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Time for a Retreat – Personal Update

(Update 07/08/2009: I’ve decided to extend my stay for two more months, and will be in India until September.)

For the next four weeks, I will be living in an ashram near Bangalore India. I will be attending a meditation and spiritual retreat called Inner Awakening that I have been anticipating for many months now.

It’s an opportunity to learn directly from an enlightened guru in a serene environment, along with several hundred other spiritual seekers from around the world.

I’ve decided not to bring my laptop or cell phone, and to fully emerse myself in the experience. Besides, a month without technology sounds like a really nice cleanse of its own.

During this time, no new articles will be published. However, there are a ton of articles published in the past that you may like, so check them out. I’ve also listed out my favorite articles at the end of this post.

Other TSN News

For Your Curiosity

I get asked some common questions. And to satisfy some of your curiosity, here are some insights into my life.

Q: What is your religion? Are you Buddhist or something?

I do not belong to an organized religion. I am not a Buddhist or a Christian. However, I am also not an Atheist or an Agnostic.

My mother is a baptized Christian who connects with Buddhist teachings and my dad is a trans-denominational Catholic. Such was the environment during my formative years.

As a teenager, I was taught to experience the divine instead of trying to name it. I was taught to follow my heart. I was taught to live consciously and to always speak truthfully.

I am spiritual and am a seeker of Truth. I do not trust based on what I hear, or align to specific rules. My views are purely based on the experiences I’ve encountered and witnessed with my conscious awareness.

My view on the topic of religion is that there are many paths that lead to the same place. You may disagree, and that’s okay. Different teachings speak to different souls. Follow your heart.

Q: Tell me something about this retreat

The ashram is located by a small town called Bidadi, near Bangalore. We were recommended to bring seven changes of white colored, loose fitting, modest clothes. Realizing at the last minute that I did not have seven such garments, I rushed out this week and collected them (hard to find, by the way, in North America).

Each day starts at 6am and ends at 11:30pm. The morning starts with group yoga and meditation until 8am, followed with a concoction of meals, lessons, breaks, and various meditations.

The retreat I enrolled in is called Inner Awakening, and it lasts for 21 days. There is another program happening simultaneously at the ashram that lasts for 90 days, and I’m kicking myself a little for not having the foresight to plan for the latter instead. Oh well, perhaps next year. [update: after arriving, I’ve decided to enroll in the 90 day program]

Q: Why do you want to attend such a retreat?

There are many reasons, but the more direct answer is: It felt like the right thing to do. I also strongly feel that the retreat will teach me things, and give me the clarity and insight that will help me better serve this site, and future projects related to my personal purpose.

Q: Are you going with a friend or with your husband?

I will be going on my own. Jeremy will making sure TSN is up and running, and in charge of site administration while I’m gone.

Create Your Own Personal Retreat

While I am away, I want to make sure that you guys are taking care of yourselves, by creating time out of your week (or day) to connect with yourself, to love yourself, and to give thanks for the things you are grateful for.

If you want to experience a piece of what I am doing, consider doing one or more of the following ideas:

  • Cleansing Day – Take one day (a month or a week) off to spend with yourself. Spend the day on your own without the computer, phone, music players and tv (shut everything off). Spend the day communing with nature, going for walks, contemplating in your journal, and maybe reading inspirational things. Optionally, consider spending the day without speaking, unless you are addressed by another person.
  • Take a Meditation or Yoga Class – at the local gym or meet up. Many temples of various religions offer meditation classes for free. It doesn’t hurt to be open to it and experiment with them. When I first moved to Seattle, I would go to a local Tibetan Buddhist temple for this.
  • Moments of Stillness, Everyday – spend 10 minutes everyday with your eyes closed in silence. Start with some deep breaths and focus on your breath. Whenever thoughts come, just bring your focus back on your breathing. Extend it to longer than 10 minutes if you can. 21 minutes or more gives best results.
  • Write a Love Letter – to yourself, to another person, or to the Universe. The point of this, is practicing of gratitude, and realizing the abundance of goodness you have in your life.
  • Selfless Service – Do something for someone, or for some group of people without expecting anything in return, and don’t tell people that you did it (bragging that you did something counts as expecting something, and it no longer becomes selfless service).

My Favorite Articles

Okay, so selecting favorite articles for me, is like choosing a favorite child. Since I couldn’t pick just one, or even ten, I’ve just gone through the archives and selected ones that pulled at my heartstrings.

I’ve broken them up into categories best fitted for each article:


Happiness – Part 1


Happiness – Part 2

Productivity & Creativity



By the time this post is published, I will be on my glorious 20-hour flight. I will not have Internet access until I return home in mid July. If you have questions or comments, I would appreciate it if you could leave them in the comment section of this post instead of emailing me. I will respond when I am back, in the meanwhile, others may comment on it as well.

Happy reading. Make sure to soak up the summer sun.
See you in four weeks!

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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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