No matter how New Age-y it may sound, my stay at Middle Piccadilly retreat in Dorset’s peaceful countryside, on Peaceful Lane, was perfectly timed by the Universe. A few preceding emotionally challenging months complete with the height of self-pity the night before my arrival have thrown me way out of balance. But I got once again re-assured that when things seem to keep falling apart, a helping hand can be just round the corner.
In this particular case it was many more helping hands than just one (lucky me) who cherished and nourished me throughout my stay.
It all started the moment I stepped out of the train in the town of Sherborne, the nearest station to the retreat. The taxi driver greeted me: “You from London darling? Ah, the rat race!” I sighed.
Getting out of London into the countryside is a healing experience in itself. Make it a rural Spa retreat escape – and you are in the sanctuary of restorative peace.
Middle Piccadilly is more of an “old farmhouse turned cosy rural b&b” rather than your conventional Spa, with no fluffy towels, snow-white bathrobes or lockers in the changing rooms (there are no changing rooms to begin with). I felt more like I’m visiting old friends’ countryside home – but that’s its very unique selling point. Friends’ homes are usually much more relaxing and comforting than Spa environments.
The owners of the retreat, Dominic and Lisa Harvey, are the embodiments of its philosophy. Their aura is just so calming you feel better simply by being around them.
Dominic is also a great vegetarian chef. Simple but filling breakfasts of cereals, toast & jam; nourishing soup & salad for lunch (I loved the fact it was fairly light lunches!) and hearty dinners of main and dessert (my favourites). Local fresh produce from the back yard makes everything even more delicious.
Communal dining in the retreat’s “hub” – a cosy family kitchen – with my fellow seekers of peace was one of my highlights. I felt much inspired by some of the most heart-warming and insightful conversations I had in that kitchen; from learning how to “surrender and smile” from a woman whose husband had a stroke; to being reminded by a 70-something year old lady that “a leaf tree is a whole world of beauty”.
When I wasn’t eating, I was either having a healing Spa treatment (on which more below) or sleeping. Little did I know before my arrival that I was in fact so exhausted I needed a lot more than just 8 hours of sleep daily. I was very thankful for the absence of any noise, light after dark, TVs, communal evening gatherings or any other distraction for that matter. I was actually happy I forgot the iPad charger at home. Just me and the bed. And so I slept. A lot.
Not only did I need my sleep to restore my physical and emotional balance; it was also a necessity to rest and process everything that occurred within me during each treatment.
The first Spa healing experience was a fairly gentle but very soothing Chakra Healing massage.
The therapist started off with laying out a set of crystals on the massage table asking me to pick one to my liking. I was then asked to randomly pick a card from a deck which carried a message about a healing stone; the card suggested that dioptase is my stone which helps with emotional healing (surely just a coincidence with my self-diagnosis?).
After a brief chat my therapist picked a few essential oils for different parts of the body and applied them with a gentle full body massage. She also checked the state of my chakras before and after the treatment, with the improvement being noticed, thankfully. I definitely felt a lot more relaxed and grounded afterwards, and loved the smell and the feel of essential oils on my skin. Time to snooze off and absorb the benefits.
The second treat of the day was a moor bath – a Hungarian mud bath (apparently Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it). Naturally, the mud itself is black but it melts into the water which becomes almost transparent, and delivers multiple healthy skin benefits. Celtic music at the background, hot bath tub to warm up (it definitely didn’t feel like heatwave outside)… I was getting closer and closer to the state of total inner peace.
The next day was the time to experience the retreat’s signature treatment – Shamanic Healing. As much as I am open to all things holistic, Shamanic Healing and its “calling upon spiritual helpers from animals, angels, spirits of Mother Earth and Father Sky” did bring my sceptical self to the forefront, but curiosity took over. And it turned out to be one of the most profound healing sessions I have had to date.
After a brief conversation with the therapist, during which I have talked her through the main vulnerable points in my childhood and what concerns me most these days, the therapist came up with a clear “diagnosis” and decided that we’ll work on filling the gap that’s within me, with love and compassion.
The next hour or so was me lying on the couch doing an active inner work in a mesmerising/trans-like state; going back to childhood, stumbling upon the painful issues, pulling them out by the roots, rapidly breathing through the emotions that have come to the surface, forgiving, expressing my feelings, letting go, forgiving again.. The therapist was gently guiding me through the session, talking me through the next steps, and her Shamanic drum was our vehicle on the journey. After the session I felt a tonne lighter and everything just suddenly became to make sense.
Then I swiftly drifted to another session, Hand on Heart. I can’t really remember much about it apart from my fingers and toes being massaged and caressed… my brain was definitely still in a Gamma-state after the previous session. The therapist said my Heart chakra felt like it needs some help (no wonder) but she has now made it spinning properly. I was advised to take rest before lunch.
I did take rest before lunch, and after lunch, and before and after dinner and breakfast too. I slept through most of the days and nights. Sometimes we don’t realise just how exhausted we really are. And all we need to come back to balance, at most times, is just a really quite space to be in, surround ourselves with nature, taking time to retreat and reflect – and a few caring helping hands to assist you on the journey.