourselves up for the rest of the month (we are now back-to-back till 3rd October!).  Gail has been getting up to date with a few jobs in the veg patch – digging up spuds and having a general tidy.  After all the lovely warm, dry weather we’ve been having, Mel diligently watered all the flower beds in the parched garden last night – before a night of rain!  Should have checked the forecast!

The Reiki Community Gathering are with us from this afternoon.  Also a new group to us, we are looking forward to welcoming them.

That’s about it for now.  More soon!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Work Retreat 2013!












A wonderful work retreat again this year and despite some showers, the weather was very kind to us.  The volunteers have completely weeded the garden, re-laid the wood chip path in the veg plot, re-gravelled the fairy circle and the seating area outside the group room windows, turned the compost, cleared cherry stones and leaves from the stone garden, weeded and tidied the kitchen yard and courtyard, replanted the hanging baskets, picked, de-stoned and frozen the plums, picked the blackcurrants for freezing, dug out various large invasive plants, removed the ivy that was choking the holly hedge, duvet covers mended, drawer liners made and much much more!

It was lovely working, eating and living together for the week – lots of fun and laughter and time to relax around Poulstone.  We had story telling one evening and singing, and Ian Jarvis gave us a talk on the invaluable work going on in Bhopal, India where he has been working ( for anyone interested in learning more).

Thank you everyone for such a great week and all your hard work.  Here are some of you in action!








Visit: for more pictures!

Much love, Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Oodles of produce!

 The veg garden is really flourishing with the rain coming after so much warmth.  The blackcurrants need picking so we’re hoping for some dry days to get on with that again. The squash are beginning to get big enough to net on the garden wall, the courgettes are epidemic and Gail has just harvested our first lot of white onions this year.  Our cyclists last week enjoyed oodles of spinach, kale, mixed leaves, rocket, beetroot, courgettes, chard and blackcurrants from the garden.  They went out every day even when it was rainy and were rewarded with a couple of beautiful dry days towards the end of the week.

We now have our Holotropic Breathwork group arriving tonight, led by Marianne Murray and Michael Harris.  For information about their work, see  Marianne has been coming to Poulstone annually for many years and we always enjoy having the group here.  The forecast is fair for the week so we hope they have a chance to enjoy the gardens between breathwork sessions.  The grass is beginning to recover from its prairie-like state of a few weeks ago!!

Well, time for a bit of tea before the welcome talk!

More soon x  Stay dry!

Mel & Steve

Poulstone Court Retreat Centre

Bees, Tai ji and a whole lot of lycra!

We’ve had three bee swarms in the last couple of months and on the last occasion, Steve managed to get close enough for a photograph.  It’s wonderful to see wild honey bees thriving like this and we can easily give them a wide berth until they fly off to make their new nest.  The noise is tremendous and it’s quite an interesting sight to see them clustered together like this:  

It’s been really hot and sunny here now for weeks and Alec Jones’s Dragon Spring Tai Ji school ( was with us last weekend, enjoying being able to play their forms and do their exercises outside.  Their practices included cane and fan forms which were lovely to watch.  After dark one evening we kept hearing a cracking sound on the tennis lawn and eventually realised it was the crack of the fans being opened and shut!  Two of the students were kind enough to let Steve photograph them whilst they practised their fan form.

 Meanwhile, the final touches to the stone garden have been happening.  Some sempervivum plants have been nestled in amongst the rocks and look rather good against the stone.  

As the weather has cooled off a bit and some rain has finally come, we now have a lot of lycra around the place with the very wonderful Bicycle Beano vegetarian cycling holiday.  These guys laugh in the face of British weather and bring a lovely homely and communal atmosphere to the place.  Jane Barnes and Rob Green have been running these holidays for years and attract a really great crowd of people.  They always enjoy themselves whatever the weather.  If you’re ever tempted, their website is

That’s all from us!  More soon!
Mel & Steve
Poulstone Court Retreat Centre