2 Night Relax & Replenish Retreat Friday 2nd November – Sunday 4th November 2018


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2 Night Relax & Replenish Retreat Friday 2nd November – Sunday 4th November costs from £455.00pp. 

Meditation, Mindfulness, Ayurveda and Crystal Healing  

This interactive and fun retreat will help you to replenish your energy levels through rituals and wellness. It promises to be a restorative weekend that is perfect for anyone feeling frazzled and will offer all attendees a chance to deeply relax and re-balance their energy levels, whilst giving practical tips and strategies to enrich your day to day life and avoid that burnt out feeling.

This weekend covers a variety of topics and practices that can aid relaxation and increase overall wellbeing. Topics include Meditation, Mindfulness, Ayurveda and Crystal Healing. It is aimed at those with little or no prior knowledge or experience and also includes a goodie bag for all attendees.

Includes

  • 2 Nights’ Accommodation
  • Arrival from 2pm, Programme starts 5 pm
  • Introduction and Welcome
  • 4 Workshops: Meditation, Introduction to Crystals, Ayurvedic Principles, Mindfulness practice
  • 2 healthy buffet lunches, two three course dinners and a two healthy buffet breakfasts
  • Unlimited use of spa facilities
  • Up to 20 different classes per day

To book please email CER@champneys.com and include the title and date of the retreat.  Alternatively you can call Champney’s on 0843 5611 943. 

There is a minimum number of people required for the retreat to run. The retreat will be cancelled if numbers are insufficient 2 weeks before the start of the break. 

Rachel x

Why Meditation Is Amazing For Your Mental Health

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There’s no denying that meditation has officially gone mainstream. Gone are the days where people turned their noses up and wrote it off as a bit weird. Now, there are a growing number of meditation classes being offered as well as some brilliant apps to help us find calm anytime and anywhere.

Taking a few minutes to meditate every day with the goal of becoming more mindful, or focused on and accepting of the present, is a great way to relieve stress. But it’s even more powerful than you think. Mindfulness meditation helps ease mental health conditions like depression and anxiety—so much so, that some clinicians are trying it as a course of treatment before turning to medication.

Here’s how meditation can help put you in control of your mental health.

Meditating actually changes your brain, and with it, the way your body responds to stress. Which works wonders on depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Studies have been suggesting for the past decade that meditation can bring big health benefits, but it wasn’t until recent years that research has looked into exactly how it can change the brain.

A recent study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, studied 35 unemployed men and women experiencing the major stress of searching for a job, and found significant changes to the brain on scans done after just three days of mindfulness meditation. Specifically, there was more activity in the portions dedicated to processing stress, focus, and calmness. In blood tests, the subjects also showed lower levels of an important marker of inflammation – even four months after the study!

It’s this impact on the body’s stress response that seems to make meditation so effective in treating mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD

Meditation can even take the place of medication for some people.

One study published in 2015 in The Lancet showed that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a treatment that combines mindfulness meditation with traditional cognitive behavioural therapy, was just as effective at preventing recurrence of depression as antidepressants—even for those with a larger risk of relapsing.

For the best results, meditate every day, first thing in the morning. And you can start with just five minutes.

Research has yet to pinpoint the magic time requirement to see these brain changes and improve mental health outcomes. But  ideally you should try to do it every day for 10-12 minutes. Four to fives times per week is great too, if you really can’t get to seven. The key is to be consistent.

A lot of my clients are health conscious, so I equate meditation with going to the gym. Think of meditation as mental fitness, you’re not going to get fit working out one day a week; it needs to be several times a week. We’re changing mental muscles in your brain, and it takes repetition and consistency for those changes to occur. If you’ve never meditated before, start with just five minutes or even just noticing your breathe and being aware. For many people, that’s going to seem like an eternity! Get used to focusing on your breath and stopping your mind when it wanders, and once that five minutes is flying by, increase your time to ten minutes.

 

Rachel x

Please Note: if you are suffering from a mental health condition it is always best to speak to your GP, I have also included in this post links to the mental health charity Mind who can also offer help and advice.  

 

How to practise mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness has the capacity to enrich and transform your life. But how do you actually do it?

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What is mindfulness? How can it be useful to me? 

Long practised by Buddhists, and the bedrock of Eastern psychology, mindfulness is now growing in the West. Perhaps you’ve seen books on the theme, or read about it in the papers. It’s both challenging and exciting those who desire psychological or spiritual change in their lives; or seek to promote it in the lives of others.

Advocates believe this practice can help alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety.

But it is not just a medicine for hard times. More profoundly, it’s a way of living for all, enriching every moment of our lives, whether at work, on holiday or in the shower.

It was Hafiz, the Sufi poet who said: “If you would help me, do not shine a torch on my life – but place in my hands a candle.” So let us see if we can find a candle for ourselves.

Stop thinking

Surprisingly, mindfulness encourages us to stop taking our thoughts seriously. It invites us to stop wandering off into the past or the future.

Instead, we stop thinking and focus on our breathing. We’re quiet, present and watch our thoughts as they arise. Soon, we become aware of the mad restlessness and capricious nature of our minds; and, in time, we begin to take our thoughts less seriously.

This is liberating, as we have been their unquestioning slave for too long. Our thoughts do not always offer us the ‘reality’ we imagine.

Become an explorer

Mindfulness makes explorers of us, and like all explorers we will have to be brave if we wish to discover new lands.

Mindfulness asks a hard question of us: are you willing to experience openly what makes you unhappy?

We tend to shy away from this because the thought of it scares us. And, of course, this is why we became unhappy in the first place, because we were scared. But if we are willing to face things, we will discover a fresh knowing; virgin territory, which restores happiness. If we are not willing to face things, then, sadly, we continue to walk the same mental circles we have always walked. There is a great courage in mindfulness.

Seize the moment

Mindfulness is concerned with the present; with keeping your consciousness alive to the present moment.

This may appear a simple task, but is harder than it sounds. Most of the time, our minds are either taking us back into the past or into the imaginary future. To help us to engage with the present moment, breath work is a great help; this is so because unlike our mind, our breathing is always in the present. So becoming aware of your breathing is a wonderful start to becoming present.

Notice what is now

We are also helped into the present by noticing things. If we’re turning a key in a lock, we notice we are turning a key in a lock; if we’re walking down the street, we notice the shifting cloud formations or the negative feelings arising in us towards a car driver.

It’s about noticing what’s happening now. When we make a cup of tea or do the washing-up without thinking of what we are going to do next, then we are mindful. We are happier when we notice the present and let the future take care of itself.

Protect the space

Add a tablespoon of salt to a glass of water and it makes a significant difference. Add the same spoon of salt to a jug of water and it makes some difference to the taste. Add it to a lake, however, and it hardly affects anything.

Mindfulness makes us larger containers. This happens as we remove from ourselves all the clutter of past and future concerns.

In the present, we have endless inner space, which is a great step towards happiness.

Difficult emotions, like salt, may remain, but their power to affect us is diffused. Previously they could ruin our day, but now they can barely ruin five minutes.

Judge by results

Our judgments of others arise in direct proportion to our self-judgment. But as we allow ourselves to notice self-judgment, we also allow ourselves to be free of it.

People at peace are those who both see and accept the truth of who they are, rather than avoiding it and blaming someone else. Such people are less likely to find fault with others, which diminishes us and them and is always a waste of our time.

Question the negative

We are shaped by what we do with our negative experiences. Depression, for instance, is a turning away from experience in order to avoid emotional pain. Mindfulness doesn’t stop negative thoughts or feelings, but does help us to question their believability. Are these negative feelings quite as solid as they appear? Life is all in the perception; how we perceive events.

Mindfulness practice creates in us a sense of water flowing, things passing through, rather than hard blocks of ice inside us, solid and immovable.

It’s your work

No one can eat lunch for you, and no one can be mindful for you. It’s your work, and your wonder.

Give up your opinions

You cannot be mindful while holding on to your opinions. That’s like trying to keep dry by jumping into the sea.

Don’t censor yourself — accept yourself

As you get in touch with your breathing, thoughts will arise in you, unbidden. Don’t censor them, whatever their nature, but rather allow them all.

In accepting them, you accept yourself. If you censor emotions as they appear, they will bury themselves even deeper within you and you’ll never discover anything you didn’t know already.

If you allow everything, it may well be that you meet what is making you unhappy, but this is good.

How can you say ‘goodbye’ to it until you’ve said ‘hello’?

Rachel x

Meditations for Vatas: 4 Healing Techniques for the Wandering Mind

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Some people naturally have trouble concentrating, but Vatas especially tend to have a difficult time , I know this for a fact as it’s my primary Dosha!

Vatas have a predominance of air and space, they usually have more trouble grounding themselves than other doshas. Vatas are known to be creative, communicative, changeable, quick, and spontaneous, none of which is particularly helpful when it comes to centering.

In truth, meditation is beneficial even when you don’t think it is. The effort itself is a worthy pursuit, and eventually it does get easier. By witnessing your inner world and bringing your awareness to your thoughts, no matter how random or continuous, you are expanding your consciousness.

Even though you don’t feel completely at one with the universe from a 10-minute meditation session, doesn’t mean it’s not working. A lot of the time what you must deal with most when developing a regular practice are your own personal levels of mental overload. For those with a predominance of Vata, this can be even harder to overcome.

Here are some meditation tools that can help the busy-brained Vata.

Meditative Music or Sounds

There is an array of meditative music and nature sounds that can be found on the web these days. Often used as a sleep aid, these sounds can help calm the Vata mind. Specifically nature sounds are effective in helping you find your centre. If you’re someone who has a hard time sitting still, try filling the silence with beautiful relaxing sounds. Several different sounds can be used to aid in meditation such as chimes, chants, instrumentals, and nature. Explore these options and find one that works best for you. Any sound that puts you in a relaxed mood is good.

Colouring

Yes, you read that right, colouring! Just as this activity may have calmed you as a child, it can still help you as an adult. Colouring is especially helpful when you pair it with some of my other suggestions. For example, you could colour whilst listening to a nature soundtrack. You can colour any pictures that you want, but I recommend choosing images that incit calm and peace. Also the more detailed the picture the better. This allows your mind to get lost in what you’re doing.

Spend Silent Time in Nature

In general, you should spend as much time in nature as possible. So many benefits come from making a regular practice of being out in the natural world. When it comes to meditation, there’s really no better place. Even if you struggle with closing your eyes and stilling your thoughts with a mantra, you can use some quiet time in nature to help bring yourself to a place of peace.

Find a favorite spot, maybe near water or in an open field, or even in dense forest. If you sit still and observe, you may not need to close your eyes at all. Just be silent and experience your surroundings. This has a very calming therapeutic effect on the mind and spirit. Appreciating the beauty of creation is in effect its own form of meditation. For those whose minds typically run wild, being IN the wild as a silent observer can counteract this tendency.

Chanting

Chanting has been used since ancient times as a means of tuning into our higher selves. For some, the overactive Vata mind that keeps one from reaching their inner stillness can be quieted with sound. Similar to how you use a mantra in silence, you can chant a mantra out loud. By repeating the chant numerous times, you will eventually zone out. The repetition, much like routine within your lifestyle, can be very effective in balancing Vata. Once you become aware that you’re zoning out, that’s a good time to stop and sit in silence, allowing your mind to be in the calm.

Explore a variety of chants to find the best ones for you. Some people choose Sanskrit terms, while others use affirmations, or simply words that they wish to encourage in their consciousness. Whatever your choice, keep it light; there’s no need to place too much thought into it. Remember the chant is not the focus, so much as the place of stillness that you’re trying to reach.

With enough practice and experimentation, you too can become a powerful meditator and bring balance to your life. Don’t fight your Vata tendencies, instead use them to your advantage. Meditation is an act of letting go. Try these techniques to keep yourself from engaging with those wandering thoughts and you might just be amazed at the ease you will begin to find your centre and inner stillness.

Rachel x

How to ease anxiety with the ‘54321’ mindfulness trick.

When anxiety threatens our peace of mind, it can be difficult to stay in the moment. But one mindfulness tool has the ability to pull our brains free from anxiety by grounding us back in the present.

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The “5-4-3-2-1” tool is a simple yet highly effective method for regaining control of your mind when anxiety threatens to take over – and it consists of a little more than just counting backwards from five.

Rather, the tool helps bring us back to the present by relying on our five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

The first step encourages those suffering in a moment of anxiety to look around at their surroundings and identify five things that they can see at the moment.

Next, identify four things you can hear, three things you can feel – which can be anything from your feet in your shoes to the sun on your face, then two things you can smell.

And lastly, one thing that you can taste – which can even be your tongue as long as you can taste it.

The steps can be done quickly – and the effectiveness of the tool has been widely backed by many psychologists

The trick, which relies on sensory awareness, brings your attention to your senses grounded in the present and counting the items interrupts the spinning of your thoughts. Apart from anxiety, it can also help treat depression and relieve stress.

So the next time you are feeling anxious, focus on what you can see, feel, and touch – and ignore the insecurities that exist inside your head.

Rachel x