So if you’ve been following me on Instagram you would know that I have just come back from, what I am quite certainly going to henceforth refer to as, “the holiday that changed me!” Dramatic and quite the flurry but I promise you this was no ordinary holiday…
For a person who dislikes travelling I sure do clock up a fair few miles annually. I know I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes and maybe even calling me ‘ungrateful’ under your breath(s) but I assure you, my travel mostly is far from relaxing. It’s always trying to pack a punch into a limited number of days/hours and there’s always this forced urge/need to have to awake early and be out and about. Then there’s the aspect that I get dreadfully homesick ; I miss my puppy and kitten and bed and shower and gym and closet and … you get the picture.
It took me 27 years to be able to practically scream it in frenzy : I DON’T LIKE BUSY-NESS! Again for anyone who remotely knows me or knows of me, this is exceptionally ironic. But it’s true! My parents are frontrunners of the ‘wake-up-early-and-go-out-and-systematically-explore-every-nook-and-cranny-of-this-new-place’ school of holidaying. I am NOT! I despise it. I have had the privilege of travelling to over 60 countries with my family but I can count only a handful of holidays that have truly touched my soul and left an everlasting impact on me.
I am much more of a meanderer. I like having a lazy breakfast and strolling aimlessly through city streets, venturing forth into alleyways and museums, sampling foods and just BE-ing. If I don’t feel up to DO-ing anything on a day, I won’t and will saunter into a coffee shop and laze with a book and lotta-latte.
Before I begin describing what my recent sojourn in Maldives was, a quick disclaimer: I am not promoting Maldivian tourism at all! This is merely because of the kind of holiday I had and the sheer beauty of this place that I felt I had to write this Fit5. I spent 4 nights and 5 days in a land where despite wi-fi penetrating the lush vegetation, you feel you’re disconnected in the best possible way. Where you see blue hues that you’ve probably only ever seen on a poster or stock image before. Where the sounds of the ocean and the sight/smell of wildlife will heal you in ways you didn’t even know possible. Where the zen through connectivity to nature cannot be articulated BUT which will translate into your overall fitness.
Oh yes you heard me … fitness ! I consumed food items that on a normal day back home I wouldn’t come in 2 feet distance off (read: Nutella!), didn’t physically exercise for even a minute and yet managed to look and feel the leanest I have ever been. Add to that, the measuring tape indicated an inch loss off my waist and half an inch off my hips – sign me up for next year too!
1) Stress is real – I parrot, somewhat ‘preachily’, about stress to my patients, clients and friends but this was the first time in a looong time that I actually got to de-stress fully, completely, wholly, totally and 100%. I was incredibly chilled out the entire time on the island. Even whilst diving with sharks and swimming through scores upon scores of Sting rays, I was calm in my mind. I ate 3 square not-so-healthy meals daily, slept 8 hours of dreamless sleep and still managed to drop inches. S T R E S S ! We underestimate it grossly. When I’m home, I am constantly thinking about my to-do list, about groceries and laundry and work reports and email correspondence and pet supplies… Even though I religiously clock 8 hours of sleep daily and eat super healthily, the stress of life in general is a massive obstacle to ultimate and wholesome fitness.
2) Solace in Solitude – Again such an underrated aspect to fitness! I do live alone here in Dubai and manage my own household plus a few jobs and pets and yet even in my quiet, alone time I don’t reap the benefits of solitude. My mind is forever wrapped (more like entangled) in thoughts, analyses, logistics and/or drowned out by the white noise of city-life …. AARRGH ! In the middle of the Indian Ocean, quite literally on a sandbank next to nowhere, I found me. Too spiritual to condense into words but I must admit I shed many a tear in that moment. It was overwhelming really – I felt waves upon waves of gratitude, fear, joy, calm, hope and nervousness crash upon me much like the sea upon this very sandbank. Far away from the reality of it all, I found solace in the fact that I have this unshakeable and undeniable reckoning deep within of who I am and what I want. It was overpowering … I had never felt fitter and stronger! I wish for everyone to experience this at least once.
3) Natural Healing – My Personal Trainer will no doubt tell you how much of a non-nature-lover I am. She’s been trying to get me to do a desert trek and a rocky mountain hike for over a year now. I am a ‘Town Mouse’ (city girl) through and through and the very idea of being stranded amidst the wilderness makes me uncomfortable. Whilst you could argue that I did have the luxury of a five star hotel at my beck and call, I have to say that I surprised myself in how many hours in the day I spent outside. If not swimming in the depths of the Indian Ocean, then most certainly nestled amongst the lush tropical greenery with a book. Fresh air, free from the polluted sounds, sights and smells of the city worked wonders to soothe my soul and I found myself drifting off into dreamless sleep every night thanks to it. Even the fauna I encountered on this trip had a healing effect. There’s something so liberating as one swims alongside sharks and sea turtles and wild dolphins and giant Manta rays. (again you can experience any kind of nature landscape; doesn’t have to be beaches)
4) Communication Quotient – I’d estimate that it’s been about a decade since I became a slave to this virtual cyber world. Being quite the Queen of Communications (if I say so myself) I still find that I never really bother too much in getting through to the recipient. This holiday I resolved to allot 2-3 hours max online (oh come on the photos had to go on instagram!) and spend the rest of the time in reality. And my word, have I been missing out! Being a sucker for stories, I found myself back in my prime, chattering away to complete strangers and greedily digesting their experiences and narratives. Again so underrated! In an existence that is incredibly narcissistic and highly self-indulgent it is often difficult to look beyond ourselves. Talking to random people on the island was quite a sharp awakening of just how much more there is than my little web and how much I can benefit by stepping out of it. Again the wording is perhaps not doing justice to the experience but indeed I met with the Editor of a leading publication in Britain and found myself mentally taking notes of how to improve my writing work. Daily life is that little grey cloud which threatens to rain and stem over creativity. Then there’s the society that surrounds you which chants (in the background) about what you should do, how you must be, why you shouldn’t wear/speak/think the way you do …. Travel out and communicate with those outside your routine bubble. It will change you!
5) Playtime – THIS is what holidays are for. To play! We work and work and work and even when we schedule social activities of meeting friends, it never does provide you with the downtime you’re craving. PLAY! Seriously, do NOT spend your days before the holiday poring over city maps and googling the tourist attractions. Get to your destination and take each day as it comes. In this modern era one need only do a quick web search to know what’s on and what’s what. But when you awake every morning, stop….. look ….. listen …. Feel …. What do you want to do today? I spent an entire day lazing in a hammock slung over the ocean with my book and an iced tea and periodically got off to indulge in a little crab-dodging. I can imagine my family exclaiming in horror that I’d wasted away a precious day in a new city but honestly, I don’t care. It’s been years since I played without being time-bound or responsibility bound and guess what, I not only deserved it but I also owe it to myself to do so frequently throughout the year ☺
So, have you packed your bags yet ? Hit me with a comment and tell me where you’re going !
Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.