The sheep baa in the distance as I shuffle away from the meditation platform shrouded in a grey and white blanket. I look back at those shuffling behind me, similarly cloaked in their grey and white blankets and giggle. “I don’t know why they think we’re a cult.”
Laughter rings out, breaking the solemnity. Not that it had been particularly peaceful, seated between John’s noisy deep breathing and Jemma’s rumbling stomach, my mind churning with the need to capture this moment.
I know how some others view this place, but I love it. My heart aches with peace as I gaze upon the sunset over the valley and lifts with joy at its morning mist. I love a holiday that leaves me healthier, stronger, slimmer, calmer and better nourished than when I arrive.
During chemotherapy, as I was trying to deal with hysterical attacks on a daily basis, my therapist asked me to close my eyes and picture a place that made me happy. My mind immediately flew to the couch under the tree, with impossible views over the valley, dappled sunlight falling across my legs and a warm breeze. A place that somehow makes my heart ache and soar at the same time and, as soon as I knew when treatment would be over, I booked two weeks here to start my healing process.
I first came to Juicy Mountain two years ago. With a desire to lose weight, I had found a retreat in Turkey where all you consume for seven days is fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices and spend your days hiking, doing yoga or other fitness classes or relaxing by the mountain water swimming pool. It seemed a bit odd but effective and, frustrated by an ongoing inability to lose weight, I signed up.
I was concerned and perplexed when we sat together on the first morning to hear about the program and introduce ourselves. Most had been here before and were in awe of ‘Jason’, someone referred to frequently and intimately. I later discovered he runs the retreats and is a big influencer in the juicing world, I didn’t even know there was a juicing world. I was surprised when it was my turn to introduce myself and I burst into tears, stammering that I needed change from a world that had made me feel smaller and smaller over time. I wanted to stand taller physically and metaphorically.
I cried a lot over the following week as my body detoxified, and I stretched and tested my body with all manner of activities, listened to the words of the yoga instructor which seemed designed to trigger me, met joyous people what had also stumbled on this retreat and found their lives irreversibly altered and contemplate at the mind-blowing sunset over the glorious valley.
I went home to my small world and quit my job.
It was quite literally, life changing so, again, as my world has shrunk and so have I, it seemed the right place to come to recover, needing to rebuild my fitness, lose weight and find some peace.
And it has been. My body aches with use, balance not yet found. My eyes and skin are glowing, my stomach is no longer bloated, I walk taller and laugh with amazing people, even finding some who want to share future swim adventures with me. I wept through spine stretch yoga as my chest was opened and tested, and I gaze in joy at the delightful valley. I’ve discussed menopause at length with other women. Oh and I drink juices without having to clean my juicer! Friendships have been made, tension has been released, confidence and health are rebuilding. It’s a good start.
Distance swum since last post: 1.1km
Distance swum to date: 20.4km
Distance to go: 179.6km