Guest Interview with Mark Ford

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It was an honour to host Mark as a guest at the Sanctuary in April. He has kindly offered to share his reflections with us in the first of our new Guest Interview series.

 

Why did you decide to come on retreat at Sen Wellness Sanctuary when you did?
I needed a break, and some friends who know me well suggested that this type of retreat might be just what I need. Had it not been for the pandemic, I may have opted to travel somewhere else. Thank heavens for COVID!

How did you find the wellness programme, including yoga classes and Ayurvedic treatments?
I was a tad hesitant at first. As a yoga newbie, I felt a little daunted coming into this experience, not knowing what to do or how to do it. The yoga teacher was excellent; she has this sunny manner that was infectious. You settle into the yoga bit by bit, day by day, and before you know it, it all becomes second nature. Each day the boundaries of what you can do increase further, and without realising, you improve.

The herbal medicine became a ritual that we’d laugh about over breakfast and dinner. We always made sure we left something sweet to balance the sharpness.

Balance and sharpness is a relevant metaphor for my overall experience. Other than balance, one of the other benefits of the wellness programme was increased sharpness. Rising early, more focused, a better mood in general and more energy to do whatever I needed to do, whether reading a book or my own workout session.

The biggest hurdle was the detox day, designed to clear the system. I put this off for a day or two, although it was much easier than I thought it would be. After the cleanse, my system felt much more efficient at processing everything I put into my body.

How did the food at the Sanctuary differ from your usual diet back home? And how did you feel after detoxing?
Ordinarily, I’d eat meat four or five times a week and have two to three cups of coffee and black tea a day, with biscuits. I rarely paid attention to whether what I was eating contained wheat, yeast, sugar, gluten, MSG, or other preservatives. Along with 20-40 units of alcohol a week, these habits meant that my stomach was almost always bloated.

It took me a few days to adjust to the food at the Sanctuary. I couldn’t taste much at first due to the amount of salt and pepper I usually add to my food sometimes without even trying what was in front of me. However, the effect on my system was almost immediate. The bloating subsided, and going to the bathroom was an easier and more pleasant experience.

What were the major shifts you experienced on retreat – on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels?
The physical changes were both internal and external. Internally my body functioned noticeably better. It also said, “thank you”. At bedtime, I especially noticed the absence of that uncomfortable feeling usually present before sleep.

Mentally, I noticed a new ability to calm my usually erratic thought patterns. At home, night time was the worst for me; problem-solving in bed was the norm, and sleep was broken and restless. At the Sanctuary, I read and had a sound, calm sleep. This may have been in part due to the lack of phone use in the bedroom, but I think it’s the complete package at Sen.

On the emotional and spiritual levels, I was much calmer whilst I was at the Sanctuary. I felt an almost immediate shift after walking into the retreat centre. I have retained some of this sense of peace since returning to the UK. It helps when I practice yoga.

Was there anything unexpected about your time at the Sanctuary?
I think that the warmth, kindness, and openness of the people – staff and guests – was unexpected for me at the Sanctuary.

Will you be making any changes to your lifestyle or self-care routine now that you are back home?
I hope to keep some of the changes in my day-to-day life, having returned from the Sanctuary. I know that this may be challenging at times, but it is worth persisting. I have one good week behind me, last week was less good, but this week will be better.

What are the stand out memories or impressions from your time with us?
The Sanctuary and the people that I met while I was there encouraged me to be aware. Aware of how I may be feeling. Of how the food, liquid and medicines that I put into my body affected me. Of how my surroundings infiltrated my senses. The sound of the sea, nature.

Without the constant distraction of gadgets distracting me, I could feel, see and be more me; a child-like me, more engaged and curious. From this place of heightened awareness, I was more tuned in to others and more connected.

What would you say to anyone who feels unsure about whether this is the right experience for them?
To anyone considering a trip to Sen Wellness Sanctuary, my advice is don’t give it a second thought! Something is drawing your eyes this way, so take the time to follow them.

Leave home without any expectations. Allow your mind to be empty as soon as you book your trip. Know that when you arrive that you will be made to feel comfortable and welcome. Soon you will start to feel better, very much better.

You have nothing to lose by trying something new. I had no idea what I was going to find when I left the UK. I trusted my friends’ judgement and that I would enjoy the experience and feel renewed by it. And that’s what transpired to be true.

 

Get in touch with our enquiries team today to book your transformational retreat at the Sanctuary. 

Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health, and has been called ‘the best back specialist in the country’ by The Times (2014).

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Karolina Domaranczyk
Karolina Domaranczyk
02:38 30 Dec 21
I can’t stress enough what a pleasure and beautiful experience it was to spend 7 days at SEN. The facilities, treatments, yoga, soul warming localisation and last but not least - most helpful and kind staff made my stay there a full wellness immersion journey. I recommend to everyone to unwind, relearn how to rest and come back to the body and peaceful mind.
Charlotte Krüger
Charlotte Krüger
12:26 28 Dec 21
If you are having trouble finding peace of mind in your busy everyday life, imagine this: you are sitting in a room with wooden floor, surrounded by nature. When the monk tells you to listen to the sounds around you, this is what you hear: the wind in the mangrove forest and palm trees, the waves of the Indian ocean thundering against the nearby beach, the songs of local birds you may not have heard before. When you open your eyes, you see the dense forest, watch an eagle flying by, or look into the curious eyes of a monkey that sticks its tiny face down the roof.I came to Sen Wellness in December 2021 to get myself ready for a major surgery in January. I needed to relax, stretch, meditate and leave a troublesome year behind me. When I arrived at Sen Wellness, I quickly knew that I had chosen the right place. What struck me first was the perfect architecture of the place: the columns, the open stairs, the open walls that give you a slight breeze sometimes, the furniture and wooden carvings (all made local and/or from recycled wood). It has all the beauty of pure nature, combined with the convenience of modern life, except that you will not see a single piece of plastic and no screens (unless you choose to bring your own) while you are there. The founder, Sam Kankanamge, told me that no trees had to be removed for the construction of the building. From what I could see, the idea of sustainability is taken very seriously at Sen Wellness.From day one the staff took care of everything I needed. Madura, the concierge, welcomed me with this perfect smile, the kitchen crew around chief Darshana served us three times a day with very healthy and also delicious food, doctor Waruni provided me with an individual program of ayurvedic treatmens so full of the most relaxing massages that after a few days I already felt brand now. And I had booked two weeks!Every morning, Prema, a warm and hard-working lady, woke me up with a tea at 5:30 to get me ready for Yoga at 6:00. It sounds early, but once you are there it is as smooth as everything else. The Yoga teachers were fantastic. The level of fitness among the group was different and they found just the right way to include everybody. In one-on-one Yoga sessions, they provided me with a very good individual program (I have a severe hip condition and have seen a lot of physiotherapists in my life). The way they looked into my personal situation and developed a special Yoga program convinced me that they really know what they are doing. (Thank you @emmaflowmoon).By the way: a lot of women are working here, especially in the well-paid jobs. The kitchen and the room service staff is male, the rest is female-dominated. Since most of the guests are female, this is only fair, and it is not a coincidence: "This is a place for empowerment of women", Sam told me.But it is, first of all: a beautiful place to relax and take care of your body and soul.
Karo Domarańczyk
Karo Domarańczyk
02:57 14 Dec 21
I can’t stress enough what a pleasure and beautiful experience it was to spend 7 days at SEN. The facilities, treatments, yoga, soul warming localisation and last but not least - most helpful and kind staff made my stay there a full wellness immersion journey. I recommend to everyone to unwind, relearn how to rest and come back to the body and peaceful mind.
Cinderella Hamdan
Cinderella Hamdan
09:24 18 Nov 21
My time at Sen Wellness Sanctuary was truly awakening, and I'm really grateful for this wonderful experience. Immersed in nature, the sanctuary is so beautifully designed to naturally heal.No amount of gratitude enough for the wonderful people that work there, who have made my stay unforgettable. Every Ayurvedic treatment was served holistically with attention and dedication, and the local vegetarian options were so nourishing and filled with all sorts of colors and flavors — leaving me to feel relaxed, renewed with a better understanding of myself; merely it was food for the mind and soul. The power of kundalini yoga, meditation and sound healing held by the beautiful soul coco and the great monk have made a valuable impact on my daily practice and mindset.Above all, I’m so thankful and honored to have met and received personal care and attention from Dr. Sam. He’s an incredibly human with so much to offer and learn from. The sanctuary is purely a destination advocating a new way of life — the people coming from all walks of life and the conversations I encountered along the way have left the greatest impact on my heart and are my biggest take away from this trip. This is not a good bye but a see you soon :)Reminder that the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you — RumiWith lots of love,C
Eva Sorz
Eva Sorz
17:40 07 Nov 21
We can highly reccomend this wonderful place.My husband and I spent 2 weeks at Sen Wellness Sanctuary in October. It was just great and we felt very comfortable. After 2 weeks of Ayurveda retreat and yoga we feel relaxed and full of energy again. The Sanctuary is a wonderful place to relax and unwind. The staff made us feel very welcome. Especially the manager Gangani made us feel at home. Thanks you especially to her and the whole team. Gangani, you spoiled us every day, thank you so much for that.The place is a gem, nestled between the lagoon and the beach and away from the tourist hustle and bustle.The ayurvedic consultations with Dr. Waruni were professional and lasting. The entire therapeutic team was also excellent. The massages were wonderful. My sinusitis and back problems were sustainably treated.We also had the privilege of participating in a very special yoga experience. We have several years of yoga experience and practice Anusara Yoga regularly. We had no previous experience with Kundalini Yoga. In these 14 days our expectations were far exceeded, it was a transformative experience and a journey to our inner self. Coco introduced us to Krya sequences combined with breathing techniques, meditation and mantra chanting, and we immediately felt at ease. Coco is an incredibly impressive personality, with deep spirituality and a great teacher. Through her captivating personality and the many great conversations she gave us access to new insights. At the end of these 14 days, we received a wealth of tips and advice on how to practice safely at home.We highly recommend Sen Wellness Sancutuary and we will definitely come back.
Asrar Mousli
Asrar Mousli
10:24 16 Oct 21
My time at Sen was nothing short of transformational. Every day in that sanctuary brought me a new gift, a new truth, or a new opportunity to heal from my pain. It wasn’t always smooth, or necessarily happy, but it was deeply fulfilling to my body, my soul, and my soma. It almost felt like a pilgrimage to nature, to purity. The people I met there, the conversations and rituals we had together, the meals, laughs, and stories we shared, they were life-altering for me. Some of those moments left an impact that is still with me today, two months later. Thank you Sen team for all you have given and done. 🤍
Karin Richter
Karin Richter
04:51 03 Sep 21
I was a part of the Golden Summer Retreat at Senwellnesssanctuary. This has been a very intense experience. The Sanctuary is built within the middle of nature on the lagoon near Tangalle with an outstanding architecture. The whole stuff is perfect working together within their different tasks and does everything for the wellbeeing of the guests. Very soon you don't feel as a guest but more as a member of a loving and caring family. Excellent ayurvedic food, doctor and treatments as a basic for a deep going transformation process with special tools and combination of ongoing steps. A real magic experience within the travel bubble in islandwide lockdown and global pandemic. My deepest gratitude for all the people there which makes this possible
Karin Richter
Karin Richter
12:55 02 Sep 21
I just was part of the Golden Summer Retreat at Sen Wellness. This was a very special and magic experience on an outstanding place in nature with awasome people on a wonderful island. Started with super friendly and caring hotel managing team, best ayurvedic kitchen, doctor and treatments, lovely yoga work and special and carefully developed transformation tools and process. Highly recommend Sen Wellness for a mindful and deep going stay. My deepest thanks for all who created and worked for this space and give their best whatever their task is
Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly
05:34 06 Jul 21
This was my first wellness trip .. and I loved it!Every other holiday I have been on involved drinking and returning to normality feeling worse than I did before I left.After visiting Sen for 2 weeks, I felt brand new.Before leaving I was concerned that I would get bored, but I never did. Just pure peace, relaxation, and contentment, for 2 full weeks.You get so well looked after every day, from the early morning tea wake up call, to your serving of herbal medicine before bed. With plenty of yoga, meditation, and treatments in between.The food is delicious! Clean and fresh. The daily ayurvedic treatments are bliss and the beach is isolated and beautiful, perfect for an afternoon stroll.Thank you to all the staff at Sen for making my stay so worth it. From the management, chefs, cleaners, treatment therapists, yogis, the monk and especially the resident doctor, who put a smile on my face every day!I recommend Sen to anyone that just needs a good break from life. To switch off, refresh and reconnect with yourself. The results are long lasting.Paul.
Pruz0001 Pruz0001
Pruz0001 Pruz0001
18:32 24 May 21
Perfect place to truly reset yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Pricing is very cheap for what they offer - all inclusive food (each meal a symphony!), treatment plan, massages, shirodara, cleansing options, beautiful accommodations, gorgeous secluded beach with turtles, daily herbs per your plan as prescribed, daily yogic practices etc etc. Current is strong so might need to arrange for lifeguard for swimming. I highly recommend this place for tired Europeans and US residents. Yes, even from US, totally worth the loooong flight. If you want to explore the country after quarantine at SenWellness, recommend hiring a private driver guide as public transport is not welcoming tourists per covid.
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