A deeply calming coastal mini break with Bespoke Retreats
Sasha Bates reviews a two day, private tailored retreat led by healer Lynn Jackson at a gorgeous beach house at West Wittering in Sussex and finds an astonishing amount of deep rest in a very short time.
Only an hour ago I was upright on a train charging down from a very busy London rush hour, so the 1950s-esque beach scene in front of me feels a welcome world away from real life. I’m gazing at the birds circling the blue skies above me and listening to the waves roll in towards my feet, while appreciating being flat out on a sun lounger, wrapped in a blanket, and buffeted by wind. It’s your typical British day at the seaside: sunny but cold and windy. Undeterred, nearby kids are determinedly filling buckets with sand while parents are wrestling into submission newspapers which clearly would be happier joining the birds riding those wind currents.
Deadlines, a difficult year, and the usual hassles of daily living, have left me feeling weighed down by life. But soon I take up my host Lynn’s suggestion to join the kids at the waterline, rolling up my jeans, paddling and collecting pebbles. Lynn has told me that I will later be painting my pebbles, so I need to choose carefully.
Small, relatively meaningless yet mindfulness-inducing tasks like this can provide lots of enjoyment when you have no agenda and are being looked after by someone else. And I am being looked after, very well.
Lynn has brought me to her beach hut, and as I ‘play’ she grills prawns on the barbecue and assembles a healthy salad for lunch. I don’t really need to worry about anything, and so am able to find a childlike joy in finding the perfect stone. I had actually forgotten that I had ever mentioned ‘doing some art’ as one of my requests for this personalised retreat, but am now glad I did, as it feels like an adventure and something out of the ordinary.
Retreats can be lovely in their predictability but can also feel a bit samey. Here I don’t really know what to expect or even quite what I’m doing here. When I chatted to Lynn on the phone a month ago she asked me what I needed from the retreat and how I wanted it to make me feel. But answering that question is in itself hard. I just want to feel better, and I’m not sure how to get there.
In answer to this non-specific request, and after a chat in which I told her I liked art, physical movement, body treatments, and horse riding, Lynn has come up with a bespoke one-night retreat designed just for me, filled with all the things I said I liked doing. It’s quite intense being the sole focus of someone’s attention for two days, but it also feels like a rare luxury to have someone think so deeply about how they might please you.
Once my pebbles have been collected and my prawns consumed, I am driven to my beautiful home for the night where I immediately fall asleep. The beachfront house where I’ve been stationed is stunning, and the sea views from the massive windows make me feel a bit guilty about wasting any moment of my time here asleep. But not guilty enough to not do so. Sleep was actually the number one thing on my list of things I was hoping to achieve by coming here.
Suitably revived by my post prandial nap, I am next driven to the local stables and taken for an amazing horseback ride along the wide-open beaches of West Wittering. This wonderfully physical activity contrasts fantastically well with the stiller, more creative activity which follows: the painting of my pebbles. This calming task I set about doing on the veranda of my gorgeous house, while Lynn prepares a healthy and delicious fish dinner inside.
It’s been an unusual and enjoyable day, but the best is yet to come as after dinner Lynn puts hosting, cooking and chauffeuring duties aside to focus on what she does best – heal. I have never had a healing session before, so am again not really sure what to expect, but am very happy to be able to experience it while lying in my pyjamas on the large comfy bed in my soothing bedroom.
The healing session sends me off into a deep state of relaxation and I feel many sensations and colours as Lynn works on my energies and aura. I soon drift off to sleep and thanks to already being tucked up in bed, am able to stay put as Lynn lets herself out, leaving me to get a good ten hours of proper rest, a very rare event for me.
The morning brings a lie in, a solitary run along the sands, then a breakfast I assemble myself from the fridge full of goodies Lynn has placed there in accordance with my requests. Lynn’s return brings with it a meditation session, an exercise using a variation of a Tarot card deck comprising “inner child cards”, a massage, and another home cooked lunch. It’s been a very full yet relaxing mini-break and my train journey home finds me in a far calmer state than that I travelled down in. Was that really only yesterday?