Friday, 17 October 2014


Below are some delicious 'Super soup' recipes we had on our retreat in Tuscany….

All recipes by Natalia Otero Sancho

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

GUEST BLOG by Sunita Passi - a renowned complementary therapist, trainer and meditation expert

I recently met a very special lady called Sunita Passi who taught me a wonderfully calming and relaxing mediation.   Sunita is a leading writer and practitioner offering bespoke coaching for individuals in meditation

Feeding mind and spirit with meditation

‘In an age where people are time poor and anxiety and stress levels are rife, meditation keeps us in balance when the world around us is out of synch’ Sunita Passi, meditation expert

In today’s fast paced world, engaging in a meaningful relationship with your own mind and training it to perform optimally yields a multitude of health benefits for the body and soul. More and more seasoned individuals are recognising, as part of their well-being programme, they want to experience something different, beyond exercise, group sport and massage, a deeper experience that helps their mind disconnect and recharge, not just their body.

This is where meditation can come in. But it is all too easy to believe that meditation is a simple form of stress busting, that requires no physical workout and a bit of peace and quiet in which to breathe deeply and concentrate on ‘nothing’ in order to feel profoundly relaxed. In fact, it can be virtually impossible for the uninitiated to calm the monkey mind and the constant noise that we hear on a daily basis. It takes practise to reach a state of heightened awareness and inner peace that meditation helps us to achieve.

While different forms of meditation are practised the world over, the roots are most closely associated with the temples, caves and monastaries of the East (IndiaChinaJapan) and Near East (now termed the Middle East) where the techniques were refined by Asian monks and yogi’s, and then filtered to the layperson. But meditation also appears, though less conspicuously and in slightly different form, in the Judeo-Christian tradition as prayer. The differences appear to lie more with the goals, purposes and styles. And though meditation involves and shift from thinking and doing to just ‘being’, [in brief, could you explain the main changes of meditation from thinking and doing, to just being?] our forbears had a headstart on you and me as their lives were simpler, their thinking more rudimentary and their connection to nature and the sacred far stronger.


On the out-set you may feel: 
 More relaxed
 Less stressed
 Personal inner space
 More internal harmony at a deep level
Over time, with commitment and effort you may feel:
 A freeing of negative emotions
 Increased awareness
 More brain energy, leading to a reservoir of knowledge
 More receptive to new ideas
 A tingling sensation, leading to a more blissful state
 Eternal peace and contentment
 A growth of nobler goals to achieve in life
 You may even acquire a new vision for your life
 An awakening of joy, hence a development of your natural capacity for well-being and happiness
When is meditation right for you? 
First you need to ask, do you have a desire to: 
• Deal with stress, anxiety, tension, or even a medical problem such as insomnia or hypertension?
• Pursue a more balanced lifestyle, in order to sustain inner wellbeing and / or are you looking for help with self-regulation?
• Free up your imagination and become more creative?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of these, then meditation is right for you.

 Self help

‘The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life’ Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibetan Dzogchen lama of the Nyingma tradition.

Here are some meditations to carry out at home

Grounded meditation

Focus on the vibration of your spine (or root chakra) with the sound ‘o’ (rhymes with ‘so’), repeat this sound silently or audibly three times
  • Stand with feet about hip-width apart, arms by your side or extended out in front, palms down, eyes closed or downcast
  • Inhale
  • Exhale and gently bend your knees a few inches, inhale and straighten the knees
  • Continue slowly bending and straightening your legs in co-ordination with your long, slow, deep breaths
  • Each time you bend and straighten your legs, feel yourself becoming more grounded. Surrender to the support of Mother Earth
  • Continue for one to three minutes
  • When complete, remain standing, or if you prefer, slowly lower yourself to a comfortable seated position
  • Close or lower your eyes and focus on the following thoughts:
  • ‘I am grounded and balanced
  • I am safe and secure’

Breathe into being

1. Sit/relax comfortably with your eyes closed
2. Breathe deeply
  • Inhale and exhale a few times
  • Breathe naturally while you focus on the following idea: breath is a deep well into which we can tap, drawing forth whatever we need to bring ourselves into wholeness and balance
3. Settle into your body, and ask yourself what brings wholeness and balance to your life
  • Wait for an image or idea to arise. Be still with that vision or thought for a while
  • Observe your breath
  • Breathe and allow your mind to flow freely

4. Start to become aware of the present moment as you finish. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes