Verity Woodgate, is a qualified mindfulness teacher who hosts a series of workshops at Summer Lodge, in the heart of the Dorset countryside. These all-day retreat experiences include a combination of workshops, as well as a mindfulness walk in the gardens and a two-course lunch of locally sourced, healthy and seasonal cuisine.
We asked Verity more about her practise and the benefits of meditation.
What is mindfulness and how do we practice it?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation in which you focus on being completely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves focused breathing techniques, guided meditations or focusing on sounds to bring relaxation to the body and mind.
What first interested you in becoming a mindfulness teacher?
My love of mindfulness first developed over ten years ago, which began as a way of coping with a fast-paced life in London. Recognising that I needed to find ways of winding down and relaxing, I started to explore mindful meditation techniques. Over time and with consistent practice, these became a way of life and an effective way of feeling calm, centred and balanced. I felt drawn to share these practices with others and create an environment where people can have a calm space to develop, exploring a range of techniques and learning how to apply the benefits of mindfulness to their own lives.
How do you learn to practise mindfulness?
The beauty of mindfulness is not only its simplicity but how accessible it can be in times of stress. A simple ten-minute exercise can make a world of difference. Creating a routine that you can stick to, knowing when you’re less likely to be interrupted and then making it part of your routine is key. This could be incorporating a wind-down meditation like a ‘body scan’ before bed, helping give you a more restful night’s sleep or practicing mindful walks and giving your full attention to what you can see and hear.
What is the relationship between mindfulness and meditation?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation. Meditation means ‘to concentrate’ and is used as a way of training attention and creating mental discipline, which in turn brings a sense of calm and emotional stability. Mindfulness meditation is centred on cultivating awareness of the senses by deliberately concentrating on sensations like what you can see, hear, taste, smell or feel depending on the exercise or meditation. Through this method you are generating a sense of wellbeing and relaxation that is associated with meditation.
Why do you think people are so interested in mindfulness at the moment?
Our lives are often incredibly busy and with so much technology at our fingertips, truly being able to ‘switch off’ can be a struggle. Mindfulness has become a recognised form of boosting mental and emotional wellbeing, helping us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings and be more in tune with ourselves and when we need to take a step back.
Where is best to practise mindfulness?
Using nature and natural surroundings is a great way to practice mindfulness and the tranquil gardens at Summer Lodge lend themselves perfectly to creating meditations that are both rejuvenating and restorative. Taking a mindful walk around the beautiful grounds, followed by a sound meditation using the soothing sounds of the water fountain, creates the ideal atmosphere to experience mindfulness.
Tell us about the Summer Lodge Mindfulness retreat?
The Summer Lodge mindfulness retreat is for anyone who would like to deepen their awareness of mindfulness, whilst experiencing the unique and luxurious setting that the hotel has to offer. Refreshments and a light lunch are included, using the best locally sourced ingredients.
Is there anything else you would like to share about the benefits of mindfulness?
A little mindfulness goes a long way. Having a mindfulness practice doesn’t take a lot of time, but patience and consistency are needed to really experience the full benefits. Many studies have shown that regular meditators are happier and more contented on average, helping them to sustain better health and quality of life. Whilst mindfulness isn’t a ‘cure all’, it helps to alleviate the daily stresses of life, helping create a feeling of connectedness and meaning to our experiences that could be easily missed if we allow ourselves to become too distracted by our thoughts.
Verity's next retreat day will be hosted on 4th December, priced at £75 per person. Please click here for more information and booking.