The verb – Retreat – sounds like backing off doesn’t it? Or then again it can be Re-Treat, and mean another chance to treat yourself….That was definitely the case for me when I took off to the Inner Guidance mini retreat in Suffolk, just outside the picturesque medieval village of Lavenham.
As you enter the 16th century grade 2 listed house you sense the energy immediately, it feels peaceful. It seems the house has a history of hosting peace initiatives, it was owned by the Howard family who were involved in what is now called ‘Initiative of Change International’, a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Jo De Rosa and her husband Dominic live there now and run their retreat centre, and when you see the huge meditation room/yoga studio, it seems incredible that it was already there when they moved in; Apparently, Howard built the extension to facilitate meetings and meditations. Famous guests have stayed there too including Winston Churchill and Gandhi.
Jo and Dominic host luxury transformational retreats, After removing my shoes, I was shown to my room, it had stunning views across the 3 acre site and beyond the statues of Buddha in the garden I could see horses in the field. Idyllic, literally.
I arrived feeling a little burnout, and very much in need of a little nurturing and this is self-care at its finest, because in addition to the yoga and meditation classes and sessions on offer, there are lovely walks on offer, books to read in the library and the most amazing healthy food. Hill Farm is perfect for unwinding, relaxing and recharging your batteries. But it’s much more than that. If you arrive with an open heart and mind the chances are you will go away inspired to look a little deeper into yourself. Our first yoga class was far from strenuous. It was restorative yoga and it did just that, leaking us feeling restored and incredibly relaxed. I was a little nervous of the morning meditation session, worried that I’d be fidgety and find it difficult to clear my mind, but Jo is a very experienced meditation teacher and recognises that it can seem tricky when you are a novice, but she puts you completely at ease. By the time you are ensconced in gorgeous colourful soft cushions, bolsters and blankets you feel cocooned and able to let go as she delivers a guided meditation. One of the highlights is the Cacao ceremony. They are the UK importers and stockists for Keith’s Cacao, raw 100 percent ceremonial grade Guatemalan cacao. Keith Wilson is a chocolate shaman and his cacao is known for its meditational properties, Jo describes it as a ‘heart opener’ and its known as the food of the Gods’ so it’s perfect just before meditation. Dominic blends it with a cashew paste and nut milk and it’s gently warmed. We sat, drank out ‘hot chocolate’ and then moved into a fifteen minute meditation.
Jo believes it’s all about investing in you. ‘Transformation happens at retreats. Just the intention of putting aside 48 hours for yourself gets energy moving, so that even before you arrive change is happening! Going on a retreat is an inspiring opportunity to plan and map the coming months and set some goals to achieve a more content and peaceful environment. Jo loves teaching meditation retreats to allow clients to fully immerse themselves into their practice with no worries of work or family commitments. During the retreat it’s like taking off the outer layer of responsibilities and expectations, which the world and ourselves impose, leaving the participant completely open to be totally themselves and go deeper within themselves. Whether you already have a regular meditation and/or yoga practice, or are a complete beginner, our retreats are ideal for you and will provide a truly in-depth experience. Through your spiritual practice you will learn to accept yourself for who you are and find peace within. As this process unfolds an inner happiness grows, and when you return home your loved ones will really notice the difference, because when you feel happy inside it emanates outwards and touches everyone you come into contact with. It can be a beautiful opportunity to feel truly free for a couple of days, and for real growth and transformation to continue when you get home!
I must admit I was not expecting the food to be as fantastic as it was.
Guests regularly say ‘Who knew that gluten, dairy, alcohol and sugar-free foods could taste so good!
I’ve been on yoga retreats before and the vegan food on offer has heen acceptable, functional – fills a hole as it were, but this is something else entirely. Dominic is a gourmet raw chef and he loves to recreate scrumptious meals the healthy way.
So treat yourself to one of their mini retreats, I may well see you there