Got just 16 hours to unwind? Maggie Wicks wills wellness into existence.
As anyone who has practiced meditation or mindfulness will know, being the owner of a human brain can be tiring. You're either right here, in this moment, or you're completely lost - in the past, in the future, in thought.
And being lost in thought is much like being followed from room to room by a crazy person who refuses to shut up.
So how do we quieten the crazy person?
A cool, fast-paced inner-city hotel might not seem the most obvious answer, but I was checking into Auckland's downtown QT hotel to trial their Grounded package - a soothing whirlwind of yoga, mindfulness, and the charmingly named "wellness cocktails with spirit" - to see if I could be infused with wellness on a quick city staycation.
Winding down under pressure may be a contradiction in terms, but as an uptight goal-oriented perfectionist, I was on assignment and determined to succeed.
The magic of yin
My first stop was Red Studio, the soothing, slick studio QT has partnered with to bring a little wellness to guests.
There is something about meditation, or a slow mindful yoga session, that stretches and contracts time. Much like your first run after years out of practice, the first 10 minutes can be agony. As I try to settle into a gentle Yin class, my mind grasps for thoughts to follow - how stretchy everyone else is, what's for dinner, and snappy comebacks for arguments held years ago.
But the warm dark room, with candlelight flickering on the ceiling, I eventually settle. In a gentle voice, the instructor talks about the quiet of the practice, and how the moments in between the movements are just as important as the movements themselves. She invites us to connect with the earth beneath us, and leads us through a series of floor-based exercises that use our own body weight to gently stretch away the day.
But don't fear, my fellow tightly wound human doings. There is work to be done here, fascia to be relaxed, a busy mind to shush (so much harder than it sounds). Through 60 calming minutes, the endless thoughts subside, and I find a sense of achievement, even as I work to do as little as possible.
Dinner for one
Sure, the rooftop of QT is not a vibe that screams wellness. On a Thursday evening the DJ is in full swing (at a perfectly reasonable volume, mind you), there's a birthday party happening on the deck and the room is filled with couples dining by candlelight.
But hear me out. What's more self-affirming than finding yourself suddenly without a date, and being perfectly fine with it? Dining alone, every now and then, is my jam, and being happy in your own company is just the tonic for these endlessly distracting times.
I ordered just about everything I could fit - oysters and meatballs, and a "wellness cocktail" with a kicker of whisky strong enough to open any guru's eyes. Although already full, when the chocolate mousse arrived, with its baked croutons and green olive oil, I ate every bite, and what could be more wellness than that?
Ready for the floor
The next morning, only a little foggy-headed, I was due on the yoga mat once again - this time for the QT's in-room Get Grounded service.
Nose to the carpet, I switch on the TV and cycle through the yoga and meditation options available to all guests of the hotel. From a downward dog, now is the perfect time to spot an errant dust ball. But even eyeballing the floor from this angle, there is not a fibre out of place. Nothing to distract me from the task at hand.
Has taking a few hours out from regular life transformed me into a wellness buff? Not quite. But I'm a few steps closer to knowing how to show up, slow down, breathe and relax.