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Photo Memoir: Appreciating Life's Little Treasures During a Pandemic

It certainly has been a very challenging year for so many of us, and that is exactly why it's more important now than ever to count our blessings, no matter how big or small. When we look back at our lives, it's exactly those things, especially the precious moments when we are able to connect to ourselves, to others, and to mother nature, that we experience the great blessing of true abundance. In honor of World Happiness Day, may this photo memoir fill your heart with feelings of joy, wonder, and inspiration, as it does ours.

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.

Meet Kristina Pejovski: Content Strategist, Social Media Maven, and Published Advertising Copywriter

Kristina is the latest member of the Suncokret Team who is collaborating on our newly-expanded "Life Empowerment" retreat program called "From a Mess to Your Best in 28 Days." The program is quite unique to others we run, as it is made up of four individual week-long events that each build on the other to deliver participants through a complete holistic lifestyle makeover that then propels them full throttle into their newly envisioned and refined professional pathway, which then acts as the foundation for the remainder of their hopes and dreams to manifest, within divine timing. Who is Kristina and how did she come to collaborate with Suncokret? Let's find out more about her in her own words: Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do aside from writing and creating advertisements? A: Aside from practicing yoga for over fifteen years, I gravitate towards the bountiful outdoors--complete with its lush greenery, serene landscapes (all seasons), quiet, calm and undivided inspiration. Rock climbing has served as an extension of that love, and has been the basis for most of my travels in the last seven years. The mindful, vertical meditation, coupled by the extensive warm community of climbers aids in my addiction. While jobs, relationships, towns, etc have changed, climbing has served as a beautiful constant. When not exploring the rugged outdoors-- touching rock, traversing peaks and learning from mama nature, I can be found reading, studying and immersing myself in mind/body wellness. Everything that ranges from what I ingest to what goes on my body. It’s all consuming and truly an anchor for living in your most positive light. Steeping some indigenous herbs while curling up with Psychology Today or Scientific American is my idea of a relaxing night in. Q: How did you get into creative expression? Yoga, writing, etc. A: Ah, where to begin? The fertile mind is a delicate and crazy container, isn’t it? To identify where it began would be an unreachable feat akin to finding a needle in a haystack. What I can say is that I was always a curious little human. There is a story about a day in preschool where I was confronted by my teacher who asked why I broke all my crayons. “Because now I have more,” I replied. And well, that perfectly describes how my brain operates.

I like to see things from multiple angles and I like to study why that is. Yoga, writing, dancing, painting, climbing, etc all serve as unique vessels of exploration into the mind, into the delicate psyche that creates our unique thumbprint-- none of us are alike, and that’s the coolest thing ever. Q: What was your life like before your career path in copywriting? A: Before diving into the world of copywriting (the poetry of capitalism), I was still a loud, rambunctious, rebellious soul. I attended music shows, consumed classic literature, non fiction and poetry like it’s h20, and endlessly journaled multifaceted topics that to this day need to live in a novel. I still do the above, but life as an adult becomes a little harsher, a little more straight forward and critical.

Creative expression fights with the need for survival and writing to satiate desire gets reduced to multiple copies of the same thing for a quizzical client. All of this is in good fun, and of course a lesson from every angle. These days I have been getting back to moving my pen for my own pleasure and not for the corporate umbrella. And that, my friends, is a powerfully liberating feeling.

Q: What would you say is one the best things about writing? A: Have you ever picked up a paint brush, a pair of ballet flats, gotten behind a camera lens, etc? Have you felt that freedom? The freedom that exists between you and your medium-- between the body and the act you are executing? That’s the feeling, the feeling of moving a fine-tipped liquid pen across a grainy page. That’s the feeling of diligently typing across a blank square, of printing words of your choosing to build on or disrupt the reader's perception of reality. How powerful, no?

Q: What style of writing appeals to you the most and one that you feel everyone should master? A: This is a toughie. I can’t simply distill the importance of writing into one style, but can add that all styles must be utilized to give birth to your unique vision. Everything from narrative, analytical, expository, argumentative and persuasive are all vital in channeling your expression. Q: What was your most embarrassing class teaching/ group event experience? A: A few years ago, while working at a buzzing advertising agency in NYC’s Union Square, I was met with a group presentation where I was leading a workshop for the Jr. copywriters. The problem? I was still a junior writer myself! You know that ol’ adage, “fake it until you make it?” Well, I did just that. I had to.

My creative director had faith in me, and I was for sure not going to let him down. To this day, I have so much respect for him. He gave me the opportunity to lead a group of enthusiastic and bright eyed writers that were yearning to learn the in’s and outs of sales copy-- how to get people to buy things they do/don’t really need. I jokingly say that if it weren’t for copywriters’ cleverly positioning products, we wouldn't be roused into fantasising about what that said [product] could be or do. How instrumental is our craft, right? ; )

Q: Besides writing, what is your favorite thing? A: Waking up with choices--freedom. Seems like a no-brainer, but darn, there are so many unfortunate circumstances wherein people don’t get that blessing. I am grateful that I can choose how to write my story. We are the architects of our own life, after all.

Q: What was your favorite thing about coming to Suncokret Retreat as a guest? A: Believe it or not, I attended Suncokret as a volunteer and it was single-handedly one of the most transformative times of my life. It may have not appeared that way at the time, but it was one of those experiences that when reflected on, prompt an “a-ha” moment that invites tears and makes you smile from ear to ear. Yeah, that was Suncokret.

I met Evening over the phone during March 2020, a very strange time amidst the COVID outbreak. I was living in Zagreb for a year to secure dual citizenship (on the basis of reunification with family. Mama was born there). After experiencing a terrifying earthquake that logged in as 5.9 on the Richter, and two failed attempts at getting a job permit, I needed to redirect. I called Evening to discuss a possible collaboration to help her with her marketing angle. Having spent a few months on sunny Hvar, biking en route from the tiny village of Dol to the aquamarine seas every day, I felt reborn. I felt rekindled. I will forever be grateful to Evening, Stipe, Gina, and family for their thoughtfulness and loving nature. They are still an extension of my forever family.

Q: What do you hope your guests will attain by attending your event at Suncokret? A: The biggest takeaway I’d like for the participants to gain is the desire to manifest their thoughts onto paper-- however that takes shape. We will have the opportunity to learn the different styles of writing and how to apply them in a practical sense, and furthermore, how to execute on building your concrete vision. Whether you’re looking to pivot in a new career direction, start a blog, quit your day job and become an influencer, we will cover all necessary topics needed to turn your vision into something tangible. Q: How did you come up with the retreat event theme you are leading at Suncokret? A: I have been working in the advertising industry, alongside creative geniuses since 2012. After experiencing a burnout at 24 years old (young, I know), I left NYC in search of answers (don’t we all?). I found myself in Denver, Colorado where the mountains fed my soul and offered something New York City could never-- easy access to nature. But something was still missing. This indistinguishable thirst for adventure, for the lively exchange between strangers, trying new cuisines, learning about new cultures, anthropological accounts from strangers in faraway lands. Life’s truths hidden, a plane ride away. So I did what any burnt out “kid” with a disposable income (while living with the folks) would do-- I packed my bag and set sail. Literally.

One year abroad turned into a repeat visit to Rome, Italy, where I worked as a translator for Translated, a machine learning/AI company for Airbnb. Following the end of that contract, I decided to move to Croatia and subsequently relocated to North Macedonia, where I currently created a basecamp in a free environment I so very much enjoy.

This past Christmas, I was stirred into taking a new direction in my career and collaborated with Evening to develop this writers' workshop, inspired by a newfound thirst to redirect my career and leave advertising behind. Anything is possible, friends. Anything. Q: Why would attending your particular event be beneficial to the participants? A: If you feel stuck in your current job or feel like there is creative expression that needs to be unearthed and applied, this workshop will have everlasting benefits. We will learn to identify and to enact on those points, and furthermore, how to sell yourself and your work. The key benefit in this course which distinguishes it from others is the knowledge of applicative writing-- writing that sticks and circles back to convey a point. This is exactly the type of writing that is used to leverage businesses, brands, instagram handles etc.

We won’t just learn about writing, we’ll learn about the psychology behind what we are writing and why we are doing so.

Q: Is there any ideal way that retreat participants can better prepare themselves for the Launch Your Dream workshop? A: Come with an open mind and your favorite writing utensil or technology to type on. That’s it.

Q. At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope that event participants will walk away feeling? A: Inspired. Yes, it sounds cliche, but it is exactly what I wish for my participants. I want them to feel inspired and charged to start paving a new path for themselves. Q: What are you most looking forward to experiencing as a co-hosting teacher at Suncokret? A: The participants! I live for cross cultural exchange and am inspired by my students as much as I gain joy from sharing my experiences. The things you learn from people are invaluable. Q. What advice would you give to writers who would like to lead retreats? A: Reading comes before writing. You must learn the art before you can craft it. Q: What are your plans for the future? A: Oof. How much time do you have? ; ) To learn more about Kristina went from a volunteer to event co-host, stay check out our post: "One Thing Leads to Another." To learn more about the upcoming event, check out our dedicated event page: From a Mess to Your Best in 28 Days. Thanks for reading!

How to de-stress in matter of minutes (if you are not a meditation fan) by Davorka Tolic

In this hectic modern lifestyle, it is hard to find a person who is not stressed out. Being one of them myself, I was looking for ways that could give me a quick and effective stress relief when I needed it the most. I tried many different techniques and most of them work (some bit better than others) but for most of them you need ample time and a physical place to do them. For an average person, even 10 minutes a day for meditating, for example, can seem a luxury. My answer to this challenge came in the form of essential oils. Yes, they smell amazing and the best thing is that you can take them anywhere with you. They will work whether you are stuck in traffic, or in an important meeting, and when taking care of your family or traveling. The hardest thing with essential oils is to pick only one or two – there are so many which can help you in many different ways. Being an essential oils lover and passionate consumer for three years now, I can recommend four oils that relieve stress and help you feel calm and peaceful. These are all singe oils (derived from one plant) and easily accessible, so you can try them right away. Cedarwood will be most helpful with releasing environmental stress caused by constant noise, inadequate working conditions, being in the same space for a long time, etc. Lavender is the best in relieving stress caused by different substances like coffee, cigarettes, junk food, medicaments or anything else your body might have been exposed to. Roman Chamomile can help you the most when you experienced some physical stress for example pushing your body to the limits, getting exhausted at work or working out too hard. Bergamot is very good with dealing with emotional and mental stress such as overwhelming feelings, extreme mental activities like studying for exam or preparing for important presentation or just going through a period of life where you worry a lot about certain things. Of course, very often we experience stress that origins from many different sources and there is no problem in combining any of the oils I mentioned. All of these oils are safe to use around children and pets, just make sure you follow the instructions on the label. How to apply the oils: 1. Put them in a diffuser (this is not the same as the traditional lamp that heats the water). You should diffuse for about an hour to hour and a half and repeat several times a day. Good option is to diffuse just before bed time. Possible combinations: a. 2 drops lavender + 3 drops bergamot b. 2 drops cedarwood + 2 drops bergamot + 1 drop lavender + 1 drop roman chamomile c. 2 drops lavender + 3 drops cedarwood d. 3 drops cedarwood + 2 drops roman chamomile 2. Inhale from your palms This is very effective way and has a great impact in a very short period of time. You will feel the difference within two minutes. Put one drop of the desired oil on your palm, rub your palms together and inhale deeply as long as you feel a strong scent. 3. Apply topically You can apply oils basically anywhere on your body but the most effective place for stress relief will be on the inner side of your wrists, on the sides of your neck, and behind the ears. If you are experiencing a headache or similar discomfort, you can apply them to the base of your head as well. An easy way of applying your favourite oils topically is to put them in a roller bottle with some quality carrier oil (such as almond, jojoba, coconut) and apply it on the go whenever you need it. Whichever way you choose to use the oils, the results are inevitable. Experiment what works best for you and in which situation. Have the oils of your choice with you at all times and use them regularly. The effects of the essential oils wear out in about two hours so you can repeat the process several times a day. The secret of having long term results is in consistency. Enjoy your journey to living life with less stress! Davorka Tolic Davorka is the co-host of the Inner Peace Event taking place at Suncokret from 2 - 8 August and 23 - 29 August 2020. To learn more about Davorka, see our interview with her here and check out our recorded Instagram Live Chat with her here! #innerpeaceevent#davorktolic#essentialoils#aromatherapy#TRE#tensionrelease#spiritualawakening#mindfulness#yoga#meditation#stressreduction#natureretreat#holisticliving#holisticlifestyle#mindbodyspirit#yogaretreat#healing#healingjourney#travel#consciousness#journey#croatia#croatiatravel#croatiafulloflife#hvar#hvarisland#spiritualawakening#holistichealth#wellness#instatraveling#organic#vegetarian#holistichealing

Living with Joy and Purpose in Times of Fear and Uncertainty

In the nearly 50-years I have lived on this planet, in this incarnation, I have been through my share of trying times and fearful situations. It started with the instability of my family situation during my early childhood years, i.e. things like loosing contact with half my family at age 5 due to a difficult divorce, being moved around from place to place and school to school, and having to look after myself while my mom worked and studied were all part of my norm. On top of the norm, there were a handful of precarious instances that really made me feel extra vulnerable, like the time I took the wrong bus home from school and had to walk through the slums of 70’s Harlem to get home, or the time I helped a stranger with a “bad back” to carry groceries up to his apartment only to find he had locked me in and it was up to me to get myself out safely using my wits, which I luckily managed (I was 8 at the time), among others... By the time I reached 10, I began to have a growing awareness and concern for the unstable and downright scary situations that were happening in the world around me, like the unfathomable shooting of a great soul in broad daylight for no obvious or good reason (John Lennon), to the AIDS crisis during my teenage years, and as my 20-s approached, the war in Afghanistan (the first war I was ever conscious of), not to mention the simple task of living on my own in NYC as a university student and having to make ends meet with no obvious security net to catch me if I failed. At the age of 21, I had such deeply-routed feelings of insecurity and fear that living through 10 days of war in a foreign country (Slovenia) where my then-boyfriend was living and where I happened to be visiting when it started seemed not much more precarious than my life back home in the USA. It was happening and therefore it was just another string of uncontrollable scary events in a series of others to contend with. My friends and family back home thought I was insane to stay. But I decided then and there that I would rather die happy and with the one I loved than return back to the US out of fear, and back into a whole other string of fearful situations. What I found by consciously making the choice to stay was that not only does life go on but that it can even go on with a sense of joy if there is an awareness of what I was living for and in the pursuit of my passions and purpose. I remember observing the quiet fear of the masses, who were flocking to the supermarkets to stock up on quickly dwindling supplies, in sharp contrast to the ironic and certainly defiant attitude of a rather large group of people, made up of artists, intellectuals, reporters and misfits, who would convene together, in spite of the fear, in order to live it up together at impromptu gatherings held at various locations around Ljubljana. One day, from my boyfriend’s bedroom window, I watched in shock and terror as a helicopter got shot down from the sky, and minutes later, despite my fear, I found myself bravely (or foolishly) following my boyfriend and a stream of neighbours running down the street to investigate the situation first hand. A few days later, a tank had been bombed right off its destructive tracks, somewhere deep in the Slovenian countryside, and we went with a group of friends (mostly reporters) to go check it out first hand. I certainly would not have gone to investigate these events on my own as I was consumed by fear. But the action of my Slovenian peers showed me there is another way to deal with fear; and that is to face it, on purpose, to see for one self, to make up ones own mind, to bear witness in a state of knowingness. To choose bravery over fear; to choose to live in deep knowing, despite the chances of perhaps dying. Every big incident that happened during those 10 incredible days of war was proceeded by a collective us, heading out to see for ourselves, in an almost zest- for-life kind of way, what had happened. Those were probably the most thrilling and ALIVE days of my life. Living in the Balkans with this ironic, “live-it-up-in-the-face-of-danger” attitude has taught me to think differently than I would have and to live outside the box. (And a colourful life outside the box is certainly what I've had ever since, but I'll save that story for another post.) Don’t get me wrong, I believe in being informed, and I believe in taking precautions, especially because I have children to live for. And nowadays I probably would not run toward or expose myself to dangerous situations on purpose in defiance of fear. However, making a conscious choice to live joyfully and with trust in life, despite whatever scary thing is out there, is the choice I make. I choose to live in a state of gratitude and joy for being able to peruse the things I’m passionate about, and also for the little things like a bright, sunny day, the fresh air I breathe, and the blossoming spring that currently surrounds me. And for the bigger things, like the love I share between family, friends and even Suncokret guests. These are all precious jewels that I honor and which support me from the deepest root in my soul. I trust that all things happen for a reason and that, even if I can’t control whatever crisis currently happening, it’s important to carry on and go with the flow. Knowing what really matters and continually choosing to live each day I’ve got for that purpose, I remain the champion of my fate, no matter the physical outcome. I hope you will also consciously choose how you experience and respond to the fears and threats surrounding you, and I hope it will be from an aware and fulfilling place, guided by your heart and soul. If you are looking for gentle, nurturing support and guidance in learning how to navigate through fear, doubt and uncertainty during these precarious times, consider taking part in Reach Your Highest Potential event, scheduled from 12 - 18 July, 2020 and 27 December - 2 January, 2021 or 6 - 12 June, 2021. If you can't make the events, you can sign up for a Life Path Awakening Workshop, which can be conducted live at the retreat during any of the scheduled retreat weeks, and it can also be conducted online. Contact Evening for a free consultation.

#reachyourhighestpotential #keystomanifestation #createyourdestiny #suncokretevents #suncokretworkshops #suncokretexperience #holisticlifestyle #spiritualawakening #spiritualjourney #lovelife #joy #empowerment #lifepathawakening #bodyandsoulretreat #yoga #yogaretreat #chakralifemapping #chakrayoga #Croatiafulloflife #HvarIsland #natureretreat #bodymindsoul

Interview with Špela Koderman, co-host of the Radiance event

We caught up with Spela to find out more about Face Yoga, how she discovered it, her pathway to sharing it and its rich array of benefits for men and women alike. Please tell us a little about yourself; what else do you do besides teach Face Yoga? I love to dance, travel, spend time in nature (hiking, cross country skiing, skiing, scuba diving) and spend time with friends and family. On top of that, I love to keep learning about healthy ways of living and longevity. How did you get into face yoga? At the start of my 30's, when my first wrinkles appeared, I was explicitly looking for a natural way of rejuvenation and that’s when I came across face yoga. I enrolled in a beginner's course and was very positively surprised by the results (both my own and those of course participants) and I decided to step on the path to share face yoga with others. In 2015, I obtained a license as a Face Yoga Instructor, and, over the course of the past few years, I have been upgrading my knowledge with education and exploration in the field of traditional Chinese medicine, taoism and longevity. What would you say is the one best thing about face yoga? That it is beneficial for everyone, regardless their gender or age. It is great for those who would like to delay and/or improve the signs of aging. Moreover, it is highly recommended for everyone who has just completed a diet or is dieting with the aim of losing weight, as often after weight-loss, the face can look tired, wilted and even ten years older – unless we give it the exercise it needs. Face yoga is also very beneficial as part of post-natal care, as well as for all who have noticed signs of aging on their face and for all who would like to prevent such signs from showing up in the first place. The exercises also help relieve problems with the jaw and have even been used successfully (under clinical conditions) for rehabilitation following strokes or accidents. Face yoga is also recommended for those who have undergone cosmetic surgery as well as those who occasionally or regularly have botox treatments. What is did you most enjoy about last year's Radiance experience at Suncokret? I loved being immersed in the calm environment of the retreat, eating Stipe’s delicious food, doing daily Sadhana with Evening Marie, swimming in the clear waters of Hvar’s beautiful bays, and most of all, being able to give hands-on experience with face yoga practice to every person who joins us! Why would attending your particular event be beneficial to the participants who join? Face yoga is a completely natural face lifting method. We tone our face muscles, diminish wrinkles and lines, get rid of the double chin, lift droopy eyelids and cheeks, bring more volume to the face. By stimulating face muscles we accelerate blood circulation to the face, neck and scalp, enriching every cell with more oxygen and nutrients, increase the production of collagen and elastin, get rid of stagnant lymph and tone our complexion. Performing face yoga exercises has also a direct and beneficial influence on the functioning of our glands, which play a key role in the rejuvenation process, help us to maintain our vitality and energy levels and ensure that our bodies are in optimum working condition. My approach to teaching is based on the fact that each face is unique, so it is extremely important to me that I teach each participant (even in a group course) to know how to perform the exercises correctly, and therefore set a high-quality basis for when they perform face yoga on their own. They can expect to see the first results after 4-5 weeks of regular face yoga exercising done daily for about 15 minutes per day. Is there any ideal way retreat participants can better prepare themselves for their retreat time with you? There are no requirements or special preparations needed to do face yoga. As long as one has an interest to try it and then to see for her/himself what effects it has on one while doing it. Anyone who has already tried face yoga will tell you that we can have a good laugh during the classes, as the exercises can be a bit funny, but nevertheless, it takes quite a bit of effort for each of the face yoga exercises to be performed correctly. Proper execution of the exercises is crucial to activate the muscles in the targeted area of ​​the face and to accurately cover the facial expressions. At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling? The biggest reward for me is when I see the enthusiasm and satisfaction of the participants over the achieved change. I am also looking forward to seeing them relaxed and energized after soaking up the sun, sea, great food and daily exercises of face yoga and yoga. And I am sure there will also be a special glow on their faces. What is your favorite place to visit on Hvar? Hvar is a very attractive island with many beautiful places and bays to visit. I really like to combine the visit of enchanting Stari Grad, charming Jelsa, and the lively vibe of Hvar Town and the nearby Pakleni Islands. Is there anything else you would like to add? I would like to emphasize that with regular practice of facial yoga we will not look like eternal 20-year-olds, but we will definitely maintain a more youthful appearance and gracefully defy the force of gravity on the face, while gaining other already mentioned positive effects. Thanks so much for taking the time to share more about your background and about the benefits of Face Yoga with our readers, Spela! We are so excited to continue the collaboration with you! The Radiance Event will take place from 19 - 25 July and 26 July - 1 August, 2020. If you'd like to learn more, you can also check out our recorded Live Chat with Spela which was conducted this past June. #radianceevent#spelakoderman#faceyoga#holistic#detox#chakrayoga#spiritualawakening#mindfulness#yoga#meditation#beauty#naturalfacelift#organic#spa#natureretreat#holisticliving#holisticlifestyle#mindbodyspirit#yogaretreat#healing#healingjourney#travel#consciousness#journey#croatia#croatiatravel#croatiafulloflife#hvar#hvarisland#spiritualawakening#holistichealth#wellness#instatraveling#organic#vegetarian#holistichealing

Moving with Shakti, reviving through nature by Edina Husanovic

These photographs are a record of a video collaboration with a Bosnian artist Irfan Brkovic, taken while swimming in one of the most beautiful beaches on Hvar a couple of years ago. For me they symbolize the primal and powerful connection with the local nature and the amazing sea of Hvar, which is the basis of the inspiration for the events Art of Mindfulness and Moving with Shakti. One of the things you notice when you first arrive on Hvar is how time slows down. Free from the trappings of consumerist culture, you notice how the nature takes its own tempo. Art of Mindfulness and Moving with Shakti are both designed to enable the participants to really pay attention to this unique experience of the island, to relax and deepen the connection with nature and themselves through yoga, art and movement. I have had pleasure to collaborate with Evening and ‘Suncokret’ for three years now on these events, which has been made possible through my own connection to the island. These collaborations have complemented and have grown out of the creative workshops that I have been leading on the island for around ten years, from our summer house, which is not so far from the retreat. A moment of mindfulness during the Art of Mindfulness event, 2019 Moving with Shakti during the Viva Shakti event, 2019 The atmosphere at ‘Suncokret’ is wonderful. It is precious to meet so many different folks taking the opportunity to relax and renew themselves through yoga, art and movement. It is wonderful that each time this process is as different and unique, as people who participate bring very unique influences. This year, during Art of Mindfulness and Moving with Shakti, I hope the guests will take the opportunity to take refuge from the pressures of their everyday life, and benefit from the creative, visual and movement-based explorations, designed to foster our own sense of harmony and inner peace. I was born in neighboring Bosnia, and then found refuge from the war in the UK where I trained in art and theatre. I was also lucky to be deeply shaped and healed by the experience of Vipassana meditation, which has, together with art, helped me to reintegrate my early experiences of the war. My daily practice of meditation helps me to nurture the qualities of intuition and peace, which are also reflected in my creative work. Recently, after living for two years on Hvar, I moved back to the UK where I had spent most of my adult life, so that my son could start school. For those two years, living with my young son and husband on the island, I got to know its rhythms and subtle changes and explore its natural environments through drawing, swimming, walking and cycling. The experience has left a deep imprint on all three of us, and after returning I have started to write and illustrate a book inspired by the island. I hope to share this intuitive and intimate relationship to the island with other participants, who, I am sure, will be also spellbound by its beauty. At the end of event week, one thing I hope the retreat participants will feel is nourished by our unique shared experience. During the creative workshops that I have led in Croatia, Bosnia and UK, there are moments that stretch, with incredible beauty, and envelop participants into a shared space of play. These moments evoke for me, an idea of a safe space to dream, rest, create, ‘to feel secure and loved’, or to be ‘at home’. This is my hope for both Art and Mindfulness and Moving with Shakti. Art of Mindfulness will take place from 9 - 15 August, 2020 and Moving with Shakti is scheduled from 16-22 August. Both events are family-friendly. If you'd like to learn more about both events, check out our recorded Instagram Life video chat with Edina. #artofmindfulness #movingwithshakti #vivashakti #edinahusanovic #mindfulness #suncokretevents2020 #yogaretreateurope #spiritualawakening #danceworkshop #yoga #meditation #artworkshops #natureretreat #holisticliving #holisticlifestyle #mindbodyspirit #yogaretreat #healing #healingjourney #travel #consciousness #journey #croatia #croatiatravel #croatiafulloflife #hvar #hvarisland #spiritualawakening #holistichealth #wellness #instatraveling #organic #vegetarian #holistichealing

Interview with Davorka Tolic, co-host of the Inner Peace event

We got together with Davorka Tolic, co-host of the upcoming Inner Peace event taking place twice this summer, from 2 - 8 and 23-29 August, 2020. Tell us a little about yourself; what else do you do besides teach TRE? I have been in the business of educating others ever since college. For over 15 years, I have been focusing on teaching soft skills and managerial skills for a company that has cooperative clients. However, I have come to realize that I have much more to offer to people who would like to work on personal development in different ways, and this realization has led me to learning the holistic techniques that I am focusing on sharing today. How did you get into yoga, TRE and essential oils? I have always been physically active and was introduced to yoga about 12 years ago. After my first class, I was so thrilled that I knew it would stick with me for the rest of my life. After a few years of practice, I decided to
deepen my knowledge and take a Teacher Training Course. One thing led to another and soon I met a yoga teacher who introduced me to TRE (Tension Release Exercises). I felt as TRE was that one missing piece that could help a person manage daily life successfully and cope with all the stresses modern life brings. Then, three years ago, I came across essential oils and, ever since trying them, I’ve been learning about how to use them to enhance the quality of my daily life What would you say is the one best thing about TRE? For me, it is knowing that TRE can help anyone and witnessing the reactions of people that experience TRE for the first time. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and contentment that I have been able to help others discover a new practical way of relieving stress, tension and even trauma. And enhancing that experience by using essential oils which help bring feelings of instant bliss and relief. It is really impossible not to feel good when using both these tools together.

What has been your best teaching experience to date? I would single out the TRE session I led with my first big group of people from my hometown of Tuzla, Bosnia. The energy was so high and positive during the session that we were laughing for the whole two hour workshop. And the results were amazing; we were talking about the workshop for days and participants were sharing experiences for hours and days after the session. They were also thrilled with the effects of essential oils that I combined with TRE. Besides yoga, TRE and essential olis, what is your favorite thing? I love hiking and spending time in nature. I still haven’t tried TRE on a hill top, but I believe it would be an amazing experience. Oh, then we should definitely try this here during the retreat! Yes! I can’t wait!

What is the thing you are most looking forward to about the collaborative experience at Suncokret?

I am very much looking forward to combining my knowledge and experience of TRE and essential oils in such a great environment and for the whole consecutive 7 days. I am also excited about the contribution
Evening Marie is bringing to this retreat. I believe that the atmosphere of everything
coming together – the place, the food, the people and all great things that we will do together, will be very special for everyone who joins.

What do you hope guests will gain by attending your event at Suncokret? I hope they will not want to leave ☺ And that they will be able to experience true inner transformation throughout the 7 days, finding new ways to bring deeper peace into their lives and experience the benefits of this inner peace over the long term.

At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling? Gratitude for giving themselves an opportunity to go through that journey. What are your plans for the future? I just completed TRE Advanced training and plan to continue my education in that field. Also, I started giving education workshops about essential oils and enjoy sharing my experiences with others. I believe that I will continue my work in finding new ways to enable myself and others to live healthier and happier lives. We're really looking forward to hosting this event with you, Davorka! Want to learn more? Please check out our page for the Inner Peace event and see our recorded Live Instagram chat with Davorka. #innerpeaceevent#davorktolic#essentialoils#aromatherapy#TRE#tensionrelease#spiritualawakening#mindfulness#yoga#meditation#stressreduction#natureretreat#holisticliving#holisticlifestyle#mindbodyspirit#yogaretreat#healing#healingjourney#travel#consciousness#journey#croatia#croatiatravel#croatiafulloflife#hvar#hvarisland#spiritualawakening#holistichealth#wellness#instatraveling#organic#vegetarian#holistichealing

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

Improvising life & 4 great tips for manifesting positive outcomes

Happy 2019, dear readers! It's been a while. Not that there hasn't been anything to say, it's more that there is always so much to say and so little office time to jot it down. That's life with a pre-schooler. It forces you to do things in a new way. The anti-perfectionist way. It's not easy to adapt, but there seems to be little choice. So here it goes, my improvised message to you: Last year on Dec 31st I wrote a very special piece about the 10 Proven Tips for a Balanced Year Ahead which involve rituals I go through each December & January in order to take inventory of my life in the current year before honing in on desired dreams and wishes I want to manifest in the new one. It's a great process and I stand by everything I mentioned in the article 100%, but this year I broke tradition and didn’t write things down, well not in extended form, due to lack of personal reflection time. So, when I found myself on New Year's Eve and then New Year's Day without having completed many of the steps from my list in writing, I realised it was time to improvise and get cracking with action anyway. We spent New Year's Eve at home, just hanging out and enjoying one another's company and pondering aloud all the blessings we recall having touched our lives that year. I managed to make a bullet-point list of all the blessings I could recall from the past year, and the thing that surprised me most was that the joy and blessing I felt from spending time with people far outweighed the joy I felt about accomplishing great feats, including a major renovation project in my home or the business success we had had. So, thank you friends, new and old, for making the year so special for me! Following my own protocols as best as I could, on New Year's Day, we made a point to do something new together, and so we went on an adventure to find a labyrinth that a friend of ours had made, high up in the peak district of the island. We had tried to find it a while back without luck, but this time we got lucky. It's a rather small and unpresumptuous circular formation made of stones that is hard to spot in a land of endless stones. But the energy around the formation is quite energizing and appealing. Impromptu, we formed a line and followed the maze, turning this way and that, my husband, 3-year-old daughter and I taking turns stating our wishes aloud for the year ahead. Everything off the cuff. Everything from the heart. Stipe happened to have a bell in his pocket and began ringing it after each statement. The three of us reached the center of the formation, and then made our way back out in similar fashion, but this time I started chanting my favorite mantra for manifestation, "Har, Har" (which is quite catchy, it seems) and my companions followed suit, much to my delight! Once we exited the maze, we felt magical and blessed. Blessed to be alive, magical for being able to call out our dreams under heavenly skies, with the wind, and Divine nature as our witness. Though I kicked off the New Year without having made my lists in detail, I must say that this improvised version felt very powerful and true. The lesson here is that when you don't have time to be your best or do your best, just do the best you can. The Universe knows when you are sincere. The Universe listens and responds to you. ​ ​And because my inbox was flooded with Christmas and New Year's messages, probably just like yours, which I sadly had to delete due to lack of time to ponder them, probably just like you, the ones that did manage to stand out before deleting were those that gave simple instructions and seemed to come from the heart. So here are my 4 best New Year's inspirational tips for you, from my heart: 1. Create a Gratitude Treasure Chest: Get a container of some kind (a box, a glass jar, etc.) and place a statement of gratitude in it each day, or each week, or whenever you feel inspired. Read the contents at the end of the year to close it on a high note, and for pure inspiration as you move into the new one. 2. Get out there and do something new, big or small, planned or improvised. The rush of energy from experiencing new things will help build wind in your sails for a time to come. Enjoy! 3. Forgive yourself for any perceived failures and start anew today! Whatever it is that you are empowered to do now, whether it be one small step or one giant leap, the trust you place in life and your heart's whisperings will certainly bring great rewards. This I know to be true. 4. Chant "Har, Har" for 3 minutes while cupping your hands up and down, as you focus on your goals coming to life! You'll absolutely love this mediation! This magical manifestation tool comes from the teachings of Kundalini Yoga an instructs us to sit in Sukasana with eyes gazing into the 3rd eye, while forming a cup with our hands below the navel, outer edges of the hands on the pinky side touching. Chant “Har" while circling the hands up around the heart chakra, connecting the inner edges of the hands together along the index and thumb side, keep your thumbs pointed away from the rest of the fingers and form a cross with them - in doing so, we keep the ego at bay and let the mantra of “God’s Gift” and the cup of manifestation do the work - and then bring your hands back in the starting position and repeat the mantra "Har" again. The mudra and mantra chanting are repetitively and rhythmically done for the next 3-11 minutes, all the while, the heart & mind are focused on that which we would like to manifest, as if it were being born strait out of the Manipura Chakra, with the loving energy of the heart connecting and guiding us to receiving the positive outcome(s) such manifestation(s) will bring. For added power, pull in the naval point as you chant each "Har". It is said that the navel is the place of re-birth and when we focus the sound frequency there it makes it even more powerful. I have always found this exercise to be extremely profound. My New Year's prayer for us all: May work together with great energy and achieve powerful, uplifting results for ourselves and those we come into contact with. May we respect and learn from one another, and grow brighter and more joyful as a result. May we tap into the wisdom and experience needed to perform our work and live our lives with excellence, abundance and light. May we love and appreciate one another as reflections. May we be blessed, now and always. Har, har! Namaste, Evening, Stipe & the little one

The magic of retreat!

Happy 2019 everyone! Today I'd like to share an interview I conducted with one of our former retreaters as part of our Yoga Unites Us series. She is an incredibly inspirational woman named Luanne Rullestad, who came on retreat together with her daughter, Emile, and who is so bravely sharing her story of personal transformation and growth as inspiration for us all. Going on retreat is often the catalyst for a major life change, or an ideal way to celebrate life together with a loved one and with a like-minded community in a positively empowering, life-affirming way. In Luanne's case it was both. Tell us more about you? Who are you, what do you do for a living, where are you from? My name is Luanne, I am the mother of two extraordinary daughters and co-author of the book titled "Mom as of July." A true story of a mother's journey through addiction, homelessness, faith and love. How would you describe your life and lifestyle? My life today is filled with blessings. I am healthier than I have ever been in my life. I live within 30 minutes of both of my daughters, in the beautiful city of Dallas, Texas. I spend time working to promote our story in recovery centers, helping families bridge the gap of hope in restoring families burdened by addiction. I also enjoy playing, swimming and laughing with my 7 year old grandson. If you could change anything about your present lifestyle, what would that be and why? One thing I would change about my present lifestyle is getting up earlier so in order to enjoy a fuller day. Can you share with us more about your yoga journey / background… What got you started, with who, and how has that experience been progressing for you? I started with yoga 3 months after spending 40 days in Mercy Hospital, dying from liver failure. Both of my daughters arranged a private yoga class for us. After one class I joined the studio and went to 1 1/2 hours of hot yoga 3 times a week. I know with out any doubt, this is what healed my internal organs and of course renewed my mind. I love yoga to this day. Medically, mentally and spiritually this practice saved my life. If you met someone who had never tried yoga before, how would you describe it to them? In other words, what is yoga to you? Yoga to me restores life, joy, peace, balance, health. A true and powerful connection to my inner self. I highly recommend yoga to everyone. What was the reason you wanted to go on a retreat? Coming to the retreat was a dream come true and a very gracious gift from my daughter Emily. I was sick for many years and she kept a dream and a vision alive in her heart that she and I would go to a yoga retreat together one day. An impossible dream it seemed due to the condition of my daily deteriorating health. So, the retreat to Croatia was a miracle for us and an extraordinary experience. Have you been on a retreat before; if so where and what was it like for you? This was the first yoga retreat I had ever been on. My experience was more than invigorating and amazingly blissful at the same time. I plan to go on more yoga retreats in the future. This experience will be a hard one to top. How did you choose to retreat at Suncokret and what inspired you most while here? Emily did all the research and through website information and asking people questions about Croatia she found this most magical and enlightening place on earth. What was your favorite spot on the island and why? My favorite spot on the island was the home style retreat. I loved the comfort of the stone home, the beauty of the nature and scenery surrounding it, I loved the birds and the animals freely roaming, the history and the incredible all natural homemade meals from the surrounding gardens and farms and the precious, intimate time I spent there with my daughter, Emily. If you had one message that you could share with the rest of our readers, what would that be? Today we are sharing our story with the world. Bringing radical hope that every lost loved one can find their way home.

Yoga Unites Us

Welcome to our new blog series featuring the personal stories of the amazing guests from all walks of life who retreat with us! This past month, we opened doors to the start of our 14th retreat season! Fourteen! And it was quite an inspiring start, indeed. Firstly, we were blessed to have hosted a stay with the incredibly talented visionary artist, Burgandy Viscosi, who had contacted us over a year ago to inquire whether we would be interested in doing a yoga retreat – mural painting exchange. Though we were open to the idea already last year, that shared vision didn’t actually manifest till late April of this year. But the wait was certainly worth it! The stars aligned and the universe conspired to bring together two soul-sisters in fortnight-long exchange of yoga, art, creativity, open-hearted sharing, and all around pure magic. ​​However, it was not just Burgandy whose presence blessed us during opening week. There were also 4 other ladies; two from France and two from Germany, each with her own fascinating background and stories to share. I am always amazed and honoured to share yoga, delicious meals and meaningful chats with our retreaters, and, under the blessed skies of Hvar Island, slowly get to know the most poignant, meaningful life experiences these beautiful people share with one another in our space. Whether it be their hopes and dreams, their present or past struggles, the great learning blocks they have overcome and gained mastery over only to be the light for others in need, each person has a unique passion and purpose that can help us all come to know our own selves even better. As Burgandy spent her days drawing out and then painting images from my mind’s eye, hand equipped with paintbrush, flowing rather quickly but carefully along the wall in graceful, fluid strokes, rendering powerful images such as magical trees with peacock feathers for branches, chakra and other mandalas as adorning flowers, butterflies and birds and lavender as finishing touches… it felt as if the whole group was also flowing in and around our own creative waters, coming into greater alignment with our passion, purpose and potential. Toward the end of the week, just prior to the departure of the German ladies, whose stories I was only just beginning to get to know through bits and pieces of conversation, and who were becoming increasingly fascinating and inspiring to me, I had this “ah ha” moment… "Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could preserve some of these stories for others to learn, grow from, and be inspired by? Instead of Suncokret being merely a place where people can retreat together, why not also act as an extended channel for spreading word about the struggles and growth, passion and purpose of all these amazing souls who come together to share in a holistic yogic retreat experience together. In this way we empower our community to grow beyond the confines of the retreat space itself and demonstrate through story-telling just how universal our experiences are, despite our unique spin on things! And what better way to do this than to provide a platform for people to share their own stories, in their own words, on our very own blog? Alas, the title, “Yoga Unites Us” came to me as a beautiful heading for this expansion of our mission. Because the holistic yoga and spiritual pathway is indeed the very wonderful thing that brings us all together, from various corners of the globe, from diverse walks of life, to a little village on an island, in the middle of the Adriatic Sea… to a place called Suncokret... a place with purpose that is devoted to revolving around the Divine light (of the sun) and providing a platform for the blossoming of one's fullest potential. So, without further adieu, I leave you with the first interview of the series featuring a chat we had with Burgandy, in the hope that you may find inspiration in the slices of life shared by her and, in future editions, other retreaters alike. Enjoy and thanks for reading! Namaste