Well it’s been just over a week now and finally I have gathered my thoughts and decided to write about a gift my wife Sohani gave me for my birthday last November. It was a voucher for a solo trip away - but not my usual kind of break, a special one where I got to remove myself from my life as I know it ….. no work, no kids, no wife, no in-laws … completely on your own!!

 Talk about starting 2014 with a bang (albeit a quiet one)!  Four days at the Billabong Retreat in Maraylya. Where you ask?? Maraylya?? Where?? Its actually only 45 minutes from Sydney, near Windsor. An amazing location surrounded by wild vegetation, fresh water ponds, magnificent trees, cicadas, mosquitos and flies.

Billabong is an echo friendly health retreat that opened 5 years ago.  Its is an extraordinary place where you retreat from the fast pace of life through Yoga and Meditation. Now for anyone who knows me Yoga and Meditation are not really two of my priorities in life.  I’m more of a wine, whisky and cheese man. What a thoughtful (and perhaps slightly loaded) present from my wife. On reflection she did say to me throughout the year, “Babe, you need a break, you need to quiet your mind and give your body a break, you need to learn to meditate and rest”.  I should have known what was coming.

When I arrived, I have to be honest and admit that the first ten minutes were spent in the car park thinking “what I am doing here”? Courageously, I eventually took a deep breath and entered. Check-in took 2 minutes, I was instructed to make my own bed and, I unpacked and before I knew it I was sitting with a group of 16 people in the Relaxation Room. The first session of Yoga took two and a half hours. The following day started with another two and half hours, this time it was Meditation … I was already well into what turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience.

 Just imagine for four days having no phone, no TV, no radio, no outside contact, no newspapers, no alcohol, no coffee, no meat, no fish, no air-conditioning.  There was only an allowance of 50 litres of water per day for the shower, toilet and drinking – we all needed to be conscious. We trekked 7km silently through the bush, we swam in the crystal clear Colo River, we watched inspirational and life- changing nutritional movies such as “Hungry for Change”. We ate incredible vegetarian dishes cooked with love. All organic, no sugar. We woke every morning to the sounds of birds.

Now I am well and truly back into life as I know it however all that I learnt in those four short days is still with me. What has this incredible break taught me? In summary, the importance of doing the following:

rest your mind and appreciate what is around you

take time for yourself, to reflect, to listen to your body, your thoughts

start your day with a 7.5 minutes Yoga Routine as soon as you get up

prepare healthy meals with love

think before you place anything in your mouth. Remember sugar, flour and alcohol are like cocaine, they do the same damage and in fact sugar is almost as lethal as alcohol and smoking combined…..go to your cupboard and take all the shit out!

So my New Year’s resolution is to start 2014 on high but not in sugar high! What’s yours?

Thank you Sohani for this amazing eye opening experience. I will never forget it.