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The great thing about Koh Phangan is that now, twenty five years after my first trip here, the island hasn’t changed all that much. Definitely compared to the neighbouring island of Koh Samui, which has undergone a complete transformation, Koh Phangan is still relatively peaceful and unspoilt, despite the influx of young hedonists from around the world each month for the famous full moon party.

And in the last ten or fifteen years, the island has also become a mecca for spiritual types and yogis, with an abundance of yoga shalas, retreat centres, detox centres and healing destinations available – something to suit a wide range of needs and budgets.

5 Reasons to Visit Koh Phangan

The first time I did a Vipassana Retreat was back in January 2005, just after the December 2004 South East Asian Tsunami that wrecked great swathes of Asia from India to Indonesia on boxing day in 2004. I did that retreat at Wat Kow Tham on the island of Koh Phangan (where I am writing this from now) and the island was not affected by the tsunami, thanks to its location in the Gulf of Thailand.

I arrived this time at Suan Mokkh, without too many expectations, just a desire to have some time dedicated to my inner work, in the company of others.

I got to Wat Suan Mokkh monastery the day before the retreat started, and stayed a night, before heading over to the International Dhamma Hermitage on the morning of November 30th. I had already met a few of my fellow participants at the monastery, and during the registration process at the centre, I met a few more. People came from all over the place; Europe, North America and Asia, but I didn’t meet any fellow Australians.

Everyone was at the retreat for different reasons, but at the same time the main reason was seem to be to take time for clarity and to find meaning and purpose in their life.

10 Days of Silence

If you have people pleasing tendencies, and do your best to always be a ‘good’ person and a ‘nice’ person, you are likely to come across many people who will take advantage of you.

Boundaries are something that our parents and caregivers help us to develop through letting us know that our feelings matter, and helping us to tune into these feelings, and understand the messages they bring.

But if our parents were not tuned into their own feelings, and ignored or suppressed their so-called ‘negative’ emotions then they will not have been able to teach us this crucial life skill, and as a result we might struggle mightily with setting boundaries.

Tuning into your emotions, and being able to harvest the information from them, while at the same time being able to let them pass freely through your physical and energetic body is the work of a masterful spiritual warrior.

How to Grow Boundaries

About a month ago I was in Zagreb, Croatia having a conversation on Skype with a friend in Colorado in the US. As someone who grew up pre-internet I still find this kind of thing quite amazing. I told him that I had recently lost my purse while on a one night stopover on the way to Slovenia in Trieste and I hadn’t yet got my bank to send my card over. I told him I felt like I was doing an inadvertent experiment in Trust Life.

I was also interested in the idea of living without money, as this inspiring German woman, Heidemarie Schwermer did for many years.

It turned out that my wish became my reality in a way, as I spent the last month travelling the world without any bank cards and with just a little money that I received through the kindness of others. Once I was in this inadvertent experiment, I decided to go with it, not to resist. I wanted to discover if I could get by, by trusting the universe to provide all I needed; by trusting in life itself.

Trust Life: A Travel Adventure

Do you feel things very deeply? Do you feel the emotions of others, feel what animals are feeling, and the moment you step into a place, immediately have information about what is going on there? Do you unconsciously take the energetic pulse (happy, sad, excited, angry, tranquil, crazed, longing, frustrated, f*cking pissed off…?) of the place and receive all kinds of information about people, whether you are interested or not.

Maybe it has been a lifetime struggle for you to just be in the world, and to feel OK, and sometimes getting out of bed is your best achievement for the day, so don’t worry about the spreading-your-love-and-your-light-and-being-your-most-fabulous-version thank you very much.

I get that. We all have days like that, and that’s OK.

Becoming a radically self-loving person means honouring yourself at all times and checking into your inner knowing and your internal guidance system so that you are safely and securely guided to what’s best for you at any given moment.

Radical Self Love: A Field Guide

I spent a most enjoyable and laughter-filled week at Yoga in Salento, a yoga retreat in an agroturismo in the heal of the boot of Italy in the early summer season. It was so relaxing that I sometimes I almost melted into the earth after a rigorous yoga class followed by a divine breakfast of muesli and a sprinkling of dew speckled mulberries straight from the tree. I wanted to stay there forever. This is a common feeling for me as a guest at yoga retreats around the globe, but I experienced it much more intensely at this one. Here are ten reasons to visit.

One of my favourite things about a retreat is connection with the natural world. Yoga in Salento is set on 20 hectares of land much of it cultivated for veggie gardens and fruit orchards. There is also a swimming pool surrounded by lush green grass peppered with olive trees bedecked with hammocks for lying on and reading your favourite author between dips.

Or you can just lie in the grass, one of my favourite ways of connecting with the Earth and grounding your energy. Much of the food in the vegetarian restaurant is sourced from the large and well cared for veggie garden, which at the time I was there was full of just ripening tomatoes, young zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, carrots and capsicums. The orchard just outside my bedroom provided fresh peaches, plums, loquats and apricots for the breakfast buffet, as well as a freshly picked pile of mulberries every day.

Divino Amore: An Italian Retreat

After the April Radical Self Love Retreat in Bali, I realised that the place I had been searching for – my happy place – a place with community and connection and love and a feeling of family and good weather and peace, was right here in Bali. Prior to this I had spent time in India and New Zealand, looking for possible future home bases. I went to visit Auroville, an intentional community in South India, and in New Zealand I spent time in the very laid back Coromandel Peninsula.

But in the end Bali ticked all my boxes, and so after going back to Melbourne in April, I packed up my flat and belongings, and returned to stay in a beautiful apartment at the Bali Sandat guesthouse in June.

Some people have been asking me recently what it is that I love about Bali and the answer was too long for a message, so I decided to write this article.

What I Love About Bali

Radical Self Love Online Course

Radical Self Love Course

Do you feel an underlying feeling that your life is missing something? Are you really unsure what that something is? Do you sometimes struggle with self-esteem, and with building strong and life-affirming relationships? Then it might be time to dive deep into Self-Love.

This course will help you learn to love yourself, and if you already do love yourself, it will help you to deepen your relationship with you. Self-love is the foundation of a healthy life, and there are many reasons why we may be lacking in self love, from our programming received in childhood, through to traumatic experiences not yet fully processed, and also just the basic fact that in our educational systems we are not really taught how to love ourselves.

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