What Makes a Retreat Sacred?

Interview with Dr. Alexina Mehta, Epic Kauai Goddess Retreat Leader,
April 18-25, 2014.
We’ve all taken many trips, and there is certainly plenty of choice when choosing our next vacation or destination. In this blog I want to look at what makes a journey or retreat sacred, and how such a retreat differs to other vacation packages. As the retreat leader for the Epic Kauai Goddess Retreat – April 18-25, 2014, Dr. Alexina Mehta brings wisdom and knowledge to the question of what makes a retreat sacred, and I was lucky enough to interview her for this piece.
Dr. Alexina Mehta, Beach in Kauai

KB: What makes this retreat different to other “yoga vacations” – how is this retreat particularly sacred or spiritual?

Dr. Alexina Mehta:
First, the location: We’re going to be on Kauai, which is considered to be the most sacred or spiritual of the Hawaiian Islands, the “third eye”, according to many different sources. The lush environment is extremely conducive to a nourishing, goddess vibe, and the Epic Kauai Goddess Retreat is focusing on nurturing and honouring the highest potential that exists in every woman. This retreat is actually an opportunity for women to access that potential while they are practicing yoga and meditation, visiting sacred sites, enjoying healthy food, or just enjoying the spirit of Kauai – all the activities we do will have an element of the goddess weaved in.

The focus then is on connecting with the highest expression of the divine goddess that’s in every woman, connecting with the beauty, the wisdom, the different energies of various mythic goddesses and exploring how those energies live within each of us, while finding balance with those different energies. At the same time it’s about having fun, finding relaxation and enjoyment… the island is exquisitely gorgeous and there’s an emphasis on beauty in this retreat – inner beauty and outer beauty.

View over lush Kauai
KB: Is a there a particular aspect of the retreat that you’re most looking forward to?

Dr. Alexina Mehta:
The group: Thinking back to the last retreat, the most rewarding part was just how much joy we saw people experience. One of the retreat participants commented after 2 days, “gosh it’s been 2 days – it feels like we’ve experienced 10 days, a whole new world” – she was so amazed at how many incredible experiences she had had in 2 days. For me, it’s just being able to witness people see what life is like when you’re living consciously and supporting each other to be the best you can be; witnessing people experience the happiness that comes with doing this kind of retreat.

KB: Can participants take all of that joy, happiness and newfound wisdom back with them after the retreat as well?  

Dr. Alexina Mehta:
Absolutely, and a lot of people felt their lives had changed for the better after the retreat, they had learned a lot of different tools to help them through different situations, they felt more calm, more inner power, more assertive, more inspired, more connected. It’s so rewarding to see people access that higher, divine self that lives within them and see them begin to live from that place as opposed to living from a place of fear or a place of confusion or anxiety, which is a place a lot of people live from. I love helping people find peace and then also joy and fun while they’re at it.

Kauai Retreat, April 2011
KB: Who is this retreat open to?

Dr. Alexina Mehta:
Women who are open to learning. This isn’t an advanced yoga retreat; the focus is more on using yoga as a tool to access the goddess within. Traditionally that’s what yoga is about:  accessing the divine and allowing the divine to guide life. There are lots of yoga retreats out there that focus more on physical learning but this is not so much that (although we’re going to get some exercise for sure!). Everything is go at your own pace, and that’s really what the goddess is about: being able to recognize and honour your own authentic experience and what’s right for you own body. If you can listen to that experience and your intuition, you can then work with the tools in a way that empowers you, and you can only empower yourself, of course, if you know where you are, where you stand. If anybody feels called to come, if they feel attracted to the retreat, that’s a good sign!

Yoga practice on Kauai, 2011
KB: You’re a Naturopathic physician as well as a Yoga and Pilates teacher with a strong connection to the spiritual traditions of India. What does your background and professional experience bring to this retreat, and how will participants benefit from your specific wisdom?

Dr. Alexina Mehta:
My experience is quite eclectic. I did teach yoga for several years, quite regularly, and fitness and Pilates, and studied kinesiology and am quite familiar with the physical body. Studying healing through naturopathic medicine and then energy medicine has given me more of a well-rounded approach to healing. The energy medicine side of things gives me an ability to connect people with the sacred side of medicine and the sacred aspect of life. I think that because I’ve experienced Peruvian shamanic tradition and teachings from India, several different aspects in that dimension, I bring ancient and new knowledge to make it accessible. I’m good at simplifying things for people so it can be tangible, useable and practical in their life. Because I’ve studied things in such great depth I have the ability to recognize what knowledge might be helpful for a particular person. There’s an old saying, you’ve got to study everything in great complexity and at the end of the day it boils down to being able to provide simplicity.

Honour Statue, Kauai
KB: Your co-leader, Celina Archambault, is a chef and holistic nutritionist – how will having Celina there will be of value for participants?

Dr. Alexina Mehta:
First of all she’s just a total delight to be around, and brings a lot of joy to people. Also, she really believes in the power of whole foods so when people come on the retreat they’ll be experiencing a whole food diet, local to Kauai. She’s going to be going to the markets and a lot of food that we’re going to be buying is straight from the source – participants are going to get Hawaiian fruits and vegetables. Being a nutritionist, she’s got a good understanding of dietary requirements for people (including gluten-free) and what makes a well-balanced meal. She’s also very education oriented – she’ll stop to help people understand how she made certain things and how people can incorporate those into their life when they go home. As she’s making each meal she’ll explain all the ingredients, why she chose certain items, and the benefits of the foods for people, so they understand the nourishment of getting real, live foods.

And, of course, our health is directly related to how we eat and how we take care of our bodies, and that just goes hand in hand with connecting to your higher self, and being the best you can be. It’s the best of both worlds – we’re connecting to the sacred  and we’re eating really healthy foods and educating people about good solid nutrition, which they can take back home with them.

To read more about this very sacred retreat, visit the Sacred EarthJourneys website. To read more about Dr. Alexina Mehta or view photos from previous retreats you can visit her blog or websites: http://kauairetreat.wordpress.com, http://www.celebratingthegoddess.com, http://www.dralexinamehta.com. To discover more about Celina Archambault you can visit her website: http://www.languageoffoods.com
~ Kim Bridgett