By Fiona Doyle
I was amazed when Paul from Positive Life rang me and told me I had won a free detox weekend at Cloona Health Retreat. The centre is situated in a former woollen mill which was initially restored to act as a Buddhist retreat. It is certainly a very calm place.
Dhara, the owner and manger, welcomed us all and invited us to drink a glass of soft water from Cloona’s own spring. He emphasised to us how we should drink water at room temperature, about six tall glasses a day, and never with food (the extra liquid dilutes the digestive juices) – the programme had begun!
Our first meal that evening was a plate full of various types of fruit. Fruit is the easiest type of food for our systems to cope with as it only needs half an hour to be digested. Vegetables take an hour and a half, while many foods can take much longer. All our activities at Cloona had to take place at least half an hour after we had eaten so our energy could be concentrated on digesting the meal before we undertook anything else.
On the Friday and Saturday, the morning started with a shot of freshly juiced wheatgrass (definitely an acquired taste!) and then we had a good detoxing breakfast.
Catríona then lead a two hour yoga class. I’ve taken some yoga classes in the past that twisted my body into all sorts of contortions, but this was a milder form of yoga, the Satyananda tradition, which is a balance of breath awareness, movement and deep relaxation.
Lunch was a delicious root vegetable soup and two very large plates of salad for us to share. After lunch, Dhara assembled us for the first of his guided walks. That first day he encouraged us to think about our shoulders and hips. Then we set off, at our own pace, on an hour’s circuit through some of the beautiful country roads in the area. Dhara preferred us to walk on our own so we could focus on the walking process itself, but I must admit I dawdled at the back, chatting to Lesley that afternoon.
Back at the centre, we could avail of one of the optional therapy sessions with visiting practitioners. I took reflexology the first day and had a facial the second. There was also deep tissue massage and shiatsu. Everyone related tales of good experiences and friendly therapists.
The evening meal again consisted of a large plate of mixed, uncut fruit. Then a sauna was followed by a massage with Anne.
On day two, at his briefing before our walk, Dhara had us focus on our feet, ankles and knees. Again there were lots of lovely vistas, including several glimpses of the sea and the bay. On day three, he drew our attention to the movement of our backs.
I must admit, I didn’t feel at all well on day one – Dhara said it was the detoxing process at work. Several strong cups of coffee daily were being badly missed by my system. By day two, however, I was starting to feel much better, while by the third and final day, I was on great form and felt like a new woman.
The others in my group claimed they never felt ill at all. On closer questioning I discovered they had all made an effort to drop coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, salt and meat for the four days or so before they had arrived at Cloona – as advised in the leaflet – so the detoxing process was much less of a shock for their bodies.
The final meal was another delicious soup. This was followed by two more fantastic salads. During the meal, Dhara explained how he tried to source not just organic but biodynamic food for the centre – food grown by organic principals but also according to phases of the moon and other earth forces. Bizarrely, I never felt hungry all the time I was at Cloona, despite the fact I appeared to be eating much less food than usual.
I thoroughly enjoyed the three days. The amazing location surrounded by lovely countryside with supportive and fun company made it very easy to relax. I felt so far away from manic living. I would definitely come back for the same again. I feel so much healthier. I left with my indigestion all gone and not feeling bloated at all. I only smoked 5 cigarettes a day while I was there, as opposed to the usual 20 a day. I didn’t feel an urge to smoke more.
The whole experience made me aware that what I am doing at home is not right for me. I have learned how important it is to take time for yourself, i.e. yoga, walking. My time at Cloona was all so beneficial. In all I lost 5 lbs and I am now smoking outside my own house; something I have never committed myself to before. I am a reformed character!
For more info on Cloona, visit www.cloona.ie