“In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unlighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.”
– John Muir, 1838 – 1914
“We need the tonic of wilderness”
– Henry David Thoreaux, 1817-1862
Both these men were ahead of their time in their thinking about wilderness. Reflected in their words is the understanding of wilderness as a place for healing. Anyone who has been in the bush or on one of our drives at Londolozi will be familiar with the overwhelming sense of wellbeing that is felt after being immersed for just a few hours in the surrounds of the African bush. You find yourself changed within, as a deep restfulness takes hold; you breathe more easily and a tranquil, contented peace lingers within you.
“Nature itself is the best healer” – Hippocrates, 460 BC – 370 BC
I’m journeying back briefly in time here, to when Londolozi was in the final phases of preparation before opening the doors of The Londolozi Healing House. I’ll talk in the present tense…
Chris Goodman and his team have done an extraordinary job in a very short time. Chris refers to those of us in the Life Team as the ‘Touchy-Feelies’. He will often remark on our aromatic presence and what he refers to as a cloud of essential oils which follows in our wake as we walk the paths from camp to camp. Although Chris, with his scientific mind, may not be your typical candidate to be part of a project with the name ‘Healing House’, he has with his golden heart and astute mind, vividly captured the vision of the Vartys . He has, through brick and mortar, brought to life a vision of space and light. An oasis set apart with the very specific intention of inviting the possibilities of Healing. This is by no means the creation of your typical spa. Where our old treatment room and Living shop used to stand he and his team have imaginatively reinterpreted the connection between healing and wilderness and perfectly executed the vision of Shan Varty.
As I trace the course of the project I have been thinking about preparation; how the land at Londolozi – once a barren, inhospitable cattle farm – was nurtured back to the lush wilderness that it is today, attracting and providing sanctuary for all manner of wildlife.
With the adoption of this new space, I am pleased to say that the integrity and ethos of excellence in body treatments will continue. Our objectives are wholeness and wellness accentuated through a deeper connection with the surrounding wildlife – a focus on nurturing body, mind, spirit and soul.
We are presently a team of four therapists with a common love for the ancient and powerful art of touch therapy through massage. Returning from a sabbatical of study, Beejay Watson – a pioneer of Wellness at Londolozi – has rejoined the team and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and skill. Our intention is to achieve deep relaxation through which the body is balanced, the soul soothed and the mind calmed – allowing for reconnection to one’s self.
In our increasingly sterile world it is a rare privilege to truly touch someone and find deep connection. The space we work in is a vulnerable one and requires trust. There is subtlety in what we do and great reward. A gentle coaxing of sorts from one state of being into another. Yes, muscles are being relaxed, but other unseen processes are taking place. A synchronistic chain of events are put into motion when a hand is extended with care and purpose. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated, encouraging deep rest, and the body is calmed. The pulse rate drops, cortisol levels drop, and oxytocin is released. A feeling of wellbeing is experienced.
And perhaps a reconnection to one’s truest self…
“Heart” is another vital component in the wellbeing to be found at Londolozi
What do we mean when we say heart? The heart is essentially a pump; it sets a rhythmic pace for the flow of life that resonates through the rest of the body. HEART is strong here, in all departments, from finance to habitat. It is etched into the fabric of our shared life and flows out from the central desire to reconnect with nature on a deeper level.
In many ways the space where the Healing House now stands is a cornerstone in the bedrock of Londolozi’s history. Previously it was the first sheltered eating area used by guests when weather prevented the use of the outside boma. It then became the welcome reception where guests were received. Already a legacy of nourishment, shelter and warm hospitality exists in this particular site’s history. I was intrigued to find out that some of the the great iron tracks of the decommissioned Selati railway were used to underpin the original foundations. In that alone, is a story worthy of being told. What will flow from the Healing House will be a steady warm pulse of wellbeing as through the wilderness, hearts open to new possibilities.
We look forward to welcoming you though our doors and hearing your stories as we weave new narratives together in the territory of wild stillness.