Gary Gorrow is a mindfulness coach whose clients include Cate Blanchett, Gemma Ward, and Zoe Foster Blake. He has spent the last 15 years working around the world as a Vedic meditation master teacher and mentor, and has now channeled his commitment to higher-consciousness and healing into an amazing new wellness retreat named Soma.
Nestled in the lush rainforest of Byron Bay’s hinterland, the purpose-built sanctuary accomodates both group retreats and private stays. All the details on the property are highly considered and designed to integrate with the property’s natural setting, from the custom furniture to the art curation (which includes the work of 14 photographers including Woody Gooch, Vicki Lee, Stephen Dupont, Kate Bellm, and Rae Begley).
We asked Gorrow about his latest project.
Can you tell us a bit about your background working in mindfulness, meditation, and mentorship? How did you get into it and where has this career taken you?
I guess I was always a deep thinker as a child, often contemplating the meaning of life and exploring different philosophies and wisdom traditions. I learned to meditate when I was 21 and this was a turning point for me. The practice had such a transformative effect for me that I knew at some point I’d be teaching. But things really evolved in a natural way; I knew I had to do my inner-work first, so I spent many years practicing, studying, and developing myself to a level that was worthy of teaching others. I simply had a passion for growing and helping people and it has blossomed from there. I’ve had the gift of teaching thousands of people from all walks of life—supermodels, CEO’s, AFL football teams, Google, and my favourite of all: everyday folk.
Where did the idea for opening a meditation sanctuary begin and how long was the project in the making for?
I had the thought about 15 years ago, so it’s been a long-time in the making. I always knew the time would come, but to be honest I had no idea it would look like what it does today. I just knew I wanted to create a place where people could do deep, authentic inner-work and evolve their lives. I honestly feel that life has a plan for us all and we have a responsibility to listen, follow our cues, and play our role.
Were you always drawn to Byron Bay’s hinterland as the site for Soma?
Byron has a special place in my heart (and millions of other’s). I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid and I’ve had some of the best times of my life in the Shire. Given that I’m in the wellness space and Byron is regarded as a place of healing and transformation, it was a complete no-brainer when it came to choosing to create Soma here. It did however take me years to find the right site. It needed to have a special something. When I set foot on this land it spoke to me immediately and I knew I’d found home.
Where did the name come from?
The word Soma dawned in my mind one day and I thought, ‘Yep, that’s it’. It feels like a neology but there is some history behind it. Soma is a Sanskrit word that has multiple meanings, such as the nectar of life, the flow of consciousness, it’s one of the names of the moon, and also the quality that the full moon radiates. It’s also the name of a family of psychedelic plants used by the ancient yogis. In Greek it means body.
The geodesic dome studio looks absolutely incredible. What other features will people find at Soma?
There’s 22 acres of exotic trees, rainforest trails, and bamboo forest. There’s a 200-year-old Morton Bay Fig tree with hanging beds in it, numerous treatment rooms, a freshwater infinity swimming pool, a huge communal fire pit, and a spring-fed dam laden with lotus flowers. We also have a moonlight cinema as well as over 50 pieces of art throughout the house.
What was your vision for the space and how did you bring it to life?
The retreat house was the vision of my brother George Gorrow [who founded the fashion label Ksubi and The Slow hotel in Bali]. He designed the place along with his architect Rieky Sunur. The other features of the place were part of my dreaming. It was all brought to life with a lot of hard work, funding, great people, and grace.
How does being at Soma make you feel?
The land certainly has a healing presence; the house is contemporary and inspiring on many levels. People tend to find that after walking into Soma their nervous systems start to decompress. Once they start to experience the retreat programs they absolutely find themselves in a shifted state, mentally and physically.