FINDING A NEW PATH AT Y42 RADICAL WELLBEING RETREATS IN KENT, ENGLAND
Suzy Walker, Editor-in-Chief of Psychologies magazine after eight years reviews Y42 Radical Wellbeing Retreats in Kent, England, and discovers her inner growl, a love of ice baths and a new path in life.
I arrived at my five-day Y42 retreat at a huge crossroads in my life. Single mother to my son Charlie, 18, who had just got a place at university and was about to leave home, I had just left my job as Editor-in-Chief of Psychologies magazine after eight years, and made the big decision to rent out my house and go travelling in my camper van with my new partner.
The retreat promised a ‘radical immersive intervention for those who are serious about making genuine, meaningful change to their life’. Rohini and Karl Emanuelsson – husband and wife team and retreat owners – are both ex-corporates who have been training within the self-development industry for more than 20 years. They had packaged together the best tools such as yoga, breathwork and dancing, and combined them with latest wellbeing hacks and practical psychology for our five-day process.
I arrived at the beautiful beach house in Dymchurch, Kent, with an open mind and heart but also a tad exhausted after a long four-month handover period at work. I was also seriously caffeine-deprived. I had a 10-cups-of-coffee a day habit, so in order to function at the caffeine-free retreat, I had weaned myself off the week before. This had resulted in vomiting for 48 hours and headaches from hell. So I was rather wan and grumpy too, but the spectacular and eccentric venue – with quirky rooms to sleep in and white, candle-lit rooms to eat and dance in – meant you couldn’t stay grumpy for long.
In fact there wasn’t much chance to dwell on the negative as the ‘fledule’ (flexible schedule) was packed with soul-nurturing activities and nourishing juices and drinks that help you reset your system. The first two days felt like a cleansing, with a 48-hour fast to help us nourish our bodies without food but with juices. These were prepared by therapist Dawn Wilson, who helps Hollywood superstars to eat optimally. From day three, we were being fed vegan, wheat-free, highly nutritious food. With a free massage included one evening and a gong bath another evening, I felt as if my body was being nurtured and looked after at the highest level.
Rohini and Karl are some of the most genuine and inspiring retreat leaders I’ve ever met (and I’ve had the privilege of interviewing everyone from Brené Brown to Deepak Chopra in my role as Psychologies editor, so I don’t say this lightly). Their enthusiasm and belief in their life-changing tools were contagious, and their kindness, high energy and wisdom encouraged even the most reluctant of our 10-person group to take part. We were urged to get back into our bodies with daily yoga sessions – often with live music (the ‘rock star yoga’ even had us doing downward dog to the sounds of live acoustic guitar). We were encouraged to dance before every session, and I found myself leaping around like I did in my teens, any self-consciousness just dropping away.
Within 24 hours, I went from feeling like a caffeine-addicted shell to feeling optimistic and alive. On the gratitude walk on the beach mid-point, I felt more joy than I’ve felt in years, and connected to my fellow participants, nature and my purpose.
Our amazing group, which included everyone from a doctor to a builder, was kind, supportive and inspirational. No one held back. We all went for it – dancing, sharing secrets and letting go of a lifetime of baggage.
The overarching theme of the retreat was finding your purpose, and asking big questions such as, where are you in your life, where do you need a breakthrough and what’s holding you back? Rohini and Karl used a bag of powerful tools during five intense sessions in each 12-hour day. We tried mindful walking, ecstatic dancing, yoga, coaching plus lessons on how to live in a peak state. There were also brilliant sessions on how to improve your relationships, when Rohini suggested we used our relationships as vehicle for self-enquiry and a catalyst for growth and creativity.
The most powerful sessions of the week for me were the Conscious Connected Breathing on days two and three, billed as a ‘safe and natural way to feel deeply relaxed and joyful, release trauma and gain clarity of mind’. I found myself sobbing, finding my ‘inner growl’ and touching emotions I hadn’t felt for 30 years. Afterwards I felt like I’d released heavy baggage from the past. It was a very intense, emotional experience but afterwards, I felt light and free.
There were also two powerful, ‘sacred’ ceremonies during the week. Firstly, the fire ceremony at the end of day two, where we let go of limiting beliefs by burning them on a fire, following by writing our future vision by candlelight. On the last day, the group joined together in a ‘Game of Thrones’ ceremony – where the group sat in a circle and told you what they see in you. It was incredibly moving. You also get a video to watch at your leisure later.
The finale of the week is an ice bath, where you get to challenge yourself by lowering yourself into a bath full of ice cubes, followed by a sauna. Breathing methods and cold therapy claim to rev your metabolism, reduce inflammation, relieve depression, and strengthen the cardiovascular system. I never thought I would be able to do it, but with Karl’s patient coaching, the whole group managed to stay in the ice bath for a least a minute. It was a brilliant experiment to show us the power of our minds – it felt exhilarating and life-affirming.
The whole week’s programme was a fantastic opportunity to change old patterns and belief systems that no longer served us. After five days, I am no longer standing at the crossroads, I can see the new path I want to take in life, and I’ve set off on my journey with excitement.
Find your own path in 2022, at Y42 Radical Wellbeing Retreats.