Getting ready to receive on The Sacred Pause life coaching retreat in Bali

A year after having her first baby, Rebecca Walker reviews this spiritual life coaching retreat with UK life coach Danielle Marchant in Bali and finds herself simultaneously purged and replenished

I arrive at Fivelements feeling deeply depleted after a busy week, month and year. My child has just turned one; I’ve played host to numerous visitors in recent weeks; and I just got over the flu. Memories of a blissful pregnancy have been replaced with the exhaustion of motherhood and my batteries are in dire need of a recharge

I’m here to experience an intriguing retreat in Bali called ‘The Sacred Pause’. Promising a “journey into the unknown to reconnect to your heart, remember who you are, awaken your soul, discover your truth, meet your inner self and remember your soul’s essence,” the retreat is hosted by UK coach Danielle Marchant and spans 5 days.

I’m no stranger to the spiritual realm – I live in Bali and welcome any opportunity to dive deep into transformational experiences and sacred practices. Little did I know that over the next 5 days I would be hit by a spiritual sledgehammer that would leave me reeling with new awareness of just how many layers of ‘internal pollution’ I was carrying around with me. Everything has been neglected since giving birth and I am desperate for someone to hand me the true north of my compass on a silver platter.

“This retreat isn’t about finding answers. It’s about asking the right questions,” muses Danielle as she addresses our intimate troupe of three during our first ‘sacred circle’ of the retreat. “The questions are more important than the answers.” So much for the silver platter. Danielle makes it clear from the outset that this is an opportunity to press pause, look inward, take an inventory of our internal landscape, observe what we discover inside with curiosity (not criticism), and connect the dots of our current experiences in life.

Our group is small and the other participants are successful, middle-aged women, looking for a ‘time out’ on their hectic lives. Both are mothers who are keen to embrace some ‘me time’ and to take off the multitasking hats they are used to wearing. The group dynamic is intimate, harmonious and sisterly. We are all here for similar reasons, our personalities all compliment each other, and a feeling of non-judgemental support flows through the group energy.

‘Danielle’s unhurried manner, deliberate delivery, and languid pace spill over into the group’s energy and the following days are filled with slow-motion ‘lightbulb’ moments of crystal clear clarity’

Slowing down, finding information in the gaps, and reading the universe’s ‘signs’ is at the heart of Danielle’s message and she is the embodiment of her ethos. Her unhurried manner, deliberate delivery, and languid pace spill over into the group’s energy and the following days are filled with slow-motion ‘lightbulb’ moments of crystal clear clarity.

For me the untangling process began on day one when a shaman came to play the Tibetan bowls during a meditation session. I felt myself slip into a dreamy zone that disarmed my mind and carried my heart through the rest of the retreat. On day two we visited the local water temple for a Balinese ‘Melukat’ (holy water) purification where I was moved to tears as I felt stagnant, negative energy leave my body.

On day three a coaching session with Danielle (you get one private session during the retreat) bought me face-to-face with some personal truths that I had been subconsciously supressing (and yes, more tears). Day four entailed an unnervingly on-point ‘Soul Guidance’ reading with Paula the psychic, followed by some truly magical bodywork from Hang the pranic healer, topped off by an ‘Agni Hotra’ (sacred fire) ceremony led by a Balinese priest. Throw in some Yin yoga classes and numerous sacred circle sessions with the group and you can see why I was a little tender by the end of the retreat – but also wholly rejuvenated and re-oriented.

In between sessions I lie sprawled on the four-poster bed in my riverside bedroom, soaking up the peace of the surrounding jungle, or take a dip in the pool. I had brought a novel, journal and mindfulness colouring book to the retreat, which I was intent on tackling during the breaks, but found that I didn’t want to do much more than gaze at the ceiling in quiet contemplation.

That, and eat. The food at Fivelements is incredible, and although I’m not vegan and usually eat meat and fish, I was wowed by the tastiness of every meal. Standout favourites include the ‘Zucchini Pappardele Alfredo’ tossed with creamy cashew Alfredo sauce, kalamata olives, capers, macadamia parmesan and truffle oil; and the the ‘Live Lasagna’ which consisted of layers of marinated shiitake mushrooms, baby spinach, thinly sliced zucchini, cashew cheese, tomato marinara, basil pesto and a raw Bechamel herb sauce. As delicious (and filling!) as the food was, it was very rich, and after 5 days I was happy to return to my normal diet.

If you are looking for a retreat that offers daily 1:1 sessions with a coach offering guided goal setting, hours of personal talk therapy, and group activities that revolve around your ‘targets’, this isn’t the retreat for you. But if you want a deeper, more spiritual awakening, I can’t recommend it highly enough. After a year of giving, giving, giving, the retreat gave me the chance to receive. And for that I am extremely grateful.