Like a good book, Graeflicher Park, a health and balance resort, near Dortmund in Germany, offers an interesting review of your life and health. With pulse and tongue diagnosis, there is no hiding from the eyes of the ayurvedic physician or as they say in Sanskrit, ‘Vaidya’. Many of you will be familiar with yoga or perhaps natural medicine, but if not, it is an interesting, perhaps even an essential journey to destress and cope with notification life. The centre, is based in a beautiful country park, owned by the family, the counts of Oeynhausen-Sierstorpff, who have done so for seven generations. It has natural, healing mud and mineral waters at their Bad Driburg spring and acres of Piet Oudolf gardens which are also open to the public. Oudolf also designed the New York High Line one of the most celebrated, renovation projects in the world.
Unlike many clinics or treatment centres, food deprivation is not on the menu. You will lose weight but not because the quantity of food is reduced to low cal’ proportions but because the food is prescribed to suit the bodies abilities by the physician. Meals, are well cooked and involve many courses and become a focus of enjoyment, although some of the herbs used in the cleansing teas might mean a little nose holding, for me, cumin became a struggle. However the Vaidya, Kumaran Rajsekhar will happily replace your tea on complaint.
A stay, is in a bright, comfortable room, which is classified as four star, but is more like a country feel, spacious and comfortable. The family have invested well in the whole estate and there is an overriding sense of good management. A typical day involves stretching and relaxing yoga, with some chanting and singing, followed by a two course breakfast of cooked fruit, followed by a coconut or similar porridge. Treatments ensue, which will vary but involved calming the mind, to heal ailments in the body. So a lengthy hot oil massage and recommendation to sleep afterwards. The Vaidya is not keen on exertion or using the time in between visits for some cycling or swimming high jinx.
After lunch, which includes, a herbal aperitif, cooked fruit, a soup, then a veg casserole with rice and lassi yoghurt drink, there are gardens to visit, deer to see, waters to drink, classical music to hear or books to read. For the first few days you are on warning to rest, even if you feel like doing the reverse as the body and mind are taken down from fifth to first gear. Falling asleep and nearly missing dinner does become a thing. Other treatments are prescribed dependent on what is found within you, so for me, some hot stomach presses to aid the hormone systems and a heated mud pack on my back to aid chakra cleansing. Everything is about clearing and speeding up the channels in our body to accept the treatments given to it.
Dinner mirrors lunch and the general diet is vegetarian and reveals individual suggestions for a healthier life. At my final assessment, red meat was found to be my nemesis, but ice cream and dairy of any kind were no problem. Good to know, I can cheer myself up with some gelato. Eating in a clockwork fashion at set times was also recommended and blood cleansing tea which include cumin and coriander.
A lecture from the Vaidya, says ayurvedic beliefs look to the mind for all cures. Illness, he says, is a manifestation of blocked channels and an overactive mind. As, time ticks on, the treatments become lighter to enable more activity, so a nice swim in their heated indoor or outdoor pool, add to the sense of peace and relaxation.
Graeflicher park and Vaidya Kumaran Rajsekhar are part of the slow movement, which is a very welcome journey, which like a novel offers a chance to discover something new on the turn of each page. Graeflicher park is an opportunity, like a holiday, to wake up and put your head above the parapet. A chance to work out what life is really all about. Clue, it is not in your iPhone.
Healing Holidays (healingholidays.com; 020 8131 5429) can arrange a 7 day Mild Panchakarma Programme from £2,812 per person sharing, including flights, transfers and full board accommodation
Check the website for current packages.