Benefits of health retreats – I’ve tried it, and I am sold!

I always thought of health retreats as a fad nothing more, nothing less.  It is not something that I wanted to try for myself.

This all changed for me when I stumbled upon Billabong retreat over the New Year’s break.  My plans for New Year’s Eve were changed at the very last minute and it was a good opportunity to do something different.  Lets be honest, how many times can one watch fireworks – they are beautiful but for me, it has become somewhat of a repetitive event. I am also a morning person therefore the thought of staying up past midnight no longer appeals to me!

I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into so let’s get straight to my review and experience of the retreat.

According to the website billabong Retreat is a place to find peace of mind, contentment and discover inner wellness. It is somewhere to rediscover the magic of life and find meaning, connection and purpose. It is a place of heart and kindness.

So, I packed up my bags and arrived on the 29th of December (Friday).  I was greeted at the reception and when I asked if they had Pepsi Max, the response was “we don’t do Pepsi Max here, but you can have water if you like?”.

Clearly my state of mind at the time of arriving did not align with what retreat had on offer.  But I was willing to listen and absorb everything.

I was by myself, and it quickly dawned upon me that I have never spent New Year’s on my own.  Yes, I was at the retreat with others, but they were strangers I have never met.

My thoughts vanished when I entered my room, it was spacious, had a bath outside, a balcony bigger than my apartment in Sydney and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on.

I quickly unpacked and went to my first group activity.  It was an introductory ceremony where we had an opportunity to share something about ourselves and meet one another.  I was definitely outside my comfort zone, but strangely enough, I felt very relaxed.

I chatted with a few people, and it was nice to be speaking to a person on topics that don’t involve work, life administration or other things that we as adults must do on daily basis.

Dinner was served at 6 and to my surprise, there was no meat, I though perhaps it was a vegetarian night, but the chef confirmed my worst fear – there won’t be any meat, it is plant-based diet. For as long as I can remember, I always ate meat, this was the stable for every dish.

After dinner, there was a meditation class, but I decided to go to my accommodation, after all, it almost felt like a mini castle, and I wanted to spend some time in there.  I was also very tired. I washed my face, tried to connect to the internet but it didn’t work and before I knew it, it was lights out for me.

I woke up the next day – I was on a different level.  I felt completely relaxed, there were no worries, plans, agendas, all I had to do was choose activities which I wanted to do and get to breakfast.

Breakfast was quite health and fulfilling – there were eggs, so it wasn’t completely plant-based food. But at this stage, I started to enjoy the meals.  I spoke with some of the people from the night before and met some new people.  This was going great.  I forgot the outside world.

The next few days consisted of meditation, yoga, sleep, conversations with new people, swimming and just relaxing.  This was self-care. I can honestly say that I did not have a single worry in my mind.  At one point, I even stopped having my morning coffee, I no longer needed it because my sleep was great.

New Year’s Eve was just unforgettable, we had a cacao ceremony where we wrote down all of our problems and threw them in the fire.  It was a chance to reflect on the year that passed, leave your worries behind and enter the new year with a new mindset.  It was about being honest, being able to forgive others as well as yourself.  After the cacao ceremony we finished with the most magical mediation session and I the whole thing was over by around 9am.  At this point in time, I said goodbye to 2023, I was excited to wake up the next day, refreshed, re-energised and ready to tackle the world.

I spent the next 3 days at Billabong, and I can honestly the self-growth in the 6 days of being at the retreat was more than I have experienced in many years.  This had nothing to do with professional life, it was personal growth and awareness.  Something that can often be overlooked when one is “too busy” with life.

Today marks one month since I left Billabong. All of us are staying in touch and we are catching up tomorrow as a group for the first time.  I actually enjoyed not eating red meat and I have switched to pescatarian diet.

I continue to practice my morning mediation and ensure to dedicate time to self-care every day.  As a result, I can definitely see a massive shift in my attitude towards many aspects of personal and professional life. 

If you are thinking of going to Billabong retreat or something similar, I would suggest the following:

–          Open mind

–          Try everything – there is no worst-case scenario as every activity is good for you.

–          Looking after yourself is important, work will always be there for you regardless, however, health and wellbeing is tangible.

You will also meet new people which you may not necessarily cross path within the outside world and that is the beauty of this place. 

And yes, I will be going back to the retreat to get more peace and serenity soon.

About – Billabong Retreat Sydney – Wellness Retreat

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

2 Feb, 2024

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