There’s not much I won’t try in the name of wellness. Spiritual healing, reiki, sound baths… I’m open to anything that promises a calmer, more positive mindset. Which is exactly what led me to Ockenden Manor.
Adding ‘full moon retreat’ to my list of wellbeing pursuits, Ockenden Manor’s Full Moon & Fabulous stay takes place during this specific phase of the lunar cycle, in the heart of the Sussex countryside.
The aim? To ‘rewild your senses’ through a series of off-the-beaten-track activities, from forest bathing to polestar meditation, during a time thought to invoke deeper mind-body connection.
So if you've ever wondered how the full moon might be impacting your mindset (it is, after all, a full moon today), here’s what I found out when I went along to experience the 2-day retreat...
That the lunar cycle can impact your mood dates back centuries, with some anecdotal evidence to suggest its impact on sleep. A 2013 study, for instance, found that respondents reported deep sleep, and REM, to have dropped by 30% during the full moon. But, as many experts would argue, still more research is needed.
That said, those in favour of the pull of the full moon suggest it rather as a time for self-reflection. And, created by yoga teacher and forest bathing guide, Helena Skoog, this retreat does exactly that; it aims to encourage mindfulness by harnessing the restorative power of nature.
That means forest bathing is a firm fixture on the agendar. Shinrin-yoku, meaning 'forest bath', has been gaining traction in the wellness world for its mind-body benefits. Along with reducing cortisol levels and improving immune functions, it's touted for its power to bring mindful exploration to the tech-obsessed city dwellers among us.
Surrounded by nature, away from any noise; or from emails and scrolling; it’s unfamiliar territory for the majority of us. I must admit I struggled to switch off at first but, on reflection, found the experience to be quite grounding.
The retreat also takes a firm focus on the benefits of yoga, with each day starting with a morning class. When I ask Skoog about some of the techniques employed in our yoga sessions, she says there's a focus on the feet, and reflexology. 'It builds on the concept of the trees.'
Throughout the 2-day retreat, I also experience an Isopod flotation and Aroma massage, tending to my tech neck and busy mind. My favourite activity, though, an evening Polestar meditation under the stars was just the tonic to end the retreat.
The hotel & spa
Just a quick hop from London via train or car, Ockenden manor is a traditional Elizabetan manor (think wood-paneled bars, log fires and cosy, kitsch furninshings) with a juxtaposing modern spa.
With clean lines, an outdoor pool and Elemental Herbology treatments on tap, locals flock to the sun-drenched spa surrounded by the South Downs National Park. whirlpool tubs inside and out, as well as a steam room, sauna, rainforest showers and lounge area.
Two nights bed & breakfast
A three course dinner, created using the finest locally sourced ingredients each evening
1 x Introductory yoga session
2 x Early morning yoga sessions
1 x Forest Bathing experience
1 x Evening Polestar meditation
1 x 30 minute Isopod floatation session per person
1 x 55 minute Aroma massage treatment per person
1x Elemental Herbology Five Oil gift set
Full use of our award-winning spa including in-and-outdoor swimming pool
Having spent the majority of the year on auto-pilot, racing to finish deadlines or bolting off to another social event, I probably needed this more than I’d realised.
Take from it what you will, but if you rarely factor in time to pause and reflect, or spend far too much time disconnected from the world around you, this retreat
Info and upcoming dates
Saturday 8th October to Monday 10th October 2022
Thursday 4th May to Saturday 6th May 2023
Sunday 2nd July to Tuesday 4th July 2023
Tuesday 29th August to Thursday 31st August 2023
Thursday 28th September to Saturday 30th September 2023
Single occupancy starts from £851 for two nights in a Cosy Room.
Double occupancy starts from £1,471 for two nights in a Cuckfield room with both guests booked on the retreat.
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