Can A Shamanic Detox Really Change Your Life?

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  • And what could it do for my seasonal blues?

    Just before Christmas I did something well, weird.

    The festive season of doom was approaching. Having subsisted entirely on free office mince pies and bad red wine I felt rubbish and I was in the midst of my yearly seasonal existential funk that came like clockwork around the start of December. Whilst most people get wasted and embrace the silly season, I find the close of the year utterly depressing. Out of nowhere, I’d start pondering: Why am I here, why do I exist? I’m sat on the 43 bus, when I could be on an island spearing fish, lying on a beach and living OFF THE LAND.

    You know those thoughts. We all have them. And as you hit 30 the searing inevitability of real life responsibilities and inadequacies (read: mortgages, careers, partners and pets) hits. So instead of drinking myself into further weep-inducing oblivion I decided to do the opposite – and embark on a detox retreat.

    I’d heard about Middle Piccadilly, a retreat, from a health journalist pal, who had told me it was the ideal place for a life detox and escape from London. I trundled down to Dorset by train and felt the unease of the city drain from me as we passed every tiny tree-lined town on the way. Quiet, villagey and isolated, it was exactly what I needed. I hopped in a cab and 30 mins later was essentially, in the butt end of nowhere.


    The retreat is usually fully booked, but I was the only person there – I mean, who else is bonkers enough to detox right before Xmas? The detox helped my mental state immediately though. Three large juices a day (followed by a raw meal cooked by owner Dominic on the last day which was incredible) were cleansing and I didn’t feel especially hungry as, well I wasn’t doing a huge amount.

    To speed the process along, I also had my first colonic with ex-nurse Jo Shalders at her local clinic. She could tell just from looking at my poop that I had an excess of Candida, which could be causing my insane sugar cravings, which were affecting my moods too. She also told me I had ‘great rectal tone’ probably the only place I’m toned, sadly. Were it not for the 4-hour journey, I’d be back here every few months if I could – Jo really knows her (brown) stuff.

    By far the gamechanger for me was the Shamanic healing session I’d had with Eliana Harvey, Dominic’s mother.

    I knew nothing about shamanism – aside from seeing people lose their shit after drinking some weird stuff, and end up regressing back to their childhoods weeping, puking and rolling on the floor. That I did not need in my life and luckily this wasn’t that kind of healing session. But it was, well, kooky.

    First, we run through a lifestyle questionnaire and I offer up bits about my current emotional state – drained and directionless. I expected the session to offer me a few therapy-lite ways to heal myself and rebalance my seemingly unbalanced chakras and all that jazz.

    What I didn’t expect was quite how, well, out there this was going to be. The session included intense guided visualizations and energy work with lots of talk of crystals. There were rattles and feathers involved and at one point I felt a spray of something wash over me accompanied by a spitting noise. I kept quiet during the session – but afterwards I asked Eliana what it was, and she said it was Florida water, used routinely in shamanic routines, that is traditionally spat over the person as a cleansing ritual. Word to the wise – if you’re easily grossed out of germ phobic – shamanic healing may not be for you.

    The biggest surprise was how I felt afterwards – lifted, and full of clarity. Maybe I was just ready to change, maybe it was the experience. But I’d gone in with all these symptomatic/superfluous problems, and Eliana uncovered that one the thing that was really bothering me.

    Middle Piccadilly: Prices from, £120 per night full board.

    I’m pretty into self development (read: myself) but even I’d missed that one. 

I ahem to admit, I did leave Middle Piccadilly early – the isolation was too much, as was the lack of luxury for the 4 nights I was booked in for (#princess).

    Jo Shalders: Treatments from £85.

    But the shamanic healing was entirely worth the visit – and the insight from the experience was both educational, and far more impactful than my booze-induced melancholy had been.

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