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A few weeks ago, I spent 21 days practicing meditation in a temple in the north of Thailand. The meditation style was an intensive form of vipassana (insight meditation), the core practice in many Buddhist traditions. In this retreat, I was practicing mindfulness in three different activities: mindful prostrations, walking, and sitting.
In the sitting meditation, I would simply sit crosslegged, with eyes closed, observing my thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. If you have done any meditation practice, nothing described so far must be very surprising. Personally, I had intended to take an intensive meditation retreat for years, but there was something holding me back.
By the end of the first week of repeating the same routine, I had moments where my mind was internally screaming, kicking and fighting to find a way out. I would catch myself counting the days left to the end of the retreat, the hours left to the end of the day, and the minutes left to the end of the hour. Superficial freedom, once experienced, brings us to the very realization of its inconsistency.
And this realization may well arrive in a tiny wooden hut, where the only thing you can do is walk back and forth. Raffaello Manacorda (but you can call him Raffa) is a certified Yoga teacher and veteran Tantra practitioner.
He is the author of Conscious Relationships: The Art of Bringing Awareness to Intimacy & Sexuality, a practical guide to evolved intimate relationships. His passion is human evolution in all its manifestations, and he loves to write about sexuality and spirituality.
It's amazing when you think about how often the mind holds us back from true freedom, and all the truths of life. Combine your holiday in Krabi with a couple of nights at the Wareerak retreat for spa treatments and bathing in natural hot springs. Children’s Policy: Children up to 12 years sharing the same room with the parents are free of charge.
The following Saturday morning I meet with my Dhamma friend, who is accompanied by Maechee Noi (literally meaning “little nun” in Thai language) and the three of us, dressed in white clothes (as per temple regulations), drive to Watsunanthawanaram, a forest temple in the Thai province of Kanchanaburi, located about a 3 hour drive to the west of Bangkok. Watsunanthawanaram is a forest temple whose abbot is the Venerable Phra Ajahn Mitsuo Gavesako, a senior monk and highly respected meditation teacher.
Laypeople, Thai and foreigners alike, are welcome at the forest temple to practice meditation and to follow the strict yet simple lifestyle adopted by the monks and maechees living here.
This is what happens on my first visit to the temple: at around 6pm, hearing the sound of a recording in Thai on guided meditation, we head to the temple to begin our walking meditation.
I lose track of time, but I feel I am dreaming because I hear the English language being spoken.
Back to the temple where we started the night before, Pali chanting recommences, following another session initiated by the gong’s call at 4:30.
Wanderlust has driven Camille to study and work in 4 different countries and 3 continents so far. The session will be around 45 minutes long (10' intro, 20-25' guided meditation, 10' Q&A). From Ashtanga to Yin Yoga, Pranayama to Ayurveda, our luxury yoga retreats offer the best in holistic wellness experiences for the mind, body and spirit. Set on a private beach overlooking the ocean, the yoga pavilion at Paradis Plage is a breath-taking wooden construction with panoramic glass windows giving you an unparalleled view of miles of stunning coastline.
Famed for their world-class spa amenities and indulgent therapies, relax and rejuvenate with an extensive menu of healing treatments at Absolute Sanctuary, Thailand. This award-winning Asian spa holiday retreat is famed for its all-encompassing approach to wellness, which immediately becomes apparent on its holistic yoga programme. This hidden gem on the southern coast of Koh Samui is the perfect setting for a spiritual overhaul and offers complete physical and emotional wellness courses with chances to engage in yogic practices as well as personal training and other holistic activities.
Kamalaya is an award-winning destination spa that boasts flawless service with an extensive range of wellness programmes.
In the birthplace of yoga, Ananda offers a full spectrum of yogic disciplines including private Pranayama, Yoga Nidra and Ajapajapa sessions, all taking place in the resort's stunning outdoor amphitheatre. An all-encompassing spiritual experience, the Parrot Cay Yoga Retreat boasts idyllic daily yoga classes on their private beach, facing the awe-inspiring immensity of the North Atlantic ocean. Take in magnificent views of the stretching coastline whilst enjoying your daily yoga classes by the rooftop pool at Aguas de Ibiza. Calm your mind and re-energise your body through meditation and spiritual practices with the dedicated yoga programme at the award-winning Chiva Som in Thailand. Talk to one of our Travel Specialists on 0203 397 8891 or contact us here to discuss tailor-making your perfect healthy holiday. Lucy Miller is a fitness and nutrition advisor, and Fitness Editor at Health & Fitness Magazine.
Our Travel Specialists have years of experience in finding the perfect healthy holiday to match your needs. The mindful prostrations are a set of codified movements that help connect the awareness with the body.
If, in order to feel ‘free,’ I need to be able to do anything I please at any given moment, what kind of feeble freedom is that?
Then, we can have a hint of the deeper freedom, the one that doesn’t depend on any external circumstances, but only on a spacious, unbound awareness of what is. If we don't learn to control our mind, it will take control of us and keep us confined in a pattern of what it thinks is freedom.
I dodge motorbikes and street dogs and wearily make my way to anywhere that’s blasting air conditioning.

Born in Japan, Venerable Ajahn Gavesako was ordained as a Theravadan Buddhist Monk with the Venerable Ajahn Chah in 1976. Their lifestyle is not an easy one; it defies the sense of ‘comfortable living’ (especially in Western terms) and involves wearing white or light-colored clothes (for visitors, or orange robes for monks), eating only once a day (in the morning) from the almsbowl, practicing meditation in solitude several times a day, and living in small huts scattered throughout the forest. I can’t see who is speaking but he introduces himself as an American who has been ordained as a monk in this temple, and he’s been here a year now. All of us—monks, maechees, and laypeople alike, head off to rest until the morning gong tolls (2:30 am), announcing that meditation shall recommence.
The red dirt, the veiny hands of the banyan trees reaching out, scouring the soil, seeking the truth. A Colorado native, she loves the outdoors, the fresh mountain air, and climbing mountains called 14ers. I will held my first meditation session at 8:30 am on 6th February (Saturday)! Let's come together, release all the tension and stress from the body and mind!
However the sign will be very evident to find me, I will use a flag written on it "Peace Revolution" and I will also wear a T-shirt with the same message.
With stunning locations in Morocco, the Philippines and more, our retreats offer everything from daily yoga classes to contemplative meditation and philosophic dialogue. The resort offers 3 daily classes from Sunrise to Sunset yoga including sessions aimed at beginners and seasoned yogis. On this yoga retreat, you are free to attend unlimited yoga classes with up to 25 lessons taking place each week in their charming studios.
With complimentary attendance to daily yoga and mind classes from Aqua Yoga to Power Flow, Yin Yoga to Silent Meditation, you can work on your well-being whatever your preferred style. Samahita's dedicated yoga retreats teach everything from authentic Pranayama and asana to meditation and ancient philosophies. The retreat offers complimentary group wellness activities including Pilates, meditation & breathing classes alongside yoga sessions.
The resort is built around an ancient cave, once inhabited by Buddhist monks who came to the island to live a hermit-like existence devoted to meditation.
Explore a range of ancient Ayurvedic practises and personalise your yoga classes to include your favourite styles and sequences.
The retreat also plays host to Vedic group discussions, which are an amazing way to immerse yourself in yogic philosophy and tradition.
Along with group sessions, the 38° North team offer private yoga and Pilates classes so you can hone your skills with a personal teacher. Team private yoga sessions from disciplines including Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinsaya flow, with complimentary daily massages and healing water therapy treatments. Vipassana is all about bringing awareness, or mindfulness, to whatever one is doing in the present moment. They only take a few minutes and are an introductory practice to the walking and sitting meditation. I thought that being in silence and withdrawal for a few weeks would be super challenging for me. And there, in the realization that I had no choice but to accept what is, I found an unexpected realization about freedom. The wooden walls of the tiny cabin where I was walking back and forth for hours felt just as spacious as a tropical beach or a remote mountaintop. The mind is constantly moving, and it loves a different kind of temporary, fleeting freedom. I have been doing a lot of reading about this recently and was interested in what you were saying about how you felt time was going slow, how you felt like you were caged in and your mind was screaming at you – but that's what happens when we take control over our mind!
The Venerable Ajahn Chah followed the tradition of the forest temple, which in turn, is followed today at Watsunanthawanaram. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, we “checked into” our individual huts (rooms just big enough for sleeping on the hard tile floor with mats and brick pillows provided), rinsed off in the austere showers (no hot water), and took a brief tour.
I count the hours until I can eat next – only 14 more to go until I can have a huge breakfast tomorrow morning. She is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand, where she works with an environmental organization, but she has a sneaking suspicion that the call of life's journey will lead her to another country sooner or later.
Stretch your muscles, improve your flexibility, and unwind towards a sense of complete tranquillity on one of our 10 best luxury yoga retreats.
In addition to group activities, improve your practice with a private 90 minute yoga lesson with Paradis Plage's resident teachers during your stay. With a range of disciplines from Ashtanga to vinyasa, and Hatha Yoga to Pranayama, you can enjoy your favourite styles guided by expert yogis. Enjoy 1-on-1 sessions with a trained Master and improve balance, both physically and spiritually. This cave is said to be the basis of Kamalaya's healing qualities, and you can visit it to engage in quiet contemplation and experience its spiritual aura. Twice daily holistic group classes are also available to help restore physical and spiritual health.
Engage in a range of both active and contemplative practises and find yourself spiritually. Based in the north of the island, the resort is a world away from the party destination reputation that Ibiza is famed for.
The resort has a holistic approach to wellness that covers everything from their all-embracing yoga and Pilates classes to the staff's personable and attentive manner. In the walking meditation, I would mainly walk back and forth inside my hut (three meters by two), trying to be present and mindful with the movement of my feet, as well as with any thoughts or impressions I had during the walk.
Everyone is focused on their breathing, practicing the mindfulness of breathing meditation. The forest temple has enough huts to house at least 500 visitors at a time, perhaps with space for more in the future, and covers several hundred acres of land, with plenty of dirt trails to walk while practicing walking meditation.

He says that meditation is like medicine for the mind: when we are sick, we go to the doctor to get medicine to heal our bodies.
During the day, the hot hot day, the monks, maechees, and temple dwellers, soak up the forest.
Make the most of the resort's coastal location and partake in a wide array of holistic activities from beach walks and circuit training to beach volleyball and water sports. Find your spiritual and physical balance with the help of Absolute Sanctuary's extensive yoga programme including sessions in their Ocean Studio, which provides breath-taking panoramic views of the sea.
Rejuvenate and find a sense of inner peace as you practice your asanas in one of the tranquil meditation lounges. Famous for its thermal waters and natural springs, Adler Thermae's Tuscan setting means it is an ideal place to escape for a holistic yoga holiday.
Perfect for beginners and experts alike, this Yoga Synergy holiday includes 6 private yoga sessions so you can focus on perfecting the basics or advancing your practice. The resort's wellness approach extends to its culinary experiences, where diets are customised to the guest's Ayurvedic body type. This health and well-being retreat also offers an amazing spa experience with an exclusive treatment list that makes use of its world-class amenities including Japanese baths, an outdoor Jacuzzi garden and a 1300sq ft. Ideally situated 10 minutes away from both the Golf Course and the historic town centre of Dalt Vila, this is the perfect destination for those looking for that little extra something from their healthy holiday. Chiva Som also offers a wealth of fitness classes and unique leisure activities for their guests including hiking, beach biking, fruit carving and catamaran sailing. Wherever we are, the reality around us comes to us through our senses. But freedom is independent from what we see, hear, or smell. The meaning of the universe was hidden there, in that cabin, just as it would have been hidden anywhere else I happened to be. They sweep the temple, clean the floors, and carry out daily chores with full mindfulness and concentration. Home to a RipCurl sponsored Surf Club; you can take to the waves and get a full body workout before relaxing with a fruit smoothie in the beach-front lounge.
If you are looking to detox, look no further than the resort's superb restaurant which serves up delicious super-food creations to re-energise and refuel you inside and out.
The Farm's vegan restaurant is not only the first of its kind in the Philippines but it also the highlight of the resort.
The retreats also boast guest speakers and lecturers from around the world who come to Thailand to teach and pass on their spiritual wisdom. Fitness fanatics will enjoy the daily cardio classes as well as the 13.5km jogging trail on the retreat's doorstep.
Scheduled daily activities include meditation, Tai Chi and group yoga sessions, which you are free to enjoy on a complimentary basis. Enjoy a delicious menu of healthy offerings designed to suit you and help you achieve your health goals. Appreciate the magnitude of the surrounding beauty in guided meditation lessons and make the most of your luxury yoga holiday in Ibiza.
A health and wellness consultation will provide you with all the information and advice you need to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Freedom is an inner quality, and therefore it has nothing to do with the circumstances around us.
I follow my Dhamma friend’s steps as barefoot we pad through the footpath surrounding the temple and I tell myself how many times to stop thinking; to focus solely on the act of walking and following my breath as the soles of my feet meet with patches of the path that have been in shadier or sunnier spots throughout the day. We know where to get the medicine (through meditation) but we don’t usually go to the place that offers the best medicine available.
They meditate in solitude in their huts in the forest, or practice walking meditation along the many paths. Treat yourself to a slice of their guilt-free raw-chocolate cake and indulge in delicious and nutritious offerings throughout your stay. Compliment your meals with a refreshing cup of tea at Ananda's Viceregal Palace with its majestic colonial charm. Teaming yoga with cardiovascular fitness is a great way to lose weight, so take advantage of Parrot Cay's health centre and daily group activities to slim down and tone up.
I brusquely punch in the number to phone my Dhamma friend, a fellow Buddhist meditation practitioner.
If we practice the mindfulness of the breathing meditation, we can help alleviate the sickness that dwells in our minds.
I listen to the chirping geckoes climbing up the walls, chomping on mosquitoes which wish to buzz in my ears. My body wants to lay flat with the floor, yet I am asked to join on a meditative walk through the forest. With a dedicated fitness centre and a spa set on its own healing springs, you will leave feeling reinvigorated and renewed. In many ways, I could almost let go of my life in the city, forget about my dreams and far-off ambitions, and realize the truth of things as they are. I try to mimic his pose but so many factors – the heat, humidity, my sweat, thirst, legs that are falling asleep underneath me, are getting in the way. The monks and maechees eat in a separate room, crouched over large bowls reminding me of old-fashioned washbasins. Huge containers of red rice or white rice, soups, curries, stir fried vegetables, seafood dishes, meats, eggs…the list continues.
I am so uncomfortable that I can do nothing about it and I accept it for what it is: discomfort.

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