“Self-care is CRITICAL to being our best selves. Sometimes, no amount of bubble baths and Netflix are enough.” ~ Dee Gibson, founder of Kalukanda House.
It’s fair to say that these past few years have been hard on most of us. Those of us that strive to achieve that perfect work-life balance often find that something has to give. We only have so much of ourselves to spread around and it’s not always possible to give 100% to everything. Sadly, last on our list of priorities can often be ourselves, and for women that tends to be doubly the case.
Having spent a decade in London working within the corporate rat race, Dee Gibson, a Sri Lankan woman working in a male-dominated industry, decided to follow her heart and take the leap into design. A move that, as she recalls it, “raised eyebrows amongst family and friends.” Creative pursuits aren’t always associated with booming finances, and as an entrepreneur, risks can be even higher. But sometimes there comes that tipping point in life where you have a choice to make, an opportunity to take your life in a whole other direction, a direction that puts your heart’s desires in focus. And that’s precisely what Dee did. From the moment she found the land to buy in Sri Lanka for Kalukanda House, she felt an immediate connection to it; it was as if fate had led her there. She envisioned a nurturing space that could welcome families, friends and honeymooners, as well as offer the opportunity to others to also delve into their heart’s purpose.
As a keen fan of yoga, Dee set her sights on a special spot in the gardens that would later become the yoga shala for guests; an open cabana near a sacred tree that was growing at the bottom of the lush grounds. From the very first moment she felt a special energy emanating from this spot, with both builders and guests alike commenting on the way it made them feel. In 2018, Dee flew out to open the newly built Kalukanda House, taking with her not only her photographer, but also her yoga instructor from London. After taking his classes for a few years she randomly decided to invite him along for the trip – an invitation he gladly accepted, and which was to be his first time in Sri Lanka. Taking his daily yoga practice in the gardens, Dee’s yoga instructor was also struck by the powerful energy he felt there and envisaged launching a teacher training programme in Sri Lanka. The remainder of his trip was spent dreaming and discussing future possible plans, with Kalukanda House launching just two weeks later.
The Shala became a multi-purpose space offering yoga classes, a shaded reading or resting area as well as a hotspot for pre-dinner drinks. In no time at all a network of incredible local yoga teachers was established, and then Covid happened. It was two years later in 2022 that Dee and her family managed to fly out to the house for a much needed post pandemic holiday. Feeling frazzled and worn down, Dee promised herself a total reset and no sooner had she arrived, reached for her yoga mat, booking a teacher that recent guests had enjoyed.
“I will always remember the moment I met Sala. I am an early riser and I am up at 6am as I love those early morning moments on the veranda, sleepily sipping my morning coffee and listening to the birdsong which is spectacular. Sala took me through a yoga flow and meditation sequence and I felt my body and mind start to un-wrinkle.”
As their meditations cleared Dee’s mind, and yoga soothed her body, the idea for a retreat came to her. She realised she couldn’t be the only woman trying to be strong whilst masking her own needs, along with her very real need to escape the daily grind; seeking a nurturing space that would allow her to fully decompress. Chatting after the class Dee was to learn that, much like herself, Sala had also left a stressful corporate existence. Equally frustrated with the rat race, Sala had been introduced to a yoga teacher from London that was holding his first ever teacher training course in Sri Lanka. That yoga teacher turned out to be the very same one Dee had brought out to Kalukanda all those years ago.
“It was a surreal moment as we both realised the common connection and I realised that the universe had led to a series of events that I had unknowingly instigated that had come full circle to that very moment.”
That seed of an idea which had first been planted back in 2018 would now finally come to fruition with a protégé of her own yoga teacher. It was truly the work of the universe to bring Sala and Dee together, to manifest her dream into reality, a magical retreat that she now calls, a ‘Journey to the Heart.’
Today this unique retreat offers the gift of time. Time to dedicate to yourself and enjoy a sabbatical from life. A place where women can come into their own, connect with their true desires, and perhaps in turn, manifest their own dreams into reality. A week of unapologetic devotion to your mind, body and soul, in an intimate but equally luxurious environment, immersed in the special magical energy of the Kalukanda gardens. Built by a woman, for women, this retreat promises a carefully curated programme of yoga, meditation and breathwork, with guest practitioners coming in to offer Reiki, massage and Ayurvedic readings. Kalukanda House is the home that awaits women with open, nurturing arms. A safe, regenerative space in which to fully disconnect from the outside noise, and reconnect with yourself. A spiritual awakening, cradled in an enclave by the coast of Weligama, beneath the branches of the auspicious Bodhi Tree.
Sometimes our heart’s calling has to be felt before it can be actioned. Sometimes it comes with an act of faith; a leap into the darkness with the hope that we will grow wings on the way down. But first we must allow ourselves the opportunity and time to hear that calling. It’s a beautiful thing to follow your heart and realise your own dream, but to open up an opportunity which permits someone else to do the same – that your vision can in some way harness another with the strength to go their own way too... that is magic. Experience the magic of Kalukanda House for yourself and take a journey to your own heart. Goodness knows you deserve it.
This retreat will be taking place on December 3rd - 9th December 2022 and also on January 7th - 13th 2023. This is the perfect way to end this year or to start the next one!
Please note: $50 per person is automatically donated to our local charity partner supporting disadvantaged women and children.
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