Nora Popova Mi experiencia en SHA

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My Experience in SHA and The Secret Painter

SHA Wellness Clinic
September 25, 2015

Imagine that you receive a sheet of paper and a palette of colors. You are told to draw whatever you want. Without much thought, you take the first color that you see and begin painting. After your initial blast you suddenly stop, look at it and realize that you don’t like what you have drawn. You would actually like to start all over again. You ask for another sheet of paper, but only to be told that there was only one available.

That white sheet of paper is your health and the palette of colors what you choose to do with it. Whether at the end you admire what you have created, or wish you could start over, the fact is this: you only get one shot. The good news is, you also have the power to make it the best painting that you have ever seen.

Being a psychology student and as madly passionate about health as I am, there is no better place to complete an internship than In SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain. So, I, in the twentieth summer of my life, decided that while most of my friends would spend their summers partying in Ibiza, I wouldn’t be too far away, albeit doing something completely different.

No words can describe my initial fascination when I entered this temple of wellbeing. The citrus aroma, the gentle flow of waters and the purity of the natural sounds immediately transferred me to a place of calm that I didn’t know existed within me. I was invited to take a tour around the clinic, which judging upon how I felt, I thought would be led by Buddha himself. My disappointment didn’t last long when I was introduced to a welcoming lady with an angelic smile.

I fell ruthlessly in love with the concept of being offered all the resources to feel the power of good health. I am blessed for all the things I have been able to learn and to express my gratitude I would like to share what I know, and urge you, dear peers, not to wait until you have lost something in order to appreciate it.


The first lesson I found deeply rooted in our grandmothers green lettuce.

We all remember that one time when we were sitting on the kitchen table for what seemed like eternity until we almost grew roots and became the tasteless vegetables that we were forced to eat. Orthat time when you wanted an ice-cream so badly but your mother convinced you that even if you have just one lick all your teeth will fall because of the sugar in it? My point is this: it is not our fault that we associate “being healthy” as something incredibly boring and painful. However, having spent, one month here at SHA I am fully convinced, that it no longer has to be that way. The macrobiotic diet that the clinic offers, is fully based on vegetables and beans and yet, the taste has nothing to do with granny’s green lettuce. The “dieting” is not based on restrictions but on three course meals, each tackling more gustatory buds and flavors than the previous. Exercise also no longer has to be associated with endless hours spent in underground gyms and sharing looks of sweaty despair with other fellow sufferers. How about exercising in front of a breathtaking panorama that makes you feel like you are running on the horizon? Or yoga, which helps you discover that even though you live in your head you have 642 other muscles? I am not even going to mention the EMS (electric muscle stimulation) machine, which allows you to train your entire body within 20 minutes, because sometimes it is okay to feel a little lazy.

Upon all of this, I base my claim, that you can have as much fun taking care of your health as you can at any Saturday night club on any continent. Because when you wake up the next morning you not only feel good, you feel better. And if you really enjoyed yourself, you might be left with a happiness hangover.


The second lesson that I learned is that you cannot treat your mind and body separately

The concept of SHA is based upon the holistic approach I was told. It not only aims to target your wellbeing from different angles, such as diet, exercise and emotions but also does so combining doctors with completely different ideologies; from Chinese medicine and Reiki to Conventionalists. At first I thought this “holistic approach” is nothing else but a fancy claim. Only later did I realize that behind it laid the most basic human principle: that you cannot treat your mind and body separately, although very often we try to.

One of my favorite people whom I had the pleasure to encounter was a wonderful, delicate lady by the name Nieves. Her name, which means snow, symbolizes the clarity of her mind acquired by the countless years of meditation. When I was introduced to her, the first question she posed was “How often do you shower your body?”. Little distressed as to the cause of her question, I told her I do so every day. “And how often do you clean your mind?” was the second question that she asked. Then I realized that I do not do it as often as I would like to. Meditation is something else that has become the victim of long-held stereotypes. We believe that unless we come from the 1960s, haven’t washed our hair since or the one pair of clothes that we have, there is no reason we should practice it. I am not going to attempt to describe what meditation is, becausea phenomenon with such strong magnifying powers, should only be left to the poets to ponder upon. However, I am going to say this-most of the illness and addictions that we face are a result of suppressed anxieties.If you knew that there is something free, praised by Shakespeare and Buddha alike, supported by scientists and research ,why not try it? The holistic approach of SHA is simply based on adapting competence that everything is connected and you cannot have a healthy body without a healthy mind.




The third lesson that I learned has to do with love.

Imagine someone who gives meaning to your life. Someone with whom you will spend your entire life. Someone for whom your love is unconditional. Can you hear their breathing? You should be able to because that person is You. The relationship we have with ourselves is the only constant and yet very often it is undermined. We have put the notion that we should love ourselves in the box of cliches and is now covered with dust.

But let me ask you this, why do you take care of your family, partner, or even your pet? Perhaps because you love them?

You cannot have good health, if you do not have enough love for yourself. Moreover, bad health is often the result of little love and low-self esteem. In the words of psychologist Branden: “What determines the level of self-esteem is what the individual does.” Hereabout comes my fourth lesson,namely that you cannot have a good health without practice.

My favorite part from my experience in SHA was observing the progress of the treatment or the “follow up”. Regardless, of whether the patient was aiming to lose weight, detox or quit smoking, I noticed a repeating phenomenon. As soon as patients were able to see some progress, the better and “healthier” they felt, the better they wanted to do and feel. They engaged in the process, invested in it and got addicted to it. I realized that if you are willing to try and practice it, it is quite easy to turn that vicious cycle of low self-love into a rewarding virtuous one. However, that is the tricky part. You have to be willing to try and practice. Practice implies doing something continuously with discipline, almost to the extent that you make it your way of being. I also see that as the reason why so many patients struggled to maintain the habits that they had acquired here when they got back home. They saw what they had achieved at the end of the treatment as mission completed. However, I believe that any practice which aims to be successful should be done for the sake of the journey, not for the sake of the reward. Once that is achieved and good health becomes your way of being that is when you feel true magic.

So today I have a challenge for you. I challenge you, to look within and search for the shy whispers of a heroic voice that says, “I can”. Once you find it, never lose it, trust in and fulfill the duty that you hold to yourself; namely to be your greatest, healthiest self. Take the brush and begin painting.



Nora Popova

If you also want to complete an internship at SHA Wellness Clinic, click here.


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