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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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.
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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.
Trajce Dimkov
Trajce Dimkov
04:33 20 May 21
I spent 2 weeks at Sun Wellness to rest and recharge/detox from the every day life. It was an amazing place.The staff is professional and super helpful. We got delicious food everyday (mostly vegan), and daily support from a doctor that monitored how are we doing.The yoga teacher was also excellent and i enjoyed the 2 sessions we got every day.The massages were the best I got in my life. they really knew the anatomy of the body and focused on the right muscles and pain points. It was a great recovery after the yoga sessions and long beach walks.Finally, the beach is amazing. Its long with kilometers, its sandy, its full with palm trees. And the best part, we saw plenty of giant turtles nesting on the beach and small turtles hatching almost every day.The trip was a great pleasure, and left me refreshed, energized and more mindful. I warmly recommend this place.
Christian Wellinger
Christian Wellinger
07:39 23 Apr 21
I was planning to come there for only one week to start practicing yoga and also to see if ayurvedic treatments were helping me to overcome some of the stress as most people experienced in this Covid period. After only a few days i already felt how the daily practices in Sen Wellness Sanctuary (with daily yoga and meditation classes, ayurvedic treatments and super healthy and natural food) changed my perceptions and helped me to become much more centered and connected with myself again. That is why i extended another week and it was a very good decision to strengthen the skills and way of life which is thaught there. The place is really well made which lots of attention to details and the location at the remote and beautiful Rekawa beach can not be better to get into the vibe and spirit you feel there.Thanks alot to Dr. Sam and the whole staff for this fantastic experience.
Gabrielle Stewart
Gabrielle Stewart
16:58 20 Apr 21
I didn’t think it would be possible to travel somewhere far during this pandemic, let alone feel completely safe, in awe of all the country’s and the sanctuary’s protocols, and their ability to allow you to enter a bubble with a group of fellow retreaters so that for 10 days we completely forgot about the covid world out there. In our little haven between beach and lagoon we healed, relaxed, meditated, swam, did yoga, slept, made life-long friends and found an emotionally safe place to let go, process, feel vulnerable and share much needed laughter. You return home so healthy from the incredible locally sourced foods and the cleansing monitored by an impressive ayurvedic doctor, so at peace... Now the challenge is to use all those new tools we have acquired there and use them in our daily lives to feel happier and more fulfilled in our day to day lives. Thank you to the whole amazing Sen Wellness team. Namaste.
Pawel Marona
Pawel Marona
16:35 18 Apr 21
Amazing place with beautiful people. Delicious food and great, helpful stuff. I've been very satisfied of treatments and whole stay. Really recommend that place!
Mark Ford
Mark Ford
13:21 18 Apr 21
The Sen wellness centre was a refreshing place to find. The current world, post covid climate only served to boost this gem of a (possibly) life changing, experience.Arriving at the centre was a little daunting to start with, people sitting at a large table engaging in lively, upbeat conversations, whilst the newbies sit in partial isolation. A requirement of law to ensure covid safety for all at the centre but a comforting experience none the less.After a day or so of settling in (this being my first experience of such a place), I was blown away by the warmth of the team. All professionalism and smiles, from the doctor to the cleaners, they all made you feel incredibly welcome and special.In turn, this encourages you to be equally open. Not an easy thing for us all to do but once you start, you begin to feel your way and gain in confidence, finding a better you.Then there are the treatments .. I have been a meat eater for 20 years and here I was with no meat, no dairy, no bread and butter and no alcohol, tea or coffee & enjoying it all, looking forward to all meals and often asking for seconds. It’s amazing how one’s pallet can change.Living on a mainly plant based diet took a few days to get used to but my body ended up feeling like it hasn’t done since childhood. Functioning as it should, processing the food easily, no bloating or discomfort and sleeping like a baby in the wonderful surroundings.The diet along with a tailor based health plan of herbal medicine, teas, detoxes, yoga and a general reset have changed the way that I feel and also how I am starting to think.It’s not just the food and the treatments. The energy of the staff and the guests who visit Sen Wellness is heart-warming experience, I cannot recommend it highly enough.I’d also like to thank all those that shared this experience with me .. thank you guys, it was amazing !Take time out of what you consider to be the important things in your life. Take a trip to this centre and find out for yourselves what is really important. Forget the constant consumption that we are fed, as being a necessity to happiness on a daily basis - go and feed your soul, you really will not regret it !
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