It’s great to learn Mindfulness from books or lectures, but in truth Mindfulness is an experience, and books and lectures can only point you in the right direction. Mindfulness can’t be grasped intellectually because mindfulness isn’t a theory, or a belief, or anything to do with mental gymnastics. Mindfulness is a state of being. It’s a heightened state of alert awareness that allows your mind to go quiet. Then you can rest from the constant mental chatter, your problems, worries and head dramas and get on with the really important issue of enjoying your life.
The basic principles of Mindfulness are really simple and there really isn’t much to understand. Mindfulness is all about practice and direct experience. And that is what our Summer of Love Weekends are about, we’ll teach you everything that you need to know to practice mindfulness, but more importantly you’ll get to experience mindfulness for real and live it for an extended period.
From the outset we’ll help you to achieve a deep state of mindfulness and the retreat is designed to help you maintain your mindfulness for much of the weekend. And that will teach you more about mindfulness than any book, lecture or smart phone app ever can. We have a team of really experienced mindfulness practitioners who can hold a high degree of mindfulness and they will help to keep you mindful in between the classes, teaching you mindfulness and advancing your practice to a new level.
We won’t make you dress in robes or sit facing a wall for hours, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not our style. We prefer to teach mindfulness our own way, we have a modern, plain talking approach to mindfulness, the teaching is no less profound but we want to make it accessible relaxed and fun. It is a holiday after all.
An outline of what's in store over the weekend…
Our weekend Mindfulness retreats offer a unique experience; designed to give you a rich, immersive experience of Mindfulness. Click on the tabs to get an overview of each day.
Whilst times are stated here, these may not always be spot on as we tend to flow with what is which doesn't always match up to our timings!
The retreat starts properly on Saturday morning but most of our guests prefer to arrive on Friday, it gives you a chance to settle in, relax and start to slip into a mindful state of awareness. Arrive any time after 4pm, don't worry about arriving late, there's no fixed time and we know some of you will be coming after work, we’ll have a warm welcome and a hot drink ready for you.
Get yourself settled into your accommodation, meet the others, chill out at the retreat or you can go for a mindful walk on the Thornham estate if you prefer. You’ll get the chance to meet the team and explore what it is to live mindfully and you’ll get a taste of what we’ve lined up for the weekend.
7.30pm: Dinner (a hot vegetarian meal)
9.00pm: Welcome/Introductions & Meditation
If the weather permits we’ll get the camp-fire going play some mindfulness games.
8.00am: Breakfast – Coffee, Tea, Herbal Tea, Paulette's very special porridge, fruit juice, cereal, toast, fresh fruit
10.00am: Welcome & The Basics of Mindfulness with Adrian
We’ll start with introductions and a short welcome talk. Adrian will give a talk exploring the key principles of Mindfulness. We will explore what Mindfulness really is, but most importantly we’ll do some mindfulness exercises to help give you a direct experience of thoughtless awareness for yourself. Together we’ll explore the main portals into mindful awareness and the possibilities they offer.
11.30 am Short break
12.00pm: The Way of the Body with Adrian
Mindfulness is the art of aligning mind and body. Adrian will introduce you to the mindful practice called The Way of the Body and he’ll explore how body awareness is the perfect way to bring mindful attention into your everyday life.
12.30pm: Mindful Breathing with Jason
1pm: Mindful Eating Meditation and Lunch
2.30pm: Mindful Walking with Jason
The way of the body is the perfect way to learn mindfulness, it's the approach that we really favour at the Now Project. It's really simple and is the antidote to a busy and over analytical mind. Jason will start with a mindful walking mediation exercise and then show you how through body awareness you can bring mindful attention to your balance posture and movement. This best way to bring mindfulness into everyday activities and to help you discover a richer more profound experience of your day to day life and is the perfect antidote to a busy analytical mind.
4.00pm Short break
4.30pm: School of Meditation with Paul
If you really want to understand mindfulness, We would encourage you to do ten times more meditation than you do reading. If you already have a meditation practice then mindfulness will compliment it beautifully. In fact meditation, if it has a purpose, is to bring you to a place of mindfulness. If you don't have meditation practice we would encourage you to get one. Paul will teach you some simple and more advanced meditation exercises from mindful and yogic traditions and if you were to incorporate some of these into your regular practice it will take your mindfulness to a new depth and understanding.
6.30pm: Mindful Dinner
8.00pm: Kundalini Yoga with Paul (optional)
This is not the kind of yoga you’ll learn at the gym, yoga means pathway to union and there are many different forms. These forms require a good pair of lungs but no bending or stretching and they are practised seated.
Evening round the campfire
8.00am: Mindful Movement with Jason / or Qi-Gong with John
Jason will introduce you to the art of mindful movement through his own form of dynamic meditation. A little standing meditation, some gentle exercise and mindful movement, to help wake your body and to help you to align your mind and body and connect to that mindful space of awareness. It will also get your chi energy flowing and help you be mindful of subtle energies, clear your mind and connect to nature. It's the perfect start and great preparation for the day ahead.
John joins us on a Sunday morning at our Suffolk retreats. He is a wonderful Qi-Gong teacher and will give you a taster of this beautiful practice. Qi-gong literally means ‘cultivating life energy’. It is an ancient form of meditation that involves the alignment of breath, body and mind.
10.00am: Mindfulness and Emotions Part 1 with Adrian
Adrian will explore the link between thinking and feeling and how with mindfulness it becomes possible to manage painful emotions within your body. He’ll show you how by being mindful of our emotions you can process them effectively and move from “unconscious reaction” driven by your emotions, towards “right action”, which comes from a place of calm mindful clarity.
Adrian will show you how to sit mindfully with your emotions, and explore how when you are mindful of your emotions this results in more conscious interactions with the world. You’ll discover how mindfulness allows you to create a better world within yourself and how that can be reflected in the world at large.
We’ll explore why feeling is a good thing, how it connects you to your humanity and leads to the cultivation of compassion. You’ll discover how emotions are nothing to be afraid of and how they are the vehicle to a rich fulfilled life and to realising your humanity. You’ll explore how mindfulness of emotion is ultimately the key to your higher states of awareness, your higher intelligence.
When you run from your feelings you are running from yourself, if we can help you to stop running, be still, and mindfully face yourself, then you are in for a rather pleasant surprise!
10.45am: Mindful Break
11.15am: Mindfulness and Emotions Part 2 with Adrian
1.00pm: Mindful Lunch
2.00pm: Einstein and the Buddha with Adrian
Many traditional schools of mindfulness express the importance of energy and mindful intention. Buddhist mindfulness for example will include practices such as “Loving Kindness Meditation” and encourage us to be mindful of our communications and to be compassionate and gentle in our interaction with others. The wisdom is simple, if you put out an energy of loving kindness and you tread gently in the world and act with true compassion, then you put a different energy onto the world and the world starts to reflect that back. If you are happy and nice to people, they tend to be pleased to see you and they are usually nice back, and so your experience of the world changes – you have changed the world with energy and intention.
Central to this wisdom is an understanding of energy and the nature of reality. Every culture and tradition in the world has an understanding of our life force, an inner energy field of the body. In China they call it Chi energy, in Japan Ki, and in India it’s called Prana. Scientists are telling us, what the ancient masters knew many thousands of years ago, that when you explore physical reality at its most fundamental level, the atomic level, then you discover that there is pretty much nothing there at all. The atom is tiny specks of matter, that are held together in a vibrating field of infinite nothingness. Physicists call it the “quantum field” Taoists call it “the Tao”, and in India they might call it “The web of illusion” and Buddha simply called it “emptiness”.
Adrian will introduce you to the world within, the energetic universe. They will help you find your inner space and show you how through mindfulness you can develop awareness of the energy field of your body. This can bring a profound experience of contentedness and a shift of understanding that opens up infinite possibilities for deepening awareness, self healing and ultimately influencing and bringing about the change in the material world.
2.45am: Mindful Break
3.00pm: Option 1 – Emotional Clearing Meditation with Adrian
The Emotional Clearing session for many of our regular guests it is the highlight of the weekend. Based upon the work of the American psychiatrist and Vedic master John Ruskan, the Emotional Clearing meditation is by far the most powerful meditation practice that we’ve found for freeing and releasing past emotional pain. In the east they call this practice karma yoga. It can have a profound effect, resulting in cathartic releases of trapped emotion and leave you feeling deeply anchored in awareness.
Option 2 – Meditation with Barry / Marta
A gentle guided meditation practice to take you deeper.
4.15pm: Thank you, good byes and where now?
Adrian will explore how you can take your mindfulness home with you, how to make mindfulness part of your life and spread your new found awareness to others. He will introduce you to the wider work of The Now Project and the support we can provide and introduce you to our little community and the part we play in the international Mindfulness Movement towards a loving compassionate world.
4.30pm: Retreat End
Some of the lovely things our guests say about the weekends…
“Thanks for a wonderful weekend. Beautiful people and a beautiful setting. Everything was a highlight, even the quiet moments of nothing! Love to you all xxx” Julia
“Brothers, Sisters: You guys have changed my life, and this daft grin on my face (that refuses to go away) is all thanks to you! Love and light your way, every way, always.” Natalie
“Hi everyone Thanks for a wonderful weekend full of challenge, laughter and enlightenment.” Amanda
“We had a fantastic weekend. Thank you so so much for sharing so much with us.” Ellen
“Great weekend, thanks guys” Stephen
“Thanks a million to you and your enlightened, caring team for a truly uplifting experience. From start to finish the weekend was an adventure and quest to live in the “now”. It’s Monday morning and I feel so alive, all my senses are turbo charged. The retreat weekend does more than it says on the tin. The welcome, location, fun, food, friendships, challenges, exercises etc etc make you come alive and I celebrate a new beginning.” Gerry
"A huge thank you to you, Paul, Jason, Sophie and Brad for a fantastic weekend. Thank you for helping me on Sunday morning, I really appreciated it, you have made a big difference to my life. Looking forward to hearing details of the Winter retreats." Jeanette
"I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I absolutely loved it – the people, the food, the teachings, the practice, the peace…I have been so chilled out and mindful ever since! Thank you" Helen
"I came to your retreat at the weekend with a simple expectation…..to relax and find some head space. OMG!! I have been truly blown away by my experience. I CAN ACTUALLY FEEL AGAIN. How amazing is that:-) every single one of the orange tshirt gang helped me in one way or another. I’ve never felt so comfortable in a group of strangers, and NOW I feel comfortable in myself. Thank you sooooo much. See you all soon." Jean
"Thank you for an amazing weekend. I can’t stop thinking about how inspiring it was and everyone was. My life has changed for the better, I already feel like a different person. Truly perfect!" Kirsty
"So…It’s unlike me to post something as earnest as this but it’s been a week now since I went on a meditation retreat run by the guys at the Now Project and I can honestly say it was the best £200 I’ve ever spent. This is not a sponsored post and I’m still the tax paying Tory-voting science geek I’ve always been but the effects have been so profound I had to share my experience.
At work, I’ve found myself smiling at the sort of minor nonsense that a week ago would have angered me to the point of ruining my day. I’m getting more stuff done and I can just feel that I’m a happier and possibly nicer person to be around.
Anyone remotely interested in bullet proofing their minds to stress get involved on one of their intro evening courses at Portland Place, or better still go to a retreat. Meditation is an ancient practise that is fundamental to yoga and Buddhist philosophy but there’s nothing religious or New Age about these guys all the techniques they teach you can do while sitting down in a chair and they’re all backed by clinical studies that have shown how beneficial meditation is. However, there is one thing weird about them, they are all seasoned meditators and they’re quite literally OFF THEIR TITS on happiness. Which is something you don’t often see in human beings beyond the age of 4.
Anyway, I’m rambling on. I’m looking to attend one of the six week evening courses starting mid October. If anyone wants to join me let me know. It’s not “some bloody hippy free for all”*. It’s great and it’s too good not to shout about. Michael
I have noticed changes to myself being alot more happier than ever, letting this go more than before, and even other people noticing my happier being, they have been asking what's happened and I've told them, my best weekend i've had in years at the retreat and they should go!
The Now Project Retreats are set in the most perfect location
Surrounded by woodland it is immersed in nature and outside is the lawn and purpose built fire pit. Be sure to say hello the Green Man chainsaw carvings in the benches.
For the Summer retreats we have 2 choices…
The Log Cabins
These cosy cabin are joined to the kitchen and dining area. The bedrooms are basic but they are clean warm and cozy. Each room has private wash facilities and sleeps two in a purpose built in bunk-bed. If you come as a couple you can have a room to yourselves, if you come on your own then we'll find you someone to share with, same sex, sorry. And please don't fight over the top bunk!
There is full wheel chair access and everything is on ground level.
Join us in the garden to sleep under the stars (well under canvas!) Bring your own tent and pick your pitch. You will still have access to the main building for showers and toilets.
There a few B&B's around the local area. A couple of suggestions to consider:
The Four Hourseshoes Inn – www.thefourhorseshoes.net
The White Horse Inn – www.whitehorse-suffolk.co.uk
There is plenty of space to chill-out around the site. There are plenty of newly refurbished showers, toilets and a wet room for use for all guests.
The Now Project Mindfulness Retreat venue nestles within the fabulous Thornham Magna Estate, in mid Suffolk. It is immersed in nature, there is no sound of human activity at all, no traffic, just woodland, forest animals, bird song and the sounds of nature.
The ancient woodland collaborates in our work and just by sitting quietly you can feel the stress of the city, worries, problems and all that head stuff simply dissolving as nature begins it’s work. Switch off your phone and your gadgets and unplug from the madness and let nature bring you home, back to yourself, back to the source. Blessed with miles of parkland, free open spaces, wildlife, ancient woodland and one of the finest arboretums in the country, it's is the perfect get away and the ideal environment for you to discover the simple joys of mindful living.
It’s about 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from London and 1 hour 20 minutes by train to the nearest station and if you ask nicely we can probably arrange a lift from the station.
How to get there:
Full address for Google Maps / Sat Nav:
The Suffolk Cabins Red House Yard Gislingham Road Thornham Magna IP23 8HH
The Retreat is approximately an 1 hour 40 minutes drive from London (according to google maps.)
The Retreat is about 10 miles from Diss Station which is on the main line from London Liverpool Street to Norwich (Approx. 1 hour 20 minutes) Trains run half hourly from London. We will provide transport to the retreat centre from Stowmarket station to guests arriving at approx. 4pm & 6pm. If you cannot make these times there is a cab office in the car park of the station. Discounted train tickets can be purchased in advance from Trainline.com
All meals are included and mindful eating is a really important part of your mindfulness training.
We don't insist that you are vegetarian and some of our teachers will openly confess that they eat meat, but vegetarian food lends it's self this kind of work; we want you to get the most from your retreat experience, so all meals are vegetarian (Vegan options also available). When you practice mindfulness meal times can become an important part of your practice, each mouth full can be a meditation and you'll discover a far greater appreciation of everything you eat.
Meals are prepared from fresh produce with loving mindful attention which an essential ingredient and an important but often overlooked aspect of it's nutrition. We'll be announcing our Summer menu soon, but expect our usual high standard of lovingly prepared food.
We'll also provide fresh fruit, snacks, and as much tea and coffee as you want, but if you could mindfully make it yourself, it would be helpful.
Poulstone Health Education Centre
Poulstone Court is a charming Victorian country house that dates back over 450 years. It is in the heart of the beautiful Hereford countryside and is a dedicated retreat centre. Poulstone Court is set in the Wye Valley and straddles the border between England and Wales.
The house includes a meditation room with floor to ceiling windows with spectacular views of the countryside, there is a library room with sofas and chairs for chilling out. There's also a barn with oak beams perfect for bodywork and yoga. The house sits within beautiful gardens which include an old tennis lawn, a walled garden, a stone sitting circle, a stand of beautiful old beech trees, an orchard, a fire pit and a giant Wellingtonia tree.
The amazing energy of this place is what really drew us in, the owners have a passionate interest in transformation, spiritual development and living consciously, the perfect fit for us at The Now Project.
What a mindful experience this will be!
For more info on Poulstone court visit www.poulstone.com
The house can sleep 34 people. There are 10 bedrooms in the house mainly comprising of twin rooms and large four bedded rooms. One single room is available.
The house has six bathrooms, four with shower hoses and an additional four separate shower rooms. All the rooms are spacious, retaining much of their original character with lovely views onto the gardens and fields beyond.
We also have room for up to 15 guests camping within the grounds.
The Poulstone Court team will be catering for us…
Poulstone is developing its own philosophy on food. The food should satisfy all our senses, it must taste good, look good, feel good, sound good and smell good. Wherever possible, the food will be organic, locally sourced, dishes made from natural ingredients free of processed products, cooked and served with sanctity.
Breakfast is self service with cereals, muesli, dried fruit, yoghurt, toast and spreads, orange juice, tea, herbal teas and coffee.
Lunch is homemade soup or a hot savoury dish with delicious salad combinations and dressings. Dinner is a substantial main course with dessert.
We can cater for most special diets and do our utmost to offer a delicious alternative for those on restricted diets who attend our courses and retreats.
If you have any special dietary requirements please notify us as soon as possible to give us enough time to ensure you will be catered for.