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Finding Peace at KAMALAYA – Koh Samui’s Hidden Gem

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As mamas we give so much to our families that our own tanks sometimes run dry. This mama’s emotional journey at Kamalaya in Koh Samui helped restore and replenish her spiritually, physically and emotionally

If you’ve never heard of Kamalaya, then read on, as this is one place you should definitely know about. Kamalaya is a world-renowned wellness resort, based in Koh Samui (Thailand) that focuses not only on physical wellness but also on emotional, psychological and spiritual healing.

What this means is that aside from the usual detox and healthy lifestyle programs, they offer programs that focus specifically on stress, burnout and emotional balance. Know any mamas who that would resonate with?

The first time I heard about Kamalaya was from someone who had had a complete burnout at work, had gone to Kamalaya and returned a changed woman. That was years ago and just the first of many similar stories.

So in October, after a short 2-hour flight and a 40-minute drive, I was thrilled to finally arrive at Kamalaya. The resort is located in the south of the island, on a hill amidst lush tropical gardens and overlooking the sea. I was greeted by the Resort Manager and after a quick check-in I was taken to my room. Next I met with my wellness consultant to figure out my plan for the next five days. She had read the file I had filled in prior to my arrival and received the results of my Bio-impedance Analysis* (BIA – a simple test that measures the body composition electronically). She asked me what I was hoping to achieve during my stay. I told her that I’d been sick for the last three weeks, hadn’t been sleeping or eating very well due to stress, and was hoping to hit the refresh button and kick-start a new healthy routine.

I was a little disappointed at first when she told me that for the next five days all I was to focus on was resting and recovering. No high intensity sports, lots of meditation, and protein at every meal. But it made sense; my BIA test results showed that I had nearly depleted my body’s reserves and what I needed most right now was to rest and rebuild my physical and emotional strength.

She selected the Asian Bliss program that combines Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and traditional Thai therapies with exercises and practices from various Asian traditions. This 5-night package would include a total of 7 treatments and a choice of two personal sessions of meditation, pranayama (breathing), Reiki or yoga.

She then pointed out all the resort’s activities that she thought would be good for me: gentle yoga, Qi Gong, meditation and stretching. Finally, she recommended a few workshops/expert talks that were taking place that week that I might attend, including Emotional Intelligence, Gut Health, and Reflexology. Classes and talks are free and available to all resort guests.

Kamalaya Pool Villa

For my one on one session I chose meditation. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to revisit my meditation techniques. My mentor was Sujay Seshadri, a former monk from India and one of Kamalaya’s meditation and life enhancement guru. As I sat down for my first session and started talking with Sujay, I quickly realized that this session wasn’t going to be about meditation but rather about emotions and feelings. He asked questions, I answered. He dug deeper, I cried (and laughed too), but mostly he stood by me, listened and made me aware of feelings I had buried so deep I didn’t know existed. These feelings, he later explained, never leave you unless you face them and accept them. Awareness is the key.

I am still processing what I discovered during our sessions, but that new dimension he unveiled has helped me get a better understanding of myself. And that is ultimately what Kamalaya is about. Understanding yourself, and accepting yourself.

Another big part of Kamalaya’s philosophy is to use food as medicine. It’s an integral part of their holistic wellness concept. Their award-winning menu blends East and West cuisines beautifully and uses fresh, tropical and, where possible, organic produce. It includes lots of vegetarian options as well as seafood, poultry and lamb dishes. Their detox cuisine promotes low allergenic, low inflammatory, low glycaemic, vegetarian dishes suitable for guests on the detox programs. I particularly loved their Thai curries, which tasted sinful but didn’t contain any nasties. Another great plus is that they don’t prohibit alcohol so if you feel like a glass of wine you are welcome to it.

After a few days of eating by myself I felt ready to join the communal table in the evening and dine with fellow retreaters. It was humbling to hear everyone’s story and what had brought them to Kamalaya. Most of them were going through major life changes, like the breast cancer survivor, or the husband whose wife of 40 years passed away. They all came to Kamalaya to seek help.

I was also fortunate to sit down with D. Karina Stewart, Kamalaya’s co-Founder and Brand & Concept Director. Her interest in natural healing, meditation, yoga and spirituality began at the early age of 8 after her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. She saw first hand how lifestyle changes can affect one’s physical and mental health. After graduating from Princeton University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, she went on to study Traditional Chinese Medicine and has studied and practiced diverse Asian healing and spiritual traditions for more than 25 years. Karina’s vision is the driving force behind Kamalaya’s integral wellness programs.

Amrita Café by the pool

I asked her if she had any tips for us busy mamas. Here is what she said:

  1. Be kind to yourself, truly.
  2. Good enough is good enough, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  3. Be a mother to yourself, as a mother would a little child
  4. Include yourself in the equation. Don’t wait for when you have time; there is never ever time so include yourself in the schedule,

Seems easy enough, although I know most of us struggle to even just sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea. So with 2019 around the corner, perhaps this New Year’s resolution can be to follow Karina’s simple advice and start scheduling regular me time in our family schedule. Or perhaps even a visit to Kamalaya?

Kamalaya Open Treatment Rooms

How to get there from Singapore: Both Singapore Airlines (SilkAir) and Bangkok Airways fly direct to Koh Samui – prices range around SGD500 for a return flight

Prices: Prices will depend on the length of your stay and what program you choose. Here is a list of their programs and prices. Do check their special offers like their Stay 3 /pay 2 offers for Asian residents.

Accommodation: Accommodations range from hillside view rooms to lavish 2-bedroom rockpool villas. Mine was a large suite perfectly located close to both the wellness center and the restaurant. Hillside rooms can be a little dark.

When to go: Anytime except for October and November, which are usually the rainy months.

Kamalaya, 102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang, Koh Samui, Suratthani 84140, Thailand, Tel: (+66) 0 7742 9800, www.kamalaya.com

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