Phil Hewitt discovers an oasis of calm when he visits The Hamblin Trust.
‘It’s just heavenly here’, says Liz Medler, and looking around, you’d have to agree.
In our stress-filled world, The Hamblin Trust at Bosham offers an oasis of calm as it keeps alive the teachings of the man dubbed the Saint of Sussex, Henry Thomas Hamblin.
Based in Hamblin’s former home at Bosham House, the trust aims to enrich people’s lives through positive thinking; pay a visit, and it’s not long before you’ll start to feel its seduction.
“In terms of all that is happening in the world, it is a privilege to come to a place like this,” said Liz, who runs the trust.
But it’s a privilege extended to everyone. Simply turn up and de-stress. Walk the grounds, sit and relax.
“People can come and just ‘be’ here. We are not trying to sell anything. We are just trying to hold a vision of a better world.
“Rather than thinking about all the negative things in life, we try to think about all the good things we can attain.”
And the aim is that visitors take that ‘positive presence’ out into the world as they leave. The underlying principle, as Liz explains, is that if you build up your own soul, you will inevitably build up the soul of your neighbour, a knock-on effect in which a vision of a better world slowly but surely becomes a reality.
“I think people are more and more trying to find their own centre, to plug into themselves.
“If you just keep going out and out and out in your experience, you just don’t look into yourself. We provide the opportunity to do that.”
One of the ways the trust does that is through the teaching of mindfulness, an approach which is effectively a continuation of Hamblin’s positive thinking.
Barbara Boxhall, who runs courses in mindfulness, explains we become out of balance if we are always wanting more and more. Mindfulness teaches it should be enough to be present in the moment.
In effect, mindfulness is the awareness that emerges when you pay attention to the present moment.
Barbara is offering a three-week course in mindfulness at the trust, starting on Wednesday, June 25, 2.30pm-4.30pm. She will also be offering an eight-week course in September.
Mindfulness was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn (b 1944), Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
As Barbara says, it’s an approach now gaining ground rapidly. Big businesses are adopting it; leadership courses are using it.
It’s about reconnecting, as Liz explains: “People are largely absent from their lives. You can just go on autopilot and just stop listening to what your body is trying to tell you.
“Every activity here or every non-activity, if you prefer, is designed to raise consciousness of who we are. Henry Hamblin was all about bringing consciousness and awareness into our lives. So many people are never really in the present moment.
“I often wonder what Henry Hamblin would think, and I often hope we will meet up in the great beyond. But we sense him here. I think he contributes to the atmosphere. He is a constant reminder to remain within oneself. “It is so easy to get drawn out and lose that focus. His ideas are still here and still shaping our activities.
“I like to think this is a very warm and very, very embracing place to be.”
The life of Hamblin
Hamblin was a singular man, a man who had a Midas touch when it came to business, but who longed to lead a life in touch with the more spiritual side of things.
Born into a poor family at Walworth, London, in 1873 he was determined to emerge from the rut and did so, but discovered material fulfilment wasn’t enough. He wanted a deeper, spiritual satisfaction.
A successful businessman, he bought a house, came to Bosham in about 1914 settled down and started reading and writing, evolving a system of spiritual teaching.
The crux was that if people moved in harmony with their inner source, their life could be full of abundance and harmony.
Liz locates his thinking broadly within a Christian context, but the emphasis was on universality ‘embracing the eternal verities of all faiths’.
He worked right up to the end of his life in 1958.
A new addition
A wildlife pond and a spiral mound have recently been added to grounds which were already idyllic – the perfect place for a trust serving a worldwide community looking for something better.
The trust’s pond and bog garden project was launched in September, 2011. Members collected £2,897 and the pond was installed in March this year.
Liz explains: “The project was the brainchild of me and our trustees. We felt Bosham House lacked water, and we wanted to provide a beautiful bond primarily for wildlife, but also for our enjoyment. It has therefore been installed in HT Hamblin’s Memorial Garden.
“We hope the pond will become inhabited by many damselflies, newts, frogs, snails and water beetles as well as different plants. Already we have a native white water lily, pink flowering rush, king cup, marsh marigold, purple loosestrife, true valerian, a stunning ligularia donated by Michael MacGuire. We are looking for more predominately-native species, if anyone has any to offer.”
More details on www.thehamblintrust.org.uk or 01243 572109.