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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Really Serious Spritual Retreats - Crying, Wine and Psychedelic Plants...



Dear Readers,


As promised, before we leave the topic of spiritual retreats, having done the most budget (yes, even free) and the most expensive (we came to the conclusion, not particularly authentic) before we leave this topic, we wanted to visit, just out of pure interest, the really, really serious retreats.  In researching this, we came back again and again to the budget ones.  Guess what, in our effort to find the cheapest retreats, we actually found the most serious ones to boot.  This fact alone, dear Readers, I think you’ll agree, says it all.  The earnest, honest retreats are the cheapest, and I refer us back to our first post on this, on what defines a retreat, and I think you’ll find, money and luxury are not at the top of the list.


So what do we do now?  I hear you cry!  Never fear, dear Readers, your Hapless Blogger is here!  During our research we unearthed some rather, erm, unusual retreats, and in the spirit of sharing this information (mainly because now I know it, I can’t un-know it if you know what I mean, so I think you should know it, too), we thought you might enjoy the World’s weirdest retreats…yup, get prepared to be properly weirded-out:

Image result for crying therapy japan


We were going to start with the weirdest, but to be honest, they’re all weird so it doesn’t really matter.  So number one is Crying Therapy, Japan.  Yup, definitely weird:  ladies are paying for “handsome man” to make them cry.  Basically Japanese entrepreneur, Hiroki Terai, founded a group crying service where everyone cries and a “handsome weeping boy” comforts them…Crying is supposed to be a release, both healthy and cathartic and is said to relieve stress levels.  Originally designed to aid divorced women who have often, especially in the Japanese culture, divorced out of frustration as it’s common for the men to work 14 hour days with no or little free time, plus women themselves are indeed working these same hours, he found that this same idea benefitted others, too.  Why a “handsome man”?  Well apparently attraction heightens the emotions and helps with the elation felt after the crying period is over…interesting…weird, but interesting.

Image result for cryotherapy slovakia


Next we are going to Slovakia to have cryotherapy.  This time, nothing to do with crying, but with freezing.  This, dear Readers, involves staying up to 3 minutes in a chamber at -120 degrees MINUS 120 DEGREES ARE THEY KIDDING?!  Then you have to do a session of vigorous exercise for 20 mins afterwards AGAIN, ARE THEY KEIDDING?!  Why would we do this?  The effects of extreme cold apparently triggers a process which helps to regulate the nerve endings, stimulates the metabolism and increases the pain threshold hence has been used by athletes for years.  Thanks to the stimulation and production of endorphins, adrenalin and testosterone, those suffering from chronic pain can be helped…So you go there, you’re given what looks like gym shorts, hockey socks, a headband (terrible flash-backs to my school days, Readers) and some parts are left exposed (God only knows).  Then you go into a special “pre-chamber” of -60 for 30 secs and then to the bad boy for 3 minutes where you are allowed to move around…then you need to work out intensively for 20 mins to get the full effect…all for only 12 Euros!  Bargain!  Get yourselves down to www.aquacity.sk now!

Image result for wine therapy japan


Let’s get weirder, but so much happier:  how about a wine spa in, you guessed it, Japan.  Vinotherapy:  where you doggy paddle around in some red wine (probably best not to actually drink it).  It is said to be good for your skin and to slow the ageing process.  So get yourselves down to the Yunnessun Spa Resort in Hakone, Japan, where you can bathe in coffee, green tea, Sake, ramen or red wine… www.atlasobscura.com/places/yunessun-spa-resort

Image result for ayahuasca shaman retreat


Now, being serious for a minute here, dear Readers, in all our joking around, for our last “experience” we have actually stumbled upon the retreat we have spent the previous two Blog posts looking for.  Interestingly enough, it didn’t show up in any of our conventional searches but we have found it!  This is exactly what I (don’t know about you) had pictured when the words “spiritual” and “retreat” were put together.  We have found the holy grail of spiritual retreats, the big daddy:  Ayahuasca Shaman Retreat, Peru.  This is IT!  Basically the Amazonians have been doing this for years.  Participants experience visions and epiphanies.  How?  By taking copious amounts of psychedelic plants.  You need to go with Blue Morpho Tours www.bluemorphotours.com have a look at this website:  it’s really, really weird.  But do you know what?  It is the retreat we have been searching for:  private and personalised.  It will heal you, cure you and change your life.  You stay in a lodge compound near the Itaya River in the Peruvian Amazon in 180 acres of private reserve.  There’s a swimming pool, private lodge, guest bungalows, the works.  There’s a special chef catering for your Shamanic diet, a lovely lounge area and of course, the area where they prepare the “Ayahuasca”.  They offer various different retreats but all are super private and mainly cost £1900 for 7 nights 5 ceremony days all-inclusive so this is not what you would call expensive.

Image result for blue morpho tours peru


Now, here come the interesting part.  The warnings.  I was so excited and this sounded so holy grailish, but these may have put me off slightly:  during the retreat you are not allowed to consume sugar or anything that tastes sweet (fair enough), alcohol or “street drugs” (whatever they are) nor for 7 days afterwards…ok…During, and for 30 days after the retreat you are not allowed to consume pork or pork products (weird) and no sex during or for 3 days after the retreat (well, most people with children know what that’s like anyway) but this is the worrying bit:  if you don’t stick to these rules, they actually warn you that you could have serious physical, emotional, mental and spiritual affliction!  Well, what do you think about that, Readers?  What ON EARTH are they giving you? 

Image result for ayahuasca shaman

So on that bombshell, with definitely the most serious, and inexpensive retreat we have arguably found what we were looking for…who’s coming with us?!

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Luxury Spiritual Retreats - The Emperor's New Clothes?



Dear Readers,


Today it is the turn of luxury.  We pick up from our last Blog post and today we look at the very highest of the high end of luxury.  But the question we have to ask ourselves is do we lose the essence of a “retreat”?  Is it more like a pampered yoga class?  Or do you still get the original experience?


By the way, have you worshipped any Goddesses yet?  Definitely keen to do the Goddess worshipping tantric trip in Greece we found in the last post if anyone fancies coming with me?  Anyway, back in the room:  luxury retreats:  emperor’s new clothes or the most authentic experience money can buy?


It’s hard to know where to start to be completely honest with you, dear Readers, and as we have said in previous Blog posts, this is such a huge topic in terms of the types of retreats one can go on, that you have to kind of take them all together…In our research we have found that literally the sky is the limit with these things, so here follows some interesting examples:

Image result for barai thailand


Firstly, dear Readers, we’re going far flung:  the Barai, Thailand.  This will cost you £3,538 or £5,373 for single occupancy (do you really want to share a room with someone you don’t know?!  Joking!) for 7 nights.  Having won 100s of awards, this is a temple of sanctuary, a deeply healing environment offering a holistic approach focussed on your whole being:  mind, body and spirit.  Set in 4 ½ acres of Hua Hin beachfront, here you can expect to find spa accommodation, traditional massages, yoga, fitness and healthy eating programmes.  The architecture is a big part of this place and it is designed along with the art and wellbeing principles, all working as one.  The Presidential Pool Villa at 434 square meters affords you a beachfront locations with a private pool, 2 queen beds and butler service.  In terms of actual retreat activates, excluding accommodation (presumably you would stay in the Villa?) from £185 per person per night for 3, 5, or 7 nights, you can have yoga, Tai Chi, Thai Boxing, Stretching, Garland making classes (say whaaaaat?), cooking, visits to floating markets, temples, fishing, night markets and a pineapple farm (yes, you heard it here first).  Or you can have tailor-made weight loss, fitness, cleanse, yoga and unwind programmes.  This includes all meals and that famous butler service.  You eat at McFarland House which also caters for functions, guests staying at the neighbouring Hyatt and weddings.  Authentic?  Hummm.

Image result for the santani sri lanka


This next one really caught our eye, dear Readers, and after all our research, I think could be one of the best.  It certainly is according to all its awards.  Have a look at The Santani in Sri Lanka.  Billed as minimalist luxury in the jungle, this is a different kettle of fish and certainly more authentic in our eyes.  Santani means “in harmony with” and they provide “wellness programmes” in Ayurveda, detox and cleansing, yoga and relaxation.  This is combined with pampering, rejuvenation and “enlightened learning” for a healthy life (sounds bliss, right?!).  This is something which stood out:  there is personalised cuisine so you can ensure you’re getting the full experience (my worry is, dear Readers, you book on and go on one of these super-expensive retreats where you do all this detoxing and cleansing, then are left to your own devices in the evening where you end up eating burger and chips and undoing all your good work in the day) be it juicing, vegetarian, vegan…plus there is a biodynamic wine and juice bar!  Bonus!  Sold!  The idea is you don’t have a menu, as it’s all done according to a personalised diet plan.  Using the most up to date scientific research, the plans are based upon your specific health goals and physical condition:  Ketogenic, Ayurvedic Vegetarian and Detox.  There are various retreats and programmes you can opt for in a very authentic environment.  The dwellings are based on Buddhist meditation caves and the idea is that they help you to “reset” with no modern distractions such as TVs, but wifi as available on demand.  You’re looking at about £2140 each without any special packages built in, depending on time of year, but dear Readers, please have a look at this place, it looks out of this world!

 Image result for xuclar beach house ibiza

A really good website for all sorts of retreats is www.queenofretreats.com.  Here we found inspiration for retreats closer to home, such as Soul Adventures in Ibiza.  This is where your emotional and mental health will be recalibrated through ancient healing arts.  Kundalini yoga and shamanic healing arts are used at Xuclar Beach House in the hills near Portinax.  Group retreats are available or you can have one bespoked for you.  Slightly more than the previous at £1,469 per person per day single occupancy all-inclusive or £1,848 per person per day for the private exclusive suite, you’d hope to feel recharged…

Image result for strategic space retreat france


Fancy a retreat in a chateau?  Look no further than the Strategic Space retreat, France.  This is a 4-night personal strategy retreat for people who want a personal, career or business-lead reboot and kick-start or indeed a complete life transformation (whatever that means).  You find yourself in a private chateau in Chateau de Mailly, Burgundy, with a specific programme, one-to-one sessions, chef-cooked meals and wine!  Thank goodness.  No detox-cleanse here then, clearly.  This will set you back £2,265 each for 4 nights all-inclusive.

Image result for radical sabbatical kent


Or, dear Readers, what about this:  a Radical Sabbatical with Advivum Journeys in Kent, UK?  Billed as a powerful, luxurious, life-coaching retreat in an elegant manor house, why not?  The idea is, that for 5 days, already successful people reconnect with what they want to get out of life, using group tutorials, workshops and solo activities…and good food (not coming back thinner here then) for £3,500 for 5 days…

Image result for being at the cottage


Or lastly, as there are so many, how about a solo rural retreat at Being at the Cottage, Abergavenny, Wales?  An inspirational and mind-changing solo retreat with private coaching alongside time alone.  Aimed at business leaders and entrepreneurs at the top of their game to revitalise the way they think and make changes within their organisations.  Pricing is not clear but you’re looking at £900 upwards for a weekend…


Hummm….what do you think, dear Readers?  Your Hopeless Blogger has to be a bit honest with you:  I am a bit non-plussed.  I mean, you can clearly spend thousands and thousands of pounds, but really, is fundamentally what you’re getting any better than the budgets retreats we’ve already looked at?  Is it more authentic?  Will you achieve your goals faster and easier?  I think, the answer is “no”.  Personally, and this is just my opinion, from what we have researched, the most authentic experiences are the budget ones.  You see, one verges, with the luxe ones, on a sort of posh spa and really that’s not what we’re looking at.  An immersive experience without pretence I suppose would sum up what we’re looking for.  And do we find it in the luxe category?  I’m not so sure…I was really inspired with our budget ones, finding what sounded like amazing experiences for little money, just with really dedicated and enlightened people, was exciting…This seems a bit, well, sanitised…


Lastly, for our series on retreats, and we certainly hope you’re enjoying it, we’re going to look at really, really serious ones…so keep your eyes peeled!