Our holistic guru recommends her favourite self-care curated havens across the world
Most of us put ourselves under scrutiny in January. After all, it’s a brand new fresh and shiny year. What will we do with it? What do we want to achieve? Maybe the more interesting questions are: Who do we want to be? How do we want to feel? How do we want to think?
If this is the year you want to make real changes, I’d strongly suggest trying a transformational retreat. These are the retreats that put you on the spot and that make you question your life. Yes, they can be uncomfortable and, yes, you may have to confront memories and emotions that have been locked away, sometimes since childhood.
However you will be looked after superbly and there is something magical and healing in its own right about working through your ‘stuff’ with other people who are facing their own challenges. It’s a bonding process like no other and I am still close friends with many of my retreat buddies.
If you dare to go for the ‘deep dive’ – a week of full-on psychotherapeutic enquiry – I can’t recommend the following highly enough. The Penninghame Process (penninghame.org, £1,595) unlocked my childhood traumas and healed me from the depression that had haunted me since I was 10 years old. The Path of Love (pathretreats.com, around £2,000) taught me to let go of my feelings of shame and it introduced me to my own power. The Bridge Retreat (thebridgeretreat.com, from £2,750) transformed my relationship with my ancestors. Yes, they’re pricey but they truly change lives – and you can’t put a price on that.
I cried buckets at those retreats; I yelled and screamed myself hoarse. But transformation needn’t be quite so dramatic and cathartic. For a gentler introduction I’d recommend the following: Psychotherapist Fiona Arrigo (thearrigoprogramme, from £1,695) runs exquisite retreats in stunning locations (from wild glamping in the UK to a drop-dead gorgeous Indian palace). Life coach Danielle Marchant (lifebydanielle.com, from £389) offers a series of ‘Pause’ retreats, from Cornwall to Bali, offering the chance to sink into nature and unpick your issues. Meanwhile, coach and hypnotherapist Kate Taylor (katetaylor.co, from £400) runs divine Practical Magic retreats on the Isle of Wight and Ibiza.
All these are creative, inventive, beautifully curated retreats that softly probe the psyche. They open you up to possibilities and help you to think in different ways.
Quieter and simpler, but no less effective, are the UK retreats run by Kim Bennett of Serenity Retreat (serenityretreat.co.uk, from £190). Kim is a Zen Buddhist meditation teacher and her retreats include meditation, mindfulness and gentle self-enquiry. Who are you really? Do you treat yourself with kindness and compassion? No screaming and yelling here, no wild dancing – but soft, deep work nonetheless.
If even that sounds a bit challenging, take a look at Vitality Retreat (vitality-retreat.com, from £199). Run by life coach Donna Booth in the far north of Scotland, these retreats offer mindfulness, crafts, immersion in nature, yoga and life coaching. Gentle and supportive, they’re a great first step into self-care. Here’s to 2020
Jane Alexander’s latest book is Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living (Kyle Books). She blogs at exmoorjane.com and is on Twitter and Instagram as @exmoorjane and on Facebook as @eJaneAlexander
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