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Jacqualine Tara Herron, Spa Director, The Imperial Spa distills her knowledge of eastern philosphies and healing practises to create unique spaces and products

In a career spanning decades, Jacqualine Tara Herron has done it all. Born in the decade of ‘self realization’ fuelled by inspirational thinkers, musicians and gurus, she distilled her thirst for discovery and knowledge in study of Eastern philosophies such as Yoga and meditation, Ayurveda, Pranic Healing, Tai Chi, etc. besides Aromatics and product development. Her subsequent assignments took her across the US, Europe and Asia, developing spas and designing bespoke products and protocols for renowned hospitality companies. She tapped into her decades of experience and inner creativity to bring out 2 CDs on meditation and a book, “The Definitive Handbook for the Spa and Body Therapist’, which still sells copies every day on Amazon.

I meet Tara at the beautiful and regal Imperial Hotel in New Delhi, in The Imperial Spa & Salon which she conceptualized, helped build and launch, and ask about her journey from a seeking 16 year old, till today.

Your interest in healing was awakened very early in life. How did that happen?

I was always interested in matters of the spirit and freedom to express oneself but the idea of healing really happened a few years after my father passed away.  I was 16 yrs old and his death was a deep pain in my heart which made me feel angry at the doctors who had allowed him to take Cortisone (a powerful steroid) for many years unchecked, for his chronic asthma.  These days cortisone as an inhaler is not permitted at certain strengths and controlled use is widely advised and educated.  However, then it was not so and he passed away from a heart attack caused by a poorly treated asthmatic condition. I vowed then that I would understand more about the body and healing from a holistic perspective and later, when I was 19, embarked on a journey of discovery that began with healing my own grief for my father.  A year later, I  badly hurt my spine whilst in America and healed it through yoga, which also greatly influenced my approach to health, healing and well being.

What drew you to eastern philosophies?

As I was growing up there was a huge wave of literature, poetry, dance, clothing, jewellery music and art coming from Asia.  Our western culture was inspired by the phenomena of Gurus Yoga and Buddhism and many famous people were travelling to America and others travelling to the east.  Some of them were high profile personalities such as The Beatles, Mahatma Gandhi, Mia Farrow, Ram Dass, Paramhansa Yoganda, The Dalai Lama and many many more.  From an early age I was reading  great Sufi poets such as Kabir and Rumi, as well as Zen poetry by Ryokan, the wonderful Japanese monk.  I was inspired byGurdjief and particularly his book ‘Meetings with Remarkable Men’, Savitri by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and ‘Beezlebubs Tales to his Grandson’ which transformed my thinking.  I immediately loved the aesthetic principles of this ear of spirituality and the idea of Enlightenment, of a Divine Consciousness, of transformation, of self actualization and inner freedom.  This all made sense to my soul and my intelligence which was thirsty for something to quench my inquiring mind for purpose and reason for our exsistence.

Your training has taken you across the world. Tell us about it.

I feel that my true education and training began on my journey across America where I lived for 10 years as an inner journey of self discovery.  I studied with the amazing Gia Fu Feng at Stillpoint Hermitage in Colorado, a Taoist hermitage, where we lived in the wild Isobelle forest practicing Tai Chi and Gestalt Therapy.  I  began to study astrology and tarot which I subsequently taught for years and gave tarot readings to many people.

I lived in Maui, Hawaii for 5 years at The Maui Zendo with teacher Aitkin Roshi, author of The Zen Wave and other books, practicing zazen meditation intensively.  I then  spent 6 months at The Insight Meditation Centre in Massachusettes (a Vipassana Centre) on a long silent retreat that I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to experience as it was the most powerful thing I have ever done. I also spent a year in Santé Fe, New Mexico, studying Ayurveda with the incredible Dr Vasant Ladd…Read the full version of this story on Issue 9 Page 37

Writer| Sandhya Chipalkatti

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