Frankly, I’m either worried or asleep. It’s a common affliction for working women – and when it comes to relaxation, I don’t have an impressive history. In fact, I don’t have a history of it at all.
So when a friend asked me to join an “all-girls meditation trip to Thailand” it seemed quite outlandish. Meditation? Doesn’t that mean sitting cross-legged and just thinking about something other than all the usual stuff?
My husband was keen for me to go, which was a worry in itself, but somehow I committed to leaving my three children for a few days and crossing the world to spend a week with – my friend apart – a bunch of strangers.
When I arrived, I was throbbing with guilt and a sense of impending doom – but then the blissful, absurd cosseting began. My room was like a nest in a jungle tree house. It had a slide down to a pool and an outdoor shower room. If I’d leaned over far enough I could have picked green bananas from a tree.
Some villas are privately owned, but can be rented. All are “designer” decorated in teak, bamboo and leather, with Empire-inspired furniture.The Soneva Kiri resort is on Thailand’s fourth largest island, Koh Kood, but feels like a palm-fringed dot on the edge of nowhere. The only sound is the roaring of crickets.
It is an expensively, unobtrusively airbrushed form of desert island. Each villa has a “Girl or Boy Friday” to bring you anything you need. The food is on a par with the best restaurants in London, and within hours I was acclimatised, padding around on wooden decking, swimming in the infinity pool or lying on vast cushions, meditating, chatting or giant squirrel and gekko spotting.
There was a lot on offer, from sunrise yoga, to waterskiing and fishing trips, and plenty of time to sleep or read uninterrupted.
Every day after breakfast we had a group discussion on something to do with meditation. It was intriguing. The group was at different stages – some true believers had been doing it for years, some were novices like me.
It included exhausted mothers, career women, nomadic glamour girls, and those trying to be all three. They bared their souls – failed marriages, troublesome children, office politics and addictions – it came tumbling out in a way that was both truly touching and highly entertaining.
The more I knew about my holiday companions, the fonder I became of them. I found the teacher’s voice reassuring and soporific. She guided us on a visual journey on the back of a bird or into a rose garden and afterwards I felt as if I’d had eight hours sleep in 20 minutes.
The Thais have a proverb, which is: “Life is short, so we must move very slowly”. Very true, but not exactly practical – unless you are lucky enough to be in a tropical treehouse where the only demand is to show up for meditation. – Daily Mail