Mindfulness Meditation Retreats

Connect with Horses Mindfulness Meditation Retreats in the south of France

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Is stress and self-doubt ruining your attempts to live a long, happy, healthy and fulfilling life, full of purpose and meaning?

11225Bonjour, I’m Margaretha and with me in the picture is my soul-mare Belle. I am the author of 5 personal development books, all horse-inspired, life-enriching and subtly French flavoured. I am a recycled medical doctor, I live in the south of France with my 4 horses, where I host residential Walking and Wine tasting workshops for writers as well as, with the help of my horses, confidence-boosting and stress-reducing Connect with Horses 5/7 day Retreats (see below.)

My Connect with Horses Retreats, based on Equine-facilitated Mindfulness and Equine-Guided Meditation, in the south of France, will dramatically increase your self-confidence and enable you to significantly lower your stress levels by connecting with my horses in an enriching, compelling and transformational way. 


Working as a medical doctor for more than 20 years has taught me a lot, but not as much as dealing for nearly thirty years with a debilitating eye disease that threatens my sight. Based on both my professional and personal experience so far, my horses and I are well-equipped to empower you to

  • compassionately accept yourself and appreciate your unique talents and abilities,
  • free yourself from immobilising fear and substantially increase your self-confidence,
  • communicate more efficiently and with more assertiveness,
  • eradicate limiting beliefs and replace them with inspiring beliefs,
  • develop more successful problem-solving skills,
  • believe in yourself so that you can make the changes you want to make in your life,
  • build strong, long-lasting relationships,
  • create a solid and reliable support network so that you can ask for help before you feel totally overwhelmed,
  • set firm boundaries and say NO without feeling guilty or needing to explain,
  • discover simple techniques to easily and effectively deal with stressful situations and
  • celebrate your success without needing to apologise for being brilliant.

Now you too can discover the secret of exceptionally calm and collected women, by attending a Connect with Horses Mindfulness Meditation Retreat in the sun-drenched south of France. During the retreat, you will first and foremost, be able to rest, relax and recharge your batteries. You will also benefit from attending this workshop because, with the empowering help of our horses, you will develop a new set of skills to help improve the quality of your life.


Testimonials

EM“Thanks again for sharing your life with us! I had such a wonderful time at your place and in your company. I feel revitalised, relaxed and blessed. All the best and big hugs for the two of you and all the cats, horses and dog.” E.G. Meijling

SMurphy“A powerful and wonderful life experience, with caring guidance of Margaretha and Charles. One can truly experience a mindful meditation with the horses who are definitely spiritual. Also, your senses become reinvigorated with the beautiful food and wine, whilst sitting and listening to the unique sound of natures calmness.” S. Murphy

Thank you so much for a wonderful week. The way you welcomed me was heart-warming. I find myself often dreaming about your piece of paradise and all my new friends there. Margaretha- I learned so much for which I thank you! CM Munroe

Thank you so much for the beautiful day on Saturday. It was a truly special and treasurable experience that I feel very lucky to have had. Your horses are such lovely characters and it was fun getting to know them a little. They have stayed in my mind. I would love to come back again…B. Gracias

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had this chance that worked out so amazingly in divine timing. I know that you are, yourself, going through a stressful time and so that is why I am even more grateful that despite that, you were there to help me through this transition. I am also inspired by you and how you have faced your challenges, and I appreciate so much that you are also so human, with vulnerabilities just like we all have. Thanks also for sharing these moments with me.  A Alyahya

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 I created these retreats with my horses to help you internalise how exceptional, powerful, gifted, beautiful, strong, generous, appreciated, valuable, talented, brilliant, admired, respected, courageous, special, caring and lovable you are, either on your own or in a group, so that you can benefit from the presence and support of like-minded women, from the lasting friendships that form and from the readiness of women (who may in their normal lives never have the opportunity to honestly express themselves) to say what they really feel, in this safe environment.

The horses make these self-development retreats UNIQUE. All activities happen with everyone’s feet firmly on the ground – there is no horse riding during these retreats.


Included in this Retreat:

  • Simple but comfortable accommodation in an 18th century farmhouse in single or twin bedrooms with shared bathroom.
  • Brunch under the 200+-year-old oak tree in the courtyard, weather permitting.
  • Dinner featuring local delicacies (we cater for vegetarians)
  • Tea and coffee making facilities available 24/7.
  • Transport from Eauze to the farm.
  • Free Wifi.
  • A free copy of the e-book Mindfulness and Meditation Options. The book has links to useful articles, websites, TED talks, Facebook groups, guided meditations etc. that can be used during and after the workshops.

NOT included in this Retreat:

    • Transport costs to local airports and train stations – there are 5 international airports (Toulouse, Bordeaux, Tarbes/Lourdes, Biarritz and Pau) less than 2 hours drive from here
    • Transport from local airports to local train stations (Auch and Mont de Marsan)
    • Transport from local train stations to Eauze.
    • Personal Health Insurance and/or Travel Insurance (we highly recommend insurance cover in case you need to cancel)
    • Guided Wine Tasting trip to local vineyards
    • An extra day walking part of the Way of St James/Santiago de Compostella
    • A day visit to Lourdes

To make 100% sure you benefit from this workshop, there is still more:


Program

9:00 Yogic Breathing with the Horses
9:30 Walking Meditation with the Horses
10:30 Brunch
11:30 Equine-facilitated Mindfulness Training
12:30-15:30 Free time to spend with the horses
15:30 Journaling
16:30 Equine-guided Meditation
17:30 Music Meditation
19h30 Dinner


Additional

  • To facilitate transport arrangements, or to explore the region, you are welcome to arrive a day or two early or leave a day or two after the workshop – we offer bed-and-breakfast accommodation on a day-to-day basis, at £55 per room per night, but only to our workshop guests,
  • Non-participating partners are very welcome, there is a lot for them to discover and do in the immediate vicinity.
  • the option to add a day to walk part of the possibly life-changing Way of St James, following in the footsteps of pilgrims who have passed this way for a thousand years on their way to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.
  • the option to add a guided wine tasting trip to the medieval village of Saint Mont
  • To ensure everyone gets individual, quality attention and the time to ask questions, we limit our groups to a maximum of 4 guests – which means you will need to reserve early to be one of the fortunate guests who come here each year.

So seize this exceptional opportunity to spend a few nights with us NOW…to help you make your trip a special one, please let us know you are coming by making a reservation. A warm welcome awaits you amidst the Armagnac, Saint Mont and Madiran vineyards in the sun-blessed south-west of France.

Do you feel stuck in a rut and desperately long to escape?

If you do, then a 3/5/7-day Connect with Horses Residential Retreat here in the sun-blessed south of France might be exactly what you need right now.

Our workshops start at 18h00 on the day of arrival to 11h00 on the day of departure. We combine equine-facilitated mindfulness and equine-guided mindfulness meditation to help you shape your future. All meals (simple but nourishing) as well as comfortable accommodation, mostly in single rooms, or in double rooms, is included.

The cost of the 5-day workshop starts at £549 pp. The cost of the 7-day workshops starts at £1199 pp. Maximum of 4 participants per workshop.

Ready to make a reservation? To make an inquiry or to pay your deposit and secure your booking, please contact us with the dates that suit you at welcome2gascony(at)gmail.com or fill in the form below:

Deposit: To confirm your booking, a 25% deposit is required. Balance of payment is due at least 30 days prior to the start of your holiday. Please note: As our deposits are not refundable and our cancellation policy is firm, we strongly recommend the purchase of adequate travel insurance.  Any cancellation received in writing up to 30 days before the holiday starts will result in a loss of 50% of the holiday price. Any cancellation made in writing less than 30 days before the holiday starts, or once the holiday has started, will result in a total loss of funds. Depending on availability, you can choose to transfer your booking to another date without incurring any additional fees. We reserve the right to cancel the holiday (if we do so your deposit is refunded in full).

Please read our terms and conditions

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More about Equine-facilitated Mindfulness

Equine-facilitated Mindfulness is a variant of Equine-assisted Experiential Learning, a results-focused approach to personal development that enables you to develop more successful problem-solving skills, communicate more effectively, build healthier relationships and significantly increase your self-confidence.

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“This new discipline helps even and especially those who have never been anywhere near a horse to boost their self-confidence dramatically. No riding is involved, all activities take place with participants feet firmly on the ground. All activities are followed by a debriefing session led by an experienced equine-assisted coach (moi) and a horse expert. Reasons for participants’ choices and behaviour, and the horses’ reactions to said behaviour and choices are discussed and parallels are drawn with real life. I have worked as a medical doctor for many years. I have yet to come across a more effective discipline to help people become more assertive, confident and positive about their future. So it is with great enthusiasm that I invite you to join me at our house in the south of France, 90 minutes south-east of Bordeaux, where we host our Connect with Horses residential equine-assisted personal development workshops.” Dr Margaretha Montagu

Maybe YOU have always loved or been intrigued by horses but are too scared to approach them? Or maybe you have had unfortunate experiences with horses but always remained drawn to them? Or you might be a horse rider who wants to overcome your fear of riding after a horse riding accident?

Equine-facilitated Mindfulness can help you:

  • communicate more effectively,
  • build stronger and more satisfying relationships,
  • feel better about yourself and dramatically increase your self-confidence,
  • be more assertive,
  • gain a solid sense of self-worth,
  • eradicate limiting beliefs that block your progress,
  • enhance your problem-solving skills,
  • thrive on change and challenges,
  • free yourself from immobilising fear,
  • discover and define your purpose in life,
  • deal with stress and avoid the dangerous effects, stress may have on your mental and physical health,
  • re-evaluate your life from a new perspective.

More about Equine-facilitated Mindfulness

More about Equine-guided Meditation

Equine-guided meditation is a mindfulness meditation method that is practised in the presence of one or more horses. Initially, when I started sharing this practice with our workshop participants, I decided to call it equine-facilitated meditation. My intention was that it would be a focused form of meditation, the horse serving as the focal point, instead of a candle, for example. I thought that the horse or horses would facilitate meditation in a passive way. I did not intend that the horse or horses would take an active role as in actually guiding the meditation.

To help our workshop participants reach that state of thoughtless awareness when the mind is calm, yet completely alert that I understand meditation to be, I usually start an equine-facilitated meditation session by directing them to a peaceful spot somewhere near the horses. I begin by asking them to concentrate on their breathing. At first, we breathe normally, gradually letting our breathing slow down until it is regular, smooth and slow.

I then ask them to focus their attention on one of our horses. I encourage them to engage all their senses and even imagine that they are in fact a horse, that they can see, hear, smell, feel and even taste what a horse sees, hears, smells, feels and tastes. I suggest that they imagine how it would feel to have four legs, four hooves and a tail. I ask them to imagine that they are seeing the world through a horse’s eyes, physically, mentally and sometimes metaphorically,

I encourage them to look at their individual problems as a horse would look at a problem, as a member of a herd, interdependently and individually. Sometimes, when I personally reach out to the horses, they respond in kind, offering me solutions to problems from their perspective. Guests are often surprised to find that when they are sitting near the horses, it is much easier to quieten their minds and enter the meditative state than it is at home. Especially if they do not have much meditation experience.

Horses’ ability to be at once fully present in their bodies, in their environment as well as in the moment, facilitates mindful meditation by giving us a perfect example to follow and to focus on. Our workshop participants found the sessions very useful and continued to practice equine-facilitated meditation at home, by imagining that they were still in the paddock with the horses or by watching a Youtube video made for this purpose. So it worked quite well, until the day I decided to add a loving-kindness meditation at the end of the session.

That day, everything changed. We were a small group, not more than six. We were sitting in a circle in the paddock closest to the lake. Belle, Bass, Aurore and Tess were with us in the paddock, grazing peacefully nearby. I lead the loving-kindness meditation, starting with the focus on each individual. I then moved the focus to a loved one. I then moved the focus to the horses. I asked the participants to send waves of loving-kindness to Belle, our boss mare. Before I had voiced the second sentence, Belle had walked over to us and was standing just outside the circle. She had never approached a circle before. It was intimidating because we were sitting flat on the ground and Belle is enormous: 1m65 at the withers. As I started the third sentence, she came over to me and made it quite clear that she intended entering the circle…

More about Equine-guided Meditation

Get in Touch

Thank you for visiting my website and blog. Enquiries of all kinds are welcome. I will respond to all e-mails asap, so if you don’t hear back from me within a reasonable time, please contact me again (sometimes e-mails disappear into black holes in cyberspace!) Your personal details are confidential and will not be sold, shared or distributed to any third party company.

I hope you enjoy browsing this site and return often. The site is updated frequently. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to send me some feedback. I am always interested to hear the views of my visitors (positive or negative).

We are open during our summer months.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you require any further information. I speak English, French and passable Dutch – please feel free to write to me in any of these languages.

For general enquiries, please contact me on welcome2gascony@gmail.com or fill in the form below:

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