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