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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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71 thoughts on Time for a Retreat – Personal Update

  1. I’m sure you will have a great time at the retreat. Will be looking forward to reading new articles from you. Do share your experiences too!

    Enjoy the 20hrs flight – sounds long, though it will add to your excitement for the retreat. :)

  2. Laura

    I wish you all the best at your retreat, and I hope you have a wonderful period of enlightenment. I also congratulate you on your beautiful marriage – it is evident that your husband loves you immensely! Have a great time, and be sure to let us know in all detail what it was like!

  3. Hi Tina,

    Leo Babauta of Zen Habits is going away and you’re going away as well… Seems like this is a good time to go away! ;)

    I hope you have a great experience at the retreat and I’m sure you’ll be sharing with us what you have learnt when you’re back, ya? I’m looking forward to that and I’m certain so are other of your readers.



  4. Chris

    have a great trip Tina, hope its everything you’re hoping for and more. Look forward to what you have to share with us in a month!! = )

  5. sanjay

    It’s indeed a brave decision to remain cut off from the world for 1 month.All the very best for a healing and enlightening session.we would love to hear the profound changes it bought about in you.Enjoy !!!

  6. Yoli

    I wish that this retreat brings you enlightenment at a deeper level. You are a great person who brings light, love and truth to others and I am sure this experience will bring out more of your true essence. All the best, Namaste.


  7. What interesting timing! I just finished reading “The Geography of Bliss” and learned about the author’s experience with an ashram. I think it sounds like a great, inspirational, and enlightening experience and I wish you the best of luck (if that’s the right thing to say?) on your trip. I hope you will share your experience with us upon your return.

    Thanks for sharing the ideas about having our own retreats. Those are great ideas and I’m definitely going to try some of them out. And I’m definitely going to read some of the posts you linked to. Many of them I’ve read, but those I haven’t, I’m excited to read! :)

  8. Have a great time Tina. I know you’ll love it, and come back with so many ideas and stuff to share with us.

    Love you!

  9. That sounds like a wonderful experience, Tina! Thanks for the tips on creating a personal retreat. I’ve been spending the last few months with one full day a week disconnected from screens and monitors and phones and it’s done wonders for my creativity. So, for anyone who’s thinking that sounds really good–definitely give it a try! It was almost impossible the first month, but it’s gotten easier and easier and now I really look forward to that time away.

  10. I wish you well on the retreat Tina. Follow the guidance into your own inner guidance, clarity, and wisdom.

    Much ground can be covered in these retreats if you apply yourself, and I know you will. Even though this is a very large retreat, the atmosphere, communal energy, and focus, will help tremendously.


  11. Hi Tina,

    I got the book. I know you’ll know what I mean.

    I hope you the retreat goes well. My experience is that retreats can be very intense, and 6am -11.30 pm sounds very intense to me. Yet I hope that it’s not too intense that there isn’t the space for realisation.

    Please be safe and well

    Namaste & love


  12. A.Feierman

    Sound wonderful! Enjoy!

  13. Tina, I like what you’re doing, both seeking spiritual guidance from someone you respect (more commonly done in Eastern cultures than Western ones) and particularly being technology-free for several weeks (definitely uncommon in the West!). You’re journeying outside the box and I think you’ll come back wiser and more deeply serene than you already are.

    I had a surprising experience around technology-addiction while on a weekend retreat last winter. Hope this encourages you and others on the path of creativity:

  14. Hi Tina,

    May you have a safe journey to and from India. I lived there for six months as part of my spiritual journey. I lived in a small town (also north of Bangalore) that had an ashram too. It was an amazing experience. So I have no doubt that you will have your own amazing experience on many levels. I am sure I am not alone in saying, we all look forward to when you return!

  15. Hi Tina,

    I seems like an interesting retreat and do share with us your findings after your retreat.


  16. Hey Tina! Enjoy your retreat – I’m sure it will be an extremely spiritually awakening experience. I’m going on a retreat myself too in July for about 2 weeks, and I’m looking forward to that too. I look forward to new articles on TSN when you return!

  17. Hey Tina, best of luck with this new adventure!

  18. Erik

    Have a fun and safe trip! I look forward to hearing anything you wish to share on the experience.

  19. Sallena

    Tina: Thank you so much for sending this email with your list of favorites. I continue to be moved by your insights, transparency and wisdom. I am honored to have “found” you.

  20. Best of luck on your trip. I wrote a recent article about dealing with the pain of losing attachments, a central part to achieving the kind of peace I imagine you’re taking your trip to learn. Interested readers can find it at


  21. Have a wonderful trip! Congrats on your mention in Glamour.

  22. You are a living inspiration, Tina, as always. I do detect some jealousy bubbling up from my soul. Enjoy and I hope you have some great stories when you come back.

  23. Tina,
    Have a shining time at the Ashram. Thank you for setting such a good example on listening to our intuition and taking time for ourselves.

    When I first met my husband, I told him very certainly “I will need to take 5 weeks away every year just to myself.” He was daunted but intrigued.
    These days with little ones and a growing business, I do not take my 5 weeks all in a row. Instead they stretch out throughout the year as “Growing Days” They feed me personally and spiritually.

    Enjoy your journey and congratulations on your success.
    Peace and laughter,

  24. Have a nice time. Such occasional breaks should be taken just to clam down both the mind and the body.


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