I used to wait and want for a lot of things.
I longed for adulthood as a kid; was painfully impatient about growing out my bangs; always seeking that next thing, waiting for the chips to fall.
I always believed that veering left or right would bring me to a better path, but what a robbery that existence is.
While here, I’ve learned how little value we place on right now and how much (perhaps too much) we place on the shiny future. And how when we’re outside of our comfort zone, or stagnant, we tend to move to get away from the discomfort. As Pema Chodron so eloquently put:
“Scrambling for security has never brought anything but momentary joy. It’s like changing the position of our legs in meditation. Our legs hurt from sitting cross-legged, so we move them. And then we feel, “Phew! What a relief!” But two and a half minutes later, we want to move them again. We keep moving around seeking pleasure, seeking comfort, and the satisfaction that we get is very short-lived.”
The resolution we get when we shift to find comfort or peace or success only lasts so long. And then we find ourselves right back where we were: in the right now. In the present.
But being present is hard. Being present requires looking at what has happened with peace and looking at what’s to come with no assumptions.
So if you’re searching for peace through waiting, longing, or avoidance, stop. Try to enjoy just where you find yourself and I promise you’ll find it.
[This post will explore my experience at Escape Haven: the grounds, yoga, food, and spa.]
Whether it was jet lag or excitement, I woke with the sun nearly morning (my villa was the first one shown above). And nearly every morning, a soft rain would briefly soak the grounds, the perfect accompaniment to a slow start: a hot shower; a chapter of a good book; a cup of ginger tea.
At 7:30, we would meet in the shala for meditation and yoga. And with only four of us in the yoga program, we got a very hands-on, individually-catered experience. The sessions made up three hours of each day, and we explored a combination of meditation, pranayama, yin, and vinyasa flows. Over the course of the week, while I was offered physical lessons and adjustments, the classes brought more life lessons and adjustments.
It’s hard to explain without it sounding fluffy, but the combination of the environment, the culture, the instructors, and sharing an intimate practice with strangers who became friends deepened my love for yoga in a profound way.
After the morning yoga session, we’d dig into a breakfast buffet which was a different assortment everyday of eggs, fresh bread from a local bakery (gluten free, as well), fritters, pancakes, smoothie bowls, fresh fruit and juices, sautéed spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes, muesli, oatmeal, you name it.
They also had the best coffee you’ve ever tasted—made with heavy coconut cream. I’ve tried coconut milk creamers back at home, but this is nothing compared to that. It’s 100% pure, thick, sweet coconut cream—no sweeteners, preservatives, fillers.
After breakfast, we were given the whole afternoon to do absolutely whatever we wanted. Built into the retreat price is 90 minutes of spa treatments daily—reiki, deep tissue massage, head massage, hair masque, facial, body scrub, whatever you wanted, really. It was such a luxury. So typically I’d head to a treatment just after breakfast.
On most days when I didn’t head into town to explore, I’d spend the afternoons reading and listening to music by the pool just outside of my villa which I was happily surprised to find totally private most days. The majority of the group was either out surfing or had rooms in the other villa where there was another, more public pool.
So this pool and the cabanas and loungers were all mine most of the time. I had never been on a tropical vacation where there weren’t swarms of people around at all times—fighting for chairs, offering you drinks, selling you necklaces—so it truly felt like an escape. I had to just sit up and look around sometimes, dumbfounded at how quiet and secluded it was.
If you wanted to kick it with the group, the other villa’s pool was where it was at—complete with a pink swan floatie, a great sound system, hanging chairs and daybeds.
Going into this retreat, the only question mark I had was who else would be there: Would I get along with them? Would we have things in common? Would I be the only solo traveler?
I’m a very independent person. I like to do things my own way, by myself and for myself. But the other women ended up being a significant part of why the week was so transformative.
Experiencing growth while getting to know a group of strangers showed me how much there is to be gained from the energy of others when you allow yourself to receive. And just having pals to hang poolside and share music with was nice in itself.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I won’t go into detail about each new friend and their respective experiences and stories, but it was special being in an environment of no holds barred. Some women opened up, others preferred to listen. There were no expectations to become friends, and you never felt forced into group activities. But it’d be impossible to not gain something from each person you encounter over the course of the week. The very nature of the place brings it on naturally.
Next week, I’ll dive into my experiences offsite, specifically sharing about Canggu (which I fell in love with, hard) and Ubud (amazing for completely opposite reasons).