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Transformative Retreats: Traveling Into your Inner Self

The journey is the destination: More and more luxury resorts are offering spiritual experiences that make it clear to guests how important it is to live in harmony with themselves and the environment. As a bonus, they also give those seeking meaning practical tools to be more mindful at home.

December 20, 2023

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That's a happy life? For Linda Mariscal, who works as a healer at the Mexican luxury resortOne&Only Mandarina, the answer is simple: "Learn to live more in the present and less in the past or future." It sounds simple, but it's difficult to implement in everyday life. Too much small stuff distracts us, and we hardly manage to relax in our free time either. A so-called transformative retreat will not solve all our problems instantly, but it can spur us on to be more mindful at home and listen more to ourselves and our true desires.

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"In Mexico, we are even closer to traditional healing methods, we know plants and herbs that cleanse and relax the body," says Linda, who works as a curandera - a kind of shaman. She helps people with their healing processes using indigenous knowledge passed down from her great-grandmothers. These can be cacao ceremonies to recharge energy or temazcal sessions, a form of wellness inspired by the Maya. The term comes from the Aztec and means bathhouse. In a round sweat lodge, the steam opens the pores and the mind, and there is singing and meditation. A session usually lasts one hour, sometimes up to three.

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More and more luxury hotels are offering transformative retreats. The aim is for guests to rediscover their inner balance - or learn to stop the thoughts spinning around in their heads. A shamanic ceremony may not be able to replace any necessary therapy, but it does at least open a window to take more care of yourself; to be more careful with yourself, your needs and your limits. In the midst of nature, it's easier to establish a connection. You can feel the power of the herbs, smell the trees, recognize how fragile and worthy of protection the balance of the world is. At best, you also realize that not everything revolves around you. This is often an important step towards freeing yourself from your constraints.

Open yourself up to the unknown

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Mindfulness basically means learning to appreciate the little things in life again and opening yourself up to new experiences. In the Beautiful Nomad retreats, team building is encouraged alongside daily exercise such as yoga, Pilates or dance, for example during shared meals or in workshops. In this case a combination of holistic rituals and community is seen as the path to healing.

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Traditional methods and modern medicine often merge in exciting ways. At the Thai Chiva-Som Hua Hin, for example, there are genome tests - saliva samples are the basis for individual recommendations for diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. The Vital Genomic Test identifies genetic variants that affect how the body processes vitamins and minerals and how you react to different types of exercise and environmental factors such as stress. The Longevity Genomic Test, on the other hand, assesses the risk of chronic diseases.

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Bali also has an immense range of traditional healing methods. At the Revivo wellness resort, these are cultivated on both a physical and spiritual level. The focus is on meditation and stress-relieving movements so that you return home rested, relaxed and with renewed energy. It's essential that old habits are made clear and broken. The aim is to replace hectic activity with stillness and, with the help of coaches and therapists, to learn practical techniques that can also be used at home. Breathing techniques in particular are very helpful.

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But you don't have to jet halfway around the globe to find yourself. Sometimes a long walk in the forest is enough - like at The Dreaming resort in Wales, where you can rediscover the wonders of nature, may it be by swimming in a cold pool, working with wood or telling stories around the evening campfire. Getting away from it all can be so easy - you just have to open yourself up to the unknown.

© Elsa Young

Read more: Healing Retreats: These Are the Best Addresses

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Fall 2023.

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