By Erin Moira O’Hara
Recently I spent a week at Eden Health Retreat in the Currumbin Valley, which is up in the Hinterland of Queensland’s Gold Coast. This was my second visit to Eden and I must admit I was concerned it might not be as good second time round. It was even better. Over the last year I have practiced Qigong, (pronounced chee gung), which I learned at Eden. It is an ancient Chinese health system that integrates physical postures, breathing and focused intention.
This time I took a lot more in. We had cooking lessons on nutrition and healthy eating. We did yoga every day, as well as fitness classes. They introduced us to Zoomba, Hula dancing, martial arts, back care, canoeing, relaxation techniques and walking in the rainforest. We ate delicious organically grown food and I had a couple of mud baths. Great fun.
There is no Internet or phone reception. No alcohol, tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar or smoking. At first most of the guests have their masks firmly in place. They are polite but reserved. Around day three everything changes. Everyone is talking and smiling. Laughter is very common, especially around the dining tables at lunch and dinner. By day five, we are a close-knit group, encouraging and supportive of each other. There are a few challenges over the week that take you out of your comfort zone, although once achieved you feel like can do anything.
The staff is made up of professional trainers, nutritionists, dietitians, masseuses etc. There are a huge variety of herbal teas and a delicious concoction is made up every day of water, citrus fruits, strawberries and mint. The days are structured, although if you don’t wish to participate, you can do your own thing. Guests are free to take time out and read by the pool or work out in the well-equipped gym.
Now it may not be for everyone, but I have to say the change in people’s personas from the beginning of the week to the end is remarkable. You feel so well and bright and happy. The trick is to continue the healthy life style once you come home. The break from technology is confronting for some to start with, but soon disappears as guests interact with each other.
For something different I did a meditation class in Mandalas colouring. There is no talking as you sit in a beanbag, colouring intricate designs as soft music plays in the background. The mind drifts from thing to thing and I found myself plotting a whole new story.
So the whole point of Eden is to nourish the mind, body and spirit. We all get caught up in our busy lives. Be it work, our families, or our interests, there is never enough time in the day. Our stress levels rise and a lot of people don’t have time to prepare healthy meals or have a half hour walk each morning, which would cut their heart attack rate by 50%.
We all love our chocolate, lollies, biscuits and coffee. Yet a peach, banana or cup of mixed nuts would be so much healthier, and plain old water is great for the brain. Cook with cold pressed coconut oil, give up sugar, and add a little exercise to your daily routine. It’s an old cliché but you are responsible for your own health and happiness. We all need to take care of our minds, bodies and spirits.
Here is a simple refreshing drink that takes two minutes to prepare.
Fill a jug with water then add a sliced orange, lemon and lime. Add some mint leaves then refrigerate.
Or, a daily drink full of electrolytes, potassium, chlorophyll and vitamins. In a blender add 2 handfuls of baby spinach, 2 bananas, 1 litre of coconut water, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 tablespoon of raw honey and 2 tablespoons of cacao. Blend together and have one glass a day. No need for pills.
More about Qigong.
The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words. Qi means the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong means skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together Qigong means cultivating energy. It is practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality. Qigong can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles involve posture, breathing techniques, and mental focus.
The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions. Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps retain vitality, maintain health into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection. People do Qigong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit. When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment.