Thanks to my beautiful mother, I was lucky enough to spend two days last week at a health retreat nestled away in Port Elliot, about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide, South Australia. Being a Monday, Mum and I were the only two guests staying over night. Despite the trickle of people flowing through during the day for treatments, we largely had the large 6 bedroom manor to ourselves.
Being alone and isolated forced us both to slow down, unwind and recharge. We read copious magazines about health, wellbeing, cooking and spirituality. We were indulged with reflexology treatments, facials, massages and yoga. We enjoyed a three-course meal cooked with local ingredients and we sipped on organic red wine. We lounged in spa baths, drank tea and read some more.
Feeling removed and detached from society like this is a powerful force. It brings up feelings and emotions, both good and bad, and forces you to look deeper within yourself, at what your fears and anxieties are, at where you are heading in your life, and allows you the opportunity to realign yourself and to reconsider what is important to you and where you want to venture in the future. Here’s what I have learnt:
1. The power of stillness and living in the present
Lying on a massage table with nothing but the sound of your own breathing is a strong feeling. It is extraordinarily difficult to quieten the constant chatter in the mind, but to fully enjoy the experience, it was essential to do so. Instead of getting pepped up about things I could not change at that exact second, I had to force myself to relax, to let go and to release. I accepted my fate right then and there for what it was. I slowed my breathing and brought myself back to the present. Yes, I still had a million and one things racing through my brain. Yes, my heart raced with old and new anxieties, however I was determined to not let these shatter the bliss that I was there to experience.
I have previously written about the importance of living in the present (found here) and this is reinforced in spaces when you are forced to stop and relax. What benefit is there in a massage if you spend it fretting and feeling anxious? Forcing my mind back to the present was definitely a challenge. Turning off the constant chatter in my mind proved difficult. It made me understand why people persist with meditation. To clear one’s head of all thoughts is truly a skill, and one I clearly need to work on more.
2. Feeling in tune with my body
Removing distractions, including snacks, from the day allowed me to fully engage in the now and really listen to what my body needed and craved. Following the treatments, I was ravenous. I realised that I usually eat in the afternoons when I am not even hungry. I almost feel as though I “deserve” a snack to get me through to dinner, when in reality it is most likely boredom or emotion talking. This time away from the snack cupboard also meant that my digestive system could work as it needed to. My tummy rumbled when it was empty and let me know gently when it was full after dinner.
While I am not generally religious, having a connection with the mind and body strengthens the need to connect also to something deeper. It was probably the incense burning, but as the calm came over me, the mind begins to wander to further realms. If nothing else, this feeling instilled a sense of great strength in me.
While we can try to shut ourselves away from our stresses at home, getting away from it all offered a solid foundation on which to reconsider goals, realign purpose and relax in the process. I highly recommend some time away out of your normal routine to let the benefits of wellness truly into your life.