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Healthy holiday: retreat to wellness

Most of the time, my tent is pitched in the ‘life is great’ camp.

Even when faced with things that seem more woeful than wonderful, I don’t stray far from my base camp. Like everybody though, there are times when things get the better of me – a challenge stops being a chance to grow and starts being a cue to “get me out of here!”; when I feel overwhelmed, under-resourced and ill-equipped to deal with what’s going on around me; when I become absorbed in the busy-ness of life and realise I've somehow disconnected from my ‘me’.

As I recently rediscovered, the perfect antidote to all that self/life messiness is a wellness retreat.

I was fortunate to spend seven incredibly inspiring and life-shifting days at Kamalaya Koh Samui on their 'Embracing Change' program.

I thought I knew the whole wellness retreat thing well, particularly at Kamalaya: I worked there for five years and witnessed the transformation of hundreds of guests. So I went in expecting great things. I imagined I was embarking on an emotional detox. I knew it might get messy in the initial days, but that I’d come out better at the other end. I was kind of right. What I discovered was that knowledge, no matter how intimate and deep, lacks the magic of experience.

A recipe for radiant wellness

Healthy food, therapeutic treatments, yoga with a view, personal mentoring and a stunning natural environment; that’s the surface view of a retreat holiday and it’s an effective recipe for wellbeing. But throw yourself in, dive beneath the surface – really let go – and it becomes profound. When your outside life is silenced and the everyday pressures and expectations are stripped away, that’s when the magic begins.

I managed to clear away some inner cobwebs, and things look a whole lot different now. Life is a work-in-progress but I did offload some bad habits, warped perceptions and a bundle of old emotional charges, but I didn’t leave empty. I left feeling full of wonder, gratitude, calm and anticipation. I left with tools to help me navigate the “get me out of here” days, a sparkle in my eye and a smile that beamed from the inside out. I was reminded that wonderful can co-exist with woeful.

Two months later I still carry some of the sparkle I left with. I eat differently, exercise differently, think differently. The ‘get me out of here’ days still happen, but they’re somehow not as fierce. Every day I do the following process, given to me by the amazing Vinodh, one of Kamalaya’s personal mentors. You can do it anytime, but I find it particularly good for instigating sweet sleep or shifting out of woe-is-me mode.

Heart-Gratitude Meditation  

The Why
To help you connect to the heart and feelings of love and gratitude. This meditation helps you to unwind at the end of the day and re-energise your body and mind.

The How

Be in a comfortable seated or lying position. Bring in moments of love, joy and care that you experienced during the day. Feel the emotions of those moments enter into your heart. Gently breathe into them.

Try to imagine that the person or people responsible for those beautiful moments are standing in front of you.

Express your gratitude and share your love by embracing them in your heart. Imagine them becoming happy and joyful.

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