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All the fun of the festival! Rain or shine... from medieval to modern day eco-fests

Power to the people Internet brings defiant edge to news-sharing & exposing injustice

Beach melba A cocktail of UK beaches to suit every mood

Awesome rawsome Raw food diet to pamper the palate & rejuvinate the body

Issue No. 5 Summer 2010 ÂŁ3.40

Enjoy your digital sample of Inspired Times Magazine. Environment Eco Travel Communities Spirituality Holistic Health

If you would like to have the full magazine delivered to your doorstep, please do support us and subscribe online here. We are a small team working extremely hard to produce this uplifiting publication and really appreciate your support. Thank you. creative • informative • uplifting

Page 34 woodland management uncovered!

Unit 19, The Coach House 2 Upper York Street Bristol BS2 8QN 0117 924 0901 Magazine Coordinator/Editor: Sharon Henshall Sub-Editor/Webmaster: Luke Bell Production Editor: Teresa Ryan Cover Image: Elise Malay


FEATURES 4 Course Fishing...

34 Can We See the Trees for

12 Winter’s Deep Sleep

Sharon Henshall highlights some wild and wonderful courses and workshops to go on the 2011 calendar. Sacha Knop shares some seasonal inspiration and highlights nature’s teachings during this time of hibernation.

24 Go Mild in the Country Advertising: Sharon Henshall No part of this magazine can be reproduced without consent. All rights reserved. No responsibility will be accepted for errors or omissions, or comments made by writers or interviewees. © Inspired Times. ISSN 2041-0786. Printed by The Print Co. Printed using vegetable inks, on Greencoat Offset 100% Recycled paper, supplied by Howard Smith Papers.

Discover a diverse array of eco and holistic gifts to give your loved-ones.

REGULARS 2 Welcome 3 Have your say 8 Spirituality

29 Gardening

Inspiring stories from around the globe.

14 Holistic Health Oil to take the dryness out of winter, Tai Chi to aid the unification of body and soul, the power of chanting and much more!

20 Creative Expression

Charlotte Chapman explores creativity in the countryside, storytelling for young and old, and sets up her own sewing class.

22 UK Getaways

The Greenhouse project in Leeds has transformed a derelict hostel into stylish eco-homes for urban green living.

32 Eco-news

Check out some of the latest green projects, events and stories.

38 Parenting

Acupressure techniques are helping to ease the pain of childbirth.

40 Events

An enlightening yoga retreat in the Kabac Valley and a Swedish eco ice-hotel.

28 Communities

We preview the next UK AWARE exhibition and have 50 free tickets up for grabs!

44 Recipe of the Season

Camping on the rails in Devon and an insight into Scottish winter delights.

26 European Escapes

Ethically sourced seeds, homes for our feathered friends and organopónicos.

30 Environment

Paulo Coelho is inspired by a humble pianist in an unusual location.

10 Inspiring Tales

Subscriptions: (full details pg 47)

Jo Middleton encourages us to celebrate all types of love this Valentine’s day.

42 Green Loved-up Gifts

Tracey Davies takes a family break at the delightful Alde Garden in Suffolk.

Writers/Contributors: Luke Bell/Sharon Henshall Charlotte Chapman/John Smith Paulo Coelho/Lila Conway Tracey Davies/Louise Benson James Amy Jordan/Sioned Bannister Jason McCarthy/Vanessa Rainbow Rosemarie Sellers/Jo Middleton Fiona Longsdon/Sacha Knop Martin Maudsley/Durwin Banks Camila Carlow/Deasy/Kate Simants

Luke Bell steps out of the city to explore sustainable woodland management, discovering the potential of wood as an accessible replacement for fossil fuels.

41 Love, Sweet Love

the Wood?

A look at Otesha UK, eco-education on two wheels + the Art & Soul Traders’ murals.

Keep warm with a tasty vegetable biryani, spicing away those sniffles!

46 Classifieds 48 Inspiring Individuals

With International Women’s Day around the corner, we shine the spotlight on the incredible story of Immaculée Ilibagiza.

inspired times issue 7 winter 2010/11



spreading the spirit of inspired times Frosty mornings, snowmen and woolly socks are some of the more appealing features of the winter months! However, the short days, freezing temperatures and scarcity of finances are less fun, but they are all more likely to tip us towards hibernation and down-time. Mid-winter is the ideal point to catch our breath and simplify our lives. With the new year to focus on change and fresh perspectives, what better time to give ourselves some space and loving care? As the Inspired Times team grows and shifts, we head into 2011 with vigour and passion in search of new opportunities and inspiration. The support of our loyal readers has been wonderful on this challenging journey and we hope you keep with us and enjoy the end product of our collective efforts. Many hours of love and attention bring about each issue. We’ll soon complete our second year of publishing and it’s rewarding to continue receiving emails telling us of the many positive projects, stories and inspirational individuals out there. This issue’s front cover reflects the gentle beauty of winter, something that’s not always easy to remember when

we’re heading to and from work in the dark. Our pages are set to uplift, with tips on how to benefit from deep sleep, nourish our kidneys and discover a fabulous array of workshops and courses. We’re discussing the importance of sustainable woodland management, plus a whole host of topical eco-stories, community projects, creative initiatives and much more. Our Inspired Times team will attend UK AWARE in March, held at Kensington Olympia, London. There are free tickets up for grabs for Inspired Times readers (see pg 40). We would love to see you there - stop by our stand and say hello! Enjoy the read and we wish you all a joyful year ahead.

Sharon Henshall

(Magazine Coordinator/Editor)

Luke Bell

Sacha Knop

Luke is Inspired Times’ subeditor, writer and all round web guru. He has been with Sharon from the start of the Inspired Times dream and, before that, helped to develop our sister publication, Backpax Magazine.

Sacha believes that once we know and understand who we are and how things work for us, we can feel our deepest, most loving source, which is often the experience of a lifetime. Sacha used to be a mathematician and says, “Years of maths has given me the logical way of thinking that I now use in the deeply spiritual but grounded work that I do.”

Luke has a real passion for the written word and loves getting stuck into a gritty subject and offering his perspective on the debate. With a Masters degree in History & Philosophy of Science under his belt, Luke has always been driven to tackle the deeper questions in life. His love of writing has entailed some interesting projects outside of Inspired Times. Screen-writing achievements have included two short films, The Present Universe and Time to Change, the first of which boasted ‘Age of Stupid’ star Pete Postlethwaite in the leading role.


A keen surfer and lover of the outdoors, Luke likes to keep himself reasonably fit and healthy, but also has a secret desire to be a permanent beach bum. His ultimate ambition is to live by the sea in a self-sufficient beach-house with his fiancée Laura, writing fiction for a living and surfing the waves in his spare time. His recent launch of an online jewellery store with Laura also keeps him busy. www.the

inspired times issue 7 winter 2010/11

With 16 years experience in daily meditation practice - 12 of

which as a teacher, reading the hearts and souls of people from all over the globe - she’s now an expert on deep relaxation, inner peace and the soul. Sacha gives talks and interviews and writes about the deep insights that the inspiring ‘soul work’ gives her. She’s recently given expert advice to RED magazine on meditation and has presented her deeply relaxing work backstage at the 2010 MOBO awards, personally speaking to stars like JLS and Jermaine Jackson about the need for relaxation. Sacha is available for personal face-to-face and distant soul readings, coaching and hypnotherapy in Glastonbury, Bristol and London. Please visit her website:

have your


If there is anything you’d like to tell us about; thoughts on life, fun events, hobbies etc., please email us:

fruits of our labour Encouraging the average student to sow, grow, harvest and cook their own produce is a daunting challenge, particularly when the local kebab shop is so convenient. Despite this, the catering services at Oxford Brookes University, in conjunction with the student body, have designed and created ‘student allotments’, working in harmony with the existing sustainability initiative of the University. I got involved in the project when I saw a leaflet at my campus for the Brookes Kitchen Garden. My passion for gardening began with a small vegetable plot in my garden when I was but a toddling six year old with a plastic trowel, and has been in existence ever since. The Brookes project is designed to provide students with an environment to produce their own fruit and veg, on individual or group plots. We’ve created a gardening community, collectively utilising the varied knowledge, experience and skills of all growers, with the shared view of generating a self-sustaining, eco-friendly and creatively-inspiring slice of Eden at the Wheatley Campus. The finished horticultural enclosure consists of 12 flat beds and 12 raised plots, sitting alongside cold frames for winter sowing, a composting area and tool shed. The plots have been fertilised using Carbon Gold, a new ‘Biochar’, which acts as a soil supplement with the added ability to capture the carbon dioxide absorbed by plants, preventing it from re-entering the carbon cycle, thereby reducing carbon footprint. My inspiration comes from the simple desire to one day be fully self-sustainable, and the project seems like a great opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience to one day fulfil this idea. Kneeling in muddy banks nursing germinating seeds in frozen winter soil may not be the idea of fun for the majority of the student body, but a handful of enthusiastic students and staff will ensure colourful, delicious harvests over the coming years. Our reward will be some wonderful fruit and veg, produced all by ourselves. Hopefully, the premise of edible fruits of labour will also stimulate new interest, resulting in graduates with healthier, tastier and more sustainable habits. What could be better than

a conscientious student culture concerned with the needs of the environment and the importance of self-sustainable lifestyles, investing in communities. What better group of people to become aware of the pocket saving benefits of ‘home-from-home’ grown. Ben Wilkins, Oxford

fertiliser gets fishy...

Aquaponics has been in my life for two years now. This combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) works on the principle that what is toxic to fish is tasty to tomatoes: fish excrete waste which is a nutrient-rich fertiliser for plants. Instead of using an expensive chemical filtration system to remove waste from an aquarium, the water is pumped into a gravel lined grow bed of plants which feed on the nutrients. The water then drains back into the fish tank, sparkling clean and purged of all waste chemicals. The system is elegant, organic and entirely self-contained. All you need to do is feed the fish! I first heard about it when I was a student. We had a tank of tropical fish, so I gave it a whirl. I used a small plastic tray as a grow bed, and bought a small water pump and some tubing to transfer the water. The total cost (excluding the aquarium) was less than £15. The system produced some colossal tomato plants, and the fish’s water stayed crystal clear, something our previous chemical-based filter never managed. I had to abandon the project in the end as the plants grew too large for our kitchen! The beauty of aquaponics is that you can create a system that works for you on any scale with minimal effort. You could use a single goldfish to fertilise a few kitchen herbs, or farm thousands of fish and tons of vegetables. Aquaponics is rapidly gaining popularity in hot, dry countries, as it needs a negligible amount of water after the initial setup. I’m thinking of trying it with crayfish next, as they can be fed on kitchen scraps. I can’t think of a better recycling system for kitchen waste! Ideally, I’d rig up a solar panel to power the pump, to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible.

Lewin Appleton-Fox, Bristol

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realise”

Thich Nhat Hanh inspired times issue 7 winter 2010/11


tai chi

The benefits of Camila Carlow’s daily practice now seep into her everyday life. She tells us more about the ancient practice of Tai Chi and the teachings she follows.

Well-being abides. This is the message I continually receive from my daily practice of Tai Chi Chuan. It’s more than two years since I took up this martial art, and though I’ve barely scratched the surface, I can feel its benefits permeating all aspects of my life.

‘every movement has a meaning, every meaning contains a depth, and each depth contains an essence, and through the full utilization of the essence, you will find the true meaning of the expressions that our old masters told us.’

Tai Chi is an ancient martial art that derived from Taoist philosophy, which emerged in China between 5,000 and 10,000 B.C. The Taoists compiled a body of work that was refined over thousands of years, and passed down through generations. They aimed to understand the fundamental workings of the body, the principles of harmony in nature and the universe, and the deepest mysteries of the spiritual world. The legacy they left behind includes the teachings of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching, healing arts such as herbal therapy and acupuncture, and of course, martial arts. The wisdom of the ancients is still relevant in modern-day life.

The Taoist philosophy that sustains Tai Chi helps it become a natural way of life. The concept of ‘yielding’ is one of the central tenets of the practice. When an opponent initiates a movement, rather than meeting it with resistance, yielding to the pressure both dissipates and redirects the energy. If there is tension in a muscle, it is never met with force. Instead of straining, you gently coax the muscle into the correct habit of movement, and a natural release is achieved. This extremely profound concept crosses over into life outside of the practice. When I have been in the face of an oncoming attack (an argument, a situation I dislike) rather than adding fuel to the fire, I realise I have the choice to meet it with grace and acceptance, thereby becoming one with situation and finding a release (the solution).

‘The foundations and understandings of T’ai Chi Ch’uan… are the very simple principles of Yin and Yang, which express the monism and dualism, the singular and plural, the unity and opposition of everything in nature, within our lives and within our spirits.’

natural flow

Tai Chi is the embodiment of the ideals of the Tao. The practice consists of a sequence of choreographed movements called the Tai Chi Form, and a set of gentle calisthenics and breathing exercises (often referred to as Chi Kung). The practice promotes bone stacking and natural movement, and an increase in the flow of the body’s natural energy, called Chi (or Prana as in the Yogic tradition). By using correct posture and bone alignment, you allow the weight to filter evenly through your joints, enabling the muscles to relax and achieve natural movement. When there is an absence of stress or strain on the body, blockages are removed in the body’s meridians (a web of energy channels that vitalise the organs).

internal dialogue

Taoists recognise that change is an unavoidable part of existence. Through the physical movements and breathing techniques, you acquaint yourself with your body’s internal dialogue and so begin to see how the body itself is in a state of flux. The body is a far more intelligent organism than we could ever grasp. Blood flows, lungs breathe, the kidneys filter gallons of water and the stomach digests – all without any conscious direction on our part. By sensitising yourself to the body’s complicated matrix of energy and movement within, you begin to see how these patterns are also reflected without; in nature and the world around you. As space appears in my joints and spine, and as I become aware of it in my mind, I also begin to see it in my life: in the avenues that open up, in the choices I am able to make. My personal practice becomes an exercise in effortless ‘allowing’. The Taoists carved a way to self-mastery. The tools are here for us to be empowered. Whether we pick up this ancient art for its health benefits or for the martial side alone, the practice will nurture and provide for us at every level. ‘Perfection is a word that has no boundaries, for only you can fix the limits of yourself.’ All quotes are from The Chinese Art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan by Chee Soo. Camilla Carlow is both a writer and an artist, currently undertaking a Masters degree in Film & Television Production.


inspired times  issue 7  winter 2010/11

CHANT & BE HAPPY For many of us, our first taste of chanting may have been at a yoga class when ‘OM’ or the invocation prayer at the beginning was recited. Often something we may have initially resisted or felt uncomfortable with eventually becomes our deepest source of fulfilment and joy! When Sanskrit words are chanted, a powerful vibration is felt in the body, and simply through mantra repetition you can still the mind, and open the spiritual heart. The pure vibration of the sounds clears away dark and heavy thoughts, uplifts the spirit and simply makes you feel great! The root ‘man’ in the word mantra comes from the word meaning ‘mind’, and ‘tra’ means ‘to protect or free’. Ultimately, it means to free your mind from its daily endless chatter! A mantra is a mystical energy, a divine power manifested through sound and derived from the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Sanskrit is often called ‘the language of the Gods’ and Sanskrit mantras were perceived by ancient sages who were attuned to higher levels of consciousness. Every mantra contains power and certain vibrations which resonate directly with the subtle energy centres in the body, releasing blockages and awakening the spiritual energy. If you try to translate a Sanskrit mantra into English, the power of the sacred sound energy and form is lost. There are various ways to chant. You can repeat a mantra verbally or mentally. Constant repetition of a mantra is called Japa meditation and usually a rosary (mala) of 108 beads is used to count how many times the mantra has been chanted. Chanting transcends the mundane preoccupations of the

by Lila Conway

ordinary mind, and once the mind is purified, higher spiritual truths are revealed. Devotional group chanting is otherwise known as kirtan. This ‘call and response’ type of chanting is a form of yoga in itself. Traditionally, kirtan is sung in a group with the ‘kirtan walla’, or chant leader, singing Sanskrit mantras or holy names of the Divine, in which the audience repeats back in kind. The singing is often accompanied by a harmonium, drums and additional rhythm instruments such as finger cymbals, tambourine and lots of clapping hands! The only requirements for chanting are to sing from your heart, it is not about having a beautiful voice but rather to chant with feeling and love. When you truly feel that you are chanting to God without inhibition or expectation, then the divine energy flows freely and naturally and the sweetness of devotion pours from your heart in celebration, service, compassion and love. Make kirtan your prayer, give yourself permission to sing freely, dance freely and let go of the emotions tightly locked in your heart. Enjoy the bliss of communion with the divine and the ecstatic yoga of kirtan that frees the mind and makes your heart sing. CHANT AND BE HAPPY!

OM Chanting Meditation... The sound vibration OM (pronounced “AUM”) is considered to be the most important mantra as its root is contained within all other mantras. OM represents divine creation and supreme consciousness. It is known in almost all spiritual cultures of Eastern philosophy from the Buddhists of Tibet to the Vedantists of India; it is also similar to the word ‘Amen’. According to Hindu philosophy, in the beginning of creation there was a word, and this word was OM. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Keep your spine straight and avoid dropping or tilting your head. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Relax and let go of any tension with each exhalation. The Practice Take a deep inhalation and begin chanting OM out loud. The sound should begin in the base of your abdomen, move up through the chest into the throat and finally finish on the lips. Begin with your mouth open as you chant ‘AAH’ – feel the vibration coming from the abdomen. As the sound moves up, the mouth rounds to the sound ‘OU’ feel it vibrating in the chest and then the throat.

Finally, the mouth closes with the sound ‘MMM’ - feel the sound vibrating on the lips and into the head, especially in the space between the eyebrows. Start chanting loudly, at least 10 times in succession, making each breath as long as possible. Gradually become softer until you are almost whispering.

Finally, repeat mentally, inhaling OM, exhaling OM. Practice for at least 10 minutes and gradually increase to 30 minutes. Benefits Calms the mind, improves concentration, increases energy levels and feelings of inner peace and tranquillity. Chanting also purifies and charges the energy/atmosphere of the room. For more details on Lila’s yoga classes and retreats, visit her website:

inspired times  issue 7  winter 2010/11


Having dug herself out from under a mountain


co-courses are booming and holistic workshops flourishing, so what better way to connect with like-minded people and learn something new than by attending one of the multitude of residential or day courses currently on offer around the UK. New centres and fresh subject matter constantly appear on the scene, and there are a good few veteran venues that have been hosting inspirational workshops for decades. Run by passionate people with a desire to unite and inform, established in natural surroundings, these courses can be a wonderful and rewarding way to spend your precious free time.

of brochures Sharon Henshall gives us her pick of some superb courses and

Putting ourselves down is a national trait, but embracing the positive is all-important when striving for change. We are blessed to be in a country that offers such a diverse array of thoughtful,

workshops on offer in the UK.

inspirational and creative courses. Well-being, personal development and knowledge seem to be at the root of many programmes, as well as encouragement to connect with nature, others and ourselves. Costs vary, but stretch over a wide enough range to ensure there is something to suit everyone’s purse. Whether you crave the outdoors, art and craft, music, spiritual teachings, eco-issues, family fun or plain old silence – it’s all there for the taking. So, if you feel a mixture of course-breaks could out-shine a package deal in the Sun in 2011, what are your options? Dowsing or bushcrafting? Sculpting or meditation? Film-production? Organic gardening? The options are endless, but here are some of my favourites.

Visit for our new course listings.

Course fishing

Music mania

Sacred singing, sound healing, bellydancing, drumming’s music to my ears. The mother of all ambient experiences is Tribe of Doris, a summer school jampacked with drumming and dancing workshops as well as a plethora of other creative activities. Alternatively, Hawkwood, located in the

Cotswolds, has an exciting new course for 2011 that just jumped off the page. The School of Creative Music Making will suit anyone with an interest in sound and self-expression. It aims to work with sound, harmony, rhythm, movement and improvisation. “Our mission is to help people find their authentic musical voice and uncover their ability to create music with others,” says Stefan Cartwright. He is one of the two course leaders, whose background includes music, yoga and singing raga, which form the basis of Indian classical music. Singing camps are another popular experience – what can be more uplifting than harmonising around a campfire? New and lasting friendships often blossom at these gatherings as the vocal chords warm up.

4      inspired times  issue 7  winter 2010/11

Family fun

Survival skills, den-making, family reiki, creative arts...go on, get stuck in. With modern technology and gadgets seeping into our children’s lives earlier and earlier, it’s important that they have a chance to run free and experience the wonder of the natural world. Dorsetbased Monkton Wyld has a Love Nature Family Week where children gather floral treasure, make fossil casts, plant seedlings and meet the many creatures of Monkton. Parents have plenty of fun too! Sports activities and the seashore stroll ensure everyone sleeps well at nighttime. However, for a drama-loving brood, Theatre Family Week promises fun for your stars in the making. Following plenty of family dramatics, the week culminates

that. With its magical atmosphere, it’s the perfect setting to share some special experiences and learning on your path of personal growth, spirituality and holistic living. Home to a growing spiritual community, it offers delicious homecooked vegetarian food, country walks and a friendly ambience. in a performance, written, staged and directed by the participants themselves. Or, are you feeling more adventurous? Wildwise, hidden in the wilds of Devon, offers a Dangerous Weekend for Boys and a Wicked Weekend for Girls. Perfect for strengthening the parent–child bond and teaching new skills, getting messy and telling stories around the fire, lit the traditional way.

If you’d like to stretch your body and mind, Inspired Times’ resident yogini, Lila Conway, runs devotional yoga retreats throughout the year. “The yoga, chanting and meditation were wonderful, and the food was delicious,” says Gemma, a previous attendee. “And I was able to share the experience with a fantastic group of people.” Sharing these experiences with others is as important as the spiritual nourishment you receive. It’s an opportunity to meet like-minded people and grow a community of support and friendship.

Holistic heaven

Herbal remedies, detoxing, meditation, silent retreats...inhale, exhale and relax. In this fast-paced world we live in, taking time out is vital for well-being. Relaxing in a nourishing environment away from everyday pressures can help us to regain our inner connection and recharge our batteries. Gaunts House, a delightful Dorset mansion, is one place to do just

If it’s meditation you’re seeking, there are some wonderful opportunities across the country to learn and improve. Beginners are often unsure which style to choose, so just call some different venues for a better understanding of what’s on offer. It’s often an instinctive decision – once you’ve spoken with the centre it will either feel right, or you’ll know to keep looking. Sunita Passi at Tri-Dosha, runs a new meditation course that aims to help people maintain mental and physical health. “Practised daily, it helps clear your mind and allows you to focus on the day ahead,” says Sunita. By using ancient meditation techniques that involve methods evoking deep rest, she teaches you how to bring balance back into your lives. When we return to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, these tools are invaluable. Another wonderful place to gain innerpeace is at Orkney Retreat in Scotland. They are hosting a Movement and Silence retreat later this year that offers silent meditation, peaceful walks and creative writing, all with a welcoming atmosphere

to share and discuss as you go along. The stunning scenery in Orkney is almost enough to render you speechless anyway!

Eco expertise

Yurt making, pig-keeping, composting loos, rainwater’s the good life for us. Learning about permaculture is a great way to start living harmoniously with nature. Its design methods are fundamental in restoring a mutually beneficial, healthy relationship between people and the environment, and the concepts can be brought into our everyday lives. With an excellent choice of venues and teachers countrywide, options to learn are endless. To delve deeper into permaculture and gain certification, longer courses are also on offer. Findhorn, the famous Scottish eco-community, has a comprehensive, month-long course that attracts an international group of people. Last year’s intake, whose ages ranged between 18 and 70, gathered for a month of intensive training on how to live together in a sustainable community, in harmony with the Earth and all expressions of life. “It was a life-changing experience for me. I expected a powerful month. It was even better!” says Sonia Melocco, a 19 year old from Slovenia. For anyone who aspires to reduce their environmental impact and set up their own smallholding, Monkton Wyld offers a four-day taster course and smallholding tour with Jyoti Fernandes and Simon Fairlie. The course combines productive discussion on important issues like planning permission, with practical sessions and a look at successful smallholdings in the local area. Simon and Jyoti, have decades of experience and are very useful contacts. Beekeeping is always set to create a buzz! Since reports of the demise in bee numbers, more and more individuals are setting up colonies to try to improve the situation. Zim Sutton puts hives on

inspired times  issue 7  winter 2010/11      5

countryside for creating culinary delights – most are followed by a feast where you and your new found friends can enjoy the tasty fare uncovered. For all those stargazers out there, Wildwise promises magic, mystery and a moonrise. Its Star Trek weekend in June brings a group together for an all-night vigil under the stars on Dartmoor. Enjoy stories, poetry, nocturnal nature and a fire to keep you warm. If the Devon waterways call, pick their Wild Foods by Canoe day out, which provides more than a splash of adventure. Explore the secret wild spots and discover a diverse menu from the local plant life.

Location, location, location

Low-impact retreats, stately mansions, cosy cottages, eco-villages...we’re spoilt for choice. While poring over these course details, I was struck by the variety of venues, each with something unique and special. the roof of his house in north London. He’s loved the experience but it has not been without its challenges. “With so many diseases, pesticides and mites around threatening the bees you have to become your very own bee vet,” he claims. EU and UK legislation, together with the broadening impact of disease, is making beekeeping more complex. A course will help you to understand the responsibilities involved and enable you to meet others with similar ambitions.

Creative arts

Rag-rugging, jewellery-making, mosaic madness, experimental painting... express yourself in style. Creative expression is important for everyone. By exploring different mediums, we can uncover what works for us and have bags of fun along the way. After all, there is such value wrapped in the process itself, as well as the final product. We use our imagination, work together, share ideas, learn from’s all crucial. Old skills, such as basket weaving, have regained huge popularity over recent years. The technique of weaving dates back tens of thousands of years, and is still being passed on and expanded on today. Make something useful and connect with your ancestors at the same time. Those who attend weekend courses such as painting,

pottery and creative writing find they improve existing skills immensely. These intensive periods of focus can bring huge breakthroughs, which come from giving yourself time to develop. If acting is your favoured form of selfexpression, Monkton Wyld Court’s April Fool’s Day Fooling will be an entertaining few days. Use movement, dance and improvisation to connect with the archetypal fool within. Alternatively, for those who dream of running off with the circus, then clowning and other circusskill courses will top the bill. Whatever you choose, creativity is hugely cathartic. It’s a great healer and some courses include this aspect as an important part of the retreat. A supportive, creative environment sounds a splendid way to shake off some old patterns, which can get stuck in our psyche.

The great outdoors

Bushcraft, foraging, stargazing, the Bear Grylls in you. Deepen your relationship with the natural world and learn top tips from wildlife and bushcraft experts, in wild landscapes tucked away from the beaten path. Bushcraft and survival skills can help empower us to cope with and understand our surroundings. Wild food foraging weekends highlight the potential in our

6      inspired times  issue 7  winter 2010/11 Part of the treat is experiencing these beautiful surrounds as well as the course itself. Cae Mabon, in Wales, comprises natural structures, all blending in with their surrounds. “I often think the two main gifts of Cae Mabon are healing and inspiration,” says Eric Madden, owner. “In many ways it doesn’t matter what workshop or event you do here. The ever-present earth, river, forest and fire will heal and inspire you.” You also have the likes of Findhorn, which has been a pioneering eco-village since 1985. Its community expresses sustainable values with eco-homes, sustainable energy and a whole host of social, economic and educational initiatives. Shekinahashram, in Glastonbury, hosted Lila’s last few yoga retreats. For many guests, it was their first time in an ashram and everyone was touched by the peace and gentle beauty of their environment, which really enhanced the experience.

taking care of our kidneys

Nurture and nourish your Kidney Qi this winter, a time when this energy can be most easily depleted. John E Smith tells us how... In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the kidneys are described as the storehouse of energy. Winter is the time when our kidneys are at their most vulnerable. Our diet, lifestyle and the herbs we use need to support their function and provide us with energy to get through the colder months. In TCM, the adrenals and the kidneys themselves form part of what it terms the ‘Kidneys’. The adrenals are referred to as Kidney Yang and the kidneys themselves as Kidney Yin. Together, the Kidneys govern the bones, joints, teeth and hair and are the root of ‘ancestral energy’. Kidney imbalance may give rise to symptoms such as coldness, infertility, weak knees and premature ageing.


Good foods for the kidneys include: Cranberry juice – to tonify kidneys and help with urinary problems. Seeds – all seeds, grains, beans and pulses will

generally support the ‘seed energy’ of the kidneys (black sesame seeds, mung and aduki beans are particularly good). Seaweeds – to provide naturally occurring salts and other nutrients such as iodine. Foods best avoided: Excessive use of salt – a little will tonify, too much will cause damage. Excessive use of stimulants – e.g. caffeine (stimulants will ‘kick start’ the adrenals but will exhaust them in the long term). Cold & frozen foods – particularly in the winter months (even water should be either warm or at least at room temperature).


Avoid too much stress, electro-magnetic energy (excessive use of computers, mobile phones etc.) and late nights. Drink sufficient water, particularly in the afternoon – the time for the kidneys is between 3pm and 7pm – this is when they often need replenishing. Keep warm (particularly around the midriff - fashion is not always conducive to good health!).

powerful herbs Cleavers (goose grass) - has a strong diuretic action and can help to dissolve stones in the bladder. Equisetum (horsetail) - promotes the healing of bones, and supplies nutrients (including silica) to bone tissue. Euccomia bark (du zhong) - an excellent herb to use in cases of lower back pain, high blood pressure and frequent urination. Cinnamon bark - to improve circulation, support lower back, and improve the ability to withstand stress. Solidago (golden rod) - a diuretic, anti-inflammatory herb, which strengthens kidney function and helps to dissolve small stones in urinary tract.

Other useful herbs:

To tonify: Schizandra berries, Uva ursi, Juniper berries, Cayenne, Fenugreek seeds, Walnuts, Indian Asparagus. To cleanse: Poria cocos, Buchu, Dandelion.

KEY HERB: Rehmannia (Chinese Foxglove)

Rehmannia root would not be recommended in isolation, as it is a greasy herb, which may take a little digesting. But, for those with good digestion, the formula ‘Rhemannia Six’, or one of its many modifications, is ideal for people who constantly overextend themselves and may become ‘wasted’, with a tendency to insomnia, low back pain or weakness, possibly high blood pressure and even tinnitus. All patients in a rheumatology trial using a Rehmannia combination found marked reduction in joint pain and swelling. (Kim et al, 1999 – Chang et al, 2005) As with all herbal medicines it is best to first seek the advice of a qualified herbalist. John E Smith B.A.(Hons) M:URHP, Dip C.H. is a qualified herbalist and the author of two books on herbal medicine. He is a regular contributor to Inspired Times Magazine. John can be contacted via


inspired times  issue 7  winter 2010/11


team up to save our planet... by Luke Bell

Does anyone else remember Captain Planet?… He’s a hero, going to take pollution down to zero! Well, now you can start your own planet-saving superhero team at okay, maybe superhero is possibly a slight exaggeration but hero certainly isn’t! Global Action Plan is an environmental charity that targets businesses, schools, and communities, helping them reduce their own carbon footprint to positively impact on the environment and climate change. Founded in 1993, Global Action Plan have launched a wide variety of programmes and initiatives to help encourage more ecological living and their latest project is EcoTeams. “There is loads that you can do to help the environment. But doing it alone can be overwhelming and, to be honest, a little dull,” explains Trewin Restorick, CEO and founder of Global Action Plan. The EcoTeams initiative encourages individuals wanting to lighten their impact on the planet to join up with friends, family and neighbours to form a team and share the load. You can invite anyone to join you – your family, neighbours, or Facebook friends, or simply join an existing team. Once all your members are signed up, the programme will give you a set of actions to choose from, on rubbish and shopping, energy, water and travel. They’ll provide online tools so that you can measure your progress and see the difference you’re making. Plus, there are loads of free events and action-focused meetings you can attend as a team. In association with EDF Energy and Team Green Britain, the EcoTeam events will use interactive games and workshops to show how you can make the biggest difference, and how you can help others to get involved. You’ll have the opportunity to meet like-minded people and maybe even new teammates. There will be an easy-to-grasp introduction to the issues and all


inspired times  issue 6  autumn 2010

the information you need to start an EcoTeam is provided. And, most importantly, the events are fun and hands-on! You can sign up for the events by heading to Upcoming dates are: London Victoria (6 Oct), Cardiff (16 Oct), Maidstone (2 Nov), Exeter (17 Nov) and Newcastle (24 Nov). They are also running events in partnerships with local London councils in Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Islington, Newham and Sutton. The events will be free and open to all residents of the respective borough. The programme has a proven track record too. EcoTeams has been independently certified and endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme. A household taking part typically improves energy and water management, reducing CO2 emissions by 16.6%, bills by £170 a year, water used by 15%, and waste by 20% (and increasing the proportion of rubbish that is recycled) The structured approach along with the online tools and hands-on events can really help to motivate and empower the eco warrior in you. So get a team together and start fighting eco-damage! You can even design superhero outfits and give yourselves cool names…. too far? Thought so. For further information go to

The EcoTeams initiative encourages individuals wanting to lighten their impact on the planet... to form a team and share the load.

inspiring individuals Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s most renowned Buddhist Zen Masters. Along with his spiritual teachings, he works tirelessly for human rights, social welfare and peace. Sioned Bannister enlightens us on his journey so far. At the age of 84, Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced “Tik N’yat Hawn”) has built a reputation as one of the world’s most revered Buddhist leaders and spiritual teachers of this century. Born in central Vietnam in 1926, he felt a calling towards Buddhism from a young age, joining a monastery near the town of Hue when he was just 16 years old. Within seven years he was a fully ordained monk, after training in Zen and Mahayana Buddhism. He went on to establish the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and was soon appointed editor of the periodical publication of the All Vietnam Buddhist Association. Thich Nhat Hahn (or Thây, [pronounced ‘Tay’] meaning ‘teacher’, as he is now fondly known) had begun to make his mark on the Buddhist societies of Vietnam. From then onwards, he has touched countless lives, inspired with endless wisdom and promoted peace at every turn. In 1961 Thây travelled to the United States to study Comparative Religion at Princeton University and the following year went on to teach and research Buddhism at Columbia University. He returned to Vietnam in 1963 to aid with the peace effort and help the thousands of ordinary Vietnamese people who had been displaced, injured and devastated by war. His work to renew Buddhism and work for peace in Vietnam led him, in 1964, to found Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and the La Boi publishing house. One of Thây’s greatest achievements during this time was the founding of the School of Youth for Social Service (the SYSS). The School was made of teams of peace-workers and volunteers who helped rebuild villages and towns that had been torn apart by the war, as well as provide education and healthcare. Sadly, the organisation was repressed by both sides as the war bulldozed its way through the country, but the dedicated peace-workers continued as best they could. It is thanks to them that countless communities were able to continue living and working through the atrocities of war. “The practice of peace and

reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions,” said Thich Nhat Hanh. Returning to the USA in 1966 to continue his studies and further his campaign for peace, Thây met with Martin Luther King Jr., who fiercely opposed the Vietnam War. The meeting affected Dr. King deeply, and led him to publicly condemn the war as part of a rousing speech in New York the following year. Dr. King also went on to nominate Thây for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Finding himself exiled from his home country, Thây settled in France, where, in 1982, he founded Plum Village in Dordogne. This is still his place of residence today, and the village is a centre for retreat, meditation and Buddhist teaching, as well as being home to over 100 Buddhist monks and nuns. Plum Village receives thousands of retreatants every year. Anyone can go and experience the meditation centre atmosphere! Other big centres can be visited in California and New York State. Thây still fights hard for peace, human rights and equality all over the world, but especially in his home country. His teaching is based on the foundation Buddhist principles of living in the present moment. According to his beliefs, this is the only moment we can really live in and where joy and enlightenment is possible. Thây teaches through daily meditation and showing compassion to all living beings. Once peace is possible within ourselves, it can eventually expand to all parts of our lives and the wider world. With over 100 books to his name, Thây has led the movement of Engaged Buddhism, founding the Order of Interbeing (Tiep Hien Order) in 1964. This branch of Buddhist teaching emphasises social responsibility and the role of each individual to activate and promote change for the better. Thich Nhat Hanh has inspired millions of people throughout his life. His dedication, wisdom and courage to speak out against violence and war will continue to influence and inform his loyal students and those who simply agree that a peaceful world must be the way forward. For further information go to or


inspired times  issue 6  autumn 2010

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Inspired Times Magazine Issue 7  

Uplifting magazine focusing on environmental issues, holistic health, alternative lifestyles and inspirational projects.

Inspired Times Magazine Issue 7  

Uplifting magazine focusing on environmental issues, holistic health, alternative lifestyles and inspirational projects.