Heal­ing hands help re­store in­ner peace

Stockport Times West - - TRAVEL -

“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

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