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

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



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,



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




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?




Dear Diary,


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




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.





Well Suan Sati Family, I’ve been looking at this blog feature for a few months now and decided to give it a go finally. I want to share how things are going here, and where we’re headed in the future.

We have officially been open since January, and we have experienced some big ups and downs. Overall, we have emerged from the fires of starting a new venture unscathed, and are doing quite well. In January when we opened, I had no idea of what to expect, or how to manage a project like this. I was making nearly everything up as I went along. We adjusted our schedule many times, how we served meals, who cooked those meals, the volunteer program, where Lisa and I slept (everywhere at least once!), and there has been a constantly changing cast of characters. Things have gradually settled down, and the land is looking better every day. The rains have come early and the land is greening up again after a relatively mild hot season. We’ve recently finished construction of a new volunteer accommodation for visiting teachers, a roof over our dining area, and some roofing over a few small sections of the showers. The garden is looking much improved thanks to our permaculture loving friends Ian and Sasha along with many others who have come to lend a hand. Thanks to help from my Thai big sister Pee Ohn, our systems are running quite smoothly now including the kitchen, housekeeping, and overall property management.

Next month, we’re excited to play host to a yoga Teacher Training Course led by Dali Dhamma of Buddho Yoga, a friend and fellow practitioner of Therevadan Buddhism. October will see us hosting another TTC by Buddho Yoga which we decided to run after seeing the overwhelming interest that the first one drew. We’re completely booked out, congratulations Dali!

While we are enjoying operating like a yoga guesthouse, we would like to transition to hosting our own retreats this upcoming high season. Our popularity is building at a sufficient rate that I feel confident that we could be successful. The reason we didn’t start like this is to be able to capture as many potential guests as possible. In other words, someone who could only come on a Tuesday for 3 nights, as opposed to saying everyone comes on a Sunday and leaves on a Friday. I could foresee still using this model at times, but I also find it rewarding to go through a retreat together as a group from start to finish. This enable us to build relationships over the course of a retreat, the students can become gently familiarized with our style of teaching, and we can watch students grow during the course of the retreat. I could see how it could get old repeating the same instructions over and over, but we do that several times a week at this point anyways. I think that the students could get more out of the teaching team with a scheduled plan to deliver teachings sequentially and tailored to each group. Look out for Suan Sati 6 day retreats starting this November!

The balance for Suan Sati will likely be to host private events for 4 months per year, run Suan Sati branded retreats 4-5 months per year, and to operate like a guesthouse the remaining months. We will stay open and flexible to whatever the market will bear, and I’m personally excited to watch the growth over the rest of 2017.

Thanks for reading our inaugural state of the union address, and stay tuned for what’s next here in the Garden of Mindfulness 🙂