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. 

Lina

Coming from a lineage of healers, Lina works with somatic embodiment, breathwork, energetic healing, sound, and naturopathic nutrition. She channels her practice into words and thoughts to share with you. Her warmth and radiant energy will capture you through her words

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Ann
Ann
17:53 26 Jan 23
Staying at the Sen Wellness Retreat in Sri Lanka was one of my best experiences from the moment I entered the retreat I was enveloped in all the warmth and love you could possibly wish for. The delicious food, Ayurvedic treatments, relaxing on the comfortable furnishings in the common areas and the well appointed bedrooms. The thrill of enjoying the sunrise while doing kundalini yoga on the golden sand where the turtles had struggled up the beach the night before to lay their eggs. Sunset yoga, meditation and sitting around the fire chatting to my new family is unforgettable - I am planning on returning in November!! A pool would be lovely - Sam had best start digging!!!!
Christina Bertram
Christina Bertram
14:09 12 Jan 23
Thanks to Sen Wellness I'm starting my year completely refreshed from the inside out. It's the most beautiful, serene, welcoming place located between the sea and a lagoon. The team has gone over and beyond looking after every single guest with individual treatment plans and always being around to support. Not to mention the amazing food.. I've only stayed 6 days and would have loved to have some extra days. Can only recommend it and hope to be back again!
Arjuna Devas
Arjuna Devas
19:05 24 Nov 22
Whether you are looking to take a break from the busyness of life, a complete overhaul of the mind, body and soul or just a place to completely relax and get a good sleep, look no further. You have the ability and opportunity to completely unplug here with no outside distractions. Completely rest and rejuvenate at this very private location with super comfortable beds, nutritious food, amazing daily Ayurvedic therapies and supportive staff. It is called a sanctuary for a reason. The only distraction may be your minds addictive behaviors, for most the rabbit hole of the internet. With the limited wifi, you can turn off your phone for your entire stay or limit it to an hour a day. Then you may get to discover what truly makes you happy from within.My partner, Jamie, and I worked here for 3 months as therapists, yoga teachers and hosts. We fell in love with the place and the staff, we now call friends, that we would often here laughing while they worked. Something that we have discovered working at other retreat centers was not the case.We also noticed the pure synchronicity and harmony of the individual guests who showed up. Most of them became, not only friends with each other, but the perfect support persons in their transformative processes and I'm sure many will stay in touch for years to come.Please consider staying here to not only find your light but to turn it up so bright so you can be a lighthouse onto everyone around you. This world needs more light-bearers.Last but not least when considering how long to stay we noticed guests who stayed for less than 7 days felt their time was cut short and were only starting to get into a rhythm. Those who stayed for 2 weeks or longer were completely transformed and were literally floating by the time they left.Jamie and I look forward to coming back, for our own wellness and to support others in finding theirs. OM.
Jonathan Z. Lee
Jonathan Z. Lee
14:57 25 Oct 22
What an incredible, transformative week at Sen Wellness. A beautiful coccoon for the soul, in such a beautiful location. It's hard to describe what happens here, with the great yoga sessions, personalized Ayurvedic treatments, workshops, meditations, ceremonies, and mindful diet...it just all works together to provide a healing experience, one which expands the mind and heart, and gives the soul room to breathe. Stress lines and wrinkles noticeably vanished from everyone's faces over a few days, bodies began to unfold and stand strong once more, and smiles continued to grow day after day. Everyone at the center was incredibly kind and attentive, and it was a joy every morning to greet them. Madhu at the main desk was a ray of sunshine, Dr Harnika radiated peace and warmth, and all the therapists and kitchen staff took such good care of us. A very special thank you to our yoga teacher (and SO much more) Jamie, who helped to create a safe and nurturing space while helping us to free our bodies and minds. She is an exceptional guide, and a powerful beam of light, helping strangers from all over the world turn into a supportive community. And such deep gratitude for Arjuna who has what can only be described as the most healing hands, who helped me work through my chronic pain of 10+ years in such an intuitive manner - I'm still speechless!!Thank you so much Sen for helping so many people in deeply personal ways. 🙏
Manuela Capelle
Manuela Capelle
14:54 25 Oct 22
Thank you Sen Wellness for providing an outstanding stay for Jon and myself. It really felt like a warm cocoon, a safe space to be guided towards our essence, to feel nurtured, grounded, healthy, and to be allowed to just be. The yoga was very integrative to all levels, and Jamie helped us understand and integrate the true meaning of yoga beyond the classes. The ceremonies led by Jamie and Arjuna were so great and genuine heart openers for people from all walks of life. Arjuna’s massages were out of this world, and with a lot of love.Beyond this, the whole staff was incredibly friendly - every single one of them.Madhu’s smile simply unforgettable. Best wishes and we will hopefully be back very soon!!
Paula Alves Silva
Paula Alves Silva
11:42 20 Oct 22
I did not write a comment immediately after my retreat because I was looking for the perfect words to describe the beautiful and deep experience I lived at Sen Wellness Sanctuary. You might choose this place because you feel in a certain way but independently of the cause that might bring you there the truth is that you will leave with a clear, light and peaceful body and soul. At Sen Wellness Sanctuary I felt that everyone works towards making that space a home away from your home. The kindness and perfectionism that the staff provides is rare to find. By investing in Sen Wellness Sanctuary you are also investing in the community. The owner's philosophy of making the staff a priority really made the difference for me.The beautiful classes and ceremonies provided by Jamie Sol are undoubtedly memorable. I felt an immediate connection with the teachers and there are lessons that I for sure won't forget. Starting from the interior to the exterior, all Ayurvedic treatments brought me the feeling of floating. I felt many times that I was reborn over and over again. And I can not end this review without mentioning the unity created in the space between its architecture and nature to really create a unity between the all. I left with a tight heart because I really felt at home. The morning tee watching the sunrise from the cabana, the long walks between the empty beach and the immense lagoon, yoga while the sun goes up, the delicious (really delicious) food, the laughs, the sound of birds and monkeys playing around, the chat and meditation with the monk, the sky filled with stars, the reading by the pool, the long conversations, the sunbath by the stairs while waiting for treatments. The many many smiles. Oh I could go back in a glimpse.
Bożena Teclaf
Bożena Teclaf
15:45 18 Oct 22
I had a wonderful stay at Sen Wellness Sanctuary. I was traveling solo and honestly this retreat was more than I thought I ever needed. Everything - from facilities, food, treatments was just great. You can feel this amazing hospitality from the moment you step through their gates.What is important to mention - I am on a strict gluten free diet and the kitchen staff took every effort to accommodate my dietary requirements. They even made a special GF cake for my birthday!Big shoutout to Jamie and Arjuna - such a lovely teachers and mentors - I have learned so much from them about yoga, meditation, energy healing and more.To the whole staff (and especially the ones I was not able to say goodbye to) - thank you from the bottom of my heart. People are the ones who make places special and you were all so incredible and kind. I received so much love and care when celebrating my birthday there - something I will cherish forever.Everything was organized with lots of care. My transfer from and to the airport was very smooth. The area is very safe and honestly I can't recommend the retreat enough.
Gerti van Lier
Gerti van Lier
14:41 16 Oct 22
My retreat at Sen Wellness Sanctuary was exactly what I needed after 2,5 years Covid with full time home working. I was tired, both mentally and physically. As I wanted to completely disconnect from my day to day life, I chose for the 14 day package. It was the best thing I did to recover from these 2,5 years.The staff at Sen Wellness is very friendly and welcoming, from yoga teachers to the kitchen staff and therapists. I had an excellent yoga teacher Jamie, who also guided the ceremonies. We did a fire ceremony, water ceremony and a new moon ceremony. The new moon ceremony was very special. It was like Jamie sensed what I needed. Movement, dance, energy, joy, life! Perfect!The food was excellent, every meal a great variety of dishes. Even the few days that I had the luxury to be the only guest, I had at least 7 dishes for lunch and dinner.I loved the treatments, my favorite was the shirodhara. This oil treatment you have to experience. Words cannot express this experience, you float, lose track of time and space. And let's not forget the joint treatment, loosening your whole body.The yoga classes went beyond the physical postures. There was a lot of attention for both body and soul, with breathing exercises and meditation. And let’s not forget joy. The last day we went at sun rise to the beach to take pictures of my achievement. It was not about the achievement, it was about the joy of life we shared together.A retreat at Sen Wellness is a treat and transformation for body and soul.
Sonia Champagne
Sonia Champagne
18:20 11 Sep 22
I attended to summer retreat and this center offered me so much more than I expected. First of all, I was not sure at all of travelling to Sri Lanka from Canada, but all is good, you can travel with no fear, it was a perfect experience, from beginning to end.I have been taking care of from the most caring, knowledgeable, open hearted, and wonderful people that have made my journey at the center a exceptionnel experience.You can trust, that this center will bring you what you need, at the perfect timing in your life.
marleen blanson henkemans
marleen blanson henkemans
09:15 04 Sep 22
I stayed at Sen Wellness for the special golden summer retreat in August 2022. It was everything I was looking for: expanding my knowledge of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. More importantly, it helped me connect with myself. The people that have built this amazing place between the ocean and jungle are so kind and welcoming. Everything is taken care off and the staff really ensures you get a wonderful experience. The food is amazing and I never felt healthier. The yoga and meditation teachers Jamie and Ardyuna who were there at the time, made the experience even more special. With their knowledge and experience, the experience was even more special. Thank you Sen Wellness for helping me connect with myself on a deeper level. I would highly recommend this relaxing and special experience to everyone.Even though Sri Lanka was in the middle of an economic crisis while I was there, this did not affect my trip in any way. The country is safe to travel to and I would recommend everyone to do so!
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