Alicia Tan discovers the positive effects of a meditation retreat.
As we speed headfirst into the halfway mark of 2015, I found myself in need of a getaway. To be honest, a yoga and meditation retreat wasn’t at the top of my list, but the mindfulness focus of H2O Yoga & Meditation Center’s retreat jumped right at me and, on a whim, I signed myself up for a seven-night stint.
Located in Gili Air, an island about two hours away from Bali, H2O is a yoga center smacked in the centre of the tiny kampong island. It has a unique address, 108 Buddha Way, which was picked by its owner, Bindu, as 108 is a sacred number in Buddhism and refers to the number of steps and stages one has to take to reach a state of nirvana. While it’s no fancy resort, one would feel immediately at-home at H20, especially since the place was built with its natural jungle surroundings in mind.
On top of open yoga spaces, H2O also has a cafe for guests to relax, and private and shared bungalow accommodations. The centre also plays host to visiting natural healing practitioners, from reiki therapists to hangab (a technique where a person is hung upside down for a period of time to allow deep relaxation of the mind, body and soul) experts, allowing guests to partake in activities outside of the planned itinerary.
What to expect
The only way to get the best out of this retreat is to go with an open mind. Even if you’re a beginner yogi or don’t know a thing about meditation, you’ll be surprised by the outcome when the retreat ends. Bear in mind that because there’s a strong focus on mindfulness, guests are encouraged to avoid distractions like TV, the internet, phones and mindless chit-chat!
Every day at H2O is dedicated to a different element (earth, water, fire and air), and you’ll also have a day of silence to work on your affirmations to help guide you through your postretreat days. While it might all sound foreign, you’ll never feel alienated, and the instructors are readily available to answer your questions or concerns. Food and board for seven nights (including a boat transfer from Bali) are covered in the USD $650 bill, so the package offers lots of bang for your buck.
How to prep yourself
Firstly, know what you’re in for. This is no five-star luxury getaway – Gili Air is a very remote island and the accommodation is basic and humble, so expect no air-conditioning, hot water showers or private bathrooms. This back-to-basics style of living is by design – it encourages mindfulness and self-reflection. Also, expect to go to bed early since you’ll be up at five every morning with jam-packed activities till night.
Lastly, pack as light as possible – as long as you follow the handy packing list provided by H20 before you arrive at Gili Air, you’re guaranteed a lifechanging experience.
For more information on how to book a retreat at H2O Yoga & Meditation Center, visit h2oyogaandmeditation.com.