St James’s Hotel & Club partners with life coach Harsha Perera to launch Self-Care Stays

By Tempus | 26 May 2022 | Indulge, Travel

Tempus looks at these unique packages to find out how clarity of self is the first step to letting go of our stresses

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Life coach and author Harsha Perera believes in the power of clarity. There is no doubt that recent years have shown us just how important our mental resilience and self- understanding are, as we continue to forge ahead through a global pandemic and changing economic and political landscapes, and so it’s no surprise that London’s St James’s Hotel & Club has partnered with Perera to offer powerful wellness stays to its guests.

Designed to tackle burnout and boost one’s mental health, the hotel’s new Self-Care Stays programme centres upon a 1:1 coaching session with Perera. “My aim is to enable more clarity and more self-understanding,” he says. “By looking beneath the surface of things – at deeper motivations, hidden beliefs, habits, external constraints – a path forward will emerge. I always say that to take effective action, you must first get to the heart of the matter, and that involves taking a deeper look at what is going on in your life – both within and without. This is the process of discovery that becomes the natural enabler of change.”

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Perera, originally from Sri Lanka, studied economics at Cambridge before pursuing a career in private equity. It was this environment that inspired him to explore his own wellbeing and begin his path into coaching. He says that we each experience different barriers to fulfilling our potential, but that self-knowledge is a powerful tool.

“Our lives are full of different blockages born out of physical circumstance, which constrain us to different degrees,” he says. “There also exist invisible barriers that we create for ourselves... that exist in our minds yet feel every bit as real as physical barriers. These mental blockages can deeply influence what you believe you should and shouldn’t do – or can and cannot do – in life.

"What makes invisible barriers tricky is that they tend to hide in the shadows in the form of beliefs and habits that we aren’t fully aware of, but that drive so much of how we live. The good news is that, once you catch sight of them, you immediately give yourself the chance to break free.”

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Perera’s clients range from artists and priests to bankers and business founders, and he notes that there is no difference in his approach.

“I don’t think of my clients as being ‘personal’ or ‘business’, but rather as individuals with different questions and difficulties in different contexts,” he says. “We are united in our common humanity – weallhavecomplexmindsandmodernlifecreates common difficulties for us all. Yet, our unique paths mean that the specifics of our personal blockages are completely unique to us. The mind is a mysterious thing that interacts with the environment in strange and contradictory ways. Two people may relate to the same situation very differently. So, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and that is why the clarity of self-understanding is so important.”

While Perera is on hand to feed the mind, the Self- Care Stays also nourish the body – with a wellness breakfast specially designed by the hotel’s Michelin Starred chef William Drabble. Perera, who described himself as “not an early riser” says he would make exception to try Drabble’s vegan option.

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“St James’s Hotel & Club’s Self-Care Package is a nice opportunity for people to take a little break from the grind and give themselves the space for some introspection in a relaxed setting, away from everyday demands — a mini, urban retreat, of sorts,” he continues. “Self-care is a really interesting area. In a sense, the reason we need ‘self-care’ these days is because we are so careless about how we treat ourselves. But it must be approached very carefully – we are so obsessed with achievement and productivity that even self-care can become a means of putting pressure on ourselves. To serve as a ‘recharging’, so that you can do even more achieving. This is a trap we must avoid.”

Perera’s book Machine Ego expands on this point further; he says our life experiences in the modern day lead us to prioritise productivity over fulfilment, at great cost to ourselves.

“One of the key points I make in Machine Ego is how modern times emphasise easily measurable – but ultimatelyfake–indicatorsofvalue.Thishappens in so many areas of life. We value diplomas above passion and skill, grades above true learning, status and achievements above personal fulfilment... I see this as stemming from an excessive desire to seek measurable control and certainty from life,” he says. “Our social conditioning is so strong that we are led to always doubt ourselves, looking for all manner of external indicators by which we can be sure of our self-worth. It pushes us constantly to look for demonstrable measurements outside of us, rather than within. We can tie ourselves up with existential self-doubt, seeking but never finding.

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“Breaking free begins with recognising this tendency within yourself; liberation comes from realising that you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, including yourself,” he says. “It is about letting go.”