So let’s imagine the beautiful, lush landscape of Bahia, Brazil. Hear the birds? Feel the humid warmth? Now, add some arts -- mosaics, painting, dreamcatchers. Weave in the sounds of singing bowls and surround yourself with meditation cushions. Then? Add in 13 resident healing puppies and dogs.
Sounds like a great retreat, right?
In 2005, Dr. Evelyn Hartoch, Landscape Architect and Holistic Therapist, brought her desire to create a natural park that functions as a healing space into being. With a strong value on education and a powerful passion for the natural world, she believes that through deep contact with nature, people can regain connection with their health. Not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Originally, she kept five dogs as pets on the property, only having a few interact with the guests. When two litters of puppies were born just a few days apart, she was initially dismayed - and then shortly, changed her tune.
As Evelyn got to know the puppies, she noticed that each dog had its own personality and gifts. Experiencing the puppies’ maturation up close, she saw how deeply this contact mattered. It inspired her to care even more deeply about animals. This prompted a new idea for an additional retreat option for guests: a restorative space that focused on animal therapy within the context of a scenic, natural environment. The healing dogs now help the guests by offering their affection. This is how the slogan of the retreat, "Touchable Love" came to Evelyn.
These days, guests at Bela Natureza can choose from a number of retreat packages that include art and creativity, yoga or meditation with the dogs, healing therapies such as Reiki, relaxing massage, Shamanic healing, or guided excursions to local landmarks.
Did we mention the abundance of healing dogs!?
Many mainstream healing facilities report amazing benefits from having animals present in a therapeutic way. Because of the simple release of oxytocin, lowering blood pressure and reducing depression are not uncommon benefits of healing animals. It makes perfect sense that having a whole family of resident doggies would turn a beautiful nature retreat into something even more magical.
"I'm glad they're ours," says Evelyn, "It is our unending love story."
We’ve got the craving for some puppy cuddles. See you in Brazil?
Dr. Evelyn Hartoch is a Landscape Architect and Holistic Therapist. Evelyn opened her healing center in 2005 to share her love of nature with the world. You can visit her Retreat Guru teacher page or visit Bela Natureza's center page to view upcoming events.