Retreat Announcement

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2 Night Relax & Replenish Retreat Friday 25th January – Sunday 27th January 2019 costs from £460.00pp.

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 5pm

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 please call Champneys on 0843 5611 943.

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

Why You Should Try Loving-Kindness Meditation

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Loving-kindness meditation, also known as metta bhavana, is a method of developing compassion, disciplining negative thinking and balancing and harmonising wandering minds. Buddhists and Taoists have used it for centuries and believe that it enables them to achieve a powerful alignment with the universal flow of energy and love known as ‘qi’’. It can be adapted and practiced by anyone, however, regardless of religious beliefs.

The aim is to feel and emanate a pure, unconditional and inclusive love, one of wisdom with no terms or restrictions. It doesn’t depend on whether someone deserves it or not, nor is it confined to family and friends, and there are no expectations of gaining something in return. It is a meditation of care, concern and tenderness – a feeling of warmth for ourselves and others. The practice softens the mind and heart, opening us up to a deeper level of kindness, and breaks down our internal and external barriers.

We have to begin by loving ourselves, because without having experienced this unconditional love and acceptance on a personal level it will be difficult to extend it to others. From this point, we can then include those who are special to us and eventually all living things. Over time, the visualisation and meditation blend into the actual experience – the feeling of loving-kindness.

Take a comfortable and relaxed posture and bring your focus to the solar plexus (your chest area). Breathe in and out from the heart centre and anchor your mindfulness on the sensations coming from there. Recognise any areas of mental blockage, numbness, self-judgement or self-hatred and try to generate a kind feeling toward yourself. As you keep breathing in and out, repeat affirming phrases, such as ‘may I be happy’ and ‘may I be healthy and strong’, either in your head or out loud. Choose five that resonate most strongly with you, and after saying each one several times, move on to someone in your life who invites the feeling of pure unconditional loving-kindness (usually a partner or close relative). Repeat the phrases you used for yourself for this person (e.g. ‘may she be safe and protected’) while continuing to breathe from your heart centre.

Next, do this exercise for someone neutral whom you neither strongly like or dislike followed by a person you have difficulties with and who generates hostile feelings and resentment within you. This will no doubt be the hardest part of the meditation, but you will be surprised how much better you feel once you start directing positivity toward them. If negativity starts to arise, return to your first person of choice and let the loving-kindness flood back then try again. Practising this on a daily basis will bring you great benefits, both on a personal level and in your relationships, and should help you to cultivate a compassionate and loving mindset in work, rest and play.

Rachel x

How to Do a Body Scan Meditation

One of the best ways you can become more aware of your body is by doing a body scan meditation. The whole goal of this meditation is to focus on one part of the body at a time and tune into how it feels without trying to change it.

Completing a body scan can help you identify any physical pain or sensations you may be feeling and any links between those physical feelings and your emotions. It can serve as a valuable regular practice that can help you discover ways to work through any stress, anxiety, tension or other physical pain in the body.

Step-By-Step Process

Like all forms of meditation, a body scan is meant to be simple. Here are 11 steps to help you successfully complete a full body scan meditation.

1: Lie down or sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be interrupted.

2: Start by bringing your awareness to your breathing. Take three deep breaths as you mindfully tune into your thoughts and emotions, observing them as they flow freely.

3: Choose to start your body scan either at the top of your head or the tip of your toes. You’ll work down or up from there.

4: As you place your awareness on that body part, tune into what you feel there. You may feel pain, aching, itchiness, tingling, firmness, lightness, heaviness, warmth, coldness, or possibly even nothing.

5: Once you’re aware of what you physically feel in that area, expand your awareness to see if it also triggers your emotional state (a positive feeling, a negative feeling, or a neutral feeling).

6: Now bring your awareness back your breath and feel it reach down through your entire body as you breathe in, then exhale as you let go of any tension in the body part you just focused on.

7: Remember not to try and control anything — just let those physical and emotional feelings be as they are.

8: Move up or down to the next body part. If you started from your toes, you’d move to the soles of your feet. If you started from the top of your head, you’d move to your ears or your forehead.

9: Repeat steps 4 to 7 as you move through each individual body part.

10: Take as little as five minutes or as long as 45 minutes to go through each part of your body.

11: When finished, take a minute or so to just be aware and feel your entire body as whole, relaxed, and loved — even if you still feel any discomfort in some areas.

This is the perfect meditation practice when you’re just waking up in the morning or lying down at night to go to bed. A morning body scan will help you feel more present and in tune with your body throughout the day while a night time body scan will help you relax more effectively so you can drift off to sleep.

Try it for yourself. You’ll be surprised just how healing such a simple practice can be!

Rachel x

Retreat Announcement

I am very pleased to announce that I will be hosting my first retreat at Champneys Forest Mere! Champneys-Forest-Mere-Spa-Interior-Design-water-beds

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.  

 

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

A Beginners Guide To Meditation

Meditation has proven health benefits and has been shown to reduce addictive behaviour and improve your relationship with yourself and others. Many of us struggle to find the time or motivation to meditate, but this need not be the case. It can be done any time and anywhere.  

 

FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH

The moment you move your attention from your thoughts to your breath you have started meditating. Begin to feel your breathing by observing the sensations that arise in the nostrils, chest, diaphragm or abdomen as you inhale and exhale. Your breathing is always available for you to use as a meditation, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

OBSERVE SENSATIONS

As well as being aware of the feelings you experience as you breathe begin to notice other sensations that arise. Take a little journey around the body, making sure to cover every part. What can you feel in each area? You may feel hot or cold, tension, aches, tingling, perspiration or heaviness. The list is endless. But try not to label any sensations that you find; simply observing them is good enough.

DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING TO HAPPEN

Meditation is the opposite of excitement. When we are excited we are anticipating something in the future. When we meditate we are simply being in the present moment, here and now. Do not expect some flash of insight or transcendental moment of enlightenment. Simply be with the sensations that are arising for you now. Stop searching for anything.

DO NOT JUDGE THE SENSATIONS

Accept every sensation that arises anywhere in your body with equanimity; no sensation is good or bad. If we judge our sensations then we will begin to crave those sensations that we label ‘good’ or generate aversion towards ‘bad’ or ‘painful’ sensations.

DO NOT REACT

Allow aches and pains to be there and move your attention to observe another part of the body. You may even find that some time later that ‘unbearable’ sensation has completely disappeared.

STOP LISTENING TO YOUR THOUGHTS

People say “I can’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking”. Want to know a secret? Nobody can. Every time you notice that you have stopped meditating and are thinking again, move your attention away from thought into feeling breathing sensations in the body. You have started meditating again. You’ll probably need to do this many times in just a few minutes.

START LOVING YOURSELF

As you spend more and more time observing bodily sensations, you’ll begin to notice which thoughts cause you to feel negative, unpleasant sensations in the body. Start turning angry or hurtful thoughts into loving thoughts and feel the difference these make in your body.

SET A TIMER

Once you start to see the benefits that meditating brings to your life, start making more time to do it. Set a timer (for ten minutes initially) and do not stop your meditation until the buzzer rings. Of course there will be times during the ten minutes when you will go off into the world of thought, but that’s okay. Every time you notice you are thinking, move your awareness away from thought and back into the body.

The more you practise meditating, the more able you will be to resist the temptation to listen to your own mind’s endless chattering.

Rachel x