Love means putting your oxygen mask on first …before attending to your family.
We’d just left the city life of Colombo, Sri Lanka and moved house to a gorgeous beach property on the Southern tip of the island. Though it was just 2 hours away, it felt like a massive move - to a new city, with all that that entails.
The house move itself was also a massive upheaval. Apparently it's one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. Selling, storing, packing and giving away 100s of items. Our Excel spreadsheet of remaining items to be moved numbered 200.
I felt stressed.
Once we’d actually moved, we started learning about the new place, adjusting to new routines, a new school for our 3 year old, new friends, etc. A new way of life- countryside versus city life. We now were setting up a new home and settling in. A house with a large garden, getting used to animals all around- monkeys, peacocks, mongoose and more.
Delightful but with all these changes I could feel myself getting more stressed. It was rainy season. We had to hire staff. Got through 5 nannies in as many weeks. Till we finally found the right one.
I couldn’t really work for a lot of this time. I kept getting interrupted. And I am setting up a start up. I was just dreaming of just reading a book and having some time to myself.
But I didn’t feel I could ever do that.
That made me feel more stressed.
Then something changed. My Health Coach who’s a Mum to twins in Zurich told me she was taking a week off and going on a meditation retreat. And that she does this annually. And when we spoke on her return I could see how beneficial it had been for her.
The idea began to filter in my head. I spoke to my husband who actually thought it was a great idea. My mental health was not great, he could see that.
So I booked 5 days at a yoga retreat in the jungles of North Western Sri Lanka. A place 6 hours away called Ulpotha- a legendary yoga place that I’d dreamt of going to for years, but had never been. Called the best yoga retreat in the world by the UK Observer.
With my husband’s blessing, I went ahead. He even paid for it as my early X'mas present. Even after just booking the trip I felt happier and more relaxed. Apparently there is benefit in even just planning and booking a trip, even if you never take it. But I was taking this!
I explained to our daughter that Mama needed some time to herself. And that I loved her so much and that I would be back soon. I’d been advised by professional psychotherapists that kids need to learn this. I kissed her and I was off.
Going away without my little daughter! Did this make me a bad Mum?
The day dawned sunny and beautiful. It was a Sunday morning at 6am when I left. On the way to Ulpotha I felt great.
Upon arrival I was transfixed. Here was a village in the jungle- totally off grid- no electricity and very limited mobile phone reception. These were some of the features I grew to love.
Having limited internet and phone reception just gave us peace.
When I arrived, a big 40th bday party group were leaving. I was happy to meet them but glad I’d not been here for the party. I needed quiet and wanted to go inside myself, rather than be social. I’d brought lots of books and wanted to practice a lot of yoga and meditate. And heal.
That I did - yoga classes took up around 4 hours a day. And meditation. Both things I love and usually practice, but had just fallen off the wagon with the move and all. Here we had a great yoga teacher from Germany. There was only one other guest and the 3 of us bonded, sharing stories of our lives, joys and life struggles.
Ulpotha was a little like being on the set of the Jungle Book! A film I’d watched recently many times with my daughter.
I discovered that Ulpotha is a place that transforms you. Just the purity of it all. Nothing artificial permeates your body. There was this beautiful lake where we bathed daily. An Ayurvedic doctor and his treatment team completed the transformation.
Even by the end of the first day I felt like a different person. Stresses had lifted. There were no triggers here so there was no irritation, anger or anxiety. Despite there being a lot of animals around- mainly monkeys- I felt super safe.
The crux of it all was I felt transformed, even after just 3 nights. I could speak to my daughter twice a day - from one particular spot in the village. And I could charge my phone slowly, via solar power.
The food was simple Sri Lankan vegetarian food, But really tasty and I kept craving for the next meal.
Everything was simple - very rustic and it felt like we were back in the 1950s. In a village rural life away from the modern day. And thats what we were paying for.
We pay to unplug and the effect it has is massive.
I got a new found respect and love for my husband. As he looked after our daughter - together with our 5th and hopefully final, Nanny.
Unplugging allows us to recharge. From the inside. And physically feel so much better, The power of yoga is such that the body tensions melt away- no more pain in my neck.No computer work and eye strain from digital screens. I began to heal.
I couldn’t stay more than 4 days in the end - I did cut my booking short as I started to miss my little family. But that was enough. Even one night made me feel like a different person. No more the angry irritated person, but back to my old self, positive and enjoying the small things in life.
To all Mums- we need self-care As a Health Coach I’m made more aware of Mothers- and women in general- who are so anxious and stressed. We don’t take time to look after ourselves. Instead we give a lot to others and want to be perfect at everything.
Remember this- on an aeroplane, they tell us in an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask first, before you look after your family. You can only help if you’re in good place.
Take the time - take a Mum-cation in whatever way works for you- even 2 nights and you’ll reap the rewards. And so will your family, friends and co-workers.
And let me know how you go.