If only we could work on our mental health burdens the way we go about keeping our bodies fit. And how I wish we could all stop being so ’British’ about how well we’re ‘bearing up’ – I’m so TIRED of asking my friends “How are you?” and being fed a limp “Fine thanks” in reply, when the heartbreak in their lovely eyes is there for all to see.
For years I struggled with negative thoughts. I even named the voice “Joan the bully” who, when I felt low, liked to take up residence in my head.
Sometimes Joan was so vicious that I had to shout WTF?!’ out loud, as if to a handbag chihuahua who just jumped out and shat on my shoe. I swear if I spoke to other people the way I spoke to myself, I’d have had no friends left.
A wise lady told me that most of the negative messages came from my ‘inner critic.’ Really useful comments like ‘Oh what are you crapping on about now woman?’ or ‘Your hair looks like Jimmy Saville’s mother’s mullet.’ or ‘Everyone already thinks your nuts. Best not to admit you’re hooked on Quavers’. And sometimes they came from my inner child – ’Don’t offer her your last Quaver you idiot… are you nuts?’
What really shocked me was how few of the messages came from my conscious adult – grown up thoughts like: “The reason why that old lady is taking so long to find her Oyster card is that she is old. Be patient. Your cystitis isn’t that bad and giving her daggers won’t get you to the loo any quicker.”
Mental health in ancient times
Mental health advice in antiquity was simple: “Know thyself” said Socrates, Aeschylus, Buddha, and Jesus. They could also have said – FACE thyself – which is almost impossible when we are socially conditioned to spend our lives scrolling, swiping, texting, tweeting, posting, snapchatting, driving, tidying, googling, running marathons, anything to escape that nasty, whining inner voice that tells us how utterly useless we are at everything.
A recent guest from Wiltshire said: “I was all over the place when I arrived. Stressed, bloated, in dire need of rest. But over the week Kaliyoga picked me up and gently put me back together again. When I left I was a new woman”
Feeling at home and connected
One of the things that Kaliyoga is renowned for is making sure that everyone feels seen, connected, and guided according to their needs. A recent guest was guided to our Sound Healer – she discovered that she needed to give herself permission to start the book she had always wanted to write, but had been procrastinating for years. A recent male guest was guided to our Nutritional therapist for help with a digestive issue. Another guest wanted to bring some passion back into her life, so she is taken on a hike to forage for wild herbal remedies.
At Kaliyoga we encourage our guests to feel at home with whatever they’re feeling. If they need to sleep for 3 days then that’s what they need. If they need to let off steam by sprinting along a mountain path each morning, Kendrick Lamar blaring through their headphones, then that’s what they do. If they need to curl up in the snug and tell their story to our resident mamas over a cup of Chai, then they do that.
Asking for help takes courage
Whenever I visit Kaliyoga I am astounded at the courage of each one of our guests. No longer content to ‘cope’ with their lives, they have chosen to secrete themselves away for 7 days in order to learn how to fall in love with life again – whether through our amazingly insightful yoga teachers who, week after week, bestow the life-long benefits of yoga, or a therapeutic session with of our holistic healers, or a solitary walk through the beautiful Spanish countryside where they bliss-out to the sound of goat bells and the local farmer murmuring sweet nothings into the ears of his adored mule Sancho (I do worry for his wife….).
But you needn’t worry, because at Kaliyoga, there is something and someone for everyone.
A recent guest from Holland wrote in her feedback: “Kaliyoga changed my mind. Literally.”
Author: Rosie Miles
Co-founder of Kaliyoga Retreats