Volunteering at Cranleigh House

How I found Cranleigh House

My story at Cranleigh House started in January 2017. I had just graduated from school the year before, with degrees in Nursing and International Cooperation, and found myself no longer to be bound to one place.

Left to right: me, Stewart and Katherine

Finally, I could start travelling the way I had dreamed about for so long. Meeting like-minded people, getting inspired and experiencing the world. I started looking for places to volunteer, as to pick up some experience and skills along the way. That’s how I came across Cranleigh House. Their description said something about being an alternative B&B and practicing yoga.

When they confirmed my stay there, I remember telling my parents I was going to volunteer in a yoga centre, where I would be staying for three weeks. Well, it turned out to be a whole lot more than just a yoga centre, Katherine and Stewart turned out to be extremely generous, kind and loving people, with a big interest in health and natural healing. Three weeks became three months…

From Nursing to Natural Medicine

As a nursing student, I found the amount of drugs patients were often given astonishing, and was sometimes wondering why so many people were suffering from chronic illnesses these days, often moving in a downward spiral of needing more and more medication every day. I often wondered if there wasn’t a more natural way to support these people, but never thought of actually researching natural ways of healing, as it didn’t appear in front of me. But there was Katherine, a homeopath and naturopath herself, showing me all these books (loads of books!) about herbal medicine and aromatherapy and treating illnesses trough nutrition and… I didn’t know where to start but it definitely set off my interest!

Being inspired by talking with Katherine about health and our different backgrounds and her experiences, I decided to take a beginners course in herbalism, which I had found online. I started to notice all the medicine around us and got rid of some believes/prejudices (plants aren’t as strong as conventional medicine, homeopathic remedies are quackery…) and found myself go through a big change in the way I was looking at health. My time in Cranleigh House inspired me massively to continue with natural ways of healing, combining my knowledge as a nurse and the knowledge I gained here to take even better care of people in a way that feels best for me. Staying here definitely set me on the right course in my life.

Katherine and I on a foraging walk

I helped setting up and helping on quite a few events they organized here. The first event Katherine and I organized together was a Mind Body Spirit Day, which brought different alternative therapies (Indian Head Massage, card readings, cranio-sacral therapy, meditation,…) together in one place, allowing people to get a taste of them through short sessions and demos. I also watched them pursuit their passions and following what feels right. During my stay, this translated into Camino UK, a project of Katherine and Stewart to link in with Camino the Santiago from the UK. This is a huge part of who they are and what they stand for, and I’m sure, with the passion they’ve got, they will be able to expand Camino UK and make it big.

 Detox week

Another important aspect of what they do is organizing detox retreats. Not only did I help with advertising their retreats, I was there during one of their detox weeks, working together as a team to guide guests through their time of detoxing. There is a lot of organizing involved pre and during detox, and it was interesting to see the whole picture. We made a weekmenu with raw lunches, which made me realize how diverse and delicious and tasty raw food can be, it’s definitely not just salad! We divided tasks, spring cleaned the house and stocked up herbs, organic vegetables (the fridge looked very colourful!). We even went foraging for wild garlic, wild sage, cleavers, nettles, wild watercress and so on. The amount of food you can find in nature is amazing.

Then it was time for the guests to arrive, three people from different walks of life. They settled in and got the time for themselves on that first evening. The next morning, we all got together for a heart share, a practice they would be doing twice a day and proved to be a very important part of the detox process. We would all pick a card with a meaningful message, talk about how it applies to ourselves and then share what we feel, what we are grateful for and what we would like to manifest that day. Not an easy task! It allows you to gather your thoughts, be more aware of your feelings and set an intention for the day. It also allows you to get to know the other people’s feelings more in depth and what they are going through themselves.

Freshly made green juice

After the heart share, Stewart and I were on juice-making duty. Lots of organic celery, cucumber, courgette, wheatgrass and ginger made a nutrient dense juice for everybody to drink twice a day. Detox is not only about getting all the toxins out, it’s also about getting all the good stuff in (aka Stewarts explanation). The juicing process separates the fiber from most of the other nutrients. The end product is a liquid drink, unlike a smoothie. Leaving out the fiber allows the juice to be absorbed into the body a lot faster, which is exactly what your body needs when it’s detoxing.

After this, I would be on cleaning duty. Making sure the house was clean and comfortable, and the toilets were a nice place to spend some time in.

After only one day, our guests already felt things coming up, not only on the physical level, but emotional and spiritual as well. The heart share quickly became a safe space for people to share their thoughts and feelings freely. It was amazing to witness. The group atmosphere felt very positive and warm. For people going through the same processes creates a bonding and that was really visible during this week. They had a strict schedule of juices and bentonite shakes, starting at 6am and every few hours during the day. I followed their coffee enema class, which they would be doing every day to quicken up the detoxifying process. This can sound a bit daunting, but given a comfortable and private space, and Katherine guiding from another room, everyone got the hang of it with ease. Lunch was prepared with everyone involved, as to learn how to implement it all at home. With names as Raw Pad Thai, Green Dragon Salad and Raw Sushi Rolls, the food was as delicious as it sounds! In the afternoon, everybody got their own occupation. With so many beautiful walks around, that was often an afternoon activity, there’s something about walking on the beach and along the coastline. Often, guests would take this time to rest as well, as detoxing can ask quite some energy from your body and days started early. Afterwards, everybody would conclude; an intense week, but more than worth it!

Looking back

Even though I’m writing this blog with still a month to go, I know this place has set my life on the right course. Whether you are staying for a day, a weekend, a week or 3 months, you will take some of their knowledge back home, and your time here will probably feel too short anyway! The amount of knowledge they both have, the peaceful atmosphere within the house, the yoga and meditation, the amazing food… There is something here for everyone.

Written by Lien, who stayed with us in Spring 2017.

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