When I walked through the gates of Sukhavati in Bali, I entered a magical world of healing. 6 days later, I left that same world with new perspectives, new friendships, a clarity of mind and an excitement to recreate some of the Sukhavati wellness vibe in my day-to-day living. 

The week before I went to Sukhavati was a very stressful week for me. I’d just returned to Australia after a flying trip to the UK, and  still suffering from jet lag, I jumped back straight into work, keen to complete a number of projects before the hard, year-end deadline.  To be honest, I considered postponing the trip as there was so much to do, but in the end I went and boarded the plane bound for Bali, with a bag full of books and devices, and a few clothes.

Just over 6 hours later, I stepped off of the plane and into the hot Bali air and before long I was on my way to the Sukhavati holistic wellness retreat.  Based on Auyervedic principles, Sukhavati is set in rural Bali. I’d been keen to go ever since I first heard Steve Griffiths, the founder, speak more than two years ago in Sydney.

It sounded like my kind of place.

My week in Sukhavati gave me the opportunity to press pause on the clock of life and allowed me to step out of it and review my past, my present and my future.  

Sukhavati in Bali

What was the experience like?

At the very beginning of the week,  I got to see an Ayurvedic doctor who had trained in India and had learnt to use a person’s pulse to identify any diseases which, in Ayurvedic terms, are simply a symptom of something being out of balance in your body.  The pulse reading took a little longer than I’d anticipated, at least 10 minutes, which was followed by the diagnosis. It was very interesting and I left with a prescription that included a set of treatments for the whole week, starting that very afternoon.

Each evening, I was given an agenda for the next day which typically involved getting up at 5.30 am, meditating, journalling, going for a short walk in the rice paddies and yoga. For meals, you were encouraged to eat with the other people on the retreat and were discouraged from using devices, doing any work and any vigorous exercise.  The goal was to immerse you in a different way of life so that you can create new habits to bring back home with you.

The treatments themselves can only be described as amazing.  Every day I had a four-handed, full body massage with medicinal oils followed by a specific treatment such as shirodhara, a deeply relaxing treatment which involves a constant stream of warm medicated oil directed onto the forehead for 30 mins, ideal for improving a number of condition such as insomnia, anxiety, stress and migraines.


sukhavati massage room

A key feature of the whole experience was the food.  Nutrition in Ayurvedic-terms is quite different to how we see it in the west.  It doesn’t worry about calories or macro/micro nutrients, but looks at the Energy of food, with some foods enhancing Energy, others being neutral, and the third group taking away Energy.  By adapting your food, you will naturally impact your Energy and promote healing. All of the food was plant-based, organic and mostly cooked, and I came away with a fabulous recipe book to recreate some of the experiences which I have since attempted to do.

As the founder, Steve Griffiths, was in town, I took the opportunity to learn TM (Transcendental Meditation) from Steve who learnt it directly from Maharashi Mahesh Yogi himself.  

I first came across Auyerveda in 2008 when I was living in London and went to see a practitioner in South West London. She gave me a lot of herbs to take and gave me a list of things to do every day. I didn’t fully get it at that point. I then studied Auyerveda as part of my health coaching training and started to comprehend the truly holistic nature of this ancient lifestyle medicine approach. Going to an Ayurvedic retreat in India in 2016 helped me deepen my understanding through first-hand experience, and then when I moved to Sydney, I met Benjamin Haynes, The Medicine Man, an Ayurvedic practitioner who grew up in Australia and was able to help me bridge some of the gaps in my knowledge and fully appreciate that Ayurveda is far more than herbs, food, yoga and exercise, it’s a truly holistic and integrated approach to lifestyle that is customised for individuals, taking into account our uniqueness, with different lifestyles, tastes, personalities, gut micro-biome and genetics. 

What I find so interesting is that two of the big current trends in wellness at the moment, personalised nutrition and gut and digestive health have been a core part of Ayurveda for 5 thousand years!  Modern science is finally catching up with the ancient wisdom that has been healing bodies and minds for a long, long time.

Sukhavati in Bali

So if you are struggling to see the bigger picture of your life, to feel confident, to have clarity, to have more energy and vitality, to lose weight, then give yourself the gift of wellness and step out of your own life for a week.  You’ll discover new things about yourself and emerge with a whole new outlook and a whole new set of habits.