On Monday, I was an extremely lucky and spoilt person. My partner had got me a spa day voucher last Christmas and I finally redeemed the voucher, enjoying the beautiful ESPA Life at Corinthia, London. I love spas and massages and had seen so many photos of this particular spa that I was very excited to finally be there. Whilst I fully anticipated enjoying a relaxing day, little did I know that I’d experience lessons in letting go of my fears and having gratitude.
I immediately engaged in mindfulness as I got changed, tried out the experience showers and made my way down into the atrium. It was a beautiful sight to behold, even as I walked down the corridor. I touched the smooth ripples of the cream coloured Italian marble walls that had wave patterns carved into it. All around you couldn’t just see the exuberance, but feel it too. The air was scented light woody with a hint of citrus. To my left was a low-lit swimming pool, with spotlights winking up from the pool floor like a starry sky amidst the intimate black marble panels surrounding the pool. To my right, a vitality pool bubbled away, its limelight stolen by the amazing setting of the sauna. The four glass walls containing the ampitheatre sauna showed off every angle of its beautifully crafted wooden seating. Behind it was a large basin, the ice fountain.
I first tried out the sauna, meditating. The heat seemed to melt away my stresses. I hadn’t quite realised how much I had been emotionally carrying these few months, this being the first time out I’d had in some weeks without having to interact with anyone and having the pleasure of anonymity, including from the surrounding itself. Somehow going somewhere new really helps provide clarity.
I then showered off and headed to the vitality pool. My favourite feature was the jacuzzi style round metal ‘armchair’. Admittedly the playful part of my brain did imagine that I was sitting in a witch’s cauldron as it bubbled away. The sensation of the jetstreams batting against my torso, legs and feet made me realise how much they ached, even though I hadn’t noticed it even a moment before.
Then I headed to the pool. One thing I should mention before I continue is just how nervous I am at swimming. As a kid, I had been pushed into a pool and hit my head on the bottom. Since then, I’ve always had a fear of trusting the water even though I am happy enough to attempt to swim a few metres. Thankfully this pool was only 1.2 metres deep, which took away a lot of anxiety as I could stand on the pool floor. I decided to try to swim for an hour, pausing when needed, to better acquaint myself with the water.
At first, my heart was pounding. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, remembering the other times I panicked in a pool and went under. Even though the water wasn’t deep, the knot in my chest was still there. I pushed against the wall with my feet and began to paddle, my belly flopping somewhat and making it difficult to float. I kicked so much that I tired myself out. I then started to compare how I could so easily float on my back compared to my front and whether I could learn anything from that. The answer was to have my face nearer to the water. I was anxious about any splashes or slight waves that would make me splutter. But I tried anyway and again felt the improvement in my stroke. Less effort and moving faster. I began to tell myself to trust in the water and at the end of each short length to pause, focus my mind like I would when meditating, look to my goal and swim towards it. I listened to my body, felt the water and glided through it.
After an hour, I felt really proud of myself. I’m still not a strong swimmer and still have anxiety over it, but it was a big deal that I even attempted to trust the water again, over twenty years after the ‘being pushed into the pool’ incident occurred. I smiled to myself thinking how funny it was that I’d gone to the spa to relax and never thought I’d get to come away feeling more confident at swimming and trusting the water more. I could feel my fear want to pull me back, but my positive experience would not allow it to. Fear’s grip let go a little.
And then after a rest, I had the best back, neck and shoulders massage of my life! And that is quite something. Since I qualified in massage therapy, I have unfortunately become quite analytical when receiving a massage. But this was something else! As it was an express treatment of twenty five minutes long, I did not expect too much from it. But it just goes to show that we shouldn’t prejudge anything, as the twenty five minutes sorted me out more than many ninety minute treatments.
After the treatments, I had a rest a heated marble lounger, with the warmth of the lounger and open fire helping me to feel relaxed. I thought about how grateful I was for having a thoughtful partner who had treated me to a spa day in solitude (he knows I need my alone time!), how we work as a team around the house and have grown together. It made me think how lucky I am to have his support.
And then I had a snooze in one of the oval-shaped sleep pods that contained tonnes of cushions and bolsters, and a soft blanket. The pod had long brown leather-lined panels from floor to ceiling, with a brown chenille curtain, making the pod feel very intimate and certainly sleep inducing!
I enjoyed my day at the spa. But for all its opulence, I enjoyed the day best for letting go (a bit!) of my fear and also feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude. It was truly an amazing experience.
For a luxurious spa day, visit Espa Life at Corinthia