With Grace and Ease with Noosa Flow
When was the last time you danced in the rain? Carlie Wacker shares her experience of reconnecting with herself and nature at the Noosa Flow Wellness Retreat.
I was not prepared for the emotions that crept up on me as I made my way down the Bruce on the highway to health and wellness. The road was leading me to Byron Bay for my first ever retreat.
Firstly, I was excited to experience a weekend of personal care, wholesome food and exercise and my thoughts led me to believe I would lose a few kilos and come back feeling fab.
Then my busy brain started stacking up all the things I wouldn’t get done over the next four days and how that might impact my stress levels the next week and then the guilt set in.
Guilty feelings that I was being self-indulgent and my priorities were wrong. Then self-assured Carlie started wondering why I was doing this when it’s very clear I have my life together and am a strong, confident and capable human that doesn’t need to retreat.
As you can imagine, by the time I arrived at the picture-perfect SOMA Byron Bay my head was abuzz.
I burst through the doors making a grand entrance into the stylish communal area where other guests were mingling. I was aware that I was talking a million miles an hour, filling up the once calm space with my big, busy energy and nervous oversharing.
At SOMA they say “the quality of your mind determines the quality of your life” – they are correct.
When I arrive, I am all quantity and very little quality but I will only realise this at the conclusion of this adventure.
For those that watched the television mini-series Nine Perfect Strangers starring Nicole Kidman, you may be getting a visual of the character played by Melissa McCarthy – that was me, I was Frances.
Noosa Flow Founder Claire Toone said she has been hosting retreats at SOMA for the past two years.
“My goal is always to create space for people to stop, breath and look inward,” she said. “With Noosa Flow I have tried to create a haven, a happy place for people and have been successful with this but still felt I could impact lives more – that’s how the retreats were born.”
As I am escorted to my room, Claire informs me that I am staying in the very room Nicole Kidman spent months in while filming the Netflix mini-series and if my excitement levels weren’t high enough, I walk into one of the most beautiful ensuited rooms I have ever seen – textural and earthy – home styling goals! There’s a goodie bag full of amazing gifts and an itinerary.
It seems cool, calm Claire knows I need some chill time and she leaves me to settle in and calm the farm.
It is quiet and I immediately feel a weight off my shoulders – I have a sudden realisation that I can just relax.
I don’t need to be anywhere or do anything and I can do all or none of the planned activities. I stop. The next half hour is cathartic. I was so present in those minutes and found myself acknowledging my breath and releasing the tension in my physical body. I felt happy and free.
I was determined to follow the itinerary. Pilates before dinner on the first night was a gorgeous experience. Walking through the bamboo forest towards the geodesic dome to practice pilates, yoga or meditation was dreamy. So was the food.
Every meal at this retreat is lovingly prepared by Tash and Tom of Burbury Whole Foods using local, organic and seasonal produce. They share their philosophy of creating a meaningful connection with food and it has truly changed my approach to eating and living. Simply taking a moment to acknowledge the food on our plate is not only a gesture of appreciation to farmers but it starts the salivation process which helps with digestion and results in better gut health. We were gifted a copy of their cookbook Anything’s Possible and it’s one I use and will continue to do so forever.
Days are spent sharing meals at the seven-metre-long communal dining table, practicing yoga and Pilates plus infrared sauna, massage and reiki sessions. It was the free time that was revelation for me.
SOMA is set amongst a bamboo and lychee forest, it’s a nature immersion. During free time I fell back in love with nature and myself, wandering through the bamboo with a huge smile on my face touching leaves, stems and soil; swinging from the chair hanging from a majestic 200-year-old fig tree and playing like a child. Sitting by the spring fed dam I observed insects, noticed water trickle over the branches of trees and danced in the rain. It rained the entire time we were at this retreat but it was perfect – I got muddy and didn’t care, my hair was frizzy, my face was bare, I felt the rain on my skin and understood myself better in these moments than I ever could have imagined.
Claire says that the Noosa Flow Retreats focus on your mind, recharge your body and rejuvenate your soul. As I write these words my eyes well with tears because I didn’t know my heart was hurting so badly. I didn’t realise until this retreat that I wasn’t loving myself.
Following this retreat my heart has started healing and my body and mind are appreciating this newfound soulful connection. I am eating mindfully, exploring nature and taking time to be still and present.
When I feel myself slipping into old habits, I have Claire’s voice in my head ‘with grace and ease’ and it reminds me to slow down.
I asked Claire to share her observations from theses retreats. “The energy shift and mood change has been remarkable,” she said. “Often people walk through the doors on that first afternoon with a wall up. By the end of the retreat they are open, softer, ready for change.
“Our retreat welcomes many first-time retreaters, I am honored that people trust me to create a space for them, for us to nurture and look after them. That is a hard thing for anyone, especially women, to be looked after and to actually rest and to trust we will have everything covered. People begin detached from themselves, caught up in stories. People leave grounded. Connected to themselves. They are clearer.” I am the proof of this.
As I left the retreat, my pace was slower, my heart was fuller and I shed a tear for the girl that I was when I stormed through the sky high glass doors – she didn’t know she was lost and now she is found.