By Cora Carey
When I was 20 I was lost. Desperately grieving and seriously underweight, I recall wishing there was somewhere I could flee to for a while – a special sanctuary where I could be nourished and healed and have space to lick my wounds.
Fast forward 22 years and here I am in Bordeaux, South West France, in just such a sanctuary; except that it is more beautiful and health giving than I could ever have imagined. So why am I here? And who owns this healing oasis? Liz Dowling: a petite and determined Kerry woman who embodies radiant health, and seems to glow with an inner light and knowing. Having been in the healing and nutrition business for over 20 years, Liz decided, last year, that her destiny lay in France and in providing a healing retreat for tired and wounded souls. So she upped sticks and left for Bordeaux, on her own, at the age of 56, knowing no one. That in itself is an inspiration!
A series of miraculous coincidences and fortuitous offers of help from normally reticent locals enabled Liz to realise her dream before year one was out. This also reinforced her belief that what you put out there you get back, and she lives this philosophy every day. Liz may be an amazing healer, reflexologist, massage therapist, nutrition therapist and stress management expert, but her greatest teaching tool is her own life. The most flagging spirit cannot fail to be reignited by her contagious passion and courage as she walks the talk, positively affirming that all good things are possible and come from within.
What Liz provides is simply this: space to heal. You’ll also find the support and tools you need to begin moving forward. How this happens is entirely up to you – you may be exhausted and need to sleep, you may need to talk, to cry or simply to give your body healthful foods and gentle walks among the vineyards. Or you may need to sit in the beautiful gardens and simply be. From the moment she picks you up at the airport, Liz will take care of you like a mammy; producing the most scrumptious and healthy meals that cater for all dietary needs. You set your own agenda, and Liz goes with the flow. She has a gift for making herself as available as you need her to be, always respectful of your space, and at the same time ready with a listening ear for your deepest troubles, offering canny insights and hugely practical advice based on her vast knowledge and unfailing intuition.
And all this is in the most heavenly rural setting imaginable. The house, a one hundred year old French Manor, is simply stunning; as are the four acres of gardens. The manor’s period features have been retained and enhanced with modern stylish touches, and each bedroom is warm, bright and inviting. Closing the massive window shutters each evening is like being securely cocooned for the night, and restful evenings can be spent by the open fire in the gorgeous farmhouse kitchen. Glass of wine optional. So, you can forget the notion that you must abstain from life’s little pleasures while at Civrac! Liz has thought of everything, right down to providing luxurious bathrobes and even sourcing chocolate that’s healthy!
Three tired and emotional sisters (one of them me) made the trip to Civrac in May and collapsed in a collective heap at Liz Dowling’s feet. A long overdue break from busy career and family lives, our four night stay was like being wrapped in a warm blanket of peace and healing. As a holistic therapist juggling a husband, 3 kids and a Jack Russell, with a busy practice, it was time to walk the talk and make space for some of that ‘me time’ I usually prescribe for clients. Believe me when I say, I’d forgotten what it felt like to be free from commitments and clockwatching.
Healing treatments and assessments (all by Liz) are optional, but just having her deep wisdom on tap was a huge catalyst and I made giant leaps in terms of personal healing and development. My two sisters, one a self-employed (and self-confessed) stress junkie, and the other an exhausted hypnotherapist also had major epiphanies. It’s said that every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We took the first one by giving ourselves the gift of time and space away from the daily grind and stresses. Civrac Sanctuary and Liz Dowling did the rest!
For more info, visit www.civracsanctuary.com