Can a Wellness Weekend Wipe Away a Mother’s Yearlong Pandemic Stress?

"I spent a weekend meditating, exercising and trying shamanic rituals."

Like all moms, I spent the past year and a half in survival mode. I even created a *not-so-helpful* mantra that I repeated in my head throughout the day since March 2020: This is not sustainable.

So, the second I was fully vaccinated, I signed up for a wellness weekend at Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina, which promised an immersive experience with healers, food and more. Even Deepak Chopra would be there. 

The weekend kicked off with Ashish Pandya, a certified stress management teacher who led us through a meditation to help us open our hearts to health, happiness and swathsa (the Sanskrit word for “self”). During the meditation, I realized that this was the first time I was sitting still without anyone tugging on me for years. I felt a jolt of extreme happiness and self-pity.

I questioned Pandya after his meditation.

“That was great,” I said. “I’m calm now. But what happens when my two kids melt down and my calm transforms into a hot mess?”

Turns out, Pandya has two young children of his own. He explained that I needed to let my children be children. Let them scream, let them run, play and cry. They are also trying to get their feelings and their expressions out — they just do it differently than adults do. *Mind blown.*

The weekend continued with an energy flow session with John Amaral. If you pay any attention to celebrity news (raises hand), you may recall that Amaral is basically Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal energy doc. 

“When your life is breaking down, your energy is poor,” Amaral said. And then he taught us how to change our own energy. It involved lying on our backs and shaking our arms and legs like we were bugs, sending our energy to spots in our body that needed an extra dose. 

My head desperately needed energy, so I tapped it as instructed but it didn’t seem to get the message. I did, however, understand why children shake their bodies while they throw tantrums: It’s such a release. I’m planning on doing that little bug exercise whenever I’m stressed — so probably every five minutes or so.

The big climax of the wellness weekend was a lecture and meditation by Deepak Chopra. 

Chopra talked about how to be happy and healthy, which included sleeping 7-8 hours per night, eating all the vegetables, doing yoga, daily meditation and socializing. It appeared that I failed every one of those steps during the pandemic. No wonder I was neither healthy nor happy. They were all so basic, yet so far from my grasp when I could barely get in a shower before I was requested again.

He reminded us that we can’t save the world — or even function — without saving ourselves first. I don’t know if it was his words or the CBD-enhanced kale cocktail I drank as I contemplated his advice, but he made total sense. Also, I felt like I definitely could achieve those simple steps. Twenty minutes of meditation could be squeezed into my shower time, while vegetables really should find a place on my plate. 

I left the retreat filled with intentions: I planned to be a vegetarian, to take deep breaths while my children destroy my house and to throw myself on the floor in just as much a frenzy as my children do.

If all else fails, I could go into my backyard, take off my shoes and place my feet in the grass. Because Chopra said that this is an easy way to ground yourself. It’s also a perfect excuse to take a time-out from my family. An instant destresser.


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