Looking for heaven on earth?

Being a spiritual person I have often wondered what heaven would be like – I always seem to envisage a very white, light space full of white robed people but apart from that my vision is vague. Do you eat, who are you with (I worry many of my friends maybe somewhere south), do you sleep?, do you watch re runs of biblical stories on TV?

Recently I feel I just experienced what heaven would be like (or at least what I hope heaven is like) here on earth. You see I just attended a 2-night week-end retreat at Gwinganna. Gwinganna is designed “to help you create resilience in your health & wellbeing with the potential to transform your life, mind, body and spirit” Sounds powerful doesn’t it? Well it is!

Attending my “Health & Wellness” week-end I really did not know what to expect and in all honesty I was a tad apprehensive. While I didn’t expect anything I came away feeling very rested, not just physically, not just mentally but spiritually and the reasons were simple….

For 2 days and 2 nights I was with a group of people who no doubt were attending the weekend for a range of different reasons but with a common thread of the need for rejuvenation & “time out”. The process for rejuvenation was established from the onset with our orientation. Our amazing Duty Manager explained there was the need for people’s privacy and by that we were instructed that the week-end wasn’t a team building, networking function, but instead a week-end for people to “just be” with no pressure to do or act in any way. It was also established that all mobile devices, computers etc. were to be placed in rooms and out of sight of guests. It was amazing how these two simple points alone made a difference & why when I finished the 2 days I felt I had experienced something very special.  In addition to the lack of digital distractions I found a number of other reasons for this being so heavenly…

Everyone was present: while we had a schedule, it wasn’t so scheduled that we didn’t enjoy the “here and the now”. We had time to enjoy our meals, we had time to talk and listen, we had time to “just be”. There was no busyness, no distraction. There was no photographing of meals and posting online, there were no selfies, with filters being applied to post on Instagram, there was no capturing of the moment in a physical sense which meant it was captured by our hearts, minds and souls. “It was real”.

No judgement: There was no need for discussion around who you were in terms of what your profession was, where you lived, how you lived, there was no judging, no competing just complete acceptance, because you didn’t have to be anything to anyone. To “just be” in a competitive world with so many demands and expectations was to feel free.

No need to be vain: With a mix of activities and spa treatments guests were either in active gear or bath robes. There was no concern for how you looked, whether your hair was perfect and your make up on. There was absolute delight in seeing someone float back from a spa treatment, dazed, oily hair, blotching skin, with looks of extreme serenity. For me personally there was a real sense of happiness in not having to worry about whether my frizzy hair was done. If you saw my mop of curls you would understand this sense of joy. There was also “natural” beauty & glow from the team of Gwinganna, not one bit of botox or filler in sight just beauty as the result of nourishing ones body in the most organic way possible. Wonderful living examples of how beautiful our body’s can be physically and mentally when we look after them.

There was positivity and so much care: The Gwinganna staff were incredible; caring, gentle, positive, inspirational, yet professional souls. All focused on nurturing each guest and you could see there was a genuine care not only for guests but for each other.

No media: No TVs, no newspapers, no social media feeds meant there was no news (had my husband been there he would have been jumping the gates and heading to the nearest pub for football scores). Having a break from the reminder of the evils of the world in the form of terrorism, child abuse, general violence and hate was in a word AMAZING. Without the saturation of news and social media streams it is how I imagine a world at peace and it was truly peaceful to have a break from so much sadness which streams into our world every day.

Dreamtime: Dreamtime is allocated time in the afternoon and where beauty health and healing treatments take place. Not just pampering to help with tired skin but treatments  ranging from an energising facial to Reiki all designed to be body & mind restorative. Being treated at Gwinganna with one of their very talented therapists is akin to being touched by God himself.

Surroundings: Gwinganna is set in the Gold Coast Queensland Hinterland, naturally beautiful. It rained during my visit but a bout of sunshine during a morning bush walk was enough to showcase the natural surroundings which served as a reminder as to what a beautiful world we live in. We were told to not wear perfume so in essence we could inhale our surroundings and breath in nature.

Many of the people on my week-end were returning guests and at the start of the week-end-end many couldn’t really articulate why they kept coming back; the common response “it just makes you feel good” which I couldn’t quite get my head around. I mean I feel good after a spin class or a few glasses of wine… having been, I can see what kind of “feel good” it is.  It is physical, mental, spiritual rejuvenation and any place that can do that is the closest thing to heaven on earth. I will return…

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Rawness of Emotions

178My children are amazed at how easily I can cry, it can range from movie watching (who doesn’t cry in “My Girl” when Vada says goodbye to Thomas at his funeral) to watching a re-run of Cathy Freeman winning the 400m gold at the 2000 Olympics. I mean, I can cry singing the national anthem at my children’s school assembly. When we watch TV or a movie and there is a potential “crying” moment the kids all pop their heads up from their cosy positions and ask “are you okay Mum?”. Quite often I get a little defensive and tell them to get back to their popcorn, other times I just let the tears flow…

Apart from movies and sporting highlights many of my tears are the result of my children. Sure, tears sometimes because I am just so bloody tired and overwhelmed at parenting three children while managing a career, while juggling social calendars and keeping myself looking half fit and healthy but tears mostly because parenting makes you feel raw, raw with emotion. I remember reading an interview with Nicole Kidman after she became a mother for the first time and she spoke of the rawness she felt and I thought what a perfect way to describe the feelings of being a parent. From the minute you hold that new baby it’s like your skin has been pulled back and whether something joyful or something heart breaking happens the intensity is so much greater because of that rawness, and the roller coaster of rawness never stops…

My 77 year old mother often states, it doesn’t matter how old your children are your heart will always be breaking or busting for them. Great, a lifetime of rawness!

Child # 2 is a “Physie” girl, so I spend a good part of September to November crying as she competes. I cry when she starts marching (because I can’t believe how she looks beyond her eight years when she holds her head up and starts stretching her long legs around a community hall). I cry when she places (complete joy, goal achieved), I cry when she doesn’t place (complete heartache, goal missed). I cry when the other girls place or don’t place because I feel the joy or disappointment of their families. I just cry….

Late last year I cried with child #1 when he missed out on a place as school captain / vice captain. He is a laid back kid, easy going, likes to stand at the back. I refer to him as my flat liner as normally he shrugs off a loss or something he has missed out on. So to see him so disappointed and upset was in all honesty a bit of a shock, I knew he was keen for the role but I really underestimated just how much it meant to him. This time I didn’t want to cry but how could I not, that good old rawness.

Maybe others aren’t as raw as me, I quite often refer to my husband as a robot (with a heart) as he is so objective and practical which balances me well. Having completed Myers Briggs personality profiling I know I am at the extreme end of being a “feeler” and I feel confident that even if I never became a parent I would still be raw. Whether I am shedding a little tear or crying a bucket load, I embrace it because to feel the pain of peoples hurt and disappointment is to also feel the sheer joy and happiness of their achievements and that is what I call living.