I decided to give myself a real treat at the end of this year; an opportunity to completely disconnect, to unwind and do nothing but relax and re-fuel wherever possible. It felt like the right thing to do after a few particularly crazy weeks towards the end of the year which left me pretty exhausted. A friend of mine had been on an Ayurvedic retreat in India earlier this year and her account of her experience really inspired me. So, here I am in India.
The retreat is located in the very south-west of India, perfectly positioned right on the beach front. It’s a wonderful, peaceful place that makes it easy to let go and unwind. My plan is to do a what is called ‘Panchakarma’ – a purification cure for a whole-body detox in accordance with Ayurvedic principles. After a consultation with one of the retreat’s doctors, I receive my treatment plan comprising a daily schedule of meditation, yoga, oil treatments and healthy food. The plan begins the next day.
Meditation starts at 07:15 in the morning. Deepu, the meditation instructor, asks us to find a comfortable sitting position with our legs crossed and our backs straight. “You all are familiar with a hectic lifestyle full of distractions, right?” Deepu asks.
“Having focused attention is a much more unagitated and engaging way of experiencing the world, though. It brings us into the present moment. The idea behind meditation is to consciously direct your focus towards a meditation object and to keep your attention continuously fixed on it.”
he explains. “Now I am going to ask you to focus on your breath, on inhaling and exhaling. And I am going to ask you to hold the intention to return to your breath whenever you get distracted and your mind wanders away. Your mind inevitably will wander away, however it’s essential that you are firmly holding the intention to bring your mind back to your breath during the meditation.
You show intention and your mind and body will follow. That’s how it works with all of our achievements in life – they originate from our intentions. No intention, no achievement.”
I really like the way he eases us into the session, what a great reminder. Isn’t the notion of intention exactly what I regularly work on with my own clients? I had to smile. My mind is all over the place during the first meditation session and there are all these unfamiliar external sounds incessant on hijacking my attention. And yet my intentionkeeps me going and I gently return myself to my breathing, over and over again. At the end I am happy. Happy because I didn’t give up and remained calm and gentle with myself.
After meditation I go to the yoga platform, a nice little open-air pavilion with a view over the beach, where guests are free to do their own practices. I decide against reeling out my usual 30-minute yoga routine and instead set the intention of sensing into my body and going with what the moment demands of me. I do some very light stretching positions for no longer than 20 minutes, leaving me feeling comforted and awake.
Time for breakfast. The food here is amazing and the choice is huge. Nutrition in general is an important pillar of the Ayurvedic system. My treatment plan includes some clear do’s, don’ts and specific recommendations to ensure I get the full benefit of the healthy food that’s supporting me in fostering and sustaining a healthy balanced diet. I have set the intention to be very mindful of what I eat, to have fun in exploring the different dishes and experience their impact on me, and to not constantly overeat (a real challenge as everything tastes so incredibly good). Breakfast is as such my most modest meal of the day given my treatment starts at 09:30.
The treatments are a dream. They last between 2 and 3 hours, and my two therapists are always fully engaged. The range of Ayurvedic massages, baths and masks is huge. Every day the treatment plan is reviewed to make sure that I am getting exactly what I need at any given moment to best help my body reset and letting go of all the toxins stored up. In fact I fall asleep during my first oil massage which I think is a real pity. I mean, it’s not an awful thing per se but it is so much nicer to consciously enjoy the treat. That said, I have strengthened my intention for the treatments from the second day onwards: staying present and enjoying every minute in full consciousness.
Time flies and today marks my 14th day at the retreat already. 14 days of being intentionally mindful with myself and listening to my needs in each moment. Really listening. It feels like a mental, physical and also an emotional reset. I feel awake, strong, energetic and full of joy.
My intention is definitely to build on what I am reaffirming here; to be more present, more mindful of how I exercise my body and of what I eat. Simply being more mindful with myself in a holistic way and on a day-to-day basis, not just in a dedicated retreat. That’s my intention for 2019.
“That’s just another New Year’s resolution” you might say. Well, time will tell but remember Deepu’s message, “achievements originate from intentions; no intention, no achievements.”
So what about you? Are you going for an Intention or a New Year’s resolution in 2019? Share with me on Facebook or Linkedin, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.
Let's inspire each other, let's nourish our core energies.