Sounds ebbed and flowed, dispersing before I managed to get a sense of what they were. Like a kaleidoscope, aromatic colours flooded my eyes and the hot, heavy air ran through my fingers.
There was no grey. The dull hues of London had been left behind, along with the all-consuming abandonment that comes with the loss of a loved one.
If you need me you’ll know where i’ll be.
I’ve always enjoyed travelling alone. As a young girl, I would take myself walking to think, write and explore places with no one but my own company. I find a beauty in these times of aloneness, of reflection and connection with oneself; away from the ego.
The world works with time but time isn’t linear and sometimes things happen that you can’t explain.
On the 6th February 2019 I lost one of the most significant humans in my life, the man I hoped would one day walk me down the aisle, hold my babies and witness me grow into the woman he had helped create.
The loss of a parent is something difficult to comprehend and for anyone who’s been through it, you’ll know how it initiates a journey that changes you and your outlook on life forever. A path spreads out before you like a thicket that you enter with a set of tools you had no idea existed.
Amidst traumatic life experiences you fall into a space between deep sadness and yearning to escape reality, often swaying between the two. This navigation period is one of growth, learning, acceptance, and using the very necessary coping mechanism of distraction.
Taking yourself somewhere foreign with no pre conditioned memories is a place for you to begin dissecting, processing and feeling things in their entirety.
It had only been a short period since my father passed away but I believe there’s an essential element to removing yourself from your everyday life after a trauma.
Have you ever felt like time slows down over a significant period of life change?
Days are normal but you feel distant, as if existing in a different time zone to everyone else. You’re around all you know in a space that suddenly feels very unknown.
Surrounded by recurrent cues, triggers and habits that enhanced memories I had never before acknowledged, I strongly felt that it would be (daunting) but healthy to remove myself from the myriad reality in hope that this would enable some reconditioning and processing of the past few months.
Travelling to a sea of yellow and green
And so I found myself taking the 2 plane, 3 car and 24 hours of no sleep journey across the World to India, one of the most spiritually powerful and other-worldly places I have ever encountered. North of Dehradun is a beautiful mountainous location that was once the residential palace of the Maharajah, and has since been transformed into the 5-star Holistic Wellness retreat – Ananda Spa. Stood overlooking the ancient City of Rishikesh, I breathe and feel an ephemeral alleviation from the heavy pain I had been experiencing for months.
What is it about Ananda?
Ananda in the Himalayas is a world renowned Wellness retreat that I was lucky enough to hear about over a year ago. Little did I know that I would find myself heading here for a self induced remedial trip a year later.
Specialising in Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation and Vedanta, Ananda works with an incredibly holistic approach that focuses on the mind, body and soul.
My personal experience was a week of re-connection, R&R, mindful processing, and a surprising amount of learning.
My love of yoga and meditation started seven years ago and they have since remained two things that have got me through many life hurdles. I subconsciously knew that if there was a place to help me gain clarity in my practices, learn about the core principles, strip things back to their foundation and work on re-connecting, it was at the spiritual sanctuary of Ananda.
Stepping into Ananda is an other-worldly experience that you will take with you forever.
Many visit Ananda in the Himalayas independently for a healing recharge, detox, stress-management or fitness package. New to 2019, they have also started introducing curated group retreats, which is what I opted for. Group retreats are always a wonderful way to meet like-minded individuals that you can connect with through the journey you’re on together, even though you’re there for your individual reasons.
Guests at Ananda can stay for periods of 3 days to over 3 weeks and I found the Ananda approach to be inclusive yet bespoke, something that is difficult to find on many retreats. Guests spend their days in Kurta pyjamas and everyone is assigned one of 4 meals plans based on their Ayurvedic Dosha, which is prescribed by your Wellness Doctor on arrival.
After my consultation we established that I was of the “Vata – Pitta” type. Concisely put, this means that I have a tendency to be slim and energetic with a creative mind and a tendency to suffer from anxiety and bone ailments. Slightly impatient, I can get hot-headed but am easy to forgive and am healthier when eating warm foods.
The full summary was remarkably spot-on and after witnessing the immediate benefits of doing so, I adopted lifestyle factors aligned with my Ayurvedic Doshas that I have kept moving forward.
You can find out your Dosha here;
Your time at Ananda is curated and guided in such a way that encourages you to take away components for your everyday life at home. Rarely do you embark on a short journey that initiates habits and sustainable changes in the way Ananda assists you to do so. Through the daily meditation, yoga and breath-work practices we learnt different techniques and discussed each one afterwards, helping you feel not only totally immersed in the practice but also in control of why you were doing it and how you could embrace it independently.
There were tears, visualisations and outer body sensations experienced by most through our classes.
Our daily yoga practices were a far cry from the inner-city power, fast flow sessions that I was used to. Based on incredibly traditional techniques, at Ananda they teach you with a deeper focus on the mind and breathe, with gentle movement.
Being a cardio bunny, I couldn’t resist regular visits to their state-of-the-art gym and using their beautiful pool but I loved learning about the traditional yoga approach, and the week long experience would not be complete without Ananda’s flagship feature – the 24,000 square-foot, soothing and very welcoming spa.
Designed with elements of ancient Indian Yantras and colours from the robes of monks in the Northern Himalayan regions, the core treatments offered are Ayurvedic, using age-old powders; oils, copper vessels, wooden beds, and treatment rituals. Each treatment starts with vedic chants in the warm, candlelit room and ends with more harmonic melodies. My experience was nothing less than beautiful, and rather emotional.
Travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.
Waking up at 6 am each morning to ginger tea, musical sounds of nature and views of the vibrant landscape was an etherial existence I was reluctant to leave. My little bubble of a different reality had certainly helped in beginning to dissect what had happened and work through some everyday questions that had been whizzing around my mind like flies.
It always takes a period of time to assess what you take away from a trip and settling back home I acknowledged the significant recharge, my clarity of thought and a positive perspective to work with. This was the start of a very long journey and a new way of life but I returned with the feeling that I had reconnected and said goodbye to my father through meditation sessions and Ananda was the perfect, very charged place to connect with myself again.
No time apart from your everyday reality will create a new one but you can certainly work on reconditioning a you that’s prepared for life moving forward.
Ananda in the Himalayas will remain one of of the most special trips I have ever been on and a place that I hope to one day revisit. For anyone looking to visit a healing sanctuary that will give you a life changing experience away, I would certainly recommend Ananda in the Himalayas.
Click through to view their current packages here;