22nd May 2017

Getting the most out of the Deeson Wellness Fund

Melanie Richards
sunrise at sea

I recently spent the weekend at Rivendell Buddhist Retreat Centre in the Kent countryside, paid for by Deeson, using my individual wellness fund, a £250 grant awarded annually for employees to spend on improving their health and wellbeing.

In this blog, I am going to share some of my experiences.

Rivendell Retreat Centre is housed in a Victorian rectory surrounded by magnificent mature gardens and woodland, and is nothing less than spectacular, particularly in late Spring when all the flowers are in full bloom, making the setting both tranquil and idyllic. The surroundings are extremely relaxing, encouraging guests to unwind and de-stress from the pressures of work and everyday life.

I had felt some apprehension prior to going – would I know anyone, would everyone be friendly, what would I do without my mobile for two days? I was also nervous about the prospect of sharing a room with people I hadn’t met before. However, I needn’t have worried, as from the moment I walked through the huge oak doors at Rivendell, I felt a warmth and welcome from everyone – both guests and staff.

Meditation and de-stressing

On the first evening, everybody congregated downstairs for dinner and conversation – the food was mainly vegan and very tasty. Afterwards, we went into the shrine room for one of many meditations that followed throughout the weekend.

After the evening meditation, we went into silence. I hadn’t counted on this and found it quite difficult as I hadn’t done anything like it before. It felt a little odd to begin with – being in complete silence, just left to my own thoughts. I realised though, that it’s a very successful method of slowing the clock right down and creating more self-awareness.

An early start the next day for meditation in the shrine room again, gently being guided in the practice of two traditional Buddhist meditations: The Mindfulness of Breathing which helps develop a calm and focused mind, and the Metta Bhavana which encourages emotional positivity. This was followed by a mindful walk through the grounds, which was amazing.

The remainder of the weekend included lovely food, talks, discussions and walks, along with some really interesting mindful exercises that I found very beneficial, and hope to share with my colleagues at Deeson.

It felt really good to think only about me, others around me and just the here and now. No family, no dog, no work, and I guess that’s what mindfulness is all about. The weekend seemed to go by so slowly, allowing me to savour every moment, which has really benefited me spiritually and I came back very chilled and revitalised.

You don’t have to be Buddhist to go to Rivendell and there are many other retreats around, if you feel like having a breather from the world and want to get off for a while, I highly recommend it and it was an excellent way to take advantage of my company wellness fund.