A devastating avalanche triggered by Nepal’s seismic earthquake in April is a poignant reminder of the dark power of Pokhara’s mountain range.
The fearsome peaks including Mount Everest are held in reverence by the region’s Sherpa who sacrifice beast, climbing boots and even blood to the magical ‘Sagarmatha’ as they know it.
Jules Lewis, an Abu Dhabi-based life coach with 19 mountains under her belt and carabiners, is also convinced by the transformative power of mountains, harnessing it for both men and women to ‘stand like mountains, flow like water and be flexible like trees.’
The mantra errs on the side of hippy-ish, but don’t be deterred. For Jules – who after summiting a mountain on her 40th birthday had a defining moment of clarity to set up her business Mountain High – her latest Nepal retreat, ‘The Mountain in You,’ is about taking quality time out to invest in personal and professional development.
The clarity inspired by nature is crucial to this sea change in a person, and the expedition includes hotel accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis for five nights, starting with one night in Kathmandu plus a welcome dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel, followed by four nights in Pokhara at Fishtail Lodge which includes an early evening boat ride across Lake Phewa to visit the island temple of Barahi.
Domestic round trip flights and airport transfers between Kathmandu and Pokhara are included, although the trip excludes international flights to Kathmandu, lunch and dinners, travel insurance and visa which is 30USD and can be purchased in the airport prior to entering the country.
The trip includes daily ‘zazen’ – in Zen Buddhism, zazen means ‘seated meditation’ – and also Yin yoga and workshops, plus sessions to reflect in a personal journal. On day three, guests hike up to the World Peace Stupa which is a beautiful spot where you can find the golden Japanese Buddhist Miyohaji Stupa located on a forested hilltop 1,100m high. A key point of the tip is the ‘Four Keys to Peak Performance’ which encompasses how to ‘think, eat, move and sleep like a champion’.
During the retreat there will also be a one-to-one coaching session with Jules to focus on a topic or challenge of your choice (as noted in the pre-retreat questionnaire) that can be arranged. Afterwards, there is free time for reflection, swimming and strolling around the charming town of Pokhara before sunset zazen by the lake, reflection, feedback, journaling and a briefing for your next day.
Jules holds a degree in sports science and is a mindfulness facilitator, plus a certified stress management instructor. She is the author of The Strength and Spirit of Women which recounts the story and images of the first and only team of breast cancer survivors on an expedition to Antarctica.
She has led multi-national teams of men and women on 50 expeditions to more than 20 countries to include the Arctic and Antarctica, and on a personal level has climbed 19 mountains reaching a personal best of 7,000m.
On the penultimate day of the trip Jules takes ‘The Mountain in You’ workshop which aims to build a resilience plan, and on the final day an ‘Inside Out Confidence’ trip to supercharge your personal and professional confidence, followed by an afternoon hike to Sarangkot Hill as the sun sets on your experience.
Twin share room Dhs6,600 and single supplement Dhs1,200. Excludes international flights to Kathmandu, lunch and dinners, travel insurance and visa, which is 30USD (must be paid on arrival at airport). Max group size 12, min group size eight. Six days and five nights in Nepal, from October 22-27. www.juleslewis.com (050 659 5536).
What is ‘zazen’?
The aim of zazen is just sitting, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them. This is an excellent practice for focus and discipline. During the retreat there are morning and evening zazen sessions.
What to pack
• Sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
• Tops – dry fit for hiking
• Shorts, leggings, pants for hiking
• Hiking boots, trainers, comfortable shoes
• Trekking poles (optional)
• Your own yoga mat (or buy one in Pokhara/use a towel)
• The book you have been meaning to read – or start writing one!