Golden DoorA Comforting Silence
When the sun began to set, I went for long walks along tree-lined paths and studied patterns of mottled light on the ground, gently cast through the filter of leaves. The Japanese call this komorebi.
I recently learned that being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re reserved, but rather that you recharge in solitude. Ask yourself this – how do you refresh? Do you feel invigorated when surrounded by people? As a naturally gregarious type, I used to confuse my love of connecting with people, for a misguided need to constantly be in the company of others. After prolonged introspection, however, I’ve come to understand that I require regular doses of seclusion to maintain my sanity and energy, and without it, I become disoriented and drained.
This past April, after a particularly frenetic start to the year, I hit an all time low in both my energy reserve and general wellbeing. I momentarily lost my sense of direction in life. I desperately wanted a reset; something to facilitate greater mental space and an uptick in physical exercise. After chatting to friends who practice meditation and frequent wellness retreats, I was recommended the week-long programme at Golden Door. For those similarly inclined, you may already be familiar with the Japanese ryokan-style guest houses and Zen rock gardens; the dawn hikes amongst orange and avocado groves; and the iconic Chartres meditation labyrinth. I was drawn to all of those aspects; the labyrinth in particular, for its promise of self reflection.
My week at the Door was the first time in an environment where the sole purpose is to find the healthiest version of yourself. Sitting on 600 acres of wooded and mountainous terrain, 40 minutes north of San Diego, the list of facilities at this elegant spa and resort is impressive: seven gyms, two swimming pools, a lighted tennis court, a prayer rock, two meditation labyrinths, five acres of bio-intensive gardens, a bath house, and over 20 miles of hiking trails. There are also custom meal plans reflecting individual dietary needs, 40 fitness classes a day in varying levels of intensity, mindfulness sessions, as well as evening lectures and workshops. Even a personal set of workout clothes, sandals, and a sun hat in your size are provided.
There were 29 women in my programme, and we were all there to fulfil a special goal or desire. I arrived seeking solitude and a peace of mind. And at the end, I discovered that for me, silence is the greatest luxury to be attained at Golden Door. During my stay, I got up each morning before the alarm sounded. My body was well rested and woke up naturally. I quietly wondered what I would do in the day ahead as I ate breakfast. I realised that food tastes so much better when your entire focus is on actually savouring it, rather than eating while reading or listening to the radio. In between classes, I laid on the sofa and watched dust particles moving gently in the sunbeams. It was mesmerising. When the sun began to set, I went for long walks along tree-lined paths and studied patterns of mottled light on the ground, gently cast through the filter of leaves. The Japanese call this komorebi.
On my last day at the Door, I, alongside members of my tai chi class, went on a silent hike at 6am. Without uttering a word, we made our way up the mountain, moved through the sequence of our newly acquired ta chi routine at the summit, practiced a 10 minute meditation session, and made our way back down towards the Chartres labyrinth, which we walked as a group, then ate breakfast together. Within the comforting silence I settled into, I found an internal space where there was room for both the solitude and the peace of mind I came searching for. The introvert within me rejoiced.
- Words & Photos: Rosa Park