Granlibakken Wellness Weekend All Photos by Ellen Baker

Yoga, organic foods, expensive gym memberships, Bulletproof Coffee, Master Cleanse, infrared saunas, wheatgrass shots, aromatherapy, salt lamps, Reiki, CBD oil, nag champa, raw diets, sensory deprivation tanks, acupuncture, flax, chia, nutritional yeast, medicinal herbs, Granlibakken Wellness Weekend. The commonality between these vast practices: Holistic living.

To live clean, to live happy, to be present, to be your “true self.” The idea of holistic wellness is becoming a widespread fad—if I dare call it that—across Western civilization. For many people, a lifestyle change for the better has also created a laundry list of things we feel we should be doing in order to achieve a happy life.

Most days, my routine consists of a rushed morning, an expensive coffee, eight hours of sitting and staring at an overexposed computer screen with looming fluorescents above, a 5 p.m. rush-hour stop at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op, an alarm that reminds me of a project due the following day that leads to continued work until midnight and toast for dinner. At least the toast is made from organic whole wheat, right? I go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty that I didn’t run the dog, I spent too much money on coffee, I feel like I’m killing myself by looking at a computer screen for that long, I didn’t get to yoga, I forgot to take my turmeric shot and I didn’t even turn on my new salt lamp.

Wellness is a beautiful thing—don’t overthink it. Partaking in Wellness Weekend reminded me of just that. We are human. Life is easy and life is hard, and that is the most satisfying and healthy thing about being human.

Consisting of two days of seminars and movement workshops, the Granlibakken Resort in North Lake Tahoe held its seventh annual Wellness Weekend, previously known as Women’s Wellness Weekend. This year, a handful of men attended as well. I arrived on Saturday for an 8 a.m. talk regarding the comedic role in communication. By the end of the talk, the entire conference room was in an uproar of laughter. At 9:30 a.m., I walked into a large, bright, wooden yoga room and joined a barefoot crowd, ready to learn Ki Gong, a beneficial movement class for the mind and body that is a practice similar to Tai Chi. The practice ended with the instructor asking everyone to start laughing. Though uneasy looks filled the room at first, not 20 seconds later, another uproar of laughter and tears spilled out of the room.

After two good, deep laughs before noon, my hunger crept in and lunch was served. An array of organic Greek food spanned the tables, with unlimited portions for all. This was my kind of weekend.

I attended a few more classes that discussed ideas and sciences based upon holistic living, such as the perception of chronic pain and relationship communication. The afternoon ended with libations, sound healing, and a 25-cent book sale, followed by another delicious and whole-food dinner. I chatted with new friends and hit the hay.

I awoke Sunday morning for a sunrise yoga and meditation class, followed by a seminar from a North Lake Tahoe nutritionist, and finally wrapped up the day with a communal African drum circle, in which everyone had the opportunity to take part. There was dancing, too. Lots and lots of dancing. A lunch buffet ensued and everyone walked away with a smile.

I was reminded with this weekend that wellness is not about being perfect—it is not about following the lifestyle of your best friend, your hero or your partner. Wellness is different for every person, just as every person is unique to his or herself. For me, wellness is being sad, being happy, dancing, singing, laughing with strangers and crying myself to sleep. Wellness is observing these emotions and constantly reminding myself that they are neither good nor bad, they simply are. Roger Gabriel—a speaker at the retreat and also a good friend to alternative medicines advocate Deepak Chopra—observed that we are similar to waves in the ocean; though each wave is unique, not one wave is identical. Though each wave’s beginning and ending vary, each wave is a part of the ocean. So find that good feeling that we all innately crave. Find your wellness, own it, and remember we are all human. We’re not superhumans, yet.

**This piece first appeared in print on page 10 of issue #253 (Nov. 20 – Dec. 4, 2017)**

    Ellen Baker

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    Rock scrambling, exploring and taking photos along the way.