As some of you may know Bianca and I recently spent a week at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, on the Gold Coast hinterland. I’d heard amazing things about Gwinganna; my dear friend Jess Ainscough had stayed there before and raved about it. So to say my expectations were high would be something of an understatement. However, this incredible escape exceeded them in every way.
As a health nerd who also has an appreciation for luxury, Gwinganna is my idea of heaven. First, that amazing bush setting in the Tallebudgera Valley. Imagine wallabies bouncing along the lawn outside your balcony and the stars so bright it’s hard to believe you’re looking up at the same sky you see every night in the city. Gwinganna is also a shining example of luxury eco-tourism and the natural beauty of the land is utterly respected. Then, there’s the fresh organic produce that’s grown in cute organic gardens dotted around the property and made into crazy-delicious culinary creations. Take it from me the eggplant and quinoa moussaka is the bomb! I also loved the seminars in which Gwinganna’s experts explained complex health concepts in ways that were easy to understand, empowering you with tools to take home and transform your health. Not to mention the incredible Spa Sanctuary, where wellness and pampering come together in perfect union. I’m gushing, I know. But, seriously, this place is too freaking amazing not to!
Here, are a couple of things my time at Gwinganna taught me…
Lesson one: sometimes you need to disconnect to get more connected
This might sound like a strange sentence but bear with me while I explain. Gwinganna is all about switching off. In fact, the whole retreat is pretty much a tech-free zone. Yep, we’re talking no phones, no iPads and no laptops. You’re allowed to use them in your rooms but even that is discouraged if possible. Running an online publication meant we weren’t able to do a full digital detox. However, I stuck to Gwinganna’s tech-free rule and left my phone in my room and only checked my emails once a day, just scanning for anything urgent. And, although I must admit to some initial iPhone separation anxiety, once I adjusted it was actually really liberating. I found I was way more mindful of staying in the present moment.
There were other benefits to disconnecting from technology. The four night retreat program Bianca and I did is called the Triple S. This stands for Sleep, Sugar and Stress, aka three of the most common wellbeing issues many of us struggle with! In the seminars we heard how using your phones or watching TV before bed can mess with your sleep, something I have experienced first-hand. However, at Gwinganna with no TV to watch or phone to distract me, I found myself reconnecting with my circadian rhythms (aka my body clock). I fell asleep early and woke up at dawn to do barefoot sunrise Qi Gong. And let me tell you, feeling the misty grass under my feet as the sun rose over the Tallebudgera Valley during this moving meditation, I felt way more ‘connected’ than I ever have scrolling through a social media feed!
Lesson two: the importance of strategic rest
Mornings at Gwinganna are full of optional activities, everything from bush walks and boxing to yoga or tribal dance. However, afternoons are devoted to ‘strategic rest’. The hours between lunch and dinner are called Dreamtime at Gwinganna. Dreamtime is all about spa treatments, siestas or snuggling up with a book. Although Dreamtime isn’t an option every day at home (wouldn’t that be nice?!) I have started embracing the idea of strategic rest on weekends. This means listening to my body and what it feels like doing. Not being so attached to my to-do list, taking time out to recharge my batteries and giving myself permission to be selfish when it comes to my wellness.