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43 mindfulness course at sharpham


In our ‘We Tried That’ feature we send our reporter Steph Woolvin to try sporty, adventurous or unusual experiences that are on our doorstep. This time she put aside all the stresses of everyday life, took a deep breath, relaxed her shoulders and headed to Sharpham for a mindfulness course…


I


t seems ‘mindfulness’ is a bit of a buzzword at the moment. It is one of the fastest growing health trends in Britain and Amer- ica - it features in yoga classes, there are mindfulness apps for your phone and the NHS is rec- ommending it to people who’re stressed, anxious or depressed. If you’ve never heard of it; it’s a calming technique designed to train our brains to be in the present moment, aware of where we are and what we’re doing right now, not letting our thoughts wander or be consumed by worrying about a work meeting or planning tonight’s dinner. These focused moments can give people renewed energy and the clarity they need to con- tinue with their day. We’re told that using these techniques can, over time, help us improve our physical wellbeing and mental health. I’m someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the next thing, I’ve always been a planner and find


it hard to just relax and be ‘in the moment’. I also dislike silence, my Dad says I was like it even as a little girl! So for me this is going to be a challenge. As I drive up to Sharpham House, on the banks of the River Dart, it seems like this 550-acre estate is the perfect place to relax. There’s rolling countryside, views across the water and, apart from rustling of the leaves in the wind, it is quiet


“It can be easy to gallop through life without stop- ping to notice much and there is so much to notice.


and peaceful. The Sharpham Trust has been running mindfulness retreats here in the Grade 1-listed Georgian mansion for the past five years (but courses and retreats have been taking place elsewhere on the estate since 1982). Currently, they have one-day introductions, longer


eight/nine week courses and three to five-night retreats. My tutor for the morning is Patti Summerville, a softly spoken lady with a soothing Australian twang to her voice. We head to a high-ceilinged room with wooden eaves and large windows. “Feel free to take off your shoes and get comfortable,” Patti says. “We will start in a lying position for a 20 minute full body scan. Then we will slowly sit up for a breathing exercise which you could easily do on the bus on the way to work.” A full body scan isn’t as scary or medical as it sounds! It’s a calm- ing relaxation exercise where you take time to be more aware of the sensations coming from each part


We tried that....


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