A holiday helped me finally let go of my parents’ toxic marriage

Thailand hotels, Thailand wellness resorts, Therapeutic vacations, Thailand trips - Hannah Summers

Thailand hotels, Thailand wellness resorts, Therapeutic vacations, Thailand trips – Hannah Summers

Krishna Raj delivers his hard-hitting truths alongside captivating idioms. “The more you look to the future with fear, the more you miss the present,” he says. “What will set you free is a solid intention to heal your suffering. We all have skeletons in the closet. It is better to let them fall.” I sink into my chair in his shaded office. I’m hours into my week-long Embracing Change program and decades of painful inner turmoil are starting to make sense. I reach for the tissue box.

Here in Kamalaya, a luxury wellness retreat located on a peaceful stretch of southern Koh Samui, Thailand, Krishna Raj is not just a former monk with a master’s in psychology, but a “life enhancement mentor.” He is here to give me the resources and wisdom to release my emotional blocks (I have many) and free myself from unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior (I have even more). “We can’t avoid suffering, but we can solve it,” he says, nodding sagely. “And the sooner the better.”

Embracing Change was designed to do just that. The show, which launched shortly before Covid and has since grown in popularity as we process the aftermath of the past couple of years, is for those who have gone through great change and heartache – for example, grief and separation (Stewarts, an office of British law firm, saw a 122% increase in divorce applications between July and October 2020 compared to the same pre-pandemic period). But it is also for those who wish to seek positive change by addressing the destructive thought patterns they have become accustomed to. That will be me.

psychological suffering

While much of the program is based around lovely relaxing spa treatments and free time for sunbathing, steaming, and practicing your sun salutations in outdoor yoga pavilions, the rest are talk sessions with your mentor. . As a nation, we are approaching greater openness: a 2021 YouGov poll showed that 85% of Britons agree that it’s a “good idea to seek counseling or psychotherapy for an issue before it gets out of hand”. I’m one of them. I did a lot of therapy, but I didn’t enjoy a second. Fortunately, this is very different.

vacation in thailand - Hannah Summers

vacation in thailand – Hannah Summers

Back in session one, Raj sits cross-legged in his chair, gently coaxing my life out of me and nodding encouragingly as I speak. Then, with a series of pregnant breaks that I suspect are the result of his 21 years of monastic life, he gives me an insightful insight into his thoughts. Suffering in life can apparently take many forms, from physical suffering, such as living in confinement, to psychological suffering: what Raj describes as “a more subtle and often more harmful form of suffering that is the inner experience of how you perceive a situation.” situation in life”. .

my parents’ wedding

For me, there’s a little bit of heartache that cuts deeper than the rest: my parents’ short, toxic marriage, and me navigating downhill years later as a child, leading to my mother’s estrangement as a teenager. It has become a negative reference point for how I live my life – even decades later. Common? Yup. Healthy? Definitely not. The result, for me, is an ingrained fear that history will repeat itself.

Luxury retreats in Thailand - Hannah Summers

Luxury retreats in Thailand – Hannah Summers

Raj helps me explore this emotional trauma. “Try to look at it wisely, with a compassionate perspective, not fear,” he tells me. “Treat yourself and your relationships – your husband, your children if you have them – as a separate chapter and not a continuation of what happened in your childhood. By being gripped by the fear of becoming that, you are putting a lot of energy into it. It means you are missing out on so many beautiful things around you.”

He’s right: when I look back, my life is shrouded in a crippling, destructive fear that the future will go cataclysmally wrong. My colorful present is so often darkened by a future that does not yet exist. With a mantra of “feeling the potential of life”, Kamalaya positioned itself as the place to start a new journey of appreciation.

A safe place to feel vulnerable

While it’s a wellness retreat, it’s also a safe space to feel vulnerable – and very beautiful. Coconut trees stretch skyward and fluro-pink bougainvillea cover a series of steep paths that lead to a tranquil stretch of sand.

Meditation spots – from a huge rock on the beach to an ancient meditation cave used by Buddhist monks for over 300 years (the reason for the resort’s location) – dot the site. Guests stroll around in expensive kaftans and oversized parasols. Hot plunge pools dot the quiet Wellness Center and are the perfect place to sip lemongrass tea while watching the sun set. There is a beautiful island beyond the walls, but I suspect no one leaves to see it.

Instead, a lot of my time, and theirs, is spent with professionals who offer treatments that, at first glance, are stress-relieving massages, but actually blend Eastern and Western philosophies to give greater results, such as emotionally unblocking us. .

Best wellness resorts in thailand

Best wellness resorts in thailand

One day, I spent 90 minutes napping with an Indian head massage, in which Ayurvedic techniques release emotional and physical tension in my body and help create mental clarity. In another, I lay down in a room filled with sunlight to experience the Tree Treasures treatment, which combines Tui Na massage, Reiki, and crystal healing to balance my mind, body, and emotions to create a sense of peace and what is described. as “full alignment”. .

In the steam room, which is cut into the rocks of the hillside, I gather stories about the fascinating guests, which include German real estate moguls, American models and Italian opera singers. Many are solo travelers, some even stay a month or more. Others are here for a week or two, recovering from exhaustion, delving deeper into insomnia issues, or clearing the gut with a detox—one of the most popular programs here. For them, food is stripped of the things that make it most delicious. They shudder from doses of green-fluro detox for breakfast and browse dishes called ‘cauliflower textures’. For other guests, like myself, there is a healthy menu featuring noodle lasagna with dahl and mung beans. I don’t see a single beer on the table or on the beach, although there is plenty of organic wine being drunk.

treatments in Thailand, luxury resorts in Thailand - Hannah Summers

treatments in Thailand, luxury resorts in Thailand – Hannah Summers

It all comes together to bring you that all-important mind-body balance. The other day I meet Leila for a Bach Flower Consultation. After a cathartic 90 minute conversation, I receive a blend of seven of the 38 essences that Dr. Bach, famous for Rescue Remedy, combined with particular emotions in the 1900s. Honeysuckle is suggested to help me leave the past behind and white chestnut for overthinking. They are bottled for pipetting in my water bottle, and the list of essences is given to me to buy when I get home.

For three of my seven days, I see Bernie, the resident acupuncturist who has undertaken the great task of “getting you out of my head, ma’am.” With a series of pulse checks, tongue scans and leg thrusts, he claims my liver is invading my spleen, causing over-thinking and over-analysis. “Why? But how?” I ask, confirming his findings.

He spends part of his time pushing ultra-fine needles into my legs, back and chest, and the rest of the time “putting the suction cup on”. Smothering me with Tiger Balm, he uses what look like tiny glass jars to suck my back fat into the container, releasing it minutes later with a loud “pop” and leaving me with dark circles under my shoulders.

‘If you want to scream, SCREAM!’

My favorite part though, other than clinging to Raj’s every wise word, is my time with Asha for Shirodhara therapy. In a dark room, she gently releases my bird’s nest bun and lays me on the bed and places a brass bowl above my head. For 30 minutes, hot medicated oil gushes out of it and falls onto my forehead, flowing down the sides of my face to relieve tension and balance my nervous system.

I feel more relaxed in his company, but I feel some concern. She looks at me seriously as she wraps me in a sarong at the end. “Your heart is blocked and your emotions suppressed,” she tells me. “Go back to her room and close the door. If you want to cry, cry! If you want to scream, SCREAM!” I choose both.

The next day I meet Raj for another session. While what I found most helpful is Raj’s sage perspective on my fractured mind – I have pages and pages of his thoughts scribbled in a notebook, then typed up to paste on my wall – what makes up about a third of his sessions is meditation. guided tour, tailored specifically for the trauma or problems shared that day. While I’ve tried meditation apps, which Raj says are a useful starting point for clearing your mind, his sessions go much deeper. Two decades of living as a monk and meditation teacher in India will do that.

“Meditation is ultimately strengthening our capacity for self-introspection,” he explains. “It allows us to pay attention to our emotions and not be an impartial observer.”

“Psychological distress is hard to deal with – that’s where meditation becomes important,” he continues. “Stand back and look at your mind and the stories you are weaving into it. Your future is not the same as your past. Meditation can help you break this obsessive cycle.”

It doesn’t come easily, or naturally. But come. Slowly. For 20 minutes during each session, I am expertly guided by Raj to access repressed memories and feelings in my subconscious.

the verdict

Unexpectedly – ​​and I can’t emphasize how skeptical I felt about accepting a show like this – for the first time in my life I understand what’s been going through my head, and I realize that I don’t look to the future in fear, something that never existed. for me before. It’s a seismic shift that feels incredibly liberating and, most importantly, continues when I get home. I owe a lot to Raj.

Raj is right: my past suffering need not be my future reality. I closed the door on our last session with a very clear, very strong thought, and a corny phrase that I really never thought I’d say: I choose to be free. I choose to live my beautiful life.

How to do this

Healing Holidays (020 3372 6945; healingholidays.com) offers a seven-night Embracing Change program on Kamalaya Koh Samui from £3,849 per person, including flights, transfers, full board and program inclusions. Follow-up sessions with Life Enhancement Mentors can be scheduled at kamalayaconnect.com. Read the full hotel review here, plus our guide to the best hotels in Thailand.

Visitors must provide proof of complete vaccination, or negative PCR test performed within 72 hours of departure, or proof of recovery. See fco.gov.uk for more information.

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