Mindfulness retreat without going anywhere

Pool yoga

When we think of retreats, an image of a tranquil scenery pops up in our minds. Yet, we do not need to go anywhere if we let our minds rest and pay attention to our breath. Returning to our breath is a retreat in itself.

I turned up for a Day of Mindfulness Retreat hosted by The Joyful Sangha which organizes this monthly. It felt amazing to feel the energy from the other participants although I did not converse with anyone because we had to practice noble silence.

The silence was peaceful and I enjoyed it.

We sang songs to remind us of the practice. It reminded me of singing hymns back at my primary school but these give praise to our breath. We transited into guided meditation where we focused on filial love. The most thought provoking part of the retreat for me was the eating meditation segment. Before we began our lunch, the leader gave us tips on how to be more conscious when we eat.

We tend to take our food for granted or even gobble our emotions up. Now, let’s take time to pay attention to where our food came from, to be thankful of the food on our plates and be fully present to our dining companions

And in that 45 minutes of proper introspection with my food, I began to wonder why I chose these foods in the first place. My vegan diet has made it essential to incorporate certain foods in order to get my nutrients. But I wondered, why Kimchi, why laver, why spinach, why figs, why olive oil. In my rush to prepare this meal, I had subconsciously included food that reminded me of different places. The time when I had laver with eels in Korea, the time when I had figs with wine in Australia, the time when my Brazilian friends placed olive oil in their salads to preserve it. The food we eat contains not only memories but cultures. These plants existed thousands of years ago and still thrive today. My thoughts went to the spinach leaves, the seaweeds as I wondered where they came from, and I tried to imagine their real roots. It’s amazing how many thoughts popped up from these. It was beautiful.

Then, we had a broadcast of the dharma talk held in France. The question was regarding competition and purpose in life. Competition in life is inevitable as others would want to compete with you and things that you are doing require you to compete. But it is how you deal with it that matters. Does it cause you suffering? Your mind is like a garden. Sow the seeds that are beautiful and stop growing those that are destructive.

In order to figure out your purpose in life, you have to arrive. Without being present, you will suffer from uncertainty.

All these translate to me being at peace with the present and accept things that will come and go.


Hazel TengHi, I’m Hazel – a vegan, yogi and digital nomad. My life has radically transformed since I began practising yoga in January 2016. In turn, I would like to share with you how to lead a holistic life, one filled with contentment and freedom. My current mantra is: “Stay present to feel liberated.”

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