I thought I valued my health until last spring when I came down with a bad chest cold, maybe even the flu, for three weeks in June - imagine. As I lay sneezing, coughing, emptying out boxes of tissues, I realized that I was burned out - utterly and totally. It was time to invest in my health. I hadn’t taken an away-holiday during my career transition and I was badly in need of relaxation. As soon as I could talk and breathe at the same time, I connected with close friends and we coordinated a trip to the ranch they’d been oohing and aahing about for years.
The cost - something I’d balked at earlier - was inconsequential now. The amount for one week meant nothing, or everything, to me now. Any reasons why not to spend the money blew out of me with every sneeze and cough.
I wanted to be healthy again. I wanted my health back. Nothing was more important than my mental, physical and emotional well-being. If I didn’t invest in my health now, I knew I’d pay for it later in ways and costs that would be much more painful. So I invested.
Within hours of arriving, the scents at the ranch had me inhaling so deeply I felt euphoric from the aromas of fresh pine, rosemary and eucalyptus. My weakened lungs were reviving in this beautifully vehicle-free environment.
Then there is this fabulous rule: guests are only allowed to use technological devices in the lounge, business centre or their rooms - unplugging so you can plug in. The quiet is interrupted by chirping birds and the humming of insects. In this stillness and silence, we can each connect to our inner peace and listen to our own authentic voice.
With every sumptuous meal prepared with fresh produce, mountain hike, fitness class, inner reflective program, and deep relaxation massage, I felt myself being cleaned from the inside out. My energy was being cleared and cleansed of heaviness, toxins and stresses. It was what my mind, body and spirit had been yearning for - this was priceless.
I realized that there is something special about this space. It’s an oasis, perhaps a refuge, for people going through all kinds of transitions - relationship, health, family, career, and life changes. People come here to heal, explore, play and re-energize. The power of this place is that it excels in allowing people to let go in healthy, supported and inspired ways: Let go in a hammock among mountains, trees and sky. Let go during a relaxation or deep tissue massage. Let go sweating it out on a hike, jog or swim. Let go in a meditation class, crystal bowl sound healing or writing spiritual poetry. Let go during yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais or dance class. Let go reading from its inspirational library. And to continue exploring new ways of letting go with beginner’s mind.
As I let go and allowed the beauty and wellness to seep into me, I experienced awe-some energy shifts. Call it kundalini or chakra rising, a peak experience or euphoria, it was powerful enough to have me re-commit to my health and make the necessary changes to honour that commitment. It was a transformative experience for me - I was letting go and learning anew.
Insights I experienced at the ranch continue to reverberate; they echo in ongoing rituals and habits; using a pedometer to gage if I’ve left the building and inhaled fresh air, choosing more plant-based food like beans, seeds, and nuts, and connecting once a month with the close friends who raved about the ranch to prepare dinner together.
This fun ritual affirms our commitment to ourselves, our health and our friendship. We’ve prepared delicious (if I may say so myself) meals including tortilla soup, jicama salad, fish tacos, and seafood paella. It’s been a joy to laugh together at the ridiculous amount of chopping and prepping required to “eat clean”. We certainly felt light after the meals and wondered if it’s possible to burn more calories preparing the meal than the amount of calories consumed eating it!
Being healthy has a whole new meaning to me now. It means creating clean, sustainable energy in myself so that I can show up everyday with a sense of calm, kindness and make a positive difference in the world.
The importance of feeling purposeful in life often overrides taking care of our health. It’s understandable, purpose is what gets us up in the morning. Even if you’re exhausted right now, you can still replenish your energy reserves.
How has the meaning of health changed for you during your life? How do you want to create positive health for yourself today, this week or this year? What will you do - or undo - to recommit to your sense of wellbeing?