Multi-Zensory Day Retreat hosted by Zenses & Ibiza Retreats: 08.06.10

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Photography by Gypsy Westwood

So there I was, on just another sunny Tuesday afternoon in Ibiza, sitting at my computer with about a million deadlines getting in the way of top quality tanning time. On top of my work demands, there was also an event I needed to attend, a ‘Multi-Zensory Day Retreat’ hosted by wellness experts Zenses and Ibiza Retreats, something I didn’t know very much about (Was it a strange hippy cult? Would there be cute boys? Would I be able to check my emails on my iPhone?) apart from the fact it involved heading high into the hills in the middle of the island from 4pm until 8pm, with a group of complete strangers, to get in touch with all my senses. But hey, Miss W was hungry and the invite promised dinner, so if nothing else, at least she’d get fed, right?

I joined a group of about 25 people, a mixture of families, men (and I mean blokey, tough muscly men) and women of all ages in a stunning villa that really felt like it was high up in the clouds. We were asked to turn off our mobile phones and place them in a de-frequencing tray of Ibiza rock salt. I shuddered at the thought, but in the spirit of being open-minded I bade farewell to my little friend, went inside and received my positive affirmation from our host, Aliwalu, and braced myself for the ride.

Another big table of rock salt was presented next, where we cleansed our hands (to release all our energies from outside) before going to sit on mats for a Japanese tea ceremony. The most beautiful geisha girl I have ever seen in my life, with long, long, dark hair that came down to her knees conducted the ceremony, looking every bit the angel as she connected with each member of the group and we enjoyed the silence.

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Photography by Gypsy Westwood

We then walked at a snail’s pace – and I mean seriously slowly, shuffling one foot after the other – down a set of stairs to the pool. This kind of walk had the potential to be boring or frustrating, however the Zenses team were constantly floating past with trays of stunningly presented food and drink, making it a really beautiful part of the journey.

The foods were all superfoods, things like Goji berries and purple basil leaves, nuts, seeds and maca, and everything was served raw. When we finally reached the pool, we were presented with a shot made from cocoa, which apparently contained all the nutrients you would get from eating an entire steak, without putting the stress of digestion on your body. Interesting… and taste-sensational!

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Photography by Gypsy Westwood

This was followed with sitting in a pagoda, and singing along to a beautiful African song. Not being a fan of my own voice, I participated in a partial whisper – trust me, it’s better for everyone this way! Afterwards, we went to the pool for further affirmations and sat with our feet in the water, which was so blissfully relaxing I almost fell asleep, only to be snapped out of my reverie by Aliwalu, who was swimming in the pool offering us foot massages as she explained our bodies’ relationship to water.

Then, as if from out of nowhere, another of the beautiful Zenses Geishas came fluttering down the rock formation of the waterfall, in a most amazing dance performance choreographed to music while more trays of food were being circulated. Then it was our turn to go up and over the waterfall, to stand around a patch of flowers shaped into a heart in order to ground ourselves, while being given the most beautiful raw chocolate heart to eat. Afterwards, we were all asked to say the first word that came into our heads, and I kid you not, every single person said ‘love’. It was like something right out of the ‘70s… a little bit trippy, but sweet, positive and nice at the same time.

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Photography by Gypsy Westwood

Yoga, tai chi reiki and mini-massages followed, before what I like to think of as the ‘grand finale’ of the ceremony, a piece de resistance called The Zensorial Journey. We sat on cushions on the hill, placed blindfolds over our eyes and to the sound of some amazing music, the Zenses team walked around placing scents under our noses, running feathers over our skin or placing food into our mouths, whispering ‘taste’ so we would know to open our mouths. There was something creamy, something spicy and something watery – obviously based on all the elements. It was quite amazing – although when a cold, wet cucumber was placed in my mouth to bite, I have to admit I felt a little bit weird!

But that’s what it was all about – getting out of your comfort zone and creating a heightened sense of awareness. Would I do it again? Yes indeed… but hold the cucumber!

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Photography by Gypsy Westwood

THE LOWDOWN

THE GOOD: Despite my initial misgivings about not having the time to indulge in something like this, it was amazing to be able to spend four hours in the sunshine, on a mountaintop with incredulous views of Ibiza stretched out before you, all in the middle of the week without being chained to the computer!

THE BAD: Hmmm… I’ve got to say that having to sing out loud in front of a bunch of strangers really isn’t my strong point, and nor is it pleasing on their ears! I was pretty open minded about everything else, but when it comes to my vocal chords, I think I’m just too self-conscious to let go!

THE GOSSIP: Zip, nada, nothing at all! An event like this doesn’t really leave much to gossip about really, so in the spirit of all things pure and good, I’ll leave it at that!