If you let beauty in, you will feel more beautiful – Day 2 at Gaia

Her alarm went off at 6am but a need to keep sleeping stopped her from rising and attending the yoga class that morning. Instead she shut her eyes and drifted back off to her dreams tangled in the cushions and sheets. When she did wake at 8am she felt better, ready to face the day and her morning run.

The track that led around the property was 1.5km but traversed steep grassy slopes, winding rocky paths and rain forest. It was beautiful. Her lungs hurt pretty quickly with the higher altitude but she pushed on and took in her surroundings trying not to stop as she caught her breath. She remembered a passage from the book she was reading, The Alchemist, that said ‘the secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil on the spoon’. The girl wanted to drink in the beauty of this place but needed to remember her own goals and ambitions outside of this week too. Her promise to herself to run 3.2km every day for a year. If she let altitude and sore limbs stop her from doing something as simple as a run, how would she be able to face the real obstacles in life? And what was the point of running with your head down missing the stunning scenery?

Time to run

Time to run

Feeling proud, and very sweaty, she wiped down and went for breakfast where she joined another guest who was checking out that day. They spoke about their reasons for coming to Gaia, the treatments they had or were having, and the girl began to feel quite comfortable with this stranger whose skin glowed and eyes sparkled, she had been there 10 days! ‘That’s what I want to feel when I’m ready to leave’ she thought.

Instead of joining the 10.30am nature walk she stayed in her room, book once again in hand, determined to uncover the truths of life and the answers to her internal questions. As she flicked through the pages the rain poured down on the roof, the battering of the elements going on above her head was strangely peaceful.

At 11.30 she made her way to Kukura House to give clay sculpting a go. An idea that turned out to be immensely satisfying. Over the next two hours she turned a square lump of brown clay into a voluptuous woman. Who would have thought this exercise in patience could be so rewarding. Using her fingers she smoothed the clay woman’s shape, rounded her breasts and carved out blossoming buttock cheeks with her hands. She gave the sculptured woman a neck, a waist, shoulders – life. It was highly therapeutic and the two hours flew past with a focus on nothing more than molding something boring into something of beauty.

Lunch went by; alone she sat enjoying a vegetarian extravaganza on her plate while looking out through the glass windows across the fields. It was almost time for her first treatment in the spa and she was eager to get there.

On a stroll to the spa

On a stroll to the spa

Robe and slippers on, she meandered through the gardens; hedges flanking brick pavers, towering palms and trees the colour of spun gold. When Dan, her therapist, greeted her in the waiting room she followed him through the corridor to the third room, de-robed and placed herself on the bed.

The warm oil seeped into her skin as his strong arms kneaded her tension away, stroke by glorious stroke she felt muscles unclench, bones crack lightly and the energy realign inside her. His breath showed hers the way as the massage continued on, pushing, pulling, stoking, guiding and nurturing her body and soul to a place of joy and sheer relaxation. It was one of the best massages she had ever had.

In the waiting room he gave her fruit and water spiked with citrus so her fluids would replenish, then she made her way back to the room.

http://www.gaiaretreat.com.au/day-spa

It was almost cruel and unusual punishment after such relaxation to have to climb the hill back to her room. Small steps got her there uneasily as she floated on pampered feet. A bath called to her, as did a relaxation tea, and the warm water washed away whatever small bit of stress was left in her body. She smiled, a deep hazily fulfilled smile and soaked.

That afternoon as the sun shone through grey clouds she took a walk around the property again, this time to the lookout. An energized scattering of rocks and ethereal white womanly statue mark the lookout and the view was breathtaking.

lookout large lr

Gazing out over pastures, trees and rolling countryside, orchards to the right and forest to the left, it was almost too perfect, like someone had painted this on the horizon. She thought to herself ‘I suppose that’s what nature is, its perfect in its imperfections and it’s the embodiment of beauty’. She stayed there a while, perched on a rock first taking some time to meditate, then she laid back on a sunbed and watched the clouds float by, the chirping of insects the only sound. As if on a search for thriving life she then wandered to the veggie garden, a square fenced section of beauty, sprinkled with herbs, veggies, citrus fruits, and all the colours of the rainbow. She stopped to inhale the fresh scent of vine ripening tomatoes – one of her favourite smells – and sat watching the bugs for a while before heading back to her room to change, ready for another scrumptious dinner.

Bursting with life and colour

Bursting with life and colour

Something about the way she felt tonight made her choose to sit alone again. She wanted to really take it all in. She noticed the green grey gum standing proud directly in front of the pavilion. It was so still you could make out the tiny black ants traversing the branches. All you could really see were tree tops on the horizon and when the sun peaked through the grey clouds it sent slivers of light to illuminate the leaves. Inside, the cane chairs contrasted with crisp white linen on the tables and the copper glow from the candles matched the burnt orange hue coming from the lamps, each uniquely and intricately designed in unusual shapes and sizes scattered throughout the room.

During dinner she read a little, wrote a little and ate a lot – tonight’s menu was Harvey Bay scallops, baked chicken and veg and panacotta with lime and dragon fruit. The thing about food here was that it was always healthy, fresh, bursting with flavours and so vibrant on the plate. Perhaps the best part was that it was designed to your dietary requirements and simply placed before you. No choices, no hassles, just there ready when you were.

When she had finished it was back to her room, another glorious sun shower (at 8pm) sprinkled down on her skin during the walk, then she drew the curtains and snuggled up in bed to watch a movie.

To be empowered is to be happy – Day 1 at Gaia

She indicated right and with that single motion turned off the busy highway and pulled on to a rougher road with no markings. Another few kilometers and she would reach her destination, Gaia.

As she drove around the first bend, the most magnificent trees towered over her pearl coloured car to the right. An antique shop appeared seemingly from nowhere to her left on the edge of a tiny town that almost looked out of place; like time had forgotten it. Considering Newrybar was founded in 1881, I suppose in ways it had been. As she continued on, the fauna became more diverse – fig trees, palms, gums –a few scattered frangipanis lined the old wooden fences by the roadside boasting bursts of pink from their creamy centers. Then she was there.

Gaia Retreat and Spa is perched beautifully on the edge of what seems like a hundred rolling hills in all directions flanked by a myriad of plant life, some native, others there for effect. She could smell the change in the air, literally, the scent from the trees was strong and with a deep breath she filled her nose with it. Ahhh, she exhaled. This was the smell of peace.

Tyres squelched on a rocky ground at the top of the steep driveway. She parked the car and took another breath. This was home for the next five nights.

Welcome to Gaia

Welcome to Gaia

A man named Tim dressed in what looked like the most comfortable brown pants and olive shirt she had ever seen greeted her as she entered the Kukura House. He offered her a seat, some delicious chicken kofta’s and salad with a lemongrass iced tea. It felt good if not a little odd sitting in the dining area at a table by herself looking around at the décor, so perfectly suited for where she was. Natural hues of brown and green made up the bulk of the design with muted whites and black stripes here and there. There were peach coloured curtains adorning the wooden beams and bamboo standing tall in the centre of the space. The restaurant was at the far end of the room, the library, a gift shop and Indian inspired nook closer to the entrance. It was really quite beautiful, like a very fancy version of someone’s expensive home.

At the heart of Gaia - a meeting place

At the heart of Gaia – a meeting place

It was Tim who showed her to her room when her plate was cleared and check-in process completed. Lucky number 13, a Sura Terrace room entered through a big brown wooden door with intricate detailing. The room was complete with day bed, beautifully striped in the most calming yet energizing colours of maroon, lime green, lemon yellow, black and watermelon.

Outdoor reading and relaxation

Outdoor reading and relaxation

Next to the daybed was a wrought iron table with two chairs. A hedge and other green plants offered privacy. The bed inside the room was large, perfect for spreading out head to toe and adorned with squishy pillows. Hidden inside the wardrobe was the ‘restore’ section of the room, a little fridge and herbal tea station complimented with a plate of fruit. The bathroom boasted a sunken tub and a view to an outside reading table. There were plenty of options inside the room for reading too; a chair here, one there with a foot rest. She was glad because reading was something she had come here to do.

A place to rest

A place to rest

She had also came here to find herself again. To reconnect to that deep spiritual center of herself and ease the stresses of modern day life. She had come to learn how to enjoy her own company, revel in doing things only for herself and to simply sit back, shut out the outside world and breathe again. The anxiety that had crept up on her like a disease was lurking behind her forehead, her heart and she wanted to push it out. So what better place to come than here?

A few hours, a brief run and bath later she ventured to the Gaia Day Spa for a wellness consultation; a half hour meeting with Naturopath Grace to chat about her goals and treatments for the week. When Grace asked her what she hoped to achieve in these five days the girl had to choke back tears. An overwhelming sense of purpose hit her hard. The walk back to her room was one of raw beauty, an unusual and rare experience in a life as busy as hers. She saw the same palms again that towered over her on the way to the spa, but this time their fronds danced in the breeze, the grass was a little greener and at the exact moment she smiled the heavens opened and sent down the most beautiful sun shower. The cool water on her cheeks, her lips made her smile even harder.

By the time the clocked clicked over to 5pm she had herself a berry and green tea, pen and paper in hand awaiting the talk by Naturopath Grace on stress and nutrition. One and a half hours of realisations as she scribbled notes and drank in the information that seemed so simple. She learned how the digestive and endocrine system is intertwined and connected with the immune system as well. All these questions about her own inner workings seemed to be answered in some small way. Gratitude was what she felt toward the woman with a glowing smile, long slim legs and a mess of beautiful brown hair wearing the female version of Tim’s comfy attire.

At dinner that night she sat by herself at a beautifully set table with three candles and a single white lily. It was a strange feeling sitting down to a three course meal by herself, but at the same time it didn’t feel wrong. Like most other women in the room she grabbed a magazine and flicked through its glossy pages in between the courses – asparagus salad, swordfish, poached peach in jelly – but just sitting staring at the surroundings almost felt more natural.

She put into practice what she had learned that afternoon, chewing 20 times for protein, 10 for carbs and sipped slowly on a glass of bubbles as the sun sank out of sight and the candles flickered brighter.

After dinner and a short wander back to her room dodging cane toads that had positioned themselves on the red brick path, she sunk deep in a warm tub, book in hand and sprinkled the sea salts and rose petals around her. Dark had arrived but instead of feeling homesick she felt empowered.She heard her husband’s words in her head ‘you deserve it, make the most of it’ and so she did.

sunset1 lr

(chapter 1 in a 6 part series – my time at Gaia by Lahnee Pavlovich)

http://www.gaiaretreat.com.au/