Megs is a self-professed adventure junkie, so what happened when she bit the bullet and went into rehab?
I’m swapping the hiking boots for fluffy slippers, the raincoat for a plush dressing gown, and adventure for mindfulness… all in the name of taking a break.
You see, even the most avid explorers and adventure enthusiasts need to stop for a breather.
Usually I’m most at ease strapping on boots, clicking on a ski, navigating open water with a paddle or traipsing around the globe with some mini explorers in tow. For me, there’s nothing more liberating than wandering the unfamiliar, exploring the unknown and pushing myself out of my comfort zone in new environs. The connection. The discovery.
But, there are times when it’s not just about testing the limits or reaching new heights, times when your body and your mind crave some down time and want nothing more than to regroup, recalibrate and simply ‘be’.
In my case, I was feeling plain dog tired. No fuel left in my tank. Between regular international travels with my mini explorers, writing deadlines and training for a big kayak race, I was pushing my body through the hoops, and rather than wait until I was officially burnt out, I decided to be proactive and swap adventure for Ayurveda. Ommm….
‘Let’s be honest, they had this little explorer at ‘treetop cabin’.’
I could’ve chosen a simple bush camping break or a 5 star hotel to recalibrate, but instead I found myself researching health retreats. I felt they were the only way that I’d allow myself to be ‘looked after’ without the burden of guilt creeping into play.
As I drove through the outskirts of Sydney I pondered what the next four days would look like. How was I going to switch off and train myself to do absolutely nothing? The mere thought of containing my inner adventurous spirit had me feeling stifled, antsy and nervously twitching.
I had no idea what to expect as I approached Billabong Retreat, other than what I’d read about online. The raving reviews all said it was ‘transformational’ and included treetop cabins, daily yoga and meditation classes; nutritious organic vegetarian fare cooked by a resident chef and massages. But, let’s be honest, they had this little explorer at ‘treetop cabin’.
‘I felt a strange wave of calmness float over me and realised that slowing down to this pace was oddly comforting.’
The first morning I awoke to a loud chorus of nature as the cheerful lorikeets and kookaburras competed for my attention.
The morning featured of a nutritious breakfast, followed by two-hours of yoga and a meditation class. By lunchtime, I was already feeling remarkably zen. The afternoon was spent bathing in mineral hot springs, then a short bushwalk to rid myself of my extra energy, followed by a massage and reiki session.
I could get used to this. I felt a strange wave of calmness float over me and realised that slowing down to this pace was oddly comforting. There’s a lot to be said about disconnecting from the fast-paced modern world we live in. Removing the need to mindlessly scroll through my Insta feed, reply to emails, organise the next coffee date with friends and fill my every waking hour with activities. Here I was in a retreat setting, losing track of time, device-free, being gentle and kind to my body with mindfulness classes, yoga, clean eating and essentially nurturing my mind, body and soul… and it felt brilliant!
The notion of gut health isn’t new, nor is mindful eating, but to be placed in a retreat setting where you are being nurtured on a daily basis, learning about ancient philosophers and wellness rituals, experiencing home-cooked daily nutritious and organic fare cooked by expert Ayurvedic chefs really takes well-ness to the next level.
We indulged in everything from moussaka, bone-healing beetroot soup, chia porridge, bliss balls… and instead of the usual Shiraz, a healthy glass of lemon and turmeric elixir.
Storytelling was a ritual at every meal and involved our expert Ayurvedic chefs explaining what each meal included and what the medicinal benefits were. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Originating from India, it’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
Next came the silence. For those who know me well, I’m not one to stray from a good conversation. Growing up in a family of seven siblings meant that every mealtime was complete and utter chaos. Here I was, sitting at breakfast in a room full of people, all embracing the opportunity to try silent meditation: the technique referred to as Vipassana – an ancient meditation technique. To remove the social pressure from exchanging conversation with strangers and to focus on mindful eating and nourishing our inner souls was oddly, a welcome relief.
And so, my journey continued, each hour rolling into the next, filling my day with yoga, clean eating, mindfulness, massages, nature walks, good books, acoustic sessions in front of the log fire. Pure bliss. Slow and simple living at its best.
‘Clarity seeks quiet, calm spaces and in a sense, is freedom from the ‘shoulds’ and the daily lure of distraction.’
Four days focusing on nourishing our mind, body and soul resulted in a better version of ‘me’.
I couldn’t wait to return home to share these techniques with my family and adopt some of these daily routines into our travelling life, especially daily meditation, mindfulness teachings, yoga and clean eating.
Relationships and interactions between people are core to our existence and they define so much of how we will experience this world. It was now up to me to utilise everything I’d learned over the course of the retreat to create meaningful relationships with the people around me.
On my final evening, listening to the cacophony of frogs and bellbirds through the open window overlooking the billabong, I felt completely alive with a newfound sense of clarity. You see, clarity can’t be scheduled in your diary and you can’t just ‘think your way to clarity’. Instead it seeks quiet, calm spaces and in a sense, is freedom from the ‘shoulds’ and the daily lure of distraction.
Clarity will only visit when you’re still, open and have made a space beside you.