A weekend of Simply Healing in Sussex
‘The weekend helped quelled my sugar cravings – no small thing – and gave me the dietary re-boot I’d needed’
I arrived late on a Friday morning feeling subdued and off-kilter, thanks to an argument with a friend, but the minute I stepped through the door and spotted the statue of a Buddhist Thai priest, his hands together in welcoming prayer, I knew I’d come to the right place at the right time. There’s a serene energy here, and that’s the thing about Simply Healing: it may bill itself as a high-end detox retreat and it is all of those things, but the supportive, nurturing atmosphere created by Vivien is its USP. Vivien’s goal is to facilitate personal transformation or ‘healing by stealth,’ as she calls it. She’s a healer from birth, and an empathetic, slightly larger-than-life character, who has in the past grappled with her own health issues.
I came for the weekend, and once I’d dumped my bags in my room (‘The Pink Room’) overlooking the vast gardens and woodland beyond it, I sashayed into the formal dining room for my first juice – it’s where all the drinks are taken, communally around a large table. I’ve detoxed before so I wasn’t concerned about going without food; the routine is juice and psyllium husk, bentonite clay (not nearly as icky-tasting as it sounds) and cleansing herbs at intervals throughout the day plus a warming broth at night, interspersed with treatments, down time and walks if you have the energy.
I’m a bit shy but the other seven women here, most of whom had arrived a few days before me, were friendly and in the 30-50s bracket. Among them were a TV director, clinical psychologist, interior designer, a climate change policy expert, and a few mums, including one who’d flown in from Greece! In other words, a pretty diverse bunch.
I sipped my freshly made juice (beetroot with carrot and celery and the less delicious but perfectly palatable clay and psyllium concoction) and then headed off for a guided walk with one of the staff members, Kate, through fields and country lanes. In the field opposite the house is a lovely pagan altar stone, said to date back centuries. We passed a meadow full of friendly horses too. One trotted up, blew hot air into my face and then softly nuzzled my cheek. Magical.
My first treatment was an Abdominal Sacral Massage, also known as a colon massage. I’d never heard of anything like it, but was told it helps to bring the organs within the abdominal area back into alignment, and improve a range of conditions from bloating to back pain, menstrual and ovulation problems. Florence, the French therapist, who is also a qualified naturopath and a sort of Encyclopaedia Brittanica of all things abdominal-organs related, was clearly a cut above professional. Her focus and healing touch were impressive.
She massaged and prodded – weirdly soothing – making a diagnosis as she went and the verdict wasn’t great: apparently, my pancreas is hard as a rock, thanks to a sugar addiction. ‘Now’s the time to stop it from turning into diabetes,’ she said. Given that two members of my family have died from heart disease, I valued the wake-up call. The 90 minute one-to-one nutritional consultation I had with her later was similarly detailed and useful.
I also loved young (local) therapist April’s Thai Foot Massage; she has a soothing voice and confident touch. For some serious TLC, try a healing session with Vivien. Mine involved a chat and hands-on healing. I felt heat emanating from her hands and I left feeling as though I’d been plugged into a socket! The guests who tried therapist Aor Parson’s Thai Massage also raved about it.
Woozy-inducing therapies aside (the Thai Foot Massage, in particular was so good I dozed off), there was of course, the small matter of the colonic hydrotherapy. I will never be a fan of this treatment, though the ensuing feeling of lightness is the pay-off and I felt I was in safe hands with therapist Carolyn. Fortunately I only had it once! (You’ll get that particular joy twice on the 5 day weight-loss and juice detox and three times on the 7-day plan.)
The detox headaches and nausea kicked in pretty fast on day one and I felt rough. It soon passed though, thank God, and I felt really relaxed here, especially when I was lounging in the lovely curio-filled sitting room (from where I smuggled a book up to my room to savour during my stay – Rebecca Hind’s Sacred Journeys). The Saturday night meditation with Vivien in front of the blazing living room fireplace was a real tonic. Though just a taster, the weekend helped quelled my sugar cravings – no small thing – and gave me the dietary re-boot I’d needed. I felt calmer too. So I’d say mission accomplished.’
© Queen of Retreats