I quickly said goodbye to the week, jumped in my car and headed to the meditation retreat, singing (a rather smug) ‘have a lovely weekend’ to people as I went.
Arriving at the retreat
To get to High Trenhouse, a stone’s throw from Malham Tarn, I drove down twisted lanes and through beautiful countryside. In my eagerness to reach relaxation state as quickly as possible, I suddenly realised that I was lost, at sundown, with no signal. All part of the package of course – some last-minute stress would make me appreciate the haven I was about to arrive at even more!
On arrival, after I had gathered my bearings, I was greeted and shown to my room. Though a little late for the first session of yoga Nidra, up next was a wonderful vegetarian banquet, with kind and comfortable company – not bad as I had travelled alone and met very few of my fellow roomies before. This surely has to be the first benefit, being surrounded by like-minded and welcoming people.
Mantra transmission meditation
This first session had the hard task of peeling me off the ceiling after my first week back at work, as a supply teacher, in Reception, after maternity leave (phew.) I am pleased to report for me and my fellow campers it did just that. Led by Shahida I was ooommm’d very quickly back down to earth. This meditation consisted of the group sitting in a circle with a handful of people invited to sit in the middle. We were instructed to Om, where both the o and m sounds are held and elongated. The individuals in the middle were to receive the Om. Now, my initial feelings were uncomfortable, uneasy and ‘seriously what on earth does this look like.’ With no exaggeration, after my first Om I was sold and with each drawing of breath they got louder and stronger and were chanted to my own rhythm without any inhabitation. I preferred delivering the Om rather than receiving it and found that the act of mantra helped me to focus on nothing but that. There was a great release in evacuating the voice in a comfortable and safe space. I will certainly be taking the benefits of mantra home, even if I do save it for just me and the cat!
Be just selfish enough to insist on what is spiritually important to you.
Early morning energy routine
Our early morning yoga routine was to start at 7.30 am each day. An early rise and relaxation are not usually things that go hand in hand in my book and on the second day I did take advantage of a little lie in. The ethos of the weekend supported me to do this, which was listen to your bodies and do what makes you comfortable. The early morning yoga did exactly what is said on the tin, energised and focused a sleepy mind and was as good as any caffeinated pick me up. The session started with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, a meridian therapy, where fingertips are used to tap on key meridians in order to free negative energy. We made figure of eight shapes with our arms focusing on areas of the body that needed strengthening. This move was based on the idea that all of our energy systems are made up of a figure of eight and in doing this exercise we were supporting these systems. The session incorporated Thai chi moves to wake up energy, sun salutation’s and closed with breathing, grounding and thanks.
To be yourself in a world that at is consistently trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Daily yoga sessions
From exploring balance to strengthening personal power, aligning ourselves and clearing out the clutter Marilyn’s yoga sessions were varied and fulfilling. Her knowledge is deep and her ability to transmit and share makes for a wonderful learning experience. I benefited a great deal from these sessions, developing simple approaches to a more fulfilling practice. These workshops taught me to slow down and to not rush to a destination, whether this be a yoga move or getting myself to a yoga and meditation retreat! I learnt to constructively rest between moves, to give my body a chance to respond to each activity, reset and benefit from the exercise. Again something that would be of use in everyday terms, resting, reflecting and soaking up events and activities allowing them to impact and settle into our souls. One of these sessions ended with a silent and mindful walk around the grounds, a simple moment to explore where we were. By doing this I became aware of the basic opportunities we take for granted in everyday life. Without the instruction I would not have explored the beautiful grounds in such detail, causing me to consider ‘how many of life’s small pleasures do I miss everyday?’ Throughout these sessions Marilyn discussed thoughts and feelings asking us to consider how our minds and bodies were doing and to ‘welcome guests in,’ ‘just letting thoughts be.’ This element of the practice made me feel whole. Our minds and bodies are not separate entities but all part of one marvelous machine, to work on strengthening the body and the mind made for a great feeling of nourishment and wellbeing.
Throughout the weekend breathing took centre stage – of course it did this is what keeps us alive! So powerful yet something we rarely stop to acknowledge. Breathing mindfully is an activity that is easily incorporated into daily life and where much yoga and meditation practice begins and ends.
Tibetan singing bowls meditation
This session was extremely interesting and was driven by the sound of singing bowls. The meditation took place in late evening, we lay on the floor, snuggled under blankets. To start the meditation Joanne grounded us with her kind and soothing voice that was like soup in a mug on an ice-cold winters day. The singing bowls began to ring, delivering a beautifully mysterious sound, which I followed inquisitively until the last vibrations petered off. Prior to the weekend I had been used to guided meditation only and found the open nature of the singing bowls difficult, with my pesky brain getting a little busy towards the end. I did however, embrace the ethos of the weekend and just let it be.
More than a massage
Between sessions there were opportunities to walk, rest or have a soothing wellbeing massage – this is what I opted for. Joanne carried out the treatment, which was deliciously relaxing and filled to the brim with love and care. Mindful breaths, singing bowls and massage strokes of just the right pressure took me to a place of ultimate relaxation and just made me feel looked after.
My experience of the meditation retreat
At the risk of sounding cliché the meditation and yoga retreat provided a journey of learning and discovery with the main subject matter being me! Having two days with open, kind and understanding people created a safe space for me to think, take stock and reflect. All this made much easier by going away and leaving the jobs list, at home, on the fridge. I did exactly as I wanted for the weekend, I attended the sessions I wanted to, left others when I felt ready, lay how I wanted to and experienced things in my own way. The meditation and yoga retreat has left me feeling empowered to be able to do this in my daily life. Each individual took their own unique experiences away with them but I am certain that everyone in attendance will acknowledge love and friendship as being a highlight of the retreat.
Yoga and meditation retreat take away tips
Here I share the top five daily do’s as inspired by the meditation retreat and Marilyn at Marilyn Yoga:
Wake up well – before reaching for your phone, the to do list or a very strong coffee in the morning take a moment, or fifteen to yourself to wake up with energy. Carry out some simple tapping exercises, stretches, mindful breathing and remind yourself of what’s important – your feet on the floor in that moment.
Breathe Mindfully – breathing is important, it keeps us alive. Put aside five minutes a day to sit, put your feet on the floor and acknowledge your breath, breathing mindfully and purposefully. Reassure yourself by feeling the solid ground under your feet.
Choose you – Listen to your body and your mind and do things that make you comfortable. If your body is telling you that it is tired, rest. If your mind is telling you that it wants some peace and quiet, find some. Try and put your own needs first and respond to them without judgement from a busy world.
An Om a day – The felling of release from chanting Om is fantastic, close the door, open your lungs and release. The sound doesn’t necessarily need to be an Om, a mindful hum will also do the trick.
Eat well – The body and mind are one entity, look after the body and the mind will follow. Eat sensible portion sizes, chew and take the time to enjoy what nourishes you from the inside out.
Let my love, like sunlight, surround you and yet give you illuminated freedom.
Meditation, yoga and wellbeing opportunities
Thanks to Marilyn, Shahida and Joanne for leading a weekend of rest and rejuvenation and for sharing such wonderful workshops and teachings.
For more information about Marilyn’s weekly sessions, monthly workshops, courses, retreats and much more visit her website here
Joanne is qualified in a diversity of massage techniques, from Swedish massage to deep tissue and Indian head massage. Joanne uses her varied approaches to tailor her treatments to each individuals wellbeing needs – they are truly amazing! Joanne and her partner Simon manage the space Ashram in the Attic, in Uppermill, providing a variety of workshops from Yoga Nidra relaxation classes to Shamanic Circle’s. Find all the details on their facebook page
Shahida runs Mantra Transmission and Meditation Circles and offers 1:1 Mantra therapy sessions in the Huddersfield and Oldham area. for more information, testimonials and to contact Shahida visit her facebook page.
High Trenhouse is a superb venue, with fantastic staff, food and facilities including a sauna and ensuite bedrooms. They cater for everything from meditation and yoga retreats to training for business’ for more information visit their website here.