This was an entry I wrote in my journal I kept while at the retreat. I don't normally journal, but there were so many moments, and so many emotions happening, that I didn't want to forget a second of it. A good portion of this post has been taken from the journal I kept at the retreat.
6:00-7 a.m. Qi Gong, mindful walking on the beach, and guided meditation
7:00-7:45 a.m. Fruit, tea and coffee
7:45-8:30 a.m. Lecture
8:30-10 a.m. Morning yoga
10:00 a.m. Brunch
11:00 a.m -4 p.m. Free time
4:00-6 p.m. Evening restorative yoga, mindful tea drinking, group sharing
6:15 p.m. Dinner
I am a bit embarrassed to admit that one of the things I was worried about, was our schedule beginning at six o'clock in the morning. I have trouble getting to bed before midnight, and getting me out of bed before eight is nearly impossible, so the thought of having to start my day every morning at six, was a bit troubling! However, I discovered with delight, traveling to a place eleven hours ahead of home, is the perfect solution for that! I fell asleep every night before eight, and every morning we arose before sunrise. Sneaking out of our villa, following the trail to the ocean, we would watch the magnificent sunrise, the clouds slowly peeking above the ocean, the sun casting its fiery rays. This was a beautiful moment for Nick and I every morning.
I loved learning about this thousands of year old art form, and getting to use the free flowing movements to wake up my organs, and even ease some of the tension in my shoulders!
The photo above and below are courtesy of Pascal Lefebvre, the owner of Full Moon Village Resort.
During our first morning guided meditation I sat on my mat, and participated in the guided meditation. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of Sarah's voice gently guiding us on our meditation journey. Tears ran down my face as I listened to the birds chirping, the waves crashing, and focused on loving awareness towards myself. I was overcome by such deep feelings of joy, peace, and a love for myself and my surroundings.
Once the guided meditation was over, we all walked down from the shala where fresh fruit and teas were awaiting us. If that wasn't enough, we got to order a fancy tea or coffee from the wait staff. My iced Vietnamese coffee with coconut cream was probably one of my favorite parts of the day! I also loved the opportunity to sit and conversate with the amazing individuals from five different countries, and all walks of life that were at the retreat. Being in a group of like minded people, talking, sharing, and nobody on their cell phones (!!!) felt like paradise to me!
After we had our fill of the glorious fruits, teas, and coffees, we made our way back up to the shala. I thoroughly looked forward to, and enjoyed the lectures. The word lecture conjures up for most hard chairs, fluorescent lighting, and a long-winded professor. More opposite of that this could not have been! We sat in a semi-circle in our shala, on our yoga mats, with the wind in our hair, and the ocean beside us, learning lessons that we would later practice on the mat, and in everyday life. Hang and Sarah enraptured and delighted us with their vast knowledge, humor, and contagious joy. We learned about the different doshas, mindfulness, the garden of the mind, and how words can affect us, and more! I took lots of notes and am so excited to keep applying these wonderful principles to my life.
Ahhh morning yoga...can you think of anything more perfect?
Lying there on my back focusing on my breathing, hearing only the gentle sounds of Hang's voice, and the crash of the ocean, with its cool salty breeze blowing delicately on my face, I knew i was truly in paradise. And yes, this is the view from our shala!
Brunch was an absolutely glorious time! After four hours of yoga, meditation, and lectures, we were all invigorated-and hungry! We made our way downstairs where a buffet of freshly squeezed watermelon, coconut and other various juices were waiting, along with a different vegetarian pho every day, as well as fresh salads, coffee, and other various brunch foods. We ate these with the glass doors wide open to allow the outdoors access to us. Sigh, heaven.
After brunch we had five glorious hours to do whatever our hearts desired. This included for Nick and I spending time at the pool, walking the beach, and spending time in our room.
A note about the hotel, I have never stayed in a place more secluded, delightful, and luxurious, all rolled in to one, than the Full Moon Village Resort in Mui Ne. It housed the most beautiful pool I have ever swam in, incredible and authentic vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine, amazing staff, the ocean right at our back yard, and don't even get me started on our room! It was not even a room, but our own private villa! A completely fenced off, perfectly private villa with a spacious kitchen, dining and living room, bathroom, and a bedroom with romantic netting surrounding the bed! This luxury was completed by our very own outdoor hot tub! I will be writing more about this amazing resort in an upcoming blog post about Vietnam.
At four we all arrived at Sarah and Hang's villa, yoga mat and couch cushions in hand.
We would start the evening with a mindful tea drinking ceremony, first reading the above mantra, then partaking in mindfully, gratefully, and with purpose drinking our tea.
Next was group share. I loved group share! We took turns sharing whatever was on our mind and heart. Some were joyful things, some had realizations and epiphones, and others were struggles and losses. We shared together, we cried together, we experienced together.
Last was restorative yoga. If you are a person who thinks yoga is too hard, then you must try restorative yoga! The lights were dimmed, soft music was played, and we all lay on our yoga mats using big fluffy couch cushions for comfort. Hang and Sarah took turns guiding us on this relaxing, and healing yoga session. Nick even fell asleep one day and started snoring real loud. And Nick never takes naps! It was that relaxing and good!
The first fifteen minutes of dinner was spent in mindful silence. We first gave thanks to our higher being, and then gave thanks to the food. We were encouraged to say hello to each piece of food, imagine the journey they took to get to us, and to chew slowly and thoroughly. Doing this, we got to experience mindfulness and a different way of thinking in something we do every day, in something as simple as eating a meal. Truly amazing! I actually really enjoyed the mindful silence at dinner time. I got to really taste, and really enjoy every bite, instead of wolfing it down like I normally do. After fifteen minutes we were free to get seconds, and talk. Nick and I usually stayed until about seven thirty talking with all our new friends, then went back to our villa for bed.
The next morning we got to do it all over again!
And yes, yoga and meditation can be daunting. But Sarah and Hang guide you through it with ease. Giving you tips, helping your form, and always teaching you new techniques and sayings, it was such a special experience.
I 1,000% recommend trying a yoga and mindfulness retreat at least once in your life. Hang and Sarah do retreats year round in Vietnam and Australia, if you've ever wanted to visit one of these delectable places, and also Canada if you live in Canada or the States and don't want to venture too far from home. It doesn't matter which location you choose (though I'm quite partial to Vietnam...), just go! Go on this transformative, once in a lifetime journey with saigon om.
If you have any questions about the retreats or different training courses, feel free to email them (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sarah and Hang are the greatest and will be happy to answer any questions. Just tell them Jessica from My Peace Love Life sent you! Go like them on facebook to see all the amazing things they are doing!
Peace Love and saigon om