A vacation helped me finally leave my parents’ toxic marriage.

Thailand hotels, Thailand wellness resorts, therapeutic vacations, Thailand travel – Hannah Summers

Krishna Raj offers his hard-hitting truths along with endearing idiomatic expressions. “The more you look into the future with fear, the more you miss the present,” he says. “What will set you free is a rock-solid intention to heal your suffering. We all have skeletons in the closet. It is best to let them fall. I sink into my chair in his shady 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 box of tissues.

Here at Kamalaya, a luxury wellness retreat located in a tranquil area of ​​southern Koh Samui, Thailand, Krishna Raj is not just a former monk with a master’s degree in Psychology, but a “life-enhancing 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 thought and behavior (I have even more). “We can’t prevent suffering, but we can address it,” he says, nodding sagely. “And the sooner the better.”

Embracing Change is designed to do just that. The show, which launched just before Covid and has since grown in popularity as we process the aftermath of the last two years, is for those who have experienced great change and suffering, for example, bereavement and separation (Stewarts, a British law firm, saw a 122 percent increase in divorce inquiries between July and October 2020, compared to the same period before the pandemic). 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 on delightful and relaxing spa treatments and free time to soak up the sun, use a steam room and practice the sun salutation in outdoor yoga pavilions, the rest is conversation sessions with your mentor. As a nation, we’re starting to open up more: a 2021 YouGov poll showed 85 per cent of Britons agree it’s a “good idea to seek counseling or psychotherapy for a problem before it gets out of hand”. I am one of them. I’ve had a lot of therapy, but I didn’t enjoy a second. Fortunately, this is very different.

Thailand Vacation - Hannah Summers

Thailand Vacation – Hannah Summers

Back in session one, Raj sits cross-legged in his chair, gently cajoling my life and nodding encouragingly as I speak. Then, with a series of fruitful pauses that I suspect are the result of his 21 years of monastic life, he gives me an insightful review of his thoughts. Apparently, suffering in life can take many forms, from physical suffering, such as being confined, to psychological suffering: what Raj describes as a “more subtle and often more damaging form of suffering that is the internal experience of how you perceive a situation in life. .

my parents’ marriage

For me, there’s one bit of heartache that runs deeper than the rest: my parents’ brief, toxic marriage, and me navigating years of subsequent fights as a child, which led to my estrangement from my mother as a teenager. It has become a negative reference point for how I live my life, even decades later. Common? Yes. Healthy? Definitely not. The result, for me, is a deep-seated fear that history will repeat itself.

Luxury Retreats in Thailand - Hannah Summers

Luxury Retreats in Thailand – Hannah Summers

Raj helps me explore that emotional trauma. “Try to look at this from a place of wisdom, with a compassionate perspective, and not from a place of fear,” he tells me. “Treat yourself and your relationships (your husband, your children, if you have any) as a separate chapter and not as a continuation of what happened in your childhood. By feeling trapped by the fear of becoming that, you are putting too much energy into it. It means that you are missing out on so many beautiful things around you.”

You are right: as I look back on my life, it has been shrouded in a paralyzing and destructive fear that the future will go catastrophically wrong. My colorful present is often overshadowed by a future that does not yet exist. With a mantra of “feel the potential of life”, Kamalaya has positioned itself as the place to start a new journey of appreciation.

A safe place to feel vulnerable

While it’s very much a wellness retreat, it’s also a safe space to feel vulnerable, and very pretty. Coconut palms stretch skyward and fluo-pink bougainvillea cover a series of steep paths that lead down to a tranquil stretch of sand.

Meditation spots, from a massive rock on the beach to an ancient meditation cave used by Buddhist monks for more than 300 years (the reason for the resort’s location), dot the site. Guests wander around in expensive caftans and oversized sun hats. Warm pools dot the quiet wellness center and are the perfect place to roll around with lemongrass tea while watching the sunset. There is a beautiful island beyond the walls, but I suspect that no one goes out to see it.

Instead, much of my time, and theirs, is spent with professionals who provide treatments that, at first glance, are stress-relieving massages, but in reality combine Eastern and Western philosophies for better results, such as unlocking ourselves emotionally. .

The best wellness resorts in Thailand

The best wellness resorts in Thailand

I spent 90 sleepy minutes one day 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 back in a sunlight-filled room to try out 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 “comprehensive alignment”. .

In the steam room, carved into the rocks of the hillside, I gather stories about the fascinating guests, who include German real estate tycoons, American models, and Italian opera singers. Many travel alone, some even staying a month or more. Others are here for a week or two, recovering from exhaustion, delving into insomnia issues, or cleansing their intestines with a detox, one of the most popular programs here. For them, food is stripped of the things that make it more delicious. They wince as they sip fluro green detox shots at breakfast and browse dishes called ‘cauliflower textures’. For other guests, like me, there is a healthy menu that includes dahl and mung bean paste lasagna. I don’t see a single beer on a table or on the beach, although a lot of organic wine is drunk.

treatments in Thailand, luxury resorts in Thailand - Hannah Summers

treatments in Thailand, luxury resorts in Thailand – Hannah Summers

Everything comes together to give you that important balance between mind and body. Another day I meet Leila for a Bach Flower Consultation. After a 90-minute cathartic talk, I’m given a blend of seven of the 38 essences that Dr. Bach of Rescue Remedy fame combined with particular emotions in the 20th century. Honeysuckle is suggested to help me let go of the past, and white chestnut to overthink. They are bottled to pipet into my water bottle, and they give me the list of scents to buy when I get home.

For three of my seven days I see Bernie, the resident acupuncturist who has given himself the great task of “getting you out of your head, lady.” With a series of pulse checks, tongue tests, and leg rubs, he claims my liver is taking over my spleen, causing me to think and analyze too much. “Why though? How?” I ask, confirming his findings.

He spends part of his time inserting ultrafine needles into my legs, back, and chest, and the rest of his time “cupping.” Choking me with tiger balm uses what looks like small glass jars to suck my back fat into the container, releasing it minutes later with a loud “pop” and leaving me with dark circles on my shoulders.

‘If you want to scream, SHOUT!’

My favorite part though, besides hanging on to Raj’s every word of wisdom, is my time with Asha for Shirodhara therapy. In a darkened room, she gently releases my bird’s nest bun and lays me down on a bed and places a brass bowl on my head. For 30 minutes, the warm medicated oil is poured 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 do feel some concern. She looks at me seriously as she wraps me up in a sarong at the end. “Your heart is blocked and your emotions repressed,” he tells me she. Go back to your room and close the door. If you want to cry, cry! If you want to scream, SHOUT!” I choose both.

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

“Ultimately, meditation strengthens our capacity for self-introspection,” he explains. “It allows us to pay attention to our emotions and not be a distant observer.”

“Psychological suffering is difficult to address, that’s where meditation becomes important,” he continues. “Take a step back and look at your mind and the stories you are weaving in it. Your future is not the same as your past. Meditation can help you break that obsessive cycle.”

It doesn’t come easily, or naturally. But it comes. Slowly. For 20 minutes during each session, Raj expertly guides me to access repressed memories and feelings in my subconscious.

The verdict

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

Raj is right: my past suffering does not have to be my future reality. I closed the door on our last session with a very clear, very strong thought, and a cheesy line that I never really thought I would say: I choose to break free. I choose to live my beautiful life.

How to do it

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

Visitors must show proof of full vaccination, or a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure, or proof of recovery. See fco.gov.uk for more information.

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