Further heads to the Georgian Caucasus

Text by

Frankie Wechsler

Photography by

Anka Gujabidze & Ani Gabashvili

Further headed high into the Georgian Caucasus, one of the most beautiful, mystic places on Earth, with a group of leaders in the fields of psychosocial health, nutritional sciences, and esoteric practices to explore the mind-body connection and how new approaches to wellness are changing the ways we live and travel.

“I think the past holds a lot of the answers,” said Jasmine Hemsley, a London-based food and wellness guru whose bestselling cookbooks offer a holistic, contemporary interpretation of the ancient Indian philosophy of Ayurveda. “When technology wasn’t interrupting the natural rhythms of our body, when we lived by the seasons, we lived by the sun and the moon,” she continued, “we were much more in tune.”

Composed of the Sanskrit word, “Ayur,” meaning life, and “Veda,” meaning knowledge, Ayurveda, “the science of life,” is a holistic system of wellbeing developed in India some 5,000 years ago. As a nutritional philosophy, Ayurveda focuses not just on what you eat but—far more than most nutritional systems—on how and when you eat and in what combinations and proportions. Balance is the highest virtue.

Another practice in increasing demand is breathwork, a method of controlled breathing that has its origins in the ancient yogic breathing exercise of Pranayama. Breathwork is meant to give rise to altered states of consciousness and positively impact physical and mental wellbeing. “The easiest way to describe it is that you can breathe yourself into this unconscious mindset where you can unfold and open hidden doors. And this can lead you to overall wellbeing,” said Sascha Zeilinger, who quit his job as a fashion and sales executive to travel the world, ultimately as a breathwork practitioner for clients like Nike and Soho House, as well as private people and groups. “I think we should all learn to be more conscious, to be a more aware of our surroundings and what we’re doing,” said Zeilinger, “because everybody is leaving a footprint.”

This notion of mindfulness—of knowing exactly where you are in the world—was a central focus of The Magic Mountain, which took place at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, a former Soviet-era workers’ resort perched 1,800 meters above sea level in the village of Stepantsminda. A breathwork session by another Further resident, Miriam Adler, led directly into a meditative hike through the spectacular terrain of alpine meadows and forests, gorges, ridges, and snow-covered slopes surrounding Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, and up to the 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, an important spiritual pilgrimage point. There, the group experienced the rare Aramaic chanting of Assyrian priest Mama Serafime and his choir, reciting ancient prayers in the original language of Jesus of Nazareth. This awareness of the spiritual, cultural, and natural environment is an essential component of wellbeing.

“Suddenly it’s about journeys both inner and outer,” said Martin Raymond, co-founder of  The Future Laboratory, one of the world’s leading foresight consultancies. For Raymond it’s clear that travelers increasingly want to find ways to reconnect with themselves. They are looking for mindfulness, for wellbeing, for ritual.

“Increasingly we realize that part of travel is doing nothing but in a structured way.”

“It also allows you to think, meditate, and consider. Because we forget when we’re traveling. We’re just doing things. And increasingly we realize that part of travel is doing nothing but in a structured way. So the ritual—whether it’s yoga, pilates, Ayurveda treatments, it could be an Ayahuasca ceremony, it could be peyote ceremony in Mexico—all of these are part of a sense of how
you both structure your travel, and how you build
your inner character.”

Part creative residency, part cultural exchange, part immersive hospitality experiment, Further brings together artists, writers, scientists, artisans, farmers, designers and other place-makers.

Explore Further and read the full story here.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020