So, the artisans of health are actually the fasters, because “artisan” is spelled with an “s,” and it implies becoming an active participant in one’s health. But when I talk about health, I mean holistic health, both on the physical and emotional levels. During fasting, we work on physical, physiological, and cellular detoxification, as well as emotional detoxification. And then we touch on other aspects, like the mental aspect, because ultimately, during this week of retreat and rest, it’s like being in a bubble where you detach a bit from family, social, and work responsibilities; it’s a moment for oneself. During this week, mental letting go also takes place. And for some, including those who fast, they might seek a more spiritual connection by reconnecting with nature and themselves. This journey contributes to taking responsibility for one’s health, becoming an actor in one’s health, hence the term “artisans.” I really like that word. Even though the phrase “artisan of health” doesn’t exist. We talk about artisans of joy, artisans of peace, but not “artisan of health.” So, it’s about holistic health, complete health.
So, the people who come actually become the artisans?
Nicolas Sorhaïtz: Exactly. Some of them already are, and for the others, my invitation is for them to become artisans. Throughout the week, it’s as if we’re climbing a mountain. And to climb this mountain, I’ll give them tools and aids they can put in their backpack to help them ascend. For example, heart coherence to encourage them to focus on their breath, to calm down the rumination and worries about the future and the past, and to be in the present moment. In fact, the present moment will be the guiding thread of the week. So, through heart coherence and Qi Gong, which is a pillar of traditional Chinese medicine, involving slow, fluid movements based on breathing, we create a sort of meditation in motion.
Do you also lead Qi Gong, meditation, and other activities?
Nicolas Sorhaïtz: I teach Qi Gong, heart coherence, and I’m also a sophrologist. It involves positive visualizations, which I call sophro-meditations. The hikes also play a significant role in reconnecting with nature and making us more attentive, engaging all our senses. All these activities structure the day, and I’ve wanted to integrate them into my fasting center. I’m part of a federation that encompasses around a hundred fasting centers, each with its own approach depending on the accompanying guide. In my case, I’ve really wanted to emphasize self-reconnection, along with a bit of personal development.
By what activity would you like to be defined? Ultimately, what is your profession?
Nicolas Sorhaïtz: The technical term we use within the federation is “fasting guide.” But when people unfamiliar with fasting ask me or when I don’t have time to explain, I simply say I’m a sophrologist because generally, people have a better understanding of that. If the conversation continues, I explain that I welcome people for restful stays, including the opportunity to explore the Basque Country, and I then mention that fasting is part of the program. This often sparks further discussions!
What’s the profile of the people you welcome? More experienced fasters or newcomers to fasting? Is the experience generally positive for the latter?
Nicolas Sorhaïtz: It’s quite diverse. It ranges from young dynamic executives working in La Défense in Paris, in their twenties, to retirees who have time for themselves. It can go up to 75, 78 years old. On average, my fasters are around 45, 50 years old, and the majority are female, though there’s always one, two, or even three men in the group. I have both what we technically call “first-time fasters,” those fasting for the first time, as well as regular fasters. Just a month ago, I had a faster on his fifteenth annual fast—likely one of the pioneers of fasting in France, considering the federation has been around for 30 years but not many have practiced for that long. And two weeks ago, I welcomed a man in his thirties on his sixth fast! Those who return are the people who observed the benefits in terms of prevention during their first experience and were convinced. As for newcomers, it’s often through word of mouth. In any case, they all leave with a smile.