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Celebrating our 17th Anniversary
17 years ago this June, Stipe and I got the stamp of approval from the Croatian court to open our holistic retreat business. At the time, we could not have imagined the incredible consistent effort that would be required to get us where we are today, but what drove us was a vision to live a certain lifestyle together and to have the opportunity to share that lifestyle with others. Our dedication to the vision was the driving force behind our emergence as market leaders. Over these past 17 years, we have miraculously managed to keep riding through the barrel of life's gigantic wave, not hitting peak nor trough by keeping a clear, heart-centered focus while surrendering ourselves in body and spirit to the flow of life and Divine guidance. In retrospect, it seems that our consistent, heart-driven trust and persistence has enabled us not only to survive but also thrive despite our humble, shoe-string budget beginnings, in spite of the devastating stock market crash of 2008, regardless the dreadful Islandic volcanic eruption that disrupted much of European travel during the summer of 2010, and irrespective of the European austerity crisis that hit Croatia hard till the end of 2014... On my 44th birthday in September 2014, we were in for a BIG surprise and discovered that a little soul was on the way to rock our world forevermore! During the months leading up to the big event, we had to restructure our entire business and trust in our ability to navigate successfully through the unknown. We must have been doing something right because we not only survived but continued yet again to thrive, despite the immense pressures and challenges of those very busy days, by entering into multiple collaborations with heart-centered visiting teachers from around the world who helped carry the vision forward together with us. We can not express how grateful we are to each and every member of our amazing team who has helped us carry the torch over these past 5 years! And here we are in 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, riding the wave still. We took March and April to contemplate our steps forward and, in response to the situation, adjusted our calendar, packages, and pricing to better meet the times. We also prepared our space to be in adherence with the recommended safety standards in order to conduct retreat safely for those who are in need, and we furthermore set up new ways in which to share our toolkit with the world remotely... yet another massive leap of faith forward into the mass expanse of internet ether. Throughout March, April and May, I conducted a series of Facebook Live moments, streaming impromptu Satsangs, nature immersion tours, and Sadhana sessions that included yoga asana flows, pranayama and mudra practices and hand-picked meditations that I felt could help empower others through those very scary days, weeks and months. Then in June, we conducted a series of pre-announced, 30-minute Soothing Saturday Meditation Sessions via Zoom and Facebook Live. And we are currently working behind the scenes on a daily basis to create a range of online courses and virtual weekend retreats that can be experienced from the safety and comfort of home. Boy, it's been a busy 17 years!!! Suncokret is a love story that has always been about fulfilling our highest potential as a couple and as retreat hosts, and now, as a family unit. But beyond our little universe, its mission has always been to provide both the physical space as well as the spiritual space for sharing a holistic lifestyle toolkit to support mind-body-spirit awakening for individuals on the path to personal transformation, self-realization, and harmony with oneself and the Oneness of life. In this "Corona Age", (or Crown Chakra Age), it is more vital than ever to raise your vibration and merge your awareness with Universal wisdom, understanding, compassion, and guidance in order to navigate the waves of the times. We are certain that our rich and diverse offerings, both at the retreat and online, will help you to awaken and strengthen the Sage Warrior within. We are firm in our commitment to continue to empower you to embody your own strength, courage, and wisdom so that you, too, can follow your highest inner vision and so that together, as a global community of lightworkers and spiritually-awakened path walkers, we can ride the waves of the Aquarian Age smoothly, as one advanced tribe, together keeping focus on Aquarian-Age values of community, caring, sharing, loving and supporting one another through the pathway of service and in the name of the higher good of all. Thanks again to each and every one of you for being a part of the Suncokret dream; we hope to see you whenever you feel the soul call to join us for a transformational body, mind, soul experience here on Hvar, or perhaps from the comfort of your own little home oasis! Love, peace, and light, Evening Marie #suncokretexperience #spiritualawakening #bodymindsoulretreat #aquarianage #reachyourhighestpotential#keystomanifestation#createyourdestiny#suncokretevents#suncokretworkshops#suncokretexperience#holisticlifestyle#spiritualawakening#spiritualjourney#lovelife#joy#reiki#empowerment#lifepathawakening#bodyandsoulretreat#yoga#yogaretreat#chakralifemapping#chakrayoga#Croatiafulloflife#HvarIsland#natureretreat#bodymindsoul
One Thing Leads to Another in the Labyrinth of Dream-Manifestation
Before I share with my thoughts about our newest retreat event program, "From a Mess to Your Best in 28 Days" I wanted to shed light onto how our newest team member, Kristina Pejovski, entered my life as a volunteer and is coming back to Suncokret as a co-hosting events teacher; a true-to-life, repeating example of how one thing always leads to another in this beautiful and mysterious labyrinth of a dream-manifestation-life I am living. Kristina contacted us in March 2020 with a request to volunteer. We were a few weeks into the lockdowns caused by the newly announced global pandemic and for the first time in over a decade, we were facing uncertainty about our future, specifically whether we would be able to host retreat or not. As the only means of income for our family, this was a very stressful time for us, to say the least. Having a volunteer with a skill set that varies from mine as the Program Manager and Senior Yoga Teacher and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, Resident Healer, and de facto Office Manager, Website Builder, Social Media publisher, etc. is always welcome. We have had several volunteers in the past and, the most important one prior to 2020 was the 2017 and 2018 summer collaborations with Andrea Diaz. Andrea is a Columbian-born marketing expert (and tech wiz) who was interested in exploring the ins and outs of the yoga retreat marketing business in Europe, while enjoying the benefits of staying at a retreat in Croatia during the heavenly summer months. Collaborating with Andrea was an amazing experience. Andrea got us up to speed with many important facets of running a small business, helping us migrate our initial domain to our current website host, importing years of contacts into a mailing list and setting up a newsletter system for us to go forward with, opening an Instagram account and helping us understand how to post in a way that was meaningful for our followers, including the use of hashtags! She also took lots of photos to help build our media kit. She helped us set up Facebook ads and run them. She also recorded a few instructional videos of me and the team to add to the newly created "Member Zone" on our website that she insisted we have. Content building was key to business success in the Social Media Age, she claimed, and this is the main takeaway I got from Andrea before she decided to relocate back to South America. We have been missing Andrea ever since her departure and dreaming of ways to bring her back... but that's a story for the future. Back to winter 2019-20, without Andrea to help, I was doing the full time office work required to set the wheels in motion for the upcoming season and drowning in a string of tasks that just felt impossible to manage on my own. I kept lamenting to my husband, Stipe, "I need an assistant, I really need an assistant. I need Andrea back!" But how to hire Andrea, or anyone else for that matter, with the pandemic preventing our only income source from flowing? You know, there is this old saying that when a wish is really authentic, when it comes from the heart, has a potentially positive-outcome for all, and you can visualize it coming to life, the Universe co-conspires to manifest this vision it into reality. And that's when the Universe sent Kristina Pejovski our way. Hallelujah! Kristina was based in Zagreb at the time, so in addition to dealing with the harsh lockdowns facing most of us in Europe, she also had to endure the mass destruction and emotional devastation caused by the March 22nd earthquake. I was hesitant even to enter into a discussion with Kristina about volunteering, as I was very much aware that having an additional mouth to feed and body to house during a time when our very own survival was at stake was a risky move. But I figured there was no harm in having a discussion with her before saying yes or no... My first chat with Kristina lasted about 2 hours! Yes, 2 hours! That's because we hit it off instantly and on several fronts, laughing our way through the absurdity of the times, sharing whole-heartedly our personal, professional, and pandemic-related challenges and more. Speaking with Kristina was like talking to an old, dear friend, and the idea of having her around even in the midst of the total chaos of the times seemed more comforting than demanding. So after agreeing upon a few mutually-agreeable co-working and co-living conditions, Kristina packed her bags and set sail for Hvar, and we spent 3 wonderful months together supporting one another's movement in the direction of our individual dreams and goals. In addition to being a wonderful person to be around, Kristina helped me launch a regular 3-month social media campaign (something I really dislike doing on my own), she assisted me in launching a free meditation series via Facebook live, she helped me record a background video series related to various event programs we host as well as the many holistic services we offer at the retreat. Kristina was also instrumental in helping me coordinate online team meetings and online events. She also helped create and develop new program content I was interested in adding to new affiliate websites that would help Suncokret reposition and expand into new markets. Her writing skills are exemplary and her keen mind, extensive knowledge in all things holistic, and enthusiasm to explore new avenues and bounce ideas around with was most helpful and inspirational, indeed! I treated Kristina to Bioenergy therapy (which she needed for several minor but nagging well being issues) in exchange for being the model in a demonstration video I wanted to create for our website (which I have yet to publish, but promise to do so soon) that shows what a typical Bioenergy therapy session looks like. And, in exchange for undergoing the Life Path Awakening workshop (which I wanted to gift Kristina as the most valuable tool I could offer any person who is in the midst of a major life transformation process), Kristina agreed to help me migrate it from it's boring Microsoft word document format into a much more stylized e-book version (soon to be launched as part of an e-course that will be made available through my website this coming autumn). All this, within a 3-month timespan, while simultaneously helping out with the day-to-day operational aspects of running the retreat. Now, that was a fruitful collaboration, to say the least! Alas, toward the end of the summer, we were expecting a full house of guests from Germany and, because of limited space at the retreat, on top of the growing concern regarding the epidemiological situation in Europe and freedom of movement between borders as a result and how that would affect Kristina's nomadic lifestyle, we had established that Kristina would depart by the end of August in order to make space for the coming group and to ensure that her freedom of movement would not be restricted as she continued to roam the world in search of her next nest in which to dream and grow. Sadly, the "full house of guests" manifested as less than a handful due to the worsening Covid-situation in Croatia at that time, which really was a bummer as we had already said bon voyage to our wonderful volunteer to make space for the group, and now I was back to managing office work on my own - ugh! - and missing Kristina, whose energy and contributions I had grown accustomed to having around, both on a professional as well as personal level. Since her departure, Kristina and I have been keeping in touch regularly. As with most of my bioenergy recipients and “Life-Pathers,” I have been keeping tabs on her progress in terms of her wellbeing status and especially her ability to manifest her dream life, the vision she came up with as a result of Life Path Awakening. All the while, I was simultaneously thinking of ways to have Kristina come back, not just as a “volunteer assistant,” but, more importantly, as the highly-skilled contributor she has proven herself to be who should be recognized and rewarded for the unique gifts she brings to the world, and who should have the right platform to offer them in. After all, this is what we have been doing with our hand-picked team for years! In fact, most of our co-hosting teachers first visited Suncokret as event participants, many of whom underwent a profound transformational experience as a direct or indirect result of their visit, only to return to the retreat, in a full-circle sort of way, as both a program leader and as a living example of how a retreat at Suncokret can impact one's personal growth and ability to re-envision and manifest positive life outcomes related to their Sat Dharma. And so, after spending several months this winter working solo to refresh the look and feel of the Suncokret website, repositioning ourselves on the market as a “holistic lifestyle experience” and not just a "body and soul retreat," fine-tuning our mission message, and expanding our core services to include online as well as local initiatives (which I actually launched this past November), I finally got around to refreshing and repackaging our events into 3 major event categories: 1.) Signature Programs 2.) Featured Events with Guest Teachers and 3.) Lifestyle Empowerment Programs, all of which you can check out here. In accordance with the times, I also felt a strong urge to share my own unique holistic lifestyle makeover story as a means to inspire others' personal growth experience, and it occurred to me that it was high time to develop my staple, two-week Lifestyle Empowerment Programs, the "Heal Your Life" and "Find Your Purpose" events, into an expanded experience that would not only help people do the above, but move two steps further, specifically: 1. define, on a professional level, what they would really like to do and achieve through a meaningful life project (and figure out which skills they need or already possess in order to accomplish this) 2. offer a realistic, step-by-step business-branding & strategy process in order to launch that project into the world, in real time, before they leave the retreat. In the Covid-age, when so many of us are facing the effects of change that have been quite suddenly and with no end in sight thrust upon us, I can think of no better time to use this moment as an opportunity to give birth to something that is deeper alignment with who we have become and the legacy we want to leave behind for the next generations to come. And that is what this expanded, 4-week, Life Empowerment Training, "From a Mess to Your Best in 28 Days” event is about. Isn’t it amazing how one thing leads to another?! As a person who build a company out of what felt like thin air (including having a shoe-string budget of only 3000 euros to start, no technology to help me - I didn't even own a personal computer or smartphone at the time! - a skeleton of a house, not yet a home and certainly not a dedicated retreat space to conduct my small business from) - all I really had was a personal healing journey under my belt and a vision to share that self-empowering, life-enhancing experience with others, and a "vision" that was actually more of a feeling than an actual plan of action about what I wanted to create and how to get it done. All these years, I have continued to “feel my way through” this labyrinth of a journey called life and allow instinct and passion to lead me as guides, and, as a result of not having certain business know-how prior to starting my own business, I have fumbled along the way and perhaps not gotten as far as I could have, had I been equipped with more of those nifty self-starter tools from the get go. I’m not complaining, as it seems I really benefit from going through personal growth experiences, one step at a time, and gaining firsthand knowledge from them the hard way. Of course, I really do wonder sometimes how much easier and strait-forward it would have been to be successful as an entrepreneur had I had a mentor or guide or partner familiar with the business of setting up and building and running a business! Alas, I was a pioneer, setting out to do something no one had ever done before in Croatia or along the entire Adriatic coast.... I was a foreign woman, opening up a holistic healing retreat center in a very Catholic place whose main populous considered yoga to be an anti-catholic activity at best and Reiki to be outright witchcraft! No wonder I have kept a low-profile locally all this time, though, of course, times and attitudes have come a long way since 2004. Ironically, back then, I didn't even have the vocabulary to describe what I was doing. The words "holistic" and "retreat" were not yet part of my day-to-day vocabulary, and certainly not part of the local lingo... well, they still aren't, for the most part. But I was just following my gut, heart, and 3rd eye and letting them lead the way to the unfolding of my purpose and dreams. Fast-forward to the now, I have been in deep in contemplation for a year about how Suncokret can best serve others in this especially challenging, transformative time we are living through, and it dawned on me that two of my team members would be ideal partners in helping me to mentor others in the expanded version of the Heal Your Life and Find Your Purpose programs, which are the best possible tools I can offer anyone going through major life transformations, as mentioned earlier. And those two women are: Davorka Tolic, an expert in TRE (a unique stress-release method) and Essential Oils, as well as a highly experienced Business Coach and Soft Skills expert and Kristina Pejovski, a highly experienced Content Strategist, Social Media Maven, and Published Advertising Copywriter, as well as unexpected Digital Nomad. In combination with what I have to offer as a living example of what it means to literally go from a mess to your best (check out the tell-all vlog below for the juicy details), these two holistic lifestyle mentors add extra value to the learning experience on offer by leveraging their backgrounds and experience in business, marketing and brand-building to help empower others to learn the tricks of the trade in order to bring a personal project to life, clearly, effectively and in a holistically-minded way. Together as a team, we raise the Lifestyle-Empowerment Programs at Suncokret to whole new level, and I'm very thrilled by this! I would like to end this whimsical story about how one thing leads to another by mentioning one unique aspect of the 4-week training program on offer, and that is that it is structured in a way that participants can sign up for whichever part of the four-week process they are most in need of. In other words, if you have already cleared up the ghosts from your emotional closet and are on the path to self-healing, or if you already have a concrete idea of who you are at your highest potential in all aspects of your life and don't need guidance on that, and if all you really need is some soft-skills and business coaching, or perhaps just brand-building skills and an actual launch, then you can just take the last week or two of the program. Alternatively, if you are just getting started on the pathway to self healing and self understanding and personal fulfilment, then you might just take the first two weeks as a good start and let yourself digest all the learning you experienced during those two weeks for a while before moving toward the refining of that vision and launching of your inner Vision. On the other hand, if you are ready to ride, full speed ahead, the pathway to understanding yourself and taking your life by the reins in order to redirect it, from the depth of your heart and soul, in the direction of your dreams, and actually start walking that pathway with a no-turning-back approach, forging a better place in the world for yourself (and, most likely, as a result, for those around you) then you will want to take all four weeks together as one amazing, life-changing, totally self-empowering, Life- Empowerment Master Mentorship. No matter whether you come for one, two, three or all four weeks, we are so looking forward to the awesome outcomes we will manifest together by going into this deep-dive, dream-life-manifestation process. It truly is amazing how one thing leads to another! This, my friends, is the art of following the signs while keeping the flame in your heart alive by believing in yourself and others and the amazing things you can do together to make this world a better place. Thanks for reading and hope to see you soon! Evening Marie Want to learn more about the event co-hosts? Read our recent interview with Kristina here and last year's interview with Davorka here. And of course, you can check out the full 28-Day From a Mess to Your Best event here.
Interview with Linda and Larry Cammarata - Hosts of The Mindful Body: Moving into Emotional Freedom
Hi Linda and Larry! We're so excited to host your first ever Croatia and Suncokret retreat weeks this May! Tell us a little more about who you are and what you do... what else do you do besides teach yoga, mindfulness, tai chi, and qigong? Linda Cammarata, RN, RYT: In addition to teaching yoga, qigong, and mindfulness skills, I have a long-standing professional background as a registered nurse, with extensive experience in healthcare management and in preventive medicine education, with a specialty in natural sleep recovery. Several years ago, with my husband Larry, I co-founded Mindfulness Travels, an educational organization that hosts mindfulness-oriented retreats in beautiful, inspiring places around the world. I’m the director of the company, which keeps me focused on choosing retreat locations that offer our participants a wonderful space for learning and practicing mindful movement skills, cultural immersion, adventures in nature, time for personal restoration, and of course…great food! I’m also a professional singer-songwriter. Larry Cammarata, Ph.D.: In addition to teaching qigong, tai chi, and mindfulness, I’ve been a practicing licensed psychologist for over 30 years, specializing in mindfulness-based psychotherapy and mind-body medicine. In addition to my psychology practice, I write about topics related to mindful movement, sleep health, communication, and mindfulness; my writings on mindful movement have been published in magazines, a fitness journal, and a book. I’m passionate about mindful movement, and have made presentations to national and international conferences on this topic. I also have a background as a professional musician and performance artist, and always enjoy musically collaborating with Linda. We both enjoy exploring nature, art, music, film, and new cultures. When we’re not travelling, we can often be found hiking around the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding our home in Asheville, North Carolina. We enjoy bringing supportive communities of open-hearted people together. Wow, I love the diversity of your backgrounds and how they blend so beautifully together through your combined retreat work! What do you most hope retreat attendants will gain by attending your event at Suncokret this May? We hope that our guests will gain knowledge and skills that will support them in feeling an uplifting sense of what it means to be alive and free from self-imposed limitations. We often refer to this sense as “vitality” and “joy”, although words are not enough to convey the meaning of these qualities. That’s why we focus on mindfulness of the body as a vehicle for creating peace, ease, and joy in relation to self and others. Why would attending your particular event be beneficial to the participants who join? Participants at our retreats come away with greater self-acceptance and compassion, an appreciation for the beauty of nature, an enthusiasm for the practices of mindfulness, qigong, and yoga, an expansion of their understanding about what it means to be truly—and realistically—mindful, and ways to integrate mindfulness into their lives to advance their professional and personal development as it applies to health, wellness, and rewarding relationships. Is there any ideal way retreat participants can better prepare themselves for their retreat time with you? Yes…we recommend that participants contemplate upon an intention for their time with us. It can be as simple as learning ways to relax or more existentially complex as in, “what do I want to do with my life?” or “what’s holding me back from…?” Ideally, participants will “let go” of preconceived ideas about the retreat and show up with a “beginner’s mind”; that sort of mindset most always contributes to the many blessings that are received when the mind and heart are open. At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling? The word that comes to mind is “connected”. Our retreats facilitate an experience of appreciation for your life, a sense of joy about being alive in the present moment, and a willingness to compassionately care for your self, others, and the planet Testimonial “I have had the opportunity to join Larry and Linda for more than one of their Mindfulness Retreats with and without a third facilitator. Each retreat has been remarkable. Facilitators are at the top of their fields. There are opportunities to expand one’s inner work and/or clinical practices, relish a spirit of adventure, and enjoy cultural immersion and appreciation. Lovely accommodations are chosen thoughtfully to support the overall intentions of the retreat. Culturally inspired gourmet meals are served. Because retreatants typically share some common values, a supportive sense of community emerges. You will be graciously welcomed whether you are traveling alone or in the company of companion(s). I travel alone and have roomed with kind and thoughtful people.” - Solo Female Traveler We're very excited to be welcoming you to Suncokret this May! Thanks again for taking the time to shed light on your backgrounds and retreat intentions with our readers. Namaste! Read more about the Mindful Body: Moving into Emotional Freedom and Joy event on our Exclusive Events page here and connect with Linda and Larry via their website for further details.
2015 Events Interview Series Part 3 -Three Inspiring Yoga Events in July with Russelle Beardon, Aust
In today's interview series, we are honored to introduce you to an incredibly inspirational yoga teacher, Russelle Beardon, who is co-hosting 3 back to back events at Suncokret: "Yoga Banquet Event" from 12-18th July, "Yearning for Yin Yoga" from 19-25 July and "Transcendence" from 26 July - 1st August. Tell us a little about yourself; what are some things you love or love to do? I adore my children and grandchildren. To observe my children equipped with their own deep well spring of love, patience, empathy, laughter and optimism brings me great joy. Being invited into their lives, feeling welcome, feeling I have something to share is hard to describe…messing about with my children and grandchildren, at the beach - heaven. I love to cook and I love to eat! Shopping for fresh produce, herbs spices and good wine especially when time and coin are plentiful. I can be completely absorbed in my appreciation of a deep purple aubergine… shiny, smooth and heavy in my hand full of promise for the plate! How did you get into yoga? 18 years ago a friend took me to a hatha class in a dusty church hall in the middle of winter, it was cold and the venue, well it was uninspired really, I was dubious about what to expect. Ros and Ross, the two teachers transformed the space with their passion and experience and deep, deep knowledge, consequently I was transformed from that moment – I can still easily recall the words I heard, the challenges I experienced and the feelings that rose up and the euphoric sense of being raised up that stayed with me after the class. It delights me that as fate works, Ros and Ross have the most beautiful shala and yoga school in my home town, so I continue to learn from them. What was your life like before yoga? I was not long out of my marriage, a little battle scarred and I was on a mission, “striving” is the word that comes to mind. I felt like I had to “strive to arrive”. I was quite tough (you know, proving myself to the world, trying to be invincible) and my thinking was very black and white and my opinions very clear, very strong, and very openly expressed…”this is right…. and this is wrong…” What would you say is the one best thing about yoga? Yoga raised my consciousness. I quickly started to feel differently, think differently and act differently. I felt more aware, more conscious of the way I carried myself, my posture, more conscious of what I ate, what I conveyed to the world, more conscious of the chatter in my mind (mostly critical) more conscious of my conduct. I started to tune in to the impact of my thoughts and words, on others, and on myself. Even though I started with asana…the other elements of yoga had no choice but to join in the change. What style of yoga would you do / teach if you weren’t doing / teaching your current style? I wouldn’t change, I teach what I practice and practice what I teach, and it comes from the heart. I am grateful for the diversity in my teaching responsibilities. What was your most embarrassing class teaching / group event experience? Everyone knows that yoga can bring on sudden and unexpected bodily sounds right? So to all the women reading this, you know the sensations that can occur when you have been in something like happy baby….hips opening, everything opening…and then you come back up……the anxiety about that “thwwwwooook” suctioning sound as you close the vault?? Well let’s just say as a teacher….if this happens when you are leading the class, (and yes it was a mixed gender class) there are two choices…you can die of embarrassment or use it as an opportunity to have a laugh and normalize it for everyone….taking the saying of “”lead by example” to another level. So if you find yourself giving “full expression” in the pose, know that it is normal… you can just blame the mat and move on with a laugh. What was your best class teaching / group event experience? The very first yoga class I taught, that galvanising realization of the privilege and the honor to step out of the class participation - to the front of the class to lead. In savasana, in every class I am humbled by the trust and surrender openly shared by the students, with each other and with me as their teacher. Besides yoga what is your favorite thing? The ocean, definitely the ocean. I live at the beach and the sound the smell and the power of the ocean fuels me. In summer, in winter, all year around, at night, in the day, wind, calm, full moon - ohm yes, full moon rising over the ocean….the tides, the changing color and the power, the vast capacity of the ocean to swallow us up, wash away worries, support and nourish….definitely the ocean. What was your favorite thing about coming to Suncokret as retreat guest? Experiencing Hvar and all its beauty, connecting with Evening and Stipe, the incredible food prepared with love and sharing this with all the sadhakas. For me the most memorable element was forming a bond with Evening (xx) Circumstances as they were, I was very unwell and unable to practice for a few days. Despite feeling miserable physically, it provided an opportunity that may otherwise never have eventuated, Evening checked in with me several times each day, to talk. I felt moved, empowered, loved and healed by Evening. She was able to really see me as I was at that time, and she encouraged me to recognize and stand in my own power, not to fear it, to be brave, listen in and make choices for my greater good. What do you hope guests will gain by attending your event at Suncokret? (How do you hope to enhance the retreat experience with your particular offerings?) It is my great hope that anyone who attends a retreat at Suncokret during my time as a guest yoga teacher might experience something similarly meaningful by sharing the experience with others, finding a moment of awakening, realization and connection to the self, moving off the mat into the world and taking that spark to light a life with greater clarity and ease. How did you come up with the retreat event theme you are co-hosting at Suncokret? My teachers said teach from your heart and find your own voice. These words inspire my teaching always. My experience of yoga has been like a banquet, and a banquet is enhanced when shared with friends! The beautiful journey of yin and a life full of transitions… these things I wanted to explore and share with others. Why would attending your particular event be beneficial to the participants who join? Participating in any of the seasons retreats at Suncokret will lift participants up…I don’t see that my events are any more or less in value and benefit than any other…we attract the right students to what we each have to offer… I would just say book! Come to Suncokret this season you will love it. Is there any ideal way retreat participants can better prepare themselves for their retreat time with you? Travel light, live light, share the light be the light! At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling? Ease. What advice would you give to aspiring yoga teachers who would like to lead retreats? Look to those who have experience in leading retreats, reflect on your own experiences participating in retreats, and if fate intervenes and provides you with an opportunity, take it, move beyond doubts and put your whole self in, explore it, learn from it and express your gratitude as you feel it, when you feel it, wherever you feel it. What are your plans for the future? I plan to continue to marvel at the lives of my children and grandchildren, to travel, to teach, to remain curious, to keep learning and share a meaningful loving existence with those who enter my life. For more information about upcoming events with Russelle, please visit the following links: Event 1 Event 2 Event 3
2016 Events Interview Series - Part 2 - A Chat about "Yoga Banquet, Yin Yoga and Life Dharma, P
"If you can breathe you can do yoga" - Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (the father of modern yoga) Please tell us a bit more about how your personal story has been developing since we last met... My Personal story is one of ongoing learning, so many things I fear I could bore you! I'll try to pick one. The variety and number of classes (12 - 16 each week) and students (around 200 every week) I have enjoyed over the last 12 months and the illuminating experience of ongoing self practice have allowed me to live one of the key messages of my teacher Ricardo Martin "practice what you teach and teach what you practice". Always learning, from my practice to share with students, and from beloved students who greatly influence my practice of yoga. I have had tendinitis in my shoulder which restricted my practice for quite some time (10 months) but I welcomed and blessed the injury as a humbling and as a profound teaching method. My practice and teaching have deepened in relation to my knowledge and awareness of modifications. I believe I was meant to have the injury, as I have encountered so many students with shoulder issues during my time of modified practice and been able to better understand and assist them as a result. Again I am reminded that if you can breathe you can do yoga, that their is no hierarchy of poses and that the "perfect" pose is the one that your body can do with what you have on the day...what is appropriate and possible in the moment. Would you care to tell us more about the programs you are offering at Suncokret in 2016? The programs of the "Yoga Banquet" and "Yearning for Yin" are again being offered as they were so very well received in 2015. The themes will be the same but the classes will be different and flavoured with whatever the participants bring with them. What about the "Life Dharma and Perfect Imperfection" Event? What influenced or inspired the creation of this particular retreat theme and why? The Bhagavad Gita, wow, what a text! The ancient wisdom in the text remains completely relevant, it informs, challenges and reassures. I've read it before but it just gets better! It is indeed the inspiration for my third event offering in 2016 - Life, Dharma and Perfect Imperfection. "...only when we rise above human schemes and calculations and awake to the presence of the indwelling Spirit can we hope to find an answer to our need" (Sri Swami Satchidananda) It's a book about remembering, remembering who we are, who we were born to be and then living authentically to honour that in all ways...easier said than done hey? Sloka 3:35 "it is better to do your own dharma (calling) even imperfectly, than someone else's dharma perfectly..." Sloka 18:48 "if you perform the duties of your nature imperfectly that is no reason to abandon those duties and begin something else..." It's often hard to know whether we are following nature's path or if it is the egoistic mind telling us what to do, the Gita exposes these challenges and invites us into "yatra", a spiritual pilgrimage taken through story telling, analogy, history and reason. We can begin a Yatra anywhere anytime, in any state or condition, with many resources or none at all, from a place of joy or despair. Let's share the Yatra together at Suncokret. Is there any advice you’d like to give to returning students from last year or to new students who are considering signing up for your event(s) this year in order to help them prepare better for their time with you? The retreats echo with meaning when the individual experiences and curiosities are embroidered into the overall program. So bring what you bring. Can you share some thoughts about your teaching and overall experience from your time with us last year? The experience at Suncokret in 2015 is treasured for many reasons, the joy I found in my first international teaching experience and reconnecting with you both, Evening and Stipe, felt so warm, it was just like coming home. And meeting your little baby Evangelina and enjoying her new life force and energy at the retreat reminded me of how we all arrive so perfectly loving and loveable into this human experience. Travelling the path with experienced yoga lovers and those with a newer practice is bliss, and then celebrating my birthday with you all and feeling so loved! Evening, you are an ongoing blessing in my life. I feel your wisdom and faith in me as a human being and as a teacher from afar! (I am humbled to hear this, Russelle, and the blessing is mutual.) Last year our full moon releasing ritual was also incredibly moving. We gathered at sunset by the beach to ritualistically release thoughts, beliefs and behaviours that no longer represented us. Such a privilege to share those very personal moments with yoga lovers from around the globe. I do hope to share my love of yoga with some of you throughout the retreat season at Suncokret. To learn more about Russelle, please see our 2015 interview with her here and to see more information on her upcoming events, please visit our 2016 events calendar here
2015 Events Interview Series Part 7 - "Experience the Real You" Shakti Dance® & Kundal
In today's interview, we meet up with the creative and passionate Tarandeep Kaur to discuss her yoga pathway, love of dance, life work and more... How did you get started on your yoga pathway and what led you to Kundalini Yoga specifically? I have been practicing yoga for more than 10 years. First I was drawn to hatha yoga and different types of meditation. I practiced yoga in the Paramahansa Yogananda School of Yoga in Slovenia and also the Sivananda branch in Austria. I traveled a lot in Nepal and India and did intense Vipassana meditation courses in silence (Buddhist type of meditation). In 2010 I first learned about Shakti dance at a retreat center with many different types of workshops. I hadn't heard about Shakti dance (The Yoga of Dance) or Kundalini yoga before. The founder of Shakti Dance – Sara Avtar – presented the workshop. It was called Shakti dance and she said it connects the practice of yoga with dance. I thought to myself: "My God, my two favourite things in the whole world!" What I saw moments later was breathtaking. It was like a Goddess appeared in front of us. Beautiful, graceful, humble, with so much devotion towards the invisible world that surrounded her. It was like she called on those divine energies with her movements, with her gestures. I was deeply touched by what I saw. After a week of dancing with Sara Avtar I decided that this was the thing that I was looking for. I had to stay in touch with this practice. I decided to do a Shakti Dance Teacher Training, a full immersion in the practice to really learn all about it, how it works and why it has such an amazing effect on the people who practice it. Later I learned that Shakti dance actually derives from a practice called Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. So my first contact with Kundalini yoga was actually through Shakti dance. In the Teacher Training we did morning sadhana which was a typical Kundalini yoga class. Do you also practice other forms of yoga (or have you in the past)? What is the difference between those styles in your opinion? In the past I mainly practiced hatha yoga and it had its benefits, of course. However my experience is, that I missed the devotional aspect of yoga in classical hatha yoga. I missed opening my heart with my voice and getting in touch with my body through my own authentic movements. In Kundalini yoga and Shakti Dance I could experience that. The fact that Kundalini yoga uses so many sacred chants, mantras was something that enriched my practice profoundly. Singing, chanting, using our own authentic voice is something that can clear so many of our blocks. Together with physical practice it's a great combination to really get it touch with our own inner light. What about Shakti dance... how long have you been practicing / teaching and how has it changed your life? I have been practicing Shakti dance for 5 years. It is an amazing practice. It lets you express yourself. It lets you cry if you feel you need to. It lets you be still in the midst of music playing. It doesn't tell you how to dance, but it lets you find your own expression, even if that means that you are just standing up, with closed eyes. That can also be dancing. Dancing with the peace inside you. Shakti dance can be joyful and playful, it reminds us of the child within who wants to play and laugh and act funny. It nurtures the inner woman, the wise one, who listens to the messages of her body and is touch with her life cycles. For me Shakti dance is something that brings me joy, it teaches me how to love myself more, it enables me to express who I really am. It is a practice that reveals, layer after layer, the Goddess within. What do you think is the greatest benefit of practicing Shakti dance... can students do it on their own or is it always done in a group? The greatest benefit of practicing Shakti dance in my opinion is relaxation on all levels. The mind relaxes through the gentle flow of asanas, connected with the flow of the breath. The body relaxes and gets charged with new rejuvenating energy, our emotional body relaxes and gets an influx of positive feelings about ourselves. Deep relaxation on all levels of our being is something that is difficult to reach nowadays. Shakti Dance offers us a way to that in a 90 minute class. You can practice Shakti dance alone or in a group. Where do you teach KY and SD - in Slovenia and also other places / festivals? I teach regular classes of Shakti dance and Kundalini yoga in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. I love sharing these practices with my students and it makes me so happy to see the benefits they get out of them. I also teach Shakti dance workshops at the Slovenian Kundalini Yoga Festival, which is held every year in September. What was your best teaching experience from those places / settings? In the summer of 2013 I was one of the presenters at the Kaypacha Healing festival in the United States. It was a travelling festival; we stopped in north California, Oregon and Washington and held four 3-day festivals there. I offered Kundalini yoga and Shakti dance classes at the festival and the experience was just amazing. Is Shakti dance appropriate for men as well as women? Shakti dance is not reserved only for women; men are more than welcome to attend. It has been said that it's more of a feminine practice in the sense that it is very gentle and soft. The movements are very fluid and that is how Shakti dance teaches us how to flow with life. For men Shakti dance is a great way to get in touch with the feminine, intuitive energy inside them and learn how to cultivate it. It also helps men to find their creative expression and get in touch with their body. How do you combine living in the "real world" as a journalist with your yogic pathway & lifestyle? Are the two ever in conflict with one another? I consider myself very lucky to be able to combine journalism with yoga as two of my callings in life. I work as a journalist at the national radio station; my field of work is culture, mainly dance and theatre. My job involves interviewing amazing artists, dancers, choreographers, directors and actors who speak about their creative process, they tell me how an idea for a dance show comes to life and we talk about the message that they want to convey to their audiences. Every time I speak to these artists I am amazed because I see that the force that is driving them, the energy behind their creative work is that same divine spark that I try to get in touch with during my morning practice of yoga. All of us know that there is something inside of us, a kind of basic goodness, a bright shinning inner light, which when we are in touch with it, fills our lives with a sense of meaning and purpose. We all know at a certain level, that we have a job to do on this Earth. We are not here by chance. Each of us has his or her own specific gift to share with the world. I believe that sharing the practice of Kundalini yoga and Shakti dance is one of my deepest callings. What can be more beautiful than helping people realize their own inner Light? It's the highest calling. How do you find the right balance between being an independent Western woman as well as a sacred channel in which the yoga teachings flow and transmit to your students? For me yoga is not something that I do but it is who I am. It is not a set of exercises that I do in the morning and then forget about during the day. Yoga – union of the finite and infinite self – is something that I try to live every moment. I act with kindness toward my coworkers, I try to see, really see the people who cross my path, the old ladies, the beggars, and the homeless. I try to help in every way that I can, sometimes with a kind word or a smile, sometimes with a little bit of money. I practice non-attachment to things or situations or the past. I practice gratefulness for the beautiful country that I live in, for the people who love me and for my job, which enables me to sustain myself. I try to show love every day, to everyone, in all its different disguises. I try to walk my talk. Live what I preach. And while I do that I remind myself to always stay humble. If you could do/live/be just one thing in life - what/where would it be and why? I really, really, really love at least three things – I love teaching yoga, I love writing and I love chanting mantras. Those are the three things that make me happy the most. And I consider myself very lucky to be able to do them often and share them with others. My vision for the future is that I would have my own little place, a nice cozy yoga centre, with lots of nature around, where I would be able to do all of that. I would also like to publish my book and organize kirtan events where people would chant mantras and spend time together in a positive and uplifting way. For more information about Tarandeep Kaur's upcoming event, please click here.
Annual Reflection & Getting On Track for 2016
January Inspiration – Annual Reflection & Getting On Track for 2016 Every year, since 2000 I have been taking inventory of my life to see if I’m on track toward living my Inner Vision (i.e. the life I wish to have and the person I wish to be). By inventory, I mean I re-read my initial “Life Path Journal” - a journal I wrote in 2000 that contains ideas and inspirations as well as the answers to a series of questions I asked myself in a meditative state regarding who I am and the kind of life I wanted to have including relationships, work, the place I lived, etc., inspired by several books I was reading at the time. Or often I will re-read sequels to the original Life Path Journal that I have written since my first draft started in 1999, usually the most recent one, and then I review the previous year’s events (and also the events of my life that seem to still be affecting me for better or worse to the present date) and consider how these things have and continue to shape me and I analyze how I feel about all that. I also look at recurring thoughts, moods and feelings that are signposts to my inner dialogue, which certainly affect my reality and check-in with myself on this level, too. I also consider my perceived accomplishments and failures, the state of my health and overall sense of well being, and, of course, my finances as it’s impossible to get ahead without a handle on this aspect of life... That’s just a brief list of the things I do, but you get the point. And the point is that I do all this to see if I am on track toward living the life I have envisioned for myself and where adjustment might be in order, and then I create a list of goals, wishes and inspirations worth reaching for in the year ahead (or within a certain timeline that makes sense to me) and perhaps sketch out a mind map or a plan of action that will help me to initiate the things I want into manifestation. (With things that are very important to me, I might perform rituals from various traditions to help instill a beam of Lifeforce energy or pure love and intention to move things along rapidly. One ritual, as I’m sure you are curious, is a simple manifestation meditation from Kundalini Yoga that uses mudra and mantra to create an pull of attraction between you and that which you desire.) After doing this for myself, I do a similar, though a little less intensive, task with my husband, taking couple’s inventory of our life together so that we can discuss important themes, from finances, to our sex life, to our individual and combined goals, etc., all things that affect us. This enables us to celebrate our joys and victories together as a couple, and it also helps us reconsider or edit aspects of our life together that we want to manage better or steer in a new direction. Along with this process, and usually in honor of the New Year (though sometimes I do it for Thanksgiving) I also take my time to think about all the individuals I am grateful to (including our retreat visitors, of course) and all the blessings I am grateful for, including, last but certainly not least, the difficult people who have crossed my path and the challenges that are there to teach me the greatest of life lessons… I always conclude that it’s all good and I’m so lucky to be alive and admittedly this is a spectacular feeling. I beam this energy out to everyone on my list. But I must also backtrack to the time when I did none of these things, and how lost, angry and alone I felt and how troubled and dark many aspects of my life were, including my personal relationships, finances, my lifestyle habits which influenced my health for the worse of course, and especially - and most importantly - the relationship I had to myself, which was very poor. Hitting rock bottom really does feel like a near death experience, but that’s exactly where the opportunity for rebirth exists, if only we dare reach out for the branch of life that is inevitably there to catch us before disappearing into the abyss for good. That’s what happened to me on Year’s Day, 1999, and the events that began to unfold from that point forward all lead me to where I am today; a directed, better balanced, more steady, more clear in mind, body and spirit, wife, mother, sacred and powerful woman, creative soul and owner, director and manager of an established holistic retreat on a beautiful paradise island that I run together with the help and support of my steady and very down-to-earth life partner and best friend. But I digress. (If you are curious about my story, check out our Life Path Awakening page or future Life Path related blog posts I publish this year, as I plan to be revealing that story bit by bit over time.) What I would like to convey today is the importance of taking inventory as a tool that can help you start off the New Year in a clear and focused way. That, and the importance of not only taking care of your mental being but also of your physical and spiritual being, for when you are fit in the sacred trinity of Self, this is when you are able to function at your highest capacity and achieve by way of the laws of attraction pretty much anything your heart truly desires. There’s a lot of self-help advice out there on what questions to ask yourself and how to go about creating a step-by-step plan to get from point A to Z within a given timespan to turn your life around. I can happily share my list with you. But again, that’s not the purpose of this post. The main advice I’d like to offer is to “just do it”. And by it, I mean, follow your own inner guidance on the questions you want and need to ask yourself. And then ask yourself what steps you need to take to continue on a certain way or change course, and then get started! This January, or whenever it is you read this and decide you are ready. How? Ask yourself the following: What aspects of your life do you want to take inventory of? What aspects of your life do you feel are out of your control? What aspects of your life are you thrilled by and hope to continue nurturing to continued or even greater fruition? How’s your health? What’s your personal life like? What about your work; do you like it and do you feel that you are serving a higher purpose with it? If not, how do you go about completing that task of serving a higher purpose in life? How’s your relationship to yourself these days, this year, this decade? Do you love yourself? Can you look yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you just the way you are, beloved one?” If not, what do you feel you need to do in order to be able to feel this way toward yourself, to actually give you the good self-loving you deserve? There are tons of other questions I can put out there for you, but I think you get the point. It’s time to ask those questions that are jumping out at you from the depths of your heart and mind and really sit down not only to think about the answers but to WRITE THEM DOWN! Why? Because when you put thought into written form, they become manifest. When they become manifest, they cannot be (easily) denied. Yes, you can ignore them by not re-reading your journal, of course. But I doubt you will be able to stay away from your own written word… the journal will beckon you to pick it up and read its contents sooner or later, and you will have to heed the call of the things you have written and the solutions that you know in your heart need your rightful and timely action. It’s either that or burn it, but why would you do such a silly thing? In addition to writing down your thoughts, please dear friends, please… if you haven’t established this yet in your life, it’s time to make time for a Personal Practice. Why? Because a personal practice helps you to come home to yourself; it sets the foundation for you to be more focused, centered, balanced, healthy and ready for whatever may be around the corner. What does a personal practice involve? Anything at all, in any combination that works for you, even if that combo is not rhythmic or consistent in the traditional sense, as long as it follows your natural rhythm and is repeated as often as you want and need it, that’s just fine. Is it yoga, jogging, meditation, singing, hiking, drawing or creating something, playing a sport or chatting with a dear friend that helps you feel like YOU again… Is it something you do in a group or alone? Or is it all of these things? It really doesn’t matter, as long as the practice brings you back into your body, clears your mind and opens your heart to the Divine Inspiration of life and love that is always surrounding us. And it also helps you to check-in with your Self and the goals and dreams you have for your life. I personally find “mind-body-spirit cross-training” works well for me. By that I mean, for example, that while jogging by the sea, in one of my most favorite and most inspirational places on this Earth that is pristine and often uninhabited off season, I chant personal mantras (inspirational thoughts or even a “sankalpa”) to myself to the rhythm of my breath, while tuning into the sensations of the elements that encompass me. Sometimes I add mudra for good measure to empty my mind by keeping focus on something as basic as the touching of my finger pads against one another. I often pause for a more-or-less traditional “yoga sadhana” break, mid-way through the jogging session. By yoga sadhana, I mean a combination of elements from a traditional yogic daily practice, including mantra chanting, pranayama, warming & loosening exercises, sun salutations, asana and / or vinyasa flow, mediation and savasana. At the conclusion of these sessions, or sometimes before I begin, I take a moment to journal (usually the most inspirational thoughts flow clearly from the depths of my soul at this time, alone in beautiful nature, at one with my breath and the world around me), I reaffirm my sankalpa (simple statement that affirms thoughts about my wellbeing), and also take a moment to say my thanks… my list is always long, for there is so very much to be grateful for, but ultimately I always thank the Universe for this crazy and wondrous life and all the beings in it that help make it what it is. I then continue with the last leg of my “mind-body-spirit cross training session” and head home where my daughter and husband await me, and we get on with our day-to-day business. Days like this, after taking out time for myself, just seem to flow better. Not only do I feel better in my body, but my mind is usually much clearer, my mood is elevated, and my entire being just feels lighter and aligned to something greater. I will not lie to you. I do not do this every day. I cannot do this every day; I’m not as disciplined or consistent as that and I am actually no longer the “Master of My Time” since giving birth, and I am only now slowly becoming, once again, the “Master of My Body”, 8 months after birth. Some days I wake up late. Some nights I haven’t slept much because of the baby. Some days I wake up tired for no reason, or feeling lazy, or sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed with a bunch of other tasks that demand my immediate attention that I just don’t know how to carve out that luxurious 2 hours for the mentioned training that feels just right. Yes, I give it a good 2 hours, as in essence it’s part of my job as a yoga teacher and retreat leader to do this practice in a thorough and dedicated way. But I do come back to it, time and again, as this set of practices I describe touch me deeply and the reward for doing them is truly great and extremely uplifting and inspirational, not to mention they are helping me come back to my pre-pregnancy self, slowly but surely. Note, I do not beat myself up for lack of consistency, for I cannot be what I am not. But luckily my personal sadhana is not limited to the mentioned cross-training, there are many more ways I keep up with my spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing. There are days when the only observed spiritual moment I experience is the bonding with my daughter and the pure, joyful love I feel bursting out of me every time I see her smile. Most days I chant mantras (mindfully) to her to help her fall asleep peacefully. By mindfully, I mean that in addition to loosing myself to the musical notes pouring forth from my own vocal cords, I actually think about the meaning of the Sanskrit words I am chanting and bless her and myself while doing so. Most days I also read yogic or spiritually-related literature that inspire, educate and uplift me - often it is through short and simple posts by friends and like-minded pathwalkers I am connected to on Facebook, and sometimes the only moment I find for this is while “taking a bathroom break” where I store a stack of yoga journal magazines for moments like this where I can actually take time for myself, LOL! Some mornings, I walk through the woods that surround our home together with my daughter, two dogs, and even sometimes the cat, and address the Source of the Universe while standing on what I deem to be a sacred spot at the top of the hill, in front of the church, on the ancient cobble stone mandala pattern that remains untouched by the surrounding new pavement, and I bless myself and my daughter and our family and pets and friends and guests and everyone and everything on earth and in the entire universe. Honestly, I do this rather often and certainly as often as I can. I also try to eat right, too, while at the same time that means allowing myself to indulge in treats that are not necessarily good for you, but somehow hit the right spot regardless. So, you discover, we yoga teachers are human, too! I try to be a good person, to be respectful of others, to be a good listener, to be caring, compassionate, kind, helpful, honest, and fair. I love and connect with my family and friends, neighbors and community in as many ways and as often as I can. I try to live a life of integrity and I try to admit when I am wrong and make amends for any trespasses. And, most importantly I would say, I do my best to stay aligned to my Vision. I do my best to live my life as an example of one who is dedicated to a particular type of pathway, a spiritual one, a healthy one, a holistic one, though I also play hooky from that role sometimes to indulge in “normal” behavior with old friends who may not follow the same life path as me. And I do my best to remind myself, especially when I am feeling tired, that I do what I do in order to serve a higher purpose, which is (by way of my own example) to help others to find themselves if they are feeling lost, to gather the pieces and analyze them - what to keep what to let go of, what to focus on next and how to take rightful action in a timely manner to get results. I hold a space for others to engage in a mind-body-spirit renewal and, since the birth of our daughter this past year, I invite trusted teachers to share their example and inspirational teachings in. I tend to that space, the aesthetic of it, the functionality of it, and the spirit of it. I could go on and on but, again, the point I am trying to make is to just do it. Take yearly inventory of your life, of your SELF, and stay attuned to yourself through whatever rituals you feel drawn to and make them a part of your life. Whatever it is you need to do to stay clear, directed, centered in yourself, that’s what you should be incorporating into your life. Whatever it takes to come back to a state of love and gratitude, to bring you (back) into a state of wonder and joy, to “awaken” and witness to your own life from a higher perspective and be your own best guide and friend… You don’t have to follow anyone else’s rules. I never could and I certainly never do, though sometimes I may try and this leads me to a feeling of failure, so I let it go and just allow myself to be and unfold naturally into my path, as clumsily or as gracefully as that might feel according to the moment I reflect. You have to learn to trust yourself. And to do that, you have to spend time getting to know yourself. Though this post comes a little later than I had hoped, it’s still January, friends, and we’ve just come out of the Mercury Retrograde and happen to be supported by a planetary alignment that is aiding us in moving toward a higher vision, if only we take the time to do this. It’s still the perfect time for reflecting on the previous year and setting plans in motion for the New Year, so what are you waiting for? Begin today. Begin this month. Begin right now… Wishing you best of luck, and if you need help, I’m here and happy to help you move through the Life Path Awakening process. With love, gratitude and thoughts of peace, Evening
10 proven tips for a balanced year ahead
I love the New Year season but not for the usual reasons. I don’t engage in partying (not in the traditional sense, anyway) and I don’t indulge in excess, neither regarding food, drink, shopping or other traditional holiday customs that I find bring me down rather than lift me up. Instead, I view the closing of the year and the opening of the new one as a sacred, spiritual but also goal-oriented process that sets the backdrop and foundation of success and happiness for the year ahead. And each year I am pleased with the results as I watch myself moving actively forward toward my dreams, goals and wishes, manifesting the life I want to live one beautiful step at a time. For me this process starts in mid-autumn, after the retreat season has ended and I’ve attended to setting up the plan for the year ahead business-wise. I then take some time to clean, reorganize and de-clutter my home and office, I spend private time with my family and catch up with island friends and take extra time out for my physical wellbeing. When celebratory December rolls around, including the important celebration of my son’s and husband’s birthdays followed by Christmas, I embark on my yearly pilgrimage to my former home town, Ljubljana, where together with my island family I catch up with my son, old and dear friends and take advantage of city life, immersing myself and my islanders in the cultural offerings that have always played a big role in my life. It’s very rewarding to keep this aspect of my love for city and culture alive, if only in intensive short doses several times each year. Finally as January approaches, we return back to the island in preparation for the New Year and this is when I actively engage in inspiring rituals that help me ring in the New Year on a positive, sober, guided, and empowered foot. I share with you these ten tips for empowering your life in positive ways as you embark on the New Year and wish you the most successful, prosperous and rewarding year ahead! One – Reflect back and celebrate the coming year with purpose Give yourself 1 hour to make a list of all the reasons you have to be thankful, for people and events that have influenced you for the better over the past year, and then make a list of all the things you are looking forward to seeing, doing and experiencing in the new year. Relish in the positive feelings this exercise brings you. If you can’t remember what happened to you, review your photos and / or Facebook timeline, chat with your best friend about your past year or review your diary. Focus on feelings of success and happiness and keep a positive outlook as you ring in the New Year in a wholesome way and be sure to keep the best of company while you do this, even if that means spending the night with your cat! Two – Drink if you will but don’t get drunk I’m not saying don’t drink… if you can have just one celebratory glass (or perhaps two) and if you enjoy the taste then why not indulge a bit of bubbly along with that healthy dose of festive cheer together with your select friends and loved ones. But if two glasses leads to three, four or more, you are headed for experiencing a New Year’s blur rather than sparkle, most likely followed by nasty hangover that will mark this precious time with a cloak of darkness that will taint your steps into the year ahead… And why on earth would you want to do that to yourself (again)?! Start off fresh and be your best on New Year’s day! Three – Take a daytrip to somewhere new (or loved) on New Year’s day In par with the above sentiment, changing the air and scenery is always rewarding and inspiring for the spirit. Even if this means walking a district in your city, town or village that you’ve never been to (or spent much time in) before, discovering new pathways and seeing new sights with clear and receptive eyes brings new perspective to your life and getting fresh air never hurt anyone, either. If you can’t get out for whatever reason, pick up a good book and journey on that way! You never know what or who you just might bump into in the most unexpected of places... Go ahead and see what’s just around that new and exciting corner on New Year’s day! Four – Start something new and stick with it Start 2018 on an adventurous foot. Everyone knows adventure is the spice of life; just name your pleasure! Schedule it in this January and keep up with it for a while. Try that sport you’ve always wanted to try, take up a challenging hobby you’ve always wanted to master, dare to do that thing you’ve been dreaming of doing but never quite get around to. Whatever you decide on to shake things up a bit, you won’t regret the feeling of starting off this year with the fresh energy and excitement of engaging in something new that helps picks up the wind in your sails… come on, I dare you! Five – Do something nice for someone else (and make a habit of it) If you are feeling the winter blues, one of the best ways to usher in a spirit of cheer into your life is to brighten up the life of someone else in need. This can be a friend or relative who has been having a stroke of misfortune, or it can be a complete stranger for whom you feel inspired to show a bit of kindness to. Did you know that a simple act of kindness has an incredibly powerful rippling effect felt by the receiver, the giver and anyone else who witnesses or experiences the benefit of that act? Being kind will improve your mental, emotional and physical health so get out there and be kind to others and witness the beautiful karmic effect it has on yourself and the world around you! Six – Clean and then de-clutter your home Okay, this is a big one and it may take more than just a few hours or days, weeks or months. Start with baby steps by simply cleaning the home to make it fresh for the New Year. We’ve all heard the saying that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and you will feel divine in your clean and tidy home. After you’ve completed the main tasks, make a plan to de-clutter your home, section by section, room by room, one category after the other. Do a little something each day (or weekly) and have weekly, monthly and a yearly goal. Mark them down in your calendar to keep yourself accountable to your wishes. No matter how long it takes to de-clutter, dedicate this year to clearing out the old in order to make way for the new. One precious rule of thumb is “if you don’t love it, lose it and if you don’t use it, lose it!” This process will have a powerful cleansing effect on other aspects of your life, too. If you don’t quite know how to de-clutter effectively, consult the online or printed works of Marie Kondo or other reputed de-cluttering experts to discover the approach that works best for you. In the end, there’s no one right way to de-clutter. Just start with something small and move forward to the next task and then onto the next, and do it systematically and continue to make a habit of doing this regularly throughout the year. When you clear out the things which are no longer necessary or serving you (and which are taking up precious space in your life, both physically as well as mentally-emotionally) you show the Universe that you are open to experiencing new things that are in alignment with the person you have grown into and/or wish to become in the near future. Go for it, you’ll feel lighter for sure! Seven – Donate don’t ditch After you’ve done your de-cluttering, why not give away your ex-precious items to someone in need; this can be a friend, an acquaintance or even a total stranger or charity. Don’t have a birthday present for your dear friend? Why not begift them with something you once loved and think they will, too? You not only experience the beautiful qualities of compassion, sharing and giving but you also help make this planet a better place by not ditching useful things in the trash and adding to the incredible amounts of waste that litter our beautiful planet. Eight – Get up and move your body regularly The holiday season for many of us means a time of indulgence in hearty festive meals, sweets, treats, alcohol, lazy days spent indoors in front of the computer screed or TV, and a general feeling of lethargy due to the shorter days and longer nights. All of this can lead to a feeling of depression and imbalance. Tackle the holiday blues by taking some simple exercise. Do something that gets your muscles moving, your blood pumping, heart thumping and mood soaring to new heights. Try vigorous walking, jogging, or biking, and be sure to keep up with your yoga practice, Qi gong, dancing or anything else that feels attractive to you, too. Remember to do this often. It is said that a little bit of daily exercise is better than a lot of it only every now and then. I know it may be hard to commit to taking care of yourself in this way but remember that if you don’t do it for yourself, no one is going to do it for you. You will even find yourself with a slimmer, stronger physique and eliminate the need to go on a silly diet that you will inevitably bounce back from… that in itself is worth the 30 minutes daily or whatever you decide to commit to! Nine – Make a habit of engaging in regular self-care and occasional pampering Many of us take on the role of caregiver to those we love but sadly overlook our own needs and wants. Why not start off this year by making a commitment to taking care of you? Whatever that means for you on a daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual or even yearly basis, make a list and start planning it into your calendar today. Consider doing daily self-care rituals like foot massage, dry brushing, oil pulling, etc. when you wake up or at bedtime or both, or sign up for a package of yoga classes with your favorite yoga studio / teacher / or gym. Plan a weekly or monthly get together with your best buddies for a good laugh (the benefits of laughter are so great that there’s even a world belly laughing day!), purchase a package of weekly or monthly massages… Also consider the more indulgent but necessary things you can do for yourself like taking that much needed vacation away from family or work (how about a holistic retreat?!). Committing to a more balanced diet on an ongoing basis, doing a dedicated detox, signing up with a holistic therapist for a series of treatments to address chronic issues you may be facing is also worth scheduling in. You might also want to engage yourself in some form of therapy or coaching, whether it be with a trusted expert trained in helping you deal with any mental-emotional issues you are facing, or perhaps just a commitment to daily meditation and or journaling before bedtime or upon waking to clear your mind and connect with your inner silence. Ten –Take Life Inventory The New Year is a great time to evaluate and keep track of the health and wellbeing your relationships, health, career, finances, and other important matters in your life. Each year for the past 17 years I have gone through the process of what I call “Life Path Awakening – New Year’s Review and Refresh”.
Ideally, I start my review (along with the other rituals described above) after the retreat season ends and before the New Year starts. But sometimes I use all of January and sometimes February and March to fine-tune the process.
However long it takes, the process helps me to keep in touch with my inner self, my dreams, goals and wishes. It helps me keep perspective on the most important aspects of my life and it is absolutely one of the most rewarding things to be able to check off things from the previous year’s list that have been accomplished and experienced, and helps me redirect my energy toward the goals or wishes I have yet to manifest. So, as a New Year’s gift to all of our subscribers I have placed a simplified version of some of the major themes covered in the Life Path Awakening process in a downloadable copy in the member’s zone of our website. Get your copy in the member's zone today! Wishing you the most wonder-ful year ahead and let me know if you have any questions! Namaste, Evening [endif]
What to do when there are delays in moving forward with your life’s plans?
Last month I wrote about the 10 proven tips for a Balanced Year Ahead, which is a summary of the annual New Year’s rituals that enable me to start the year off on the right foot. Point 10 on the list describes a process that enables me to check in with myself in a profound way, realign myself to the vision I have of the life I want to live and the person I want to be, and helps me to tune into the current steps I can envision taking that allow me to walk along that path in the best possible way I know how, given my present “tool kit” including skills, talents, assets, connections and apparent opportunities available to me in the present. It is obvious that in order to live the life of our dreams, we have to first envision what that might be. After all, wanting to have a “happy, fulfilling life,” i.e. the basics of what we all really want, means quite different things to different people, so it’s not enough to say “I want to be happy” but rather define what that would actually entail a very precise and detailed way. Please refer to the Life Path Awakening - New Year's Review and Refresh for further guidance on how to do this in a systemized way by exploring the specific categories outlined. Once you get the hang of it, you can even add some categories of your own, too! Once we do awaken to our inner vision, it is logical that we then have to next assess how close we are to manifesting those dreams, by taking into consideration our present state of being and circumstances, and what we are currently empowered to do in order to actively align with that vision. We also need to consider how to best become a magnet for the things we want and what we can do to reflect the essence of the person we know ourselves to be on the inside, even if we're not currently showing up in that way in certain relationships. But what can be done if, after having clarified the vision and laying out the appropriate steps needed to move toward our desired outcome, and then following through with the outlined plans to get there (i.e. following the treasure map), we come up against major roadblocks that prevent us from reaching our desired goal(s) and dream life or dream state in a timely manner? Just to be clear, by “timely manner”, I mean, “within the time frame we deem is appropriate for the wishes to manifest and the desired outcome to unfold according to how we envision.” I’m talking about delays! I mean, on-going, increasingly annoying, totally frustrating and unbelievably repetitive delays?! Delays that seem to obstruct every good effort you put into traveling the ultra-efficient highway toward the vision you would like to see manifest, despite your excellent, ultra-efficient plan and effort? I tell you what I do… after first getting “a little annoyed” and perhaps feeling “somewhat panicked” (=code for I freak out)… I take a deep breath and then I take a break! I go for a walk or even venture on a fun weekend escape, if I dare! Oh, yes, I do! I know if I can clear my head of the issue and give it a buffer of time some new spark of hope will appear, a new inspiration I had not seen before with my tunnel vision glasses on. By taking that beautiful step back, I am able to see the broader picture. And from this platform, I am able to consider with an open heart: “Is what I am attempting to do in alignment with who I really am and what I really want and need at this time for my purpose to unfold in it’s most perfect way?” If the answer is yes, I start to consider possible detours around the roadblock or ways to decrease the wait time of the delay (a plan B and even a plan C, of sorts), and then focus my attention to moving along that route instead. If the answer is no, then I try to envision a pathway that is in better alignment with who I am and what I really want and need for my purpose to unfold, now that everything has become clearer to me. In essence, this is also creating an alternate plan B and C, but just from a different perspective! The point is, when things are just not going your way, it’s time to pause and remember that old saying, “All roads lead to Rome,” which actually means there are many means to get to the same endpoint. And the ultimate endpoint is our Destiny! Even if we do not (yet) know who we truly are and what we are destined for, a spiritual pilgrim will have faith that he or she will figure it all out and arrive there regardless. He or she will make every best effort to get there intentionally, even if blind, maimed or otherwise limited in some capacity, because a pilgrim believes in the Ultimate order of things and in their dream. They will not give up on their dream, even if the dream is not yet too clear or well defined in fancy, descriptive words and elaborate, vivid visions, they feel in their heart and gut that that dream is alive. There quest is to discover it through life's many roadways and blockades! And guess what? They will be successful in the end, because “energy flows where attention goes!" If you make it a point to focus on working toward your finding your happiness, purpose and self-fulfillment, even if you're not completely sure what that actually means but willing to explore and find out through the process of trial and error and use the delays and roadblocks as challenges for re-alignment, you will eventually discover the secret ingredients of your very own unique recipe for that happiness and fulfillment. There's another interesting thought I once came across about the nature of delays; they are sometimes the Universe’s way of saving us from unforeseen trouble ahead. Like the time you left your car keys in the house and had to go back to the house, unlock the door, find where you misplaced them, and walk back to the car again before starting off on your journey, only to soon after pass by a terrible accident along your path that could have involved YOU had you been “on time”; life’s delays in your plans are sometimes a way of actually clearing your path of potential danger and keeping you on track. So, the next time you do find that there are roadblocks in your desired pathway, consider this handy, 10-point action plan: 1. Sit tight (and try not to get too frustrated but, if you do, forgive yourself for being human!), 2. Trust there is a reason behind the delay 3. Take a break and clear your mind 4. Check-in and re-align yourself with your highest possible Vision 5. Look for a possible lesson presented in the delay (trust your gut) correct and learn from it 6. Wait for a new spark of inspiration, or look for signs 7. Define the alternate route(s) you can take to get to where you want to be 7. Move forward with your fullest integrity, best intent and positive outlook 8. Trust in your ability to get it right now but be open to Divine timing 9. Follow the signs as you move ahead (repeat process if necessary until smooth sailing) 10. Never give up! (not on yourself, not on your dreams, not on your goals, not on the Universe’s love and support for you) In the end, the Universe will either deliver smooth sailing or present obstacles in your path to help you learn, grow and re-align toward the outcome or Destiny that is meant for you. So next time there’s a major delay in moving forward with your life's plans, take it as a good sign that you are being redirected in a way that is purposeful for you. A trendy way of saying this is: “Keep Calm, Follow the Signs, and Carry On”. With love, Evening Marie P.S. In case you are in need of some assistance getting in touch with yourself and your life's vision, here are some upcoming event weeks that can help you understand yourself and your purpose better: 29 April - 11 May & 3-8 June Yoga B & B / Personal Retreat with Evening Marie; with the option to sign up for Chakra Life Mapping or Life Path Awakening 8 - 14 July Sat Dharma Yoga - find the courage to reveal yourself with yoga with 60-minute Sat Dharma readings with Evening or Daniela 19 - 25 August Source-Healing - walk the path of wholeness & heart connection with Zhineng Qigong & Yin Yoga 16 - 22 September Touching the Sacred Space Within - Atma Kriya Yoga & Sri Yantra painting meditation event with option to sign up for 30-minute “Soul Purpose” Vedic Astrology reading, 30-minute “Chakras” Vedic Astrology reading, or 1.5-hour full Vedic Astrology reading (pre-ordered, limited spots)*
Keeping UP this March!
Holy Cow (or goat, in this case); It’s nearly mid-March and spring on Hvar! While I spent most of February trying to stay on top of things (and feeling like a semi and sometimes complete failure at that, well, for the most part) the month managed to slip by without me posting a monthly blog post. Ooops… shame on me! Here’s to celebrating my commitments to myself and my proud accomplishments, right?! The thing is, I was a bit stuck with the topic for the month of February, which was related to the theme of love, a topic where a vast array of “experts” give all kinds of advice to the point that we often feel inundated with those tips and perhaps even depressed that we are not quite getting it right in one or more areas of the vast categories connected to love and loving relationships. I didn’t want to add to the overkill, and certainly not make anyone depressed with my impressive insight on the topic (giggle, giggle), although I did want to share some thoughts on love, as that is the path I have chosen to lead me where I am today and it has brought many wonderful rewards and plenty of incredibly moving life lessons, so perhaps I do have something of value to share on the topic, afterall?! All that in mind, I set about approaching the topic from a less-exploited angle, and I was getting somewhere (though not sure where, in fact, the whole piece was headed)... Admittedly, I never found the time to finish the post (perhaps I’ll get around to it in the future?). It had to do with the incredible love that is Universal Life Force energy and how it has ultimately influenced my path... Blame it on the baby, blame it on the running list of things to do in preparation for the upcoming retreat season, blame it on the personal crisis I am going through on a daily basis of experiencing poor time-management issues (that surely many new mothers experience, too, right?!)… Blame it on whatever, but the fact remains, I let myself down and missed the self-imposed deadline, again. And, guess what? That’s okay, too. If we don’t fail, it means we aren’t trying. And that means we are not growing. But when we keep on trying, eventually we will get it right! So onwards I go! March is one of my very favorite and also one of my least favorite months and I am committed to getting a post out there. So here it is. (Allow me to ramble on...) Why is this important to me, you may ask? There are no blog-police out there ready to arrest a person for failing to share their voice. And perhaps there are very few people actually following my posts, anyway! The thing is, I do care, because I have made a commitment to freeing my throat chakra so that it flows more openly and meaningfully and broadly, as I am a communicator at heart, though I have not exposed myself intimately in a public way for a very long time (and for specific reasons, which perhaps I will address another time). There are so many things I have wanted to share with you, dear friends, about life, about being an ex-“normal person” who rediscovered herself as a modern-day yogini, about being a spiritual being walking the path and sometimes getting lost or hitting a wall and having to take an unplanned detour, about what it’s like being a mom again after 21 years and running a business simultaneously at that, about what it’s really like to live in paradise - off season! - about what it takes to run and lead a retreat center… and about the essence of being a woman, or simply just being... But, for now, I shall revert back to this post's theme, so beautifully inspired by the month of March. And here you have it, the theme for this month is - Keep UP! First, allow me to share why March is both one of my favorite and one of my least favorite months and then what I mean by keeping up. First, March is welcome because it’s that time of year when the signs of spring are all around us, popping up quite suddenly, budding and then miraculously blossoming, and continuing to do so to a further degree each and every day until we suddenly find ourselves completely surrounded by and immersed in the gloriousness of Spring! The days are getting longer, the temperature is rising, the sun, when it shines through those infamous stormy spring clouds, does so with such radiance and awesome power that you can almost feel summer just around the corner, too. The inspiration of March is undeniable. But with that inspiration comes PRESSURE - the pressure to keep up, though you might be feeling "spring fever-ish", literally or figuratively or sometimes both. It can be very draining! And here comes that darn flu, just when you were building momentum, or some other annoying setback! You’ve spent the past 3 or 4 months waiting-out the darkness (hopefully keeping one eye of awareness on the seeds of your intention for your life that you planted way back in November, December and January), knowing that you’ve got quite a wait still ahead of you before you will see any actual real physical progress on those intentions coming into full manifestation (that's summer's calling, by the way). Well, March, along with April, offers both hope and despair in that respect. The hope brought on by the warming, longer, sunnier and more productive days, and the despair that accompanies the longing for those darn things to manifest while they seem to have a mind of their own, just like the weather itself... When will they poke through the surface and produce a sweet flower of hope and joy and inspiration and beauty? So, although I am not (directly) bearing my heart on a personal level here in this particular post, my intention is to tell you the one thing I tell myself at this time of year. And that is, “Keep UP!” And keep up with a committed passion. Step up the pace of your conscious path-walking incrementally over the next three months till peak moment at Summer Solstice. As each day passes, so too do the days get longer, allowing you to make much more progress in shining the light on your hopes for your life in the upcoming future, and also in the NOW. That leads me to my second bit of advice for March - BE PRESENT! Do this by becoming aware of your breath. Let your breath clear your mind while you keep up with your commitments to yourself with a passion. You can practice this during your personal sadhana. Practice on the mat leads to mastery off the mat. You can do it! In my January post, I spoke about my usual end-of-the-year, start-of-the-New-Year rituals. In addition to taking life inventory - making a list and checking it twice - I also mentioned how my sadhana helps me to keep it all together, body, mind and soul. Well, this month, one of the things I am stepping up is the pace and intensity of my personal practice because I need the strength, stamina and a high level of productivity to carry me through toward that peak moment when I come face to face with the beautiful blossoms I have planted for myself way back when. I am committed to intensifying what I do and how often I do it, from every other day - which was just right for winter - to every day (or nearly) - with the exception of Sundays - a family day for us and a day when I might just like to be a little lazy instead - which feels just right for Spring, come rain or shine! In addition to my sadhana, it is also the time of year when my required office hours start to increase as the enquiries and reservations come through at an ever increasing pace, until the very fine day when we open our doors for the new retreat season, which marks a time for a new groove altogether… So all I need to do now is keep UP and BE Present! Hey, blossoming time is really just around the corner and I am GETTING READY for that beautiful moment (my third bit of advice for March)! How about you? What are you prepping for or what do you need to get yourself psyched up to do this springtime so that you can wreep the rewards later this year? My sincerest overall suggestion to harness the energy of this month is to ask yourself what aspect of your own life you can step up to a new level of awareness and commitment to, and get to it - pronto, and with a feverent passion, a lust for life! And, along with that, don’t forget to consider the path you’ve been on as of late, and whether you might need to tweak that a bit to get where you want to be right on time and in your fullest, most excellent state of Self. I’ve made several other commitments to myself, by the way, which are of a more personal nature and which I am very excited about, too, though for now I will keep those to myself... my throat chakra needs some test driving, me thinks, before it reveals all! I would like to share, however my biggest professional commitment and goal for this month is to get information out there about our upcoming events via an all new, 2016 Interview Series with Visiting Teachers, where you will have the chance to “meet” this year’s lineup of teachers in a more personal way (or continue getting to know them better, as some of them are returning guest teachers who we have already done preliminary interviews with). Hopefully in getting to know the thoughts and intentions of our teachers, and in learning more about their own spiritual pathway, you will find yourself inspired by and resonating with the pearls of insight they share as they talk about aspects of their own life worth mentioning. So be on the lookout for that and more. Wishing you a successful, active, progressive Spring, full of inspiration, passion, attention to detail, courage, steadfastness, love and light! Evening
2015 Events Interview Series - Part 9 - Finding Silence in Yoga and Meditation with Ben Rakidzija
This week we had a chat with Ben Rakidzija, who is leading 3 back to back retreat weeks of "Zen Yoga" at Suncokret from 30th August - 19th September. Tell us a little about yourself, Ben... I live in a small coastal town in Croatia, called Icici. Five years long I was living in Sibenik/ Dalmatia, and fall in love with the country. I´m half Croatian, half German, and got my Master of Arts Degree in Germany (in Philosophy/ History). Besides teaching and practicing Yoga, I write short stories, poems and aphorisms. My last publication was a short story called “A prayer”, published in the German literature magazine “Konzepte”. I spend a lot of time writing, and traveling, mostly in winter. How did you get into yoga? After seven years at university, I got my Master Degree in my hands - the results were excellent. My mind, on the other hand, was closed, and I felt weak from all those thoughts and theories I brought into my life. Yoga and Meditation gave me a freedom back, a new freedom - which I didn´t expect. My first Zen-teacher told me: “Sit down and just sit; nothing more.” This is the still the biggest experience of my life. What was your life like before yoga? Mostly I was stiff in mind and body. What would you say is the one best thing about yoga? Yoga has many benefits. It can help in case of lower back problems, increase metabolism or clean the mind. But it depends on personal experience and the individual situation of the student what benefits will appear. Yoga helped me, and still is helping me, by stabilizing my body and cleaning my mind. What style of yoga would you do if you weren’t doing your current style? A style that would mix QiGong and Tango-Dance. I guess “Contemporary Dance” is very close to that, isn't it? What was your most embarrassing or best teaching experience? I taught exercises of Laughter Yoga for one group of students. It didn´t work. Nobody laughed. Then I did the same Laughter Yoga exercises with another group and It worked. Everybody laughed! What do you hope guests will gain by attending your event at Suncokret? That they have an enjoyable time and take something home that is useful in their daily life. I hope I can offer them, through Zazen, a Meditation technique that they can involve in their daily life rhythm - in order to reduce stress or to stay focused on the necessary things. I will try to use different Yoga-styles at the retreat in order to move the body in many ways. Using always the same exercises might be contra-productive and will higher the risk of injuries. We try to be creative with our body, work on our muscles and bones. Specially the stabilization of our Fascia (or the body’s connective tissue) will be in focus; new research has shown that back-problems, for example, mostly do not come from problems with muscles or intervertebral discs, but from stiff fascia! Why did you decide to call your event “Find Silence in Yoga and Meditation”? When I started meditation, and continued with it, the calming of my mind became the biggest experience of my life to date. I hope that I can share this experience with many others. Why would attending your particular event be beneficial to the participants who join? Every new life-experience can be beneficial when we come with an open mind. The aim of my practice is stabilization of the body and cleaning the mind. But also having a good time together can be a very good benefit. Is there any ideal way retreat participants can better prepare themselves for their retreat time with you? Come as you are, try to be relaxed and involve your life-experience into the practice. At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling? That they feel more light in body and mind. What are you most looking forward to experiencing as a co-hosting teacher at Suncokret? I look forward practicing with people from all around the world. What advice would you give to aspiring yoga teachers who would like to lead retreats? Try Laughter-Yoga with your students and see what happens. Thank you, Ben. We’re looking forward to experiencing Zen Yoga combined with Zazen meditation and hopefully a session or two of laughter yoga with you!
2016 Events Interview Series - Part 6 - Recognizing Miracles with "Precision & Flow",
We welcome back former guest and guest-teacher, Chloé Bovay, to Suncokret late this summer. For the second year in a row, Chloe will be leading an exclusive event in French entitled "Precision and Flow". Dearest Chloe, can you tell our readers more about what you have been up to since your retreat with us last summer? After the retreat at Suncokret, I took a break last summer and did a trip to New York. Travelling is important for me, both inside and outside... I love to discover, to observe, to immerge myself in a different places and cultures. My soul has always told me the next place to go... When I come back home, I always feel nurtured by my trip, and more centered. Then I went back to Geneva where I have been teaching the whole year. It has been a very special year for me. Very introspective, meditative, with daily walks in forest... I’ve spent a lot of time alone, walking in nature, reading, feeling connected with something within, which ended up with more serenity. What are your fondest memories of the retreat week you lead at Suncokret last year? Maybe the last class/practice outside, in this wonderful place, an old abandoned village... It was quite magical. What was the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge was to teach a whole week with the same group, to take them from one point to the other (I usually teach weekly classes). We all arrived pretty exhausted - the students and me. At the end of the week I could see that the faces had changed, and it was the most beautiful gift. What are you bringing to the table this year that is different from last year? More confidence. From this autumn, I’ve felt guided in my teaching by some higher power, I feel more humble and more confident at the same time. I don’t doubt in my way as a yoga teacher anymore. Of course, I am always learning, going to classes myself. But, besides that, and due to deep personal work (which includes meditation, walks, readings and of course seeking help when needed), I feel much more connected with myself, more peaceful. What are you currently reading, learning, and growing from? I am currently reading all the books of Marianne Williamson. I feel that I’ve found my spiritual teacher! And even if she is not a yogi, the concepts she is speaking about will influence the message of my teaching, as it is influencing me. I feel much more serene since I started reading her books, especially « A year of miracles », which contains one page to read every morning throughout the course of one year. For the page of my website concerning the summer retreat I lead last year, I had already chosen a quote which I found later in this book, too (I guess it is not a coincidence): “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein So, you might have guessed, the key word of my retreat this year will be « Miracle ». I hope this week will help all of us to open our eyes a bit more widely to the miracles around us, and mainly the miracle within. You know, this small voice within who always knows what to do and what not to do, what to say... Our inner guidance, inner wisdom. For me this invisible world within is not in contradiction with the physical practice of yoga, which I do need and love a lot. Working on the body, with the body, allows us to see and feel beyond the bodies (physical, energetic, emotional...) that is the mystery and the beauty of yoga. To share my love of this mystery is the beauty and the gift of my life. Tell us more about your pathway as a yoga student turned teacher, perhaps something about your favorite teacher… My first yoga teacher, Solar Pope, teaches in Geneva. I felt in love with her pragmatism and spirituality at the same time, and that’s always for me the key point: « spirituality » is not something high above us, but lies in every of our cells, here and now, within... I didn’t know at that time that I would be able to share this truth later, and it took me time to have more confidence in myself... As I said I consider it a gift to be able to do it. In my own way, with my own words, as the truth never reveals itself exactly the same through different individuals, that’s the proof of the diversity and abundance of the universe. Even if we are all speaking about the same truth. Same truth, different and unique perspectives on it. Is there any spiritual / yogic literature that you most appreciate and why? I’ve loved the Bhagavad Gita long before to practice yoga, and wrote an article about it (in French): http://www.yoganova.fr/et-pour-toi-cest-quoi-le-yoga/ How will this year's event be different from last year's and who is the event appropriate for? The frame of the asanas practice will be more or less the same, even if I never teach the same class twice, and it will include variations taken from the classes I’ve been following during this year and my own practice. On the philosophical level, it will be quite different: as I said, it will be influenced and infused by what I’ve learned all year long (and what I am still learning, as it is a continuous process). I’d like to help the participants to connect more with their inner voice, this miraculous voice of wisdom that lies within everyone (when we are listening ;-)) and always tells us who to be, what to do, and especially how to find our special place and purpose in the big picture of life. What can we expect to learn by attending the "Recognizing Miracles, Precision and Flow" event? To go a bit further in the practice of asanas, with precision on the physical level and more strength when needed, but also to learn to listen to what is more appropriate for oneself: on and off the mat. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? I am more and more grateful of my path as a teacher in general, but also to be able to come to teach in Suncokret Body and Soul Retreat. I will now tell you a secret: when I first came to Dol two years ago to follow your retreat, at the end of the week my wish to the Universe was to be able to teach one day in a similar place (of course I was not thinking of YOUR place), so when you asked me a few months later if I wanted to come to teach in Suncokret, I had to admit that the Universe had heard my wish and had been even more generous to me than what I had dared to hope! I am very happy to come back for a second time as a teacher this summer. What a great blessing to be able to support your journey as a teacher and to assist you in your pathway to share the teachings and inspire others in our beautiful place. We are looking forward to having you back again, dear Chloe! See you soon! Namaste! For more information about this event, please see: http://www.yoga-sur-les-voies.ch/stage-dete-en-croatie/