I had always scoffed at yoga and meditation retreats and relegated them to hard-line seekers with too much spare time and thought it was probably a bit of a dull way to use a week of holiday considering all of the amazing things one can see and do with a week.

It was suggested a few times that this retreat was designed for people (apparently like me) who were doing their best but just seemed stuck. So when things started to slowly yet progressively not work out for me, and me being a reasonably smart person from a loving upbringing, started to develop a multitude of addictions, partly as a result of a breakup in where I was most definitely selling myself short (which made it worse), and the stresses and disappointments in life started to pile up, even though I thought my life was pretty good, I actually found myself thinking I don’t want to live like this anymore and something inside me knew I needed a massive shift in perspective, and a proper break from my usual life then seemed like a saving grace.

It was only by removing myself totally from my routine (to an unimaginably beautiful place mind you) that I was able to see how disappointed with life I’d become. As a 40yo, it just wasn’t going as I had always imagined it would, especially when I was much younger. Stresses, bad relationships, not really getting what I wanted from my career letting people take advantage of my good nature and putting the needs of others well before my own made it all actually seem like a bit of a failure, and that’s quite hard to admit when you’re an optimist. But the real word was ‘disappointment’. And when you’re not living the life you always wanted, then there is a lot of pain. And we all have ways of masking this pain, but in my case, it was getting to a stage of being out of control.

So in the space of a few days, I had decided I wanted to go, if not to get away from London for a week. As I said, yoga, chanting and meditation I thought had their limits and when you don’t have experience with these, you just think of stretchy postures, sing-a-longs and sitting still, which I thought would give me some time to think about things in any case.

So I’m going to tell you that from Day 1 I have never in my life experienced such powerful forces which evoked a transformation which by the end of the week had permeated every part of me. It was an opportunity to learn about these techniques we have had for thousands of years that simply do work and were specifically designed to change your energy which includes how you think and swiftly moves you to enlightened thinking.

Ideas and thought patterns come from nowhere during these practices. Kundalini Yoga and chanting of mantras together with some of the best teaching from Hema have done in one week for me much more than years and years therapy could have done. The teachings are so powerful and the personal work involved around them really meant going within articulating that life that will make you happy, the one you want and need, which does take some courage. There is also time given to identifying your internal conflicts, your patterns of resistance and beliefs that you’ve been carrying all of your life (many of them forced upon you by others) then challenging and clearing all of these to create a space, I have to say that by this point I have never felt so unburdened in all my life (a sense of being as light as a feather). This, propelled by daily yoga practices, which if anything are more psychological even though they appear to by psychical, just seem to work better than anything else I’ve experienced, (Psychoanalysis, CBT, hypnosis), it removes such profound blockages without analysis and left me feeling so light and happy. I could then see how much awe an opportunity there was in life everywhere! It really was the most amazing gift I could ever have given to myself.

So the evidence, in my case, can be clearly seen now after committing to the practices learned on the retreat which continues 40 days after the end of the retreat. I’m writing this now after the end of the 40 days and there is a danger of sounding corny or that I’m over exaggerating but I need to explain that my life, in such a short space of time, has completely turned on its head. I am the happiest I’ve been since I can remember, I finally have genuine inner confidence which makes all of my relationships so much better (even the tricky ones), I have my vision of my life back, something to work towards, which in itself give life much more meaning, and is fast becoming a reality. The two businesses that I have that were under financial pressure are now effortlessly doing well. I broke every addiction that I had and the thought of going back there is incomprehensible. Every day so far is enchanted, I work much less and achieve more and I refuse to be stressed and I also don’t accept the unacceptable from others. I just can’t explain it, especially coming from a partly sceptical perspective. And all of this in one week + 40 days! I realise it’s an unbelievable thought, but that’s how powerful it is. Therefore, in my opinion, what Hema was able to transmit on this retreat is the Holy Grail with regards to spiritual alchemy, I am certain about that. The transmutation of shadow or negativity into gold (or genuine enlightenment) without analysis. It has single-handily given me the tools to solve most of my life’s problems going forward and the ability to remain in a permanent state of contentment.