Sanctuary Sessions: Mark Ford’s Peaceful Shift of Perspective

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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. 

Davia

Davia is our Retreat Specialist and manages enquiries and bookings for those interested in visiting us at the Sanctuary. Her in-depth knowledge of the wellness programmes we offer means she will be able to answer any questions you may have, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Davia is also Clinic Manager at Sen Wellness London, ensuring the smooth running of our holistic hub in the medical district of Harley Street, where we offer osteopathy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation and community events as well as retreats in the UK and Europe.

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Claire White
Claire White
1715076485
I have just completed a 10 day retreat at Sen Wellness and having researched many options, I was drawn to this but it was way beyond my expectations, it was amazing. The yoga by Frances and the monk was incredible, the doctors were kind and helpful and all the staff could not have been more helpful. Special mention to treatments from Tanisha and the manager Sanath who got me out on the beach one evening to see the mother turtles. A dream come true in so many ways, left feeling refreshed,so much healthier in body and mind!! I would highly recommend to anyone who needs a reset.
britta barth
britta barth
1713871962
I had a wonderful stay and participated in the Signature Retreat. The resort is located in a very beautiful nature reserve. There is a beautiful beach for long nice walks and you also can see turtles.Meditation and Yoga were very also so good as were the ayurvedic treatments. I love it.The Signature Retreat led by Sam is a great, inspiring journey in itself - I can highly recommend.The ayurvedic food was delicious and the staff is great.I hope to go soon again to this wonderful place.Mandy thanks to Sam and his team at Sen Wellness Sanctuary. Britta
One of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The 10-day retreat is the ultimate in relaxation. They feed you all your meals (delicious homegrown/homemade food), schedule yoga and daily spa treatments and hold special ceremonies throughout the week. The staff go above and beyond to make your experience deep, meaningful and heartfelt. The sanctuary is located in a jungle so be prepared to be immersed in wildlife! Monkeys, reptiles of all kinds, turtles on the beach, eagles/birds and more! I stumbled across this place researching Sri Lanka and it was truly meant to be. The faculties are stunning, comfortable and reasonably priced. Don’t miss an opportunity to come here!
Melanie Farfel
Melanie Farfel
1711609773
A wonderful stay! The staff was so incredible and thoughtful throughout. I left feeling very rejuvenated. Thank you !
M UW
M UW
1710650939
I had really nice experience at Sen Wellness for 8 nights. Here is in the middle of nature, we can feel that we are a part of nature and it is very natural to live with all kinds of animals and plants. I am now mentally and physically fit.What I really appreciated is food - healthy, everyday different menu, some vegetables that I have never seen… I felt that my feeling of taste transformed through my stay and skin condition and body condition became better.All people here is really kind and peaceful.Yoga teacher, Stefania, is a wonderful teacher, she is really knowledgeable and so kind to care all participants. I had enjoyed conversations with her at breakfast, lunch and dinner.Doctors, therapists are nice, I could ask questions and request whatever I feel comfortable.There are different types of rooms, I experienced the most luxury cabana and eco-cabana with Air Conditioning, too. Luxury cabana was awesome but I liked eco-cabana as well. It was an old facility but authentic, compact and I felt cozy. I was alone in the room so the space was enough for single use. If you wish to have luxury stay, I would recommend you to go for Luxury cabana.Everyone has different purpose and expectations. My purpose was feel nature, have simple life and feel appreciation of life. And it was fulfilled. Thank you so much for all Sen wellness team.
sunil damodar
sunil damodar
1710516667
Went to Sen Wellness with family for a retreat, it was a nice spiritual and healthy experience. Fantastic team who were friendly and did everything possible to make it us feel special, great doctors and therapists and of course the daily yoga and one on one interaction with Sam was icing on the cake. Would recommend this to anyone looking for a great mix of spirituality, yoga, treatment and healthy eating. Look forward to my next one at Sen Wellness.
Jessica Crozier
Jessica Crozier
1709904229
Sen Wellness is the perfect place to go to when you are exhausted by life and need a rest to get back to yourself and work through any difficulties you may be experiencing.There’s lovely yoga and meditation classes every day plus a set schedule which is a great way to structure your day of rest alongside tailored Ayurvedic treatments and healthy food.The place is for me perfect but it’s not like a 5 star hotel so if that’s what you are looking for it may be the wrong place for you.If you are lucky you’ll see some turtles as well.Samath and Francis are great managers and will make sure everything goes well.
Kumail Syedain
Kumail Syedain
1709739998
Beautiful experience, beyond my wildest expectations. Would recommend to anyone interested in Ayurveda and healing
Neil Wadhawan
Neil Wadhawan
1709656423
I was fortunate to lead a yoga retreat in early February of 2024. Everything was absolutely spectacular. Sen is a very special place with a beautiful energy that is perfect for retreat and healing.What really makes Sen so special are the people. Every single one of the staff members as well as the ayurveda doctors and all the managers were so kind and always trying to make each experience special. The entire team was led by Sanath and Frances and they were both absolutely wonderful. I can't possibly find enough kind words for both of them. Their leadership and warmth really allowed me to lead the retreat in the best way I could and they were always there for me whenever I needed. Thank you!
helen wright
helen wright
1709279369
Sen wellness is a perfect sanctuary. The Ayurvedic retreat was insane - I loved every minute of it . Thank you
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