I whole-heartedly believe that some meetings are intended long before physical bodies are ever introduced. That an invisible thread of connection encourages certain souls to be gracefully guided to each other at a specific place and time without any effort or force. And, it seems to me, the moment these magical encounters occur, the lives and direction of the beings involved is forever altered. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born.
It was with the highest of spirits and the fullest of hearts that Rosie and I boarded the overnight bus for our ten-hour journey south to Paksong, Thailand. Having received countless positive reviews from guests following our Spring Yoga Retreat in Chanthaburi the week prior, we were both radiating happiness and riding the high of such a transformative experience with such amazing humans.
A virtual invitation had come months prior from an eco-resort owner close to the Andaman Sea who had discovered our Whole & Happy Retreat site on social media. She believed her space would be conducive to host a yoga retreat and felt that, in seeing the space, we would likely agree. I briefly scanned the resort’s website in a cautious effort to ensure we weren’t being led down a dark rabbit hole, and proceeded to set up dates to visit without any expectation.
And, it’s precisely what happened next that acts as a beautiful reminder to me to continue to live on this path of “yes”. A road that, at times, can be slightly uncomfortable for my mind, who fears the unknown, but more often than not leads me to exactly where I need to be. It was within this complete release of expectation, that I gave myself the greatest gift of all; the opportunity to be both surprised and awed by the people, places, and experiences that presented themselves right in front of me. Never failing to notice how generously the universe takes care of me when I simply surrender to what Is.
Within the first moments walking up the driveway to Eco-Logic Resort for Charity, I knew this place held within it a thousand tiny sparks of possibility. It was one of those indescribable feelings of ‘coming home’ to a house and family whom I had not yet been acquainted, but instinctively knew I adored. Despite our slightly-tarnished outward appearance from hours spent in transit, Rosie and I were greeted with warm embraces and affectionate smiles from most everyone we met. And within a matter of minutes, we were blissfully sipping fresh cocoa-banana shakes and being adorned with welcome blessings and knotted bracelets from the playful, loving staff.
As I looked around the restaurant and common area with wide-eyes, I couldn’t help but feel the majesty of my new environment. Every detail of the space was impressive; the panorama of lush rainforest, the comfy lounge chairs overlooking the jungle canopy, and all the smells and sounds that accompany being completely removed from fast-paced city life and immersed within nature. As we made our way past the mosaic fire pit and down the pathway to our riverside room, Rosie and I exchanged glances of astonishment. I could tell that she, too, had not predicted such wonder.
My absolute favourite thing about our quiet accommodation had little to do with the waterfront view, the woven hammock outside our wooden door, or the canopy bed that made me feel a little bit like a princess. No, for me, it was all about the outdoor shower; providing open air bathing that allowed me wake each morning to experience a freshness and aliveness that I haven’t felt in months.
It wasn’t until I partook in a tour of the grounds with the charming resort host, Tien, that I began to truly appreciate Eco-Logic and all that this remarkable project does to improve the lives of children in rural Thailand. Ingrid, the welcoming resort owner, has put her whole heart into this operation; selflessly donating 100% of the lodge profits to the Thai Child Development Fund. Every corner of the grounds brought with it an exciting opportunity to learn, grow, and cultivate a deeper respect for both nature and culture. We sampled fresh produce from the organic garden, visited the vibrant chicken coop, saw mushrooms growing in the hot house, toured the on-site school and art centre, pet ponies as they grazed by the river, and wandered a quaint pathway of natural clay homes that were built as part of a sustainable housing education project. There’s no denying this place was pure magic! And, even in these early moments, something inside my being felt a strong desire to share it with everyone I knew and loved.
For all the things that I found so wondrous within the resort and it’s surroundings, it was truly the Angels that I met at the lodge that made my experience so life-altering. A network of shiny, happy souls that chose to rise in lifting each other up. People committed to making this planet a better place and, perhaps unknowingly, enriching the lives of all those they touch just by simply Being.
The next five days proceeded to pass both incredibly fast and surprisingly slow all at once. Mornings began with peaceful yoga practice in the waterfront sala, afternoons were filled with Thai language classes, light-hearted banter, and quiet hammock naps. Delicious farm-to-table meals were enjoyed as a family at a table free of cell-phones and rich with conversation. Golden sunsets blended into warm evenings spent under a starry sky by the campfire where we relished in the days adventures and indulged in a few too many beers. I went to bed every night (sometimes early morning) with a head full of knowledge and a heart full of love. And it was in these moments of fullness before I closed my tired eyelids that I developed a new practice for myself; quietly laying within my canopied bed and thanking my lucky stars for everything I had been so graciously given that day.
One sunshiney morning we embarked as a group on a day-trip to visit the remote islands off the Andaman coast. I never could have imagined that the thirty-minute transfers to and from the pier would prove to be the most special hour of my entire day. Tears of bliss welled within my eyes as I took a moment to witness ten strangers-turned-family sitting together in the back of a truck singing “I Will Survive” in perfectly imperfect unison! The songs kept coming, followed by ice-cold Chang beers, and before long the infectious sound of laughter filled the entire truck-bed.
This isn’t to say that the islands weren’t breath-takingly beautiful. That swimming in the warm, turquoise-blue water, picnicking on the white sand beach, and playing “rock, paper, scissors” (in an effort to distract ourselves from the choppiness of a stormy long-tail boat ride back to mainland) aren’t memories I will hold dearly close to me forever. But it seems to me that the real gifts aren’t found in things, or even places, but within the unique heartbeats I meet and fall in love with along the way.
Our final afternoon together concluded with an abundance workshop. Something I didn’t know I needed, but left me relishing in my own ability to accomplish everything I’ve ever dreamt of alongside a partner I admire so fully. As I sat there and looked at the glowing faces around that long wooden table, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was exactly where I needed to be, surrounded by exactly who I needed to be with; an inspiring community of lighthouses that refuse to allow me to play small with my life.
I’m not sure Rosie and I ever had the formal business-minded conversation about whether or not we would run a retreat at Eco-Logic; it was just something we both knew with certainty we must do. If this space could do for others what it did for us, than it was our responsibility to share it with the world. And, in the spirit of saying “yes” to opportunities that feel right and promote a life of purpose, our next Whole & Happy adventure ensues. Join us for a week-long eco-conscious yoga, meditation, and mindfulness retreat at Eco-Logic Resort for Charity. Experience the tidal wave of happiness that can enters ones’ life as a result of being in nature and providing to those in need. After all, it’s within the selfless act of giving that one opens their heart to abundantly receive.
**Schedule, pricing and availability can be found on our website: Whole & Happy Retreat