Transformational travel: Explore alternative healing on holiday

Mar 11, 2021
Some of the instruments used in sound healing sessions, including chimes and singing bowls. Source: Revitalise Escapes

Before Covid-19 landed, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) estimated wellness tourism to be a $639 billion global market, growing twice as fast as general tourism. Never heard of wellness tourism? The GWI defines it as travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing. With so much un-wellness embedded in today’s travel, wellness tourism brings the promise of combating those negative qualities and turning travel into an opportunity to maintain and improve our holistic health.

Interestingly, Australia ranked in the top five wellness tourism markets in the Asia-Pacific region, so if you are keen to give this concept a spin, you are in the right place! With that in mind, here are five different alternative healing techniques you can try on wellness escapes around the country.

1. Sound healing

Sound healing is a calming experience that uses vocals or instrumental items – such as a gong, bells, chimes or a singing bowl – to produce a soothing sound and vibrations. As the vibrations travel throughout your body, they are believed to help your mind and body relax and heal – nixing anxiety and stress.

Plenty of studies have been done on the benefits of music and meditation, and sound healing falls somewhere in the middle of those two. It is a practice that has been performed by Tibetan monks and indigenous people in Australia for centuries.

To participate, simply sit or lie down as your instructor guides you through a session. You will hear different instruments and voices that often have an echoing, vibrational effect that is soothing for the body and mind. It’s a beautiful experience to try – especially in nature – regardless of whether you are feeling stressed or not!

2. Forest bathing

There’s no doubt that getting out in nature can do wonders for the body and soul. From breathing in fresh air, listening to birdsong and wildlife, and noticing the play of sunlight through the lush greenery, it all works together to help restore calm, improve mood and increase our energy levels.

The Japanese have taken this a step further with a concept called “forest bathing”. This is a practice of connecting with nature through your senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. It’s about opening up these senses and encouraging you to listen, feel and just be one with nature.

To get the most out of “forest bathing”, make sure you turn off your mobile phone, so you can really be in the moment. You may also like to do some “grounding” by taking your shoes off and walking barefoot, so you can feel the earth beneath you. Forest bathers often also like to do some meditation to the soothing sounds of the forest.

3. Tai chi

A traditional Chinese art, tai chi is a graceful, serene form of exercise involving slow, focused movement and balance, paired with deep breathing. While elements of it are used by those practising martial arts, it also reduces stress as you go through the movements.

There are many different styles, but the majority flow from pose to pose as though it were a slow dance. The great thing about tai chi is that it is gentle and low-impact, so it doesn’t put too much strain on your joints. It’s another beautiful activity to do out in nature – in parkland or by the water.

4. Mindful art therapy

This treatment combines the philosophy of mindfulness with an art therapy setting. In other words, you engage in the creative process of making art as a way to explore yourself in a mindful manner.

So, what does it look like in practice? One example is drawing a picture of yourself where you try to make the picture as realistic as possible and then try to be accepting of any “flaws” that you identify in the picture. This is an exercise in self-acceptance. Another example is making a collage that expresses your current feelings and emotions. Taking notice of how you feel before and after creating the artwork is crucial, so you can notice improvements in your psychological wellbeing or to your pain levels (if you live with chronic pain due to a physical illness).

Mindful art therapy has slowly gained recognition as a tool for improvement in the field of psychology, though research-based evidence is still lacking. Some of the psychological issues that have shown promise in terms of their response to mindful art therapy include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, relapse prevention for substance abuse, depressive disorders, stress-related issues and anger-related issues.

5. Infrared saunas

Infrared saunas are fast becoming a sought-after treatment worldwide, due to the high take-up by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Aniston, who is rumoured to have even installed one in her house!

Unlike traditional saunas that use coals to warm the air and heat the body, an infrared sauna uses infrared light to heat your body directly without warming the air around you. It also has the option of producing a lower temperature than a regular sauna, for those who can’t handle the heat of a conventional one, and the other bonus is that you are not breathing in hot air either.

Infrared saunas are great for sweating out toxins from your body and speeding up your metabolism, helping you to detox faster. Infrared heat can penetrate deeper into the body than traditional saunas, healing deep tissue, and there are studies under way to see if it can provide benefits to those with chronic illnesses too. So, stay tuned!

Explore regional Australia as you reconnect with family and friends

The past year or so has not been kind to Australian tourism, so why not book a local escape that allows you to combine exploring unseen parts of the country with experiencing one or more of these relaxing alternative healing methods? One of the operators providing wellness tourism experiences is my company, Revitalise Escapes, which is located on the stunning Surf Coast and Bellarine Peninsula of Victoria. We work with more than 25 local businesses to put together tours that give guests the opportunity to have incredible experiences.

Reconnecting with family and close friends you may not have seen for a while (due to Covid-19 lockdowns) is encouraged by Revitalise Escapes, and the company is more than happy to help you organise bespoke mother-daughter getaways, special group birthday trips or indulgent girls’ weekends, so you can create great memories together.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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Have you tried any of these alternative healing therapies already? What did you think of them?

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