Three meals per day to be eaten in silence, sitting at one’s table – alone – on a patio with a view of the lake. No talking allowed, no reading or writing. Maximum concentration as you eat
Energy at zero
In Carinthia, in a corner of Austria, located on the southern shore of Lake Wörth, lies an idyllic place: Vivamayr Maria Wörth. The water is turquoise, and drinkable, it is said. Mallards glide on the surface, ferry boats go back and forth from one town to another. The lake is an inviting bathing spot, or for some stand up paddling.
When its gothic church is lit up at night, the peninsula illuminates the entire lake. I believe that the Church devoted to Mary was my saviour during the seven days spent at Vivamayr Maria Wörth, where energy is zero, life is slowed down, and the day is punctuated by the number of glasses of water mixed with Base Powder and Epsom Salt – which are compulsory.
Mayr Medizin was developed at the beginning of the century by Doctor Franz Xavier Mayr, who believed all illnesses were caused by the digestive system functioning badly, with the resulting poisoning of the intestine. A form of re-education regarding food consumption is required: what and how much we eat, how and when during the day.
The original formula was milk and dry bread to practice chewing, alternated with long periods of fasting to rest the body. Dr. Harald Stossier has updated this therapy inside the modernist structure of Vivamayr, a medical health centre. Minimum stay: seven days. Non-Anglophones keep away – deutschsprachige is even better Self control is necessary, both moral and physical. Alcohol, smoking and coffee are forbidden.
Discipline. An early start, 6:30. In the morning, a glass of hot water and Epsom salt – if you’re lucky, Magnesium Citrat – to regulate the bowels. The Base Powder – bicarbonate of soda and other minerals, taken four times a day, is to neutralize the acids in the stomach. It tastes like chalk. Three meals per day to be eaten in silence, sitting at one’s table – alone – on a patio with a view of the lake. No talking allowed, no reading or writing. Maximum concentration as you eat.
On chewing – like grazing camels. Each mouthful must be chewed between thirty to fifty times before swallowing. “Chewing for a long time helps to extract all of the nutrients even from the blandest salad leaf – explains Dr. Stossier – and eating meals slowly, concentrating on the food and not being distracted by anything else, helps us eat less.” No raw food after four in the afternoon; eat little and early in the evening so as not to go to sleep while digestion is still in progress. A hot water bottle on the liver before bed.
Not fancy per se
From guest to patient, the 24-hour bathrobe and the sense of comradeship. Vivamayr is not a “fancy” Spa, with scented incense and chromotherapy, but a medical clinic where luxury lies in the sterile atmosphere and the odourless air, in the professionalism of the staff. A daily doctor’s visit, for a fifteen-minute abdominal massage. My doctor, Adriana Fink, is a visionary. She looked me straight in the eye: “sweet tooth?” – “yes!”.
Further evidence: the Kinesiology test. A muscular strength method, invented by the American chiropractor George Goodheart in 1964, to diagnose illness. Adriana puts individual substances onto my tongue and assesses the change in muscle strength in my leg as I push against her arm. The verdict: fructose, eggs, dairy, wheat and yeast, all banned for four weeks. Diagnosis: fungus growing in the intestine. Cure: Candida Diet, based on potatoes. Potatoes for breakfast. Potatoes for lunch. Potatoes for dinner. And root vegetables, since they are more alkalizing. Good cuisine, prepared with organic ingredients, and the mise en place is impressive, worth a post on Instagram.
State: hungry. Salus per aquam – health by water. In practice: a flask and the tea bar. A wall-mounted apparatus dispenses hot water, vegetable broth and ten different herbal teas. Energized drinking water. Crystals in the water jug in the room. You must always drink in between meals, and at least thirty minutes after eating. “Water dilutes the enzymes in the saliva required to digest food” – explains Dr. Stossier, during the weekly lectures.
Detoxifying. Namely, rest. The atmosphere is like a literary summer school, except sadly no one can muster up the energy to even read a book title. Physical exercise is not compulsory, just staying active with thirty minutes of daily exercise The fitness room is often empty, people prefer to swim in the lake. Detox and related therapies: hydroxeur is a herbal bath in a whirlpool tub, Kneipp gets rid of toxins through electrolysis; there’s the inhalation treatment Salin Air or therapy for the nasal reflex point. Arial yoga and lymphatic massages, vitamin and mineral drips.
Lethal blow to the spirit
The need for adrenalin on the sixth day. There is a sense of mobilization that pervades you, caused by a high dose of relaxation. After five days spent in the garden tanning and building up vitamin D reserves, down comes the rain – a lethal blow to the spirit, boost for the brain. Reaction: Nordic walking.
In the mountains that cast a shadow over Vivamayr Maria Wörth there is the Pyramidenkogel wooden tower, the highest in the world, one hundred metres tall. It stands out against the sky in a spiral shape. The view stretches from the peaks of the High Tauern to the north, as far as the Caravanche mountain range to the south, and the mountains that mark the border with Italy and Slovenia. You can descend in twenty-one seconds, with a 120-metre-long slide and a drop of fifty-two. Or by 840 steps that look like they’re floating in mid air. You get up, breathe – you are alive!
Maria Wörth, Austria