Why Retreat?

MissionbeachWhat is the purpose of retreating, cleansing, exercising, meditating and learning new routines?

My first experience of retreats was back in 1979 when I worked at a retreat Centre in England. The main reason people came to those retreats was for weight loss and the regimes were pretty awful -starvation, rigorous exercise routines and programmes. To return home with that you could only have kept up if you had been in the military!

Still they were all pretty packed with willing people whom have been sold a dream that this would transform them back to teenage years with lean and toned bodies.Some people achieved amazing results in very short periods of time. But with working at this Centre for a longer stretch of time, I saw the same people return exactly as they where the first time – very few that I witnessed had held either the weight loss or healthy routines.

Fast forward to year 2000+ and working in retreats in Australia, have things changed? Well the emphasis of doing a retreat has slightly moved away from primarily weight loss to healthy life and connecting back to a more natural way of living.

In the last few years I have run a few retreats to find a way that I feel would help people the most, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is coming now in the way of 5 Element retreats, which is very connected to the work I do with clients in Sydney, Melbourne and USA.

5 Elements is part of a bigger picture of Taoism and the understanding of cycles of nature and energies that influence the human being (in the spirit, the body, the emotion and mentality).These retreats are to help reconnect, recharge, and rediscover your nature and find what the body is already teaching you.

Join us at our first 5 Elements retreat in August. Click here for more details.

The Shamed Organ

The Shamed Organ – Article courtesy of Chali Harding

colonWhat do we know about the effect our emotional wellbeing has on our digestive system? We tend to focus on the food and then switch off once we have swallowed. If we spent as much time talking, or thinking, about what happens lower down in our digestive system, then maybe we would know more about how our mindset is affecting our digestion and sense of well being.

Here is where the ‘shamed organ’ comes in. The organ that directly communicates and responds to our nervous system and emotional state. It was only quite recently discovered that brain cells actually reside and function in this oh so vital, sensitive, intricate, misunderstood and socially shunned organ: The colon.

Yes this is where the waste of our body gathers before being excreted as poo. Yes this is the organ responsible for emitting embarrassing sounds and odours. But at what point in our evolution did we become ashamed of a vital bodily function? What would happen if we held onto all that waste, and naturally occurring gases? Our bodies would pretty quickly become highly toxic and the other systems of our body would be overloaded and exhausted and start to malfunction under the ever increasing pressure of toxins. The bottom line (sorry, it is impossible to escape the odd pun when discussing the colon) is we need to let-go of our rubbish. However, many people, without even being aware, are holding on to what they, and their bodies, no longer have a need for.

Deepak Chopra (eminent physician) emphatically states that ‘one of the most important factors in Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS, is the relationship between your emotions and your gut.’ We react to our emotions and store stress in our gut. Constipation, diarrhoea, IBS, are more often than not linked to an emotional ‘holding on’. During my 10 years of practicing colon hydrotherapy in London, 85% of my clients were presenting gut issues caused by stress.

Our stress response will shut down our digestive system. That is what it is meant to do. Our ‘flight or fight’ response causes our blood to go to our brain and limbs to help us run or fight that woolly mammoth. Except, when we are sitting in that meeting, suddenly feeling that flush of panic at yet another dreaded deadline looming, or waiting for the train that is delayed when we are already late, knowing the boss is always in an acidic mood on a Monday morning, or when the stress of running a home, being everything to everyone around us, having a long list of chores stretching ahead and not being able to focus on where to begin…..what do we do? Do we jump around, shout and scream and use all of this modern day stress induced adrenaline? Shake it off, let it out and then bring ourselves back to our centre, breath and focus? Or do we bottle it up? Swallow it down with a strong skinny latte, or our go-to comfort food? We keep our ‘cool’, not to show our emotions, take it on the chin and pretend we have it all sorted….. So then what happens. Knots start to form in our stomach. We might feel nauseous. We might fight the urge to run to the toilet. We might feel that familiar bloating in our abdomen, the tightness of holding onto something we really want to get out of our system.

We became ashamed of our colon when our bodies became imbalanced through our disconnection to our bodies. When the body is not in harmony it gives out signals, symptoms of this imbalance. And these signals can be potent. And they become more potent the longer they are ignored.

As far back as 460-370 BC, Hippocrates recognised that ‘All diseases begin in the gut’. Around 80% of our immune system is in the gut. That’s pretty amazing isnt it! Stress, poor diet, undiscovered food intolerances, alcohol, chemical drugs, antibiotics, insufficient sleep, an acidic lifestyle can change the whole ecosystem of bacteria in our digestive system. Scientific research shows that in people with damaged gut flora, there are far fewer lymphocytes (immune system cells) in the gut wall which leaves it poorly protected against invaders.

What if we learned to just let go of all that is no longer serving us? What if we just let go so we could unblock ourselves emotionally and physically so that our bodies and minds found the space, calm and balance to do what they do best…heal, nurture and thrive in a vital existence?

Chali is a holistic colon hydrotherapist, food as medicine practitioner, cleansing expert and also uses reiki, reflexology and massage as powerful healing modalities. Chali runs clinics on a Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

Contact Chali here.