Healing hands help restore inner peace
“THE pub’s half a mile away,” quips the taxi driver as he drops me off at the Middle Piccadilly rural spa retreat. Not that I’ll even be considering it. This trip is all about cleansing and realigning the chakras.
Set in peaceful countryside, on aptlynamed Peaceful Lane, my stay at the Middle Piccadilly Dorset is far from the chaotic, bustling Manchester Piccadilly I’m more accustomed to.
It had arrived with perfect timing following an emotionally challenging time. And luckily for me there were many healing hands here to help restore my balance and transport me away from the rat race.
My rather new-agey experience began the moment I stepped off the train at the picturesque Sherborne station on the weekend of summer solstice.
Middle Piccadilly is more of a home from home in a 17th century thatched farmhouse than your conventional spa with fluffy towels and bathrobes.
With my fellow peaceseekers I enjoyed delicious and nutritious vegetarian meals prepared by owner and resident chef Dominic Harvey. Around the table in the cosy family kitchen we shared some insightful, supportive chats before heading our separate ways to unwind, enjoy our own space, surround ourselves with nature and enjoy the blissful silence, something I was looking forward to more than anything.
But unfortunately for me I found this to be near impossible. I didn’t realise how much I would be inclined to reach for my mobile phone, Facebook and Twitter until I found myself alone with no other distractions.
My first treatment was a satisfying Indian head massage set in the Star Chamber, an airy wooden hexagonal-shaped building set on ancient ley lines.
But my therapist, Maya, could see right through me. My body was firmly rooted to a chair but my giddy, unsettled mind was darting all over the place.
According to an Indian alternative medicine practice I’m a ‘wind’ person that needs grounding with stodgy foods. Bonus.
Then Maya had more news for me. During my treatment she had spotted two aspects of nature that she felt represented me – a flashy magpie pecking at the window for attention and a snake shedding its skin.
After a short break I was rewarded with more time with Maya, this time for a shamanic healing session, a highlight of the Middle Piccadilly treatment menu and a truly unforgettable experience.
Shamanism is an ancient practice that involves the shaman holding a trance like ritual to interact with the spirit world and tap into Mother Nature.
Maya developed goosebumps as she sensed a malevolent spirit among my ancestors. I was asked to choose a stone from a bundle before settling down onto a makeshift bed as she drummed, whistled and chanted all around me.
Then I was asked, keeping my eyes firmly shut, to place the stone where I feel it should go. Tentatively I placed it on my arm.
“How about here?” asked Maya, transferring it gently to an area just above the pelvis. And the pain was searing.
“What do you see? what do you feel?” she asked. “Red, burning.” I gulped quietly.
I was urged to breathe hard while imagining that I was flushing water, and that troubled spirit, out of me. Maya believed that my now departed ancestor was a woman burned at the stake for witchcraft, hence the burning sensation. And my pain was also gone.
Maya then took the time to give some extra advice – I need to nourish myself with walks and slow exercise – before teaching me a deep breathing exercise to quieten the mind.
Over lunch I discussed my healing with another guest who recalled an entirely different personalised shamanic experience.
It’s recommended to take time out to relax after treatment so I read in the cottage’s lavish grounds and, for some light relief, watched television in my en-suite room.
My final treatment the following morning, this time with therapist Claire, was Hand on Heart, a slow rhythmic massage of the hands and feet to reboot the body’s energy flow. I felt relaxed but Claire informed me that my third eye – connected to the mental plane – had been working overtime.
Sitting in the lawns after treatment, phone in hand, I was spotted by another shamanic healer who, looking concerned, made a beeline over to show me a simple, effective technique to become more centred, by imagining myself two feet to the left, then right, then above and below myself.
So my big old chattering brain became a reoccurring theme throughout the weekend, and a lesson learned.
What’s the point of trying to disconnect yourself from everyday life only to in effect take it with you? But this is what sets this magical place aside from most spas. Although I may not have returned to Manchester a changed woman I took home enough caring, life-changing advice to make it possible in the long-term, with batteries recharged. Katie Fitzpatrick
The lavish gardens and thatched cottage at Middle Piccadilly rural spa retreat Dorset