Perth entrepreneur Julie Baker is tapping into demand from a growing number of people who are seeking relief from stress.
Her WA company, Journeys of the Spirit, guides business owners and professionals on two-week sojourns of self-discovery in mystical locations that include Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.
She hit on the wellness formula by packaging her two passions – spiritual health and wellbeing, and travel. These she markets in journeys and retreats aimed at rebalancing stressed individuals.
“I am a business person,” Ms Baker says. “I love business, I love creating businesses and I love creating different business models.”
Stressed souls experience spiritual awakenings in Bhutan, Spain, Italy, India, Japan, Scandinavia, Peru, France, Hawaii or some other destination.
Ms Baker describes her ideal client as a successful person who is still not feeling happy. “They realise their version of success doesn’t necessarily make them happy,” she says.
It took her more than three decades and three travel-related businesses to produce Journeys of the Spirit, motivated in part by a devastating childhood experience at 15.
“My mum was misdiagnosed with menopause at 48 and had a mental breakdown,” Ms Baker says. The teenager stopped eating meat and gained a juvenile understanding of there being more to life.
It helps explain her captivation with Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom the size and population of Tasmania landlocked in the Himalayas between superpowers China and India.
“Bhutan is the only place in the world that is 100 per cent certified organic,” Ms Baker says. “And wealth is not measured by GDP – it’s measured by Gross National Happiness.”
The scenery is an awe-inspiring panorama of rivers, mountains and verdant slopes. Journeyers, as Ms Baker calls them, are housed in three to four-star accommodation with private bathrooms.
They are immersed in Bhutanese community life, consuming some of the freshest produce on Earth and seeing how simple living and family values are central to happiness.
The experience aims to redefine their understanding of success.
One journey follows the trail of 8th century Indian sage, Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. It ends at breathtaking Paro Taktsang monastery, perched perilously on a cliffside.
Guides are all business owners. Prospective journeyers must first discuss their expectations, and are supported in their physical, emotional and mental preparations.
Ms Baker is proud of one seasoned traveller who had owned several businesses before going on one of her journeys to Bhutan. He said afterwards: “I learned to measure success in a different way.”
The next Bhutan journey runs from April 15 to 28. For more info go to: Journeys of the Spirit website.