I Tried To Be Zen | Hannah’s Hacks

What: Yoga Retreat

Where: Dzogchen Beara

How much: 390 (incl. accommodation, food and approx 24 hours of yoga workshops.)

How long: 3 days

Fun rating: 3.5/5

Anyone that knows me probably wouldn’t associate me with yoga, silent meditation or waking up at 6a.m. It would be fair to associate me with chicken rolls, gin and tonics, annoying whingey snapchat stories and The George. They’re my day to day bits. I’m up for trying new things though so last weekend I took on tranquillity. You’re probably thinking that’s a piece of piss, that’s not a challenge. Let me tell you however that the prospect of being left alone with your thoughts for well over forty-eight hours can be pretty scary. You don’t know what you’re going to find and furthermore, you don’t know the results of a full-blown detox on the mind, body and soul, man.

Supplies were purchased just incase…

I was apprehensive towards the idea of doing sun salutes and downward dogs and not having my usual Southern Fried chicken wrap at 4a.m on a Saturday. New is good though and I’m always on the hunt for new hobbies.

Dzogchen Beara was the chosen spot for us, my mama and I, to find our tranquil selves and it was such a good setting. We’re talking rolling hills, infinite coastlines and complete and utter silent serenity. Blaring a bit of Lyric FM during the spin will make you feel like you’re in some mad sinister movie which is good craic. It’s just so quiet, if you need headspace we’re talking the perfect location.

Okay the silence bit actually did drive me slightly demented because I find not talking sh!t all day every day almost impossible. The Wifi was also sketchy but it confirmed that I am completely and utterly obsessed with being on my phone and that’s something I need to get a grip on.


Sitting in silence and not being able to post 700 snapchats in one day does give your brain a bit of a breather. Too much social media and talking wubbish can make your head feel like it’s full of fizzy water so from that point of view I was enjoying this tranquillity ting.

Jessica Hackett was the lady in charge of running the yoga aspect and she is an absolute gem. I’m chronic at controlling the bendy poses and unlike other yoga gurus who I have attempted to go to on a regular basis, she didn’t make me feel thick for not nailing the Warrior One pose in the first go. She has a calm and graceful way of teaching and offers titbits of enlightenment during the yoga classes.

One titbit that stuck with me was how what we do on a yoga mat translates into our day to day.

At one point, we sat back on our toes and it was like, not zen, at all. I started scratching my legs, biting my top, trying to stare out to sea, humming songs, pretty much anything to avoid facing the discomfort. That apparently, translates into my real-life and if something I’m not into is going on, or there’s a bad vibe coming my way, I’ll try to distract myself until it passes.


That might seem obvious but I found it mind blowing to find out so much about myself from lying on a rubber yoga mat in the middle of nowhere, and it does make sense. Think about us Irish especially; Bad day? Alcohol. Good day? Alcohol. Break up? Alcohol or other things like binge eating rice pudding, watching 13 episodes of Gossip girl, chain-smoking, drinking vitamin juice, plaguing social media. Shock, horror, we might all be avoiding what’s going on in our heads and dare I say it, in our hearts, man.

It was insightful. I found it amazing how things can happen from just breathing properly and thinking about our third toe. After the first day, my body was wrecked but I felt like all the breathing pipes had been cleared out and my breath was moving around easier. Okay, I’m not describing this eloquently but my body and brain felt lighter within 12 hours of our arrival.

Food is obviously everything especially when you’re on your holipops and Caitlin Ruth of Deasys, Ring did not disappoint. The menu was all vegetarian for that extra special zen cleanse but I didn’t even miss meat. It was diviiiiiine. We’re talking celeriac steaks, rice done three ways, beetroot powders, chickpea purees, creamy risottos, buttery granolas. Tasty tasty treats and all washed down with fresh juices and spicy oat milk shots which I found fascinating but all extremely pleasing on the palette.  (I did miss cheese but I miss cheese even when I’m already eating it.) (They had feta but I’m talking bit blocks of cheddar melted and in my Southern Fried chicken wrap.)


I completely over indulged on all the tasty treats but the flu I have had since Electric Picnic has finally disappeared and I attribute that to the complete and utter nourishment under Caitlin Ruth’s more-than-capable-hands.

The greatest bit about the weekend was letting my brain go to mush, drinking fennel tea, wrapping up in blankets, reading, breathing through our feet, eating, sleeping, eating more, practicing yoga, practicing noticing ourselves.


It made me think, then it made me think some more. I “go to the gym” is a loose phrase I would use to describe my exercise but let’s be real with ourselves, if you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram, I spend more time taking pictures of myself and complaining about exercising than exercising. When I am on one of the machines though, I’m not listening to my body, I’m listening to Beyonce. I feel a good buzz when I’m sweating buckets, then the next day I’m too stiff to walk so I don’t go back for 3 days because I never stretch or breathe or do pelvic tilts which are more important than one would think. I am never mindful of what my body endures and experiences every day whether that involves a lot of movement or not. The weekend has taught me to change this. Through the people, the setting, the food, the silence. I will listen and I will listen well. I’m signing up for yoga and I’m turning down the Beyonce.

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