This past June, I had the great honor of participating in Suan Sati’s first ever teacher training. There were many challenges during the weeks I spent there both individually and as a member of the cadre of 16 new teachers who I have the privilege to call friends. I know the world is a better place for their being teachers. 

I have spent the past few months since I left traveling and reflecting on the obstacles I overcame there’s as well as contemplating the best way to approach the ones that now stand in front of me. In my experience, the overcoming of one obstacle often leads us to another that is even more daunting. As I sit down to write this piece, the task of adequately describing what I–what we–experienced during the course seems almost impossible. How do I describe or label the education we were gifted? Though it is certainly a challenge to try and describe such a profound experience I am grateful for the gift of participating in it as well as for the chance to reflect on its meaning to me. 

I can be a bit of a word nerd so I often start with definitions when I search for deeper meaning. Suan Sati 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. To me, 200-hour Teacher Training is a useful phrase only in so far suggests something of the efforts of the students; the time they spent on mats, on cushions, in classes. It completely ignores the Herculean efforts of the instructor cadre and staff at Suan Sati, it omits the many hours outside of the structured lesson plan where friendships were built and knowledge was passed on with a frequency that would have been exhausting if it wasn’t so interesting. It can’t communicate what was shared through music when we gathered together in song or dance. It doesn’t communicate that beautiful lump in my throat or the burning in my eyes when I think of the people and the place. As I write this in a cafe in Slovakia with tears of love and joy on my cheeks, I realize that even the fact that I am okay sitting here despite the voice in my head asking me what others must think, is due to work I did at Suan Sati. 

Looking at the words makes it so obvious to me that the source of meaning for me doesn’t come from this phrase. It comes from the two simple sounding words which preface it; Suan Sati, which can be translated as “Garden of Mindfulness.” It sounds simple enough but I can honestly say when I arrived I had no inkling as to what those words meant. All I knew was that someone I love and trust spoke about it as a hidden paradise and had the courage to invite me to join. I’m grateful to her for the faith she showed in me with the invitation, and for the faith I showed in following. That said, I’ve stood on that sharp edge of resistance and transformation a few times before and understand that a little knowledge can go a long way towards relieving the fear of the unknown that keeps us stuck. Because of all the things a place like Suan Sati can be said to be it, can be easier to start with what a thing is not.  

Suan Sati is not a militaristic asana camp that ignores 7/8ths of the yogi’s path in pursuit of the appearance of perfection; a temptation that is easy to succumb to in a world so riddled with visual input.  As a westerner, my practice began in a place that said yoga and meant asana. My conversations with other yogis has lead me to believe that this is a fairly common mistake. A studio or retreat will say “yoga”, and then emphasize posture almost to the exclusion of everything else. That is not the case at Suan Sati. Though many hours were spent on the mat in physically challenging practice, it never seemed as if the instructor was working to break you down, not even during Will’s trademark 6-minute down dog and 2-minute plank on day one. Nor was each instructor committed to a personal vision that ignored the realities of the brilliantly different individuals who made up the class. The abilities of the students varied greatly and it was a pleasure to see how each instructor was able to offer different challenges to each and every student. While one should expect to confront challenges and to achieve things that once seemed impossible, Suan Sati is a community tangibly based on compassion, mindfulness and love. No one was ever asked to do anything they couldn’t do. That is of course different from being asked to do things we didn’t think we could do which occurred almost every day. I am so grateful for having been able to work as hard as I have ever worked in my life in an environment that somehow maintained a sense of ease throughout, despite a demanding schedule and instructors who were not afraid to ask their students to achieve more. That sense of fluidity was also due in no small part to the Thai staff who I know handled more things than I could hope to think of and list here. An attempt to list them would probably serve only to illustrate my ignorance of how hard they actually worked; suffice it to say that Suan Sati ran seamlessly for the students. 

I could focus exclusively on Suan Sati as the simple joy of living in such an inclusive and non-violent community where everyone spends the morning in a mindful silence and is probably not even aware of their increased precision and thoughtfulness with words until they are thrust back into the world where gossip and small talk are considered social skills. That is an aspect of my experience, and one that illustrates something essential about Suan Sati. However, it feels a bit like trying to describe the universe by only talking about the sun. Mindfulness is an important and animating principle of Suan Sati but there is no doubt that such a reductive characterization of the place would be a disservice.

I feel a little like the boy I once was; standing before that enormous container filled to the brim with candies who was told the closest guess would win the prize. It seemed filled with unfathomable and innumerable joys. Similarly, even as I try to express it, I have no way of calculating the quantity of love, growth and mutual support experienced during our precious month at Suan Sati or even guessing at the sheer number of embraces exchanged, of hands held, knees patted, backs supported, and arms touched. If I cannot hope to guess at the overt displays of affection I must concede that the tally of the covert ones is beyond my power. How do you measure love or describe the shattering sensation that comes with the acceptance that you are worthy of love? I only know that often times I am left with the sense that love entails obligation. At Suan Sati I had the distinct impression it was experienced as an opportunity. Supposedly, there was a rule where we were supposed to wash our dishes after meals. The reality of my experience of this “rule” was that there was a competition to do each other’s dishes after most meals. 

For me this seemed obviously linked to Suan Sati’s emphasis on ritual and ceremony. In an age where old notions of gods and religions have mostly collapsed in on themselves, it can be hard to make space for community and ritual. Not here. Ceremony was such a crucial part of the journey. Whether in chanting, ecstatic dancing, maintaining silence or simply offering thanks for our food there were so many opportunities for meaning creation and mindfulness checks throughout my day. I am grateful for the inspiration and happy to say I have incorporated a few of these rites into my daily practice. I’m not yet sure where my road will take me next and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to adequately explain the impact of an experience like the one I had at Suan Sati. I do know that it’s one of those magical places that will always pull me back. The world is a big and beautiful venue and I’m so grateful to have experienced so much of it but the spectacle and the bigness of it all would be overwhelming without those special settings that call us back. One of the most amazing contradictions of Suan Sati was how much room there was in a relatively small geographic area. 

I know for certain that there was room for everything there. Room for love, room for mistakes and disagreements and discomfort, room for sorry, room for any and every emotion. There was room for music, dance, song, magic, mosquitoes, mindfulness, and sweat (especially for Martin and I). There was so much space for personal expression and I am privileged to have heard and to have come to know so many distinct voices and for the magic we created when we combined them in song. In a world where I have often felt like an outsider, I am so grateful there was so much room for me, that there was so much space for personal expression generally. When I made a mistake and reacted in anger against two of my dear friends, I felt like I needed to apologize and take action to do some healing to integrate some unresolved issues, as well as to earn the forgiveness they gave me. With consultation from other students I decided it would be helpful to read a confession out loud at some point. When I went to Will and Lisa’s door late one night and hesitantly asked for permission to do so, I was expecting resistance or refusal, or at the very least a screening for content. I was stunned by the uncomplicated answer; “Yes.” I was also unprepared for the follow up question. “When do you want to do it?” When I stumbled and stuttered, it was because in all honesty this was something I needed to do much more than I wanted to do it. Lisa offered to make space for me at the beginning of her class. I was stunned. Their schedule, which was so obviously the subject of painstaking scrutiny for months before the training started, and which had been put into practice with masterful sensitivity, changed with little notice to cater to my specific needs. As a bonus, they put their personal trust in me and reassured me with hugs. 

When we gathered for a “passion show” towards the end of the course, I was a little surprised by the variety and quality of talents displayed by everyone – by the skill with which others sang, rapped, danced, played instruments or entertained with well crafted jokes and games. I was stunned by the depth and breadth of talents possessed by every individual, but I shouldn’t have been. That night revealed something special about the essence of Suan Sati. It draws beautiful and talented individuals there from all over the world. It could be easy to write this off with a truthism; to shrug and say like attracts like and regard the gift as some sort of spontaneous arising but the truth is it was built beautifully and preserved with dedication by people I am proud to call friends and my teachers. 

I am waiting on the Suan Sati cookbook which is rumored to be in the works. Hopefully this is more than the effects of wishful stomachs on hopeful imaginations. All the meals were vegan. Although I am usually a vegetarian it was impossible to sense any absence in my diet. To say that anything was missing from the cuisine served family style in plentiful portions at Suan Sati would be a dubious proposition. It was delicious and ethical at the same time. Much of what we shoveled onto our plates was sourced from the permaculture farm scattered about the Suan Sati compound. I found that eating ethically and only after a moment of shared gratitude and presence added to my practice and allowed me to feel more aligned with my values as I strove to push my boundaries and move closer to the best version of myself. The kilo or two of belly fat which also disappeared was a small bonus. My good friend Jenny might have said it best when she told me that even if the cost of the training only entitled us to a month’s worth of Suan Sati’s meals it would be worth it. Luckily for us, it included so much more. We went for deep, deep dives into anatomy, asana, teaching methodology, philosophy, ethics. We investigated different meditation guidance and learned the fundamentals of Hinduism and Buddhism. As we studied we also played at being teachers. 

The way this practice teaching was incorporated was hugely important too. I say play for a reason. It was fun and safe…at least at first. We were teaching in bite sized portions from the first week on with the support of our classmates and encouragement of our teacher’s. We taught two 15 minute portions of classes to small groups and finally culminated with a one hour solo class. Even students who had previously completed other teacher trainings found this to be a huge challenge and a life changing accomplishment. 

It is such a great honor to have been a part of this community’s inaugural class and it gives me great joy and an increased hope in the future that it will not be their last. Everyone I shared time there with will always have my love and gratitude but there is a special place for those wonderful people who so masterfully crafted the experience. I can’t say enough about the time I spent there. I can say it wouldn’t have been the same without Will’s wisdom, Lisa’s voice, Nu’s music, or Tessa’s love. I have so much love and gratitude for what they gave me during my time with them and for what I know they each give to the world every day. 

One of my favorite books of all time is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. One of the central ideas the book communicates is that if you follow your personal legend all the universe will conspire to help you. I have always resonated with this idea but not until I attended teacher training at Suan Sati did I have such a direct experience of this. You will be challenged like never before but there will be an entire ecosystem conspiring to support you as if by magic. 

Perhaps it is appropriate to say a few words about myself in closing in order to communicate how special of a place Suan Sati really is. The long and short of it is that I was not always a person who spoke about love, light, energy, magic or divinity. In order to discourage anyone from dismissing my endorsement of Suan Sati as some hippy B.S. I would like to say that I spent most of my life as the antithesis of this. As soon as I graduated high school I joined the Marine Corps. Two deployments and the aftermath led me to yoga and meditation after I exhausted all other possibilities. It has been a long journey that led me to a place where I was able to experience the complexity of the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual fullness of a place like Suan Sati. I am so grateful for the way that led me to such a place. All I can say to those of you like me, who are struggling with resistance to happiness over words and labels is as soon as you are ready, come and join the Suan Sati family. So many spiritual centers and yoga studios pay lip service to ideas of inclusion and then set about making people outside of the mold feel uncomfortable in their space. Perhaps the highest praise I can give Suan Sati is the extent to which they hold space for those who might not be a natural fit anywhere else. I know that wherever my journey takes me there is a garden of mindfulness out there full of beautiful people in blossom that feels like home. So many people will see you as the best version of yourself and you will gain so much experience tending to the seed of that self while you are there that you are sure to take growth with you when you leave. What are you waiting for? Go join the Suan Sati family and give everyone a hug for me when you do. I hope to see you there someday soon!

Love and Light,

Brendan

I came to Suan Sati for the first time in November 2017. I was at a time in my life where I was in a desperate need for things to change, to shift the direction of my life into something more positive. Like many guests who arrive through that gate, I was hoping to find that missing piece of the puzzle, the spark that would light my path to healing and happiness. I came hoping for a miracle but thought, “what can a week really do?”

At that point in my life I had a very western diet and mindset. I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle eating plant based, my yoga practice was novice at best, and I had never been in a community like this. I was welcomed with open arms and felt like a part of the family from the second I walked in. The food was so good I would have trouble falling asleep because I was so excited to wake up and eat it again the next day. The yoga classes were thorough, balanced and easy to understand but still challenging. I knew immediately I had come to the right place.

It did not take long to feel at home. There is this wave of calmness that washes over you as soon as you arrive. To be in a place where you feel completely accepted and supported by people who were strangers not all that long ago is not something I had experienced before or after. To call it just a yoga retreat is leaving out so much of what it truly is, a place of healing -physically, mentally and emotionally.

In a weeks time I saw a change in me that would’ve taken months outside of this environment, possibly never. I was more flexible than I had ever been and I had a deeper understanding and connection to my body. I left with a new definition of what peace was and a new perspective on what I wanted out of my life.

I came home to chaos. Surgeries, more chemotherapy and my darkest days followed shortly after. Through all of that I kept Suan Sati on my mind. What started as a spark to light my path turned into the destination. I set a goal to beat cancer and to make it back. I walked back through those gates a new person and was welcomed by Will jumping out from behind a bush and giving me a big hug. I knew I was back home.

Now I hope to pass on what I’ve learned from my experiences on to others. I started www.itsinyourhead.comd.com to help others struggling through cancer treatment, watching a loved one go through it, and getting back on their feet after it’s over.

— Written by Hunter LaFave, founder of cancer support coaching website www.itsinyourhead.com

By Jenny Guggisberg



The TTC in Suan Sati was not just a month of studying and learning how to become a Yoga teacher. It was much more than that. Suan Sati is a place of love. Every single detail from the accommodation, food, staff and program is unique and beautiful. And the most special and precious thing about Suan Sati is The Suan Sati Family. The staff and the teachers are so special. They are living what they are teaching. They give and share all they have. And all they are doing comes straight from their heart. I’ve never seen and felt something like that before. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of this family for one month.

Everything in this month felt so round and whole. The teachers really created such an amazing program, everything was fitting so well. They had a big emphasis on creating a strong and powerful group connection. The opening ceremony was very beautiful and special. And in the first week we did a lot of games and group activities to get to know each other and show ourselves fully, also with our shadow sides. That allowed us to connect and support each other much more. We had such a great group spirit. And the teachers had always on open ear and heart for us. I never felt alone. I felt carried every day. It was such a beautiful feeling. I felt home. I think that’s the biggest gift we can receive and that’s what make Suan Sati so special and unique.

What I could learn and take with me in this month is richer and bigger than I could ever dreamed of or put in words. All my highest expectations that I had for the training were exceeded. I’ve learned to show love to myself.

Before I started the training I was very insecure. There were so many questions and doubts in my head: Am I good enough for this training? What if I’m not strong and flexible enough? What if I can’t learn to do fancy poses? What if I’m not skinny enough?
So many self doubts…
From the very first day on, I felt at home and could let go of many doubts. I felt that I’m loved, exactly how I am. I felt that I am good enough. I’ve learned to love my body. I’ve learned that everybody can practice Yoga. Everybody can become a Yoga teacher. Yoga is so much bigger than just postures/asanas. Yoga is a life philosophy. Everything is Yoga. The physical part is just a tiny part of it. 

I’ve learned in the training to let go of many fears. I’ve learned to trust in myself and in the power of universe, the power of love. I’ve learned more and more about my true nature and how to connect with my higher self. 

There are no words  to express my gratitude and love for Suan Sati. I feel so blessed that I could open up and start following the path of my heart. I hope that the love and home that I found in Suan Sati will always stay with me and that I can share it with many other people. Thank you !!!! 

I recommend the TTC and retreats at Suan Sati with all my heart. 

With love
Jenny 

If you rearrange the word silent, it spells listen.

That was the premise behind signing up to my second 10-day silent meditation retreat, or Vipassana. Vipassana means to see things as they really are, and I wanted to see who I really was. So…who am I? For the most part, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of who I am, and who I’m not. I’m aware of the roles I have, my preferences and dislikes. But are these ideas of who I think I am simply just stories that I play out in familiar patterns? 

Who am I? 

When I became silent, I started to listen more deeply, and my mind and reactions became louder than ever. This time, I met parts of myself that weren’t so familiar to me. My shadow side, my darkness, my ego. Grateful for the opportunity to learn more about myself, I endured what seemed like the longest 10 days of my life, sitting silently, patiently, in frustration. I’ve done this before, I thought, I know it’s worth it in the end. But my lesson is right here, now. Listen.

I listened to the judgements, hypocrisies, and bored ramblings of my mind. I also listened to the chorus of birdsong in the morning, the sound of the breeze, and to the subtle flow of my breath. During meditation, I was at ease. When I was in nature, I was in awe. When I listened to my thoughts, I felt a sense of annoyance inside, and a disconnection to the beauty around me. Ok, so don’t listen to everything. This is not me. These are only thoughts. 

As I began to create more space between me and my thoughts, I came to rest in this place of peaceful knowing, of this nature within. I realised that I didn’t come looking for answers. I’m not searching for anything. I came to remember the presence and awareness that is me, and is always there, if I can just turn down the noise of my mind and simply allow myself to listen.

I already know who I am. I am nowhere, I am now-here. I am no one, I am now one. I am now home, and I am listening.

Written by Nuraini Alston

When you’re in it, time stands still. Light turns to night, to light, back to night, but inside the feeling stays constant. A pulsating energy courses through your veins, a current alive with possibility and purpose. Late nights are a dream, early mornings – an absolute breeze. Everything seems to fall into place as if by a divine power and it just feels soooo gooood.

Welcome to the flow.

This elusive inner space is hard to come by. Some spend their entire lives searching for it in all the wrong places, while a lucky few find the key where they least expect it. When you find that passion that puts purpose into your days, the universe conspires to help you in mystical ways. Suddenly you find everything you need flowing effortlessly towards you. Mentors appear, business opportunities arise, doors form where brick walls once were. Magic occurs and it’s your hands the wand is in.

So how do you find your way into this flowing state of being where your livelihood and passion collides?

It’s simple.

Follow your heart.

If you follow money, you will spend your life counting cash. The desperate desire to become a financial success will inform your decisions, tarnish your relationships and eat away at your creativity and flare. You’ll start pinching pennies and stop the flow of energy (that is money) towards you. Never forget: you have to give to get. Follow your heart, do what it is you are really meant to do with your time on this earth and the money will come naturally.

If you follow your parent’s path, you will spend your life picking up the pieces of someone else’s unfinished dream. Follow your heart and you will find your own path. Yes there will be twists and turns, potholes and speed bumps, but it will be yours to follow. You will make your own mistakes, your own discoveries and you will dance the whole way through.

If you follow the path laid out for you by society, you could spend your entire life living as a cookie cutter minion. You’ll have the house, the car, the suit, the paycheck and the instructions on how to put it all together. Follow your heart and you will carve your own existence. Maybe it’s not what you expected it to be, maybe you’re not married by the age of 30, maybe you retire before you even reach the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. Dare to live life different.

I came to Sri Lanka to deepen my yoga practice and find my way as a starting out yoga teacher. Two years later and I find myself running my own dream guesthouse and yoga space. Everyday I live in my flow and feel immensely fulfilled sharing this magic with others.

So go on and get out there, follow your heart and find your flow.

Camilla Marsh

Owner and Founder of Mamma Shanti Retreat Center, Ella, Sri Lanka

www.mammashanti.com

 

Guest writer
Camilla Marsh, Soul Mamma of Mamma Shanti Retreat Center
.
Life is full of magic, if we only open our eyes to see and our senses to perceive. It’s in
the fireflies that dance with the stars in the night, incense that sweetens the scent of
temples, the soft echo of chanting across the lush mountainside, energy of one
hundred years imbued in a tree… Mamma Shanti is my proof that magic is real.
.
My name is Camilla, and I’m the soul mamma of Mamma Shanti – a unique retreat
space and guest house in the tea tangled foothills of Ella, Sri Lanka. Since starting my
travels in 2015, I’d been on a mission to help others make their dreams come true.
Until one day, I asked myself what my own biggest and most daring dream was. How
could I truly help others live their best life if I hadn’t first reached the other side?
.
So I got going with my biggest manifestation yet…
.
Sitting in a lakeside treehouse, in Kandy, Sri Lanka, as the stars mingled in the waters
below and the sky above, a word drifted into my conscience:
.
Mamma Shanti.
.
It was a message echoing in the silence around me, and I was ready to listen. The
more I pondered on it, the more illumination I received, and an idea started forming in
my mind.
.
After two years of travelling, it was time for me to pursue my purpose for being on this
planet – to help others be as happy and as peaceful as they possibly can be, and live
as the grandest version of themselves.
.
Since a young age I’d believed in magic. 29 years on and not much has changed.
Except that now I know it’s real. It’s not make-believe. And my holistic retreat space is
my own personal proof that life can be whatever you want it to be.
.
You can have anything you want.
You can be happy.
Life can be an incredible journey.
.
It’s all a matter of choice, being clear in what you want and then believing it’s already
yours. Mamma Shanti is my way of sharing my magic with the world.
.
I invite everyone who crosses our threshold to experience a different way of being, a
different way of experiencing, a different way of living. If only for a night, a couple of
days or even a few weeks, to live fully immersed in the healing energy of nature, to
take time to reconnect to earth and yourself, to switch off from the system and plug in
to your soul.
.
With a warm welcome to our paradise,
Camilla Marsh
.
.
.
Will’s last word – It’s inspiring for us to see that there are others out there putting in the hard work of making their dreams come alive. We met Camilla this winter and she is further proof that the shift is upon us. Life is short y’all, live intentionally!
.
To see more of Mamma Shanti, click here to visit their website and Facebook page

A Day at the Suan

It’s 5:30am and the light is barely starting to peek through the clouds,
depending on the season.

A loud vibration is sounding outside the walls of your bamboo living space. And even though you’re supposed to be on holidays, it feels oddly satisfying to get up this early knowing it’s with good reason – the health and well being of the soul. The comfiest bed you’ve slept on in Asia, maybe even in your life, is easy to leave for the day.

You brush your teeth and walk to the big house, up the stairs to the yoga shala. The mats have been mindfully set out by whomever is leading the class. You grab an extra cushion from the prop room so your hips can sit higher than your knees, allowing a comfortable sit through the morning meditation. The ring of a singing bowl starts practice.

Two hours later, the same sound awakens the class from savasana. We all sit up together and reflect. The tone has been set for the most […] of days. Insert whatever adjective you want it to be, it’s your own day to move through however you wish.

Walking down the stairs into the dining area, the kitchen angels have done it again. A luscious spread is laid of tropical fruit straight from the garden (the suan) or the local market. And waffles. Can’t forget the waffles. They never do. And chocolate sauce?! Are you sure this is vegan?!?! We assure you, it is.

The day is so ripe with possibility.

Read a book from the spiritual section of the library?
Attend the daily workshop?
Or have a creative romp at the ever abundant art table.

Define your “why” upon arrival.

Know why you’re here, and it will be easier to make those decisions.

But really, any choice you make will enrich your life in some way.

The flavors of lunch waft around the big house as 1:00 approaches. Meals around here are… bountiful. Plant-based local Thai cuisine, which is hardly easy to find anywhere else, mounds the dining table as we all gather to ground before diving into the pot of green curry.

Laughs are shared while washing up, and the idea of a nap in a hammock arises. Seems fitting as the jungle heat creeps in or an afternoon rainstorm rolls over the sky.

4:00 already? Well, 3:45 as the gong sounds for the afternoon session. Mmmm, this one is going to be delicious. Something slow and juicy to wind down the day.

Followed by dinner, it feels like much of what we do around here is eat. It’s where good conversation really happens, over that plate of stir fried veg and sticky rice.

Maybe there’s a movie afterwards or an ecstatic dance or a jam session with all of the instruments laying around. It’s okay if you don’t know how to play, just make noise with something. The fun is in the collaboration.

We all retire to bed, exhausted from the day and shocked that it’s only 9:30. We’re so used to staying up much later in our regular lives.

There’s just something about the jungle that gets us in tune with our natural rhythm…

Come find out what yours looks like in the Garden of Mindfulness.

 

Words by Kelsey Stratton

What is presence

this gift of time and space?
The taste of the breeze and the smell of the trees
and the waltz of the earth and bare feet.
Thoughts ago, gone.
Ahead, left for then.
It’s the moment of bliss
amongst the madness of else.
And the awareness to recognize the difference.
The feel of the sun
when the mind drifts
as it does.
And how do we practice
this miracle of life?
As our Baba
Ram Dass advises:
be here,
now.

 

 

Dancing with Balance:

Expansion + Integration

 

Whether traveling or stationary,

we’re constantly out in the world.

Experiencing new things.

Intaking the energy being thrown at us.

 

Bombarded through the day with messages.

Sometimes we hear them, sometimes they pass by.

And the day goes on into the next one.

 

Without reflection or processing,

we let it all get stuck in our energy field.

 

How many times have you been

 

OMG SO INSPIRED

 

by something in one moment,

only to turn around an continue on with life,

letting the fire pass through with the moment in time.

 

There’s so much opportunity in the world.

A raw reflection for us to learn about ourselves through the global mirror.

(At a spiritual level, isn’t that the point of our human existence?)

 

We see it and do it and move on with our lives to the next.

 

The only way to find the full range of of expansion is through the balance of integration.

 

A practice of sitting down and contextualizing the process of learning into our own experience.

Alchemizing the lesson to fit into our backpack of wander.

 

There’s a fine balance, easily tipped in the midst of hostel bunks and extraordinary scenery before we hop on the overnight bus en route to the next trek.

 

In the space to sit with ourselves and process our encounters,

we breathe life into what resonate with our purpose

and let the rest pass.  Lightening our load by carrying only what serves us.

 

In summation, we’re always out there in the world.

Gathering information and inspiration.

But unless we do something with that, we become hoarders of our experience.

We must transform them.  Construct something with what we’ve learned.

 

How is it that you choose to integrate the practice of living?

 

MINDFUL TRAVEL

 

Dear Diary,

 

Today I realized I would really like to deepen my connection to the moment.

 

xoxo

 

The poet r.m. drake said,

 

“you have to find that place

that brings out the human in you,

the soul in you, the love in you.”

 

Suay, chai mai?

(Beautiful, isn’t it? as we say in Thai)

 

So where is this place?

As travelers, we go all around the world looking for it.

Searching far off lands in quest of… something.

 

A view so profound we can carry the memory of it through our entire lives and be at peace knowing it exists in the world. An experience so life altering, it just might lead us to the trajectory of the rest of our lives.  The path of our true calling that we just can’t grasp without perspective.

 

We put a pin on the map and stuff our backpacks and declare,

 

“Farewell, I’m on a journey.”

 

By bus and train and motorbike and boat, we drift around. Taking in the wonder of foreign scenery, adopting new cultural norms, engaging with people from all around the world on the same path of magnificent exploration.

 

And we have these moments of pure bliss and faux pas and horror at our sleeping arrangements in the budget hostel and absolute peace sitting in the sand after dipping our toes in the ocean, like nothing else in the world could ever matter other than this moment in time.

 

And what about that time we were so ignited we almost quit our jobs to pursue an idea with the passion fuming from our hearts?

 

In his short film titled “The Existential Bummer”,  Jason Silva describes his feelings on transience:

 

“I do not accept the ephemeral nature of this moment,

and I’m going to extend it forever, or at least I’m going to try.”

 

So, how do we do this?  How do we take all the pieces of everything and everyone we have loved along the way, all that we have absorbed through the pores of our soul and even begin to take it from head through heart?

 

First we grab a pen.

And a piece of paper.

 

And we kindly say to the ego, “Thank you for the help, but this is not for you to censor,”

 

and we let it flow from head to heart.

 

We let our story wash through every crack that’s been held together and take a ride to the one true place left pristine in the world:  within, to our internal landscape.

 

Among the trekking boots and cameras and travel yoga mats and water filters and first aid kits and all the things we carry, a space to record our true experience is our most imperative tool we can use to hold the spark.

 

Travel journaling.

 

Because this life is the story we tell ourselves.

The movie we watch as a third party observer.

 

Which is what makes traveling is so… interesting.  It breaks all that is routine and gets us out of our place of comfort and makes us face something unknown and shows us that there is so much more to the human experience than the boxes we unconsciously confine ourselves to.

 

And with just a pen and piece of paper, we are empowered to craft the plot.  To curate the crescendo and orchestrate the audience.  We see the light of perspective and alter according to our wishes.

 

Because even the best of experiences can go numb if we don’t give them room to breathe, and it’s in the sharing of our stories that we grow from the inside out.  Even if we’re the only ones to read them.

 

And finally we realize, the real journey is within.

Sometimes it just takes a world of distraction to understand.

 

Rumi : The Guest House

 

This being human is a guesthouse

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you our

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them all at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each guest has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Like asana and mediation, yoga extends to the practice of life.

That’s really all this is.  A practice of the human experience.

 

Think about one event or moment in life that felt really terrible.  Like, the worst.

Does it still feel that way?

Acknowledge one way in which it changed your life for the better.

 

One of the highest vibrations of the human experience we can encounter is gratitude.

Life happens.  It’s how we respond to it that defines our reality.

And if we truly trust in the process of life happening in our favor,

every moment holds a magical opportunity.

 

Tools of Harmony

 

The Garden of Mindfulness:

a pin on the map at the intersection of yoga + permaculture known as Suan Sati.

 

A plot of land developed with intention: to make steady changes in the world, one step, person and breath at a time.

 

“Little actions turn into a big movement… a change in consciousness.”

 

Explains Pee Will (Big Brother Will),

the man with a vision who turned it into action to make a place in the world for people to grow while giving back to the land.

 

A place to balance all the doing of life by just being.

Abhyasa and vairagya, the yogis call it.  Effort and surrender.

 

So how does the practice of movement and meditation translate to working with the land?

 

In more ways than not.

 

Yoga means union, to yoke or to join.

Permaculture is a practice in living harmonically.

 

One with the Self, one with the Earth.

As above, so below.

 

 

Both concepts a tool for continued development through awareness, reflection and intention.

 

“Same, same”

Thai people would say.

 

Robert Swan explains,

 

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else is going to save it.”

 

Same goes for ourselves as individuals.

 

When we develop questions in our lives, some kind of deep seated conditioning has made led us to believe that the last person to know the answer to our question is the person who asked it in the first place.

 

As Rumi exhibits though,

 

“Why are you knocking at every other door?

Go, knock at the  door of your own heart.”

 

How do we make a change in the world?

We start local.

 

We sit with our hearts and listen to the answer.

We sit in the garden and let it tell the story.

 

As within, so without.
Peace in our hearts, peace in the world.

 

Om Shanti.

Kelsey

 

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