koh phangan

Pursuing a Ph.D. (Pure Heart Degree)

A wise friend once told me that the reason why most brilliant people fail is they burn out. He had been one of those people; an incredibly talented photographer and art director flying all around the world shooting for some of the largest companies in the world. Wayne suffered a severe brain injury that landed him in the hospital where he nearly died.

Ever since Wayne shared that, it’s really stuck with me and over the last few years I've been flirting with burnout. I consult with a firm that is self-managed and mostly remote, which allows me to travel 50-80% of the time.

Moment captured by: Marva Merci Dixon 

Moment captured by: Marva Merci Dixon 

The travel bug more than bit me, it's under my skin, and I have been crisscrossing the U.S. like my life depends on it. For the most part the life I designed looked and felt like a dream. Though it was fulfilling, the problem was it wasn’t sustainable and the very things I loved most (travel, community building, purposeful work) were also creating a tremendous amount of stress.

Even with this awareness, I continued to try to manage and maintain it. With each long trip or 12-hour computer day, I thought, if I just hack at this harder or work smarter I’ll make this ship sail.

But in January 2017, the writing was on the wall and my body, energy, and spirit could feel it. I was overweight, feeling trapped in a body that wasn’t mine. I was having my biofeedback therapist work on me almost every other week, rebalancing my energy, only for me to deplete it two weeks later. And my spiritual practice was an "MVP" minimum viable practice with a bit of stretching and prayer in the morning and journaling late at night.

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew I had to make a change.

From what I’ve learned about change, the greatest transformations occur not in the doing or the thinking but in your state of being.

I was done putting so much of my mental energy towards this state of imbalance. I got really clear on my desire to live in a State of Grace where intention, purpose, and divinity meet.

Doesn’t that sound lovely? It does but getting there felt impossible. 

Einstein says you cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness in which you created it. If I had any chance of evolving into a State of Grace, I needed to do something radical.

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

Moment captured by: Vanessa Deering

I decided to pursue what I called a "Ph.D. in KPG" meaning a Pure Heart Degree in Koh Phangan, Thailand. 

Even though I had only spent a week in Koh Phangan I recognized it's an island designed for healing and growth. I felt this was the place I needed to be so I jumped through hoops, made leaps and bounds, let go of everything I knew and crossed oceans to be there again.

It felt risky but I went all in.

“There is no perfect place to meditate.” — Buddha

As soon as I arrived back in Koh Phangan I felt anxious. All of my insecurities and fears began to bubble up and stare me right in the face. I felt naked (which I love feeling now but definitely not then). I felt paralyzed. I felt lost and completely transparent like people could see right through my bullshit (and they could).

Everyone was a mirror.

Everything was a trigger.

It was inescapable.

And with no family and very few friends around to save or distract me I actually had to sit in the sweat lodge of my own shit and sweat it out.

Every day, step-by-step, breath-by-breath, story-by-story, I began to peel back layers of my conditioning. I thought I had already done a lot of internal work but wow was I humbled.

Through formal and informal healing sessions and experiences I began to release code after code of programming creating space for a new way of being. 

Ecstatic Nature Retreat |  Tantra Heart Love  | Captured by  Maxinne Bjork

Ecstatic Nature Retreat | Tantra Heart Love | Captured by Maxinne Bjork

Slowly my mind released control. I became more and more aware of my ego, my darkness, my inner child. Once you start digging you realize how much is REALLY there.

I began to let go of everything I thought I knew. I surrendered.

All with plenty of resistance of course, that’s actually one of my favorite Koh Phangan sayings my friend Wendy and I joke about, “Breathe into the resistance” someone will say when you're having a hard time and all you want to say back is FUCK YOU and FUCK YOUR ELITIST SPIRITUAL BULLSHIT. But then you remember, it’s not about them, you’re having your own experience. Everyone in your life is just playing a role in your dream sequence.

You’re the one who’s suffering and that's your choice. 

Moment captured by:  Maxinne Bjork

Moment captured by: Maxinne Bjork

While I see this as a lifelong journey, what I’ve learned so far from KPG is this:

  • In the cave you fear is the treasure you seek.
  • Health, balance, and grace are directions not destinations.
  • Every trigger is a teacher and an opportunity to purify, thank it. 
  • Anger is not a bad thing, channeled properly, it is an enormous well of creativity.
  • On the other side of anger is often deep sadness, on the other side of sadness is often anger.
  • It's less about what you are doing or how much you gain, it's more about who you are being and how much you're willing to let go. 
  • While we all have differences, we each have a desire to love and be loved.

Though the "Pure Heart Degree" is a work in progress, at the moment, self-love and healing feel like the most important things to study.

 Be well soul friends, 

Lotus

p.s. View the entire Koh Phan photo album and another post about the island: 3 P's of KPG: Pleasure Passion Purpose.

Moment captured by:  Maxinne Bjork

Moment captured by: Maxinne Bjork

PLEASURE, PASSION, PURPOSE: KOH PHANGAN

The Three P’s of Koh Phangan, Thailand

Everyone’s experience will be unique to them but from what I’ve seen, there are three main regions of Koh Phangan carrying three different vibrational frequencies. These frequencies correlate with the three highly researched levels of happiness that we teach at Delivering Happiness.

1.     Pleasure

2.     Passion

3.     Purpose

Full Moon Party | Haad Rin, Koh Phangan

Full Moon Party | Haad Rin, Koh Phangan

PLEASURE

What most people have heard about when you mention Koh Phangan is the Full Moon Party on the Haad Rin side of the island.  This is “Pleasure-seeking” happiness or “Rockstar happiness”, which is chasing the next high.

I have only passed through Haad Rin but from its reputation, I’ve heard it’s like Spring Break meets Yacht Week in the tropics. Endless bars, cheap drinks, it’s a place you can really party your heart out. Haad Rin is catered towards people looking to have fun (dependent on your definition of fun). What it’s not catered towards is your long-lasting health or happiness.

Lovely Photography: Katsura Sato | Haad Yao, Koh Phangan

Lovely Photography: Katsura Sato | Haad Yao, Koh Phangan

PASSION

Then there’s the East side of the island nicknamed the "Tri-Bay" for its three beaches: Haad Tien, Haad Yao, and Why Nam.  This is what I consider the “Passion” side of the island.

The word passion comes from the Latin root “pati” which means "to suffer". The suffering on this side of the island comes from the Tri-Bay’s unofficial tagline, “DETOX RETOX”. In the Tri-Bay you’ll find beach dance parties at Why Nam, Guy’s Bar, and Eden with good vibes and fun treats to keep the vibes flowing (if that’s what you’re seeking). 

The beachside resort and healing hub for your DETOX is the Sanctuary where you can take various workshops, experience healing sessions, or do a five-day cleanse. When I first arrived, I did a week long Thaivedic Massage course Thai massage + Ayurveda) and really enjoyed it. Though people are mostly on holiday coming and going, there’s also a pretty close community so you’ll see familiar smiling faces wherever you go.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

PURPOSE

Finally, there’s the side of the island I call home. Along the West coast of Koh Phangan lies the “yoga” or “hippie side” of the island called Sri Thanu. To me, Sri Thanu is so much more than a bunch of yogi’s. Sri Thanu is a small village and conscious community where people come to heal and grow. If that is what you're longing for, you’ll want to pinch yourself when you arrive because the entire village is designed for your healing and spiritual awakening.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

With the elevation of our collective consciousness, there are more and more communities like these sprouting up around the globe, but what I think makes Sri Thanu unique is the gentleness with which it heals and holds space for you.

Geographically, the beaches are shallow and low tide, perfect for floating. The sunsets reflect like mirror images onto the sea. The lush green jungles surround you in a state of serenity.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Culturally, the local Thai people are kind and loving. The majority are Buddhists who live their lives humbly, respectfully, and with honor. Most speak some English and are willing to teach you some Thai. Koh Phangan has virtually zero crime and in my experience is very safe to travel solo.

Stunning Photography:  Maxinne Bjork

Stunning Photography: Maxinne Bjork

Communally, the people who really tap into the Koh Phan-magic always return. Whether they come back every season or 14 years later, this sacred place opens your heart and stays with you long after you leave her.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

KOH PHANGAN RECOMMENDATIONS LIST:

Culinary wise, the options are mostly either Thai or Vegan-Vegetarian.

FAVORITE THAI RESTAURANTS IN SRI THANU:

  1. Cafe Wan - try the orange curry! it's unbelievable, my favorite.

  2. Bai Jai (try the pumpkin and egg special and the massaman curry

  3. Mamma Pooh's - massaman curry and seafood

  4. Anutta - quick, easy, yummy spot! love their shakes and veggie noodles.

FAVORITE VEGETARIAN SPOTS IN SRI THANU:

  1. Karma Café - I love the breakfast burrito, Kale-ifornia Salad, and Perfect 10 Salad

  2. Orion - their Buddha bowl and hummus!

  3. Green Gallery - excellent Israeli food

  4. Eat.co - their mushroom shishkabab and vegan desserts!

OTHER SRI THANU FAVORITES:

  1. Seed to Feed – gorgeously vibrant salads with micro-greens from their hydroponic garden

  2. Barracuda – the best fresh Seafood, the owner is Italian or French? he is super passionate about fishing and really is gifted!

  3. Taboon - Israeli - I like the Sabih eggplant salad, hummus with mushrooms, and chapatti bread yum yum yum!

  4. Three Sixty Bar - not for the food but for the view!

HOW TO GET TO THE ISLAND:

Getting to Koh Phangan is a trip. There’s no direct flight and it’s not for the high maintenance.

  • The two main airports to fly into are Koh Samui or Surat Thani.

    • Koh Samui flights from Bangkok are faster, easier, and more direct (1 hr flight) and ~$100. Use Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways and then take a Ferry. Use FerrySamui.com to book your ferry ticket. Note that there are different piers and the timing from the Koh Samui airport to the pier is different. Bangrak and Maenam piers are the closest to the airport. Usually the ferry does not need to be booked in advance. You can just ask in the counter in the airport. I recommend going on the Seatran ferry it’s 30 minutes. The last ferry leaves around 4-5pm. Also check Lomprayah Ferry.

    • In case you arrive in Samui later than that you can also sleep in Samui for a night and take the ferry in the morning (8-10am). Resort which is Convenient, cheap and close to airport: The Mermaid Samui: http://www.samui-mermaid.info/ (can be booked on Booking.com or Agoda.com)

    • Flights from Bangkok to Surat Thani flights are cheaper than to Koh Samui ~$45 but usually the ferry from Surat Thani takes 5-7 hrs. Fly n Ride n Ferry” - Nok Air & AirAsia.com can get you all the way to Koh Phangan from Surat Thani.

    • International Flights: SkyScanner.com or Kiwi.com is a useful flights search engine.

  • When you arrive in Koh Phangan you'll arrive in Thong Sala, which is a little town, you can then get a taxi of your choice to all three sides of the island (Sri Thanu, Haad Rin, or the Tri-Bay - well the Tri-Bay you'll take a boat taxi).

WHERE TO STAY IN SRI THANU:

WHAT TO DO IN SRI THANU:

HOW TO GET AROUND:

  • Andoo Bike Rentals - right next to Eat.co ask for Andoo or Yik. Tell them Lotus and Wendy sent you and they'll take care of you!

  • Trusted taxi drive - Pele, he speaks good English and is super helpful and available. He also provides a much more fair price than others. Tell him Lotus sent you! +66 93-679-5215)

OTHER PRACTICALS:

  • Visa: For most countries, entrance to Thailand for last than 30 days, doesn’t require a visa application beforehand and you can get 30 days when flying in (not if you arrive by land). To check if your country suits that, please see links below

  • After 30 days you can extend your visa in 30 days more in the immigration office in Koh Samui. (cost 1900 THB). This means you can stay in Thailand for 60 days without Visa application beforehand.

  • In case you plan to stay for more than 2 months please apply for a tourist visa at your homeland embassy. If you plan to stay more than 60 days in Thailand you can apply for a tourist visa in the nearest thai embassy (get 60 days + option to extend 30 days)

  • Travel Insurance - I recommend to get it. I use WorldNomads Travel insurance.

If you make it that far, hit me up and I’ll shower you with more Koh Phan Love & Support. 

Godspeed and safe travels,

Lotus

p.s. see full Koh Phangan photo album

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE KOH PHANGAN. NO PLACE.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

There’s no place like Koh Phangan. No place.

People who’ve been there call it a magical island and you can see from the way they light up inside and the pictures that go along with their light that it’s 1000% true.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

The entry to Koh Phangan reminds me of a kid’s amusement park ride. If you’ve ever been you might remember next to each ride there’s a sign that says, “You must be this tall to ride this ride” along with a given height. Well in Koh Phangan, there are invisible signs that say, “Your heart must be this open to experience this magic”.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Located in the south of Thailand, this little slice of paradise has a heightened vibrational frequency that is undeniable. Similar to how at Burning Man people say, “the playa provides”, in Koh Phangan, “the island provides” giving you the lessons, experiences, and abundance you seek in a remarkably accelerated way.

Radiant Photography: Maxinne Bjork

Radiant Photography: Maxinne Bjork

I first discovered Koh Phangan through a friend of friend named Wendy. We both happened to be in Chiang Mai on the first day of the New Year 2017 and though we only met for 20 minutes, the Universe could not have orchestrated it more brilliantly. I had one extra, unplanned week of my Southeast Asia travels and after Wendy gave me the download on Koh Phangan I felt a FULL BODY YES.

My time there was even more delicious than I had imagined, this is due in most part to the profoundly impactful and expanding 5-day Tantra Heart workshop I attended (which is a whole other story) but the credit really goes to Kobi, Anna Maria, and the rest of the Tantra Heart Tribe! This is a testimonial from my experience. 

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Before I made my return journey to the U.S. I made a promise to myself to do whatever it took to come back as soon as possible for as long as possible.

While it was a challenging leap of faith that has it’s own blog post, I’m grateful to say I made all the arrangements, shared my vision with every loved one and made it happen.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Since March 2017, I’ve been living, learning, and growing in Koh Phangan. Here, I’ve found a tropical home away from home where I’ve returned to loving myself. I’ve also been met with a conscious community where I feel whole and accepted.

There is so much I want to express about this sacred place and yet I’m a bit hesitant to share for fear that my attempt at putting my experience into words might diminish the magic and spoil the secret. That said, I believe generosity is the right gift at the right time to the right person and it was most certainly that for me so if this hidden gem speaks to you by all means GO and maybe these next posts will help:

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Part #1: The Three P’s of Koh PhanganPleasure, Passion, and Purpose - a breakdown of what I see as the “vibes” of the island. I also share some pointers on how to get to KPG.

Part #2: Getting my Ph.D. (Pure Heart Degree) in KPG - a story about my personal journey of healing and some of the heart opening experiences I’ve had so far.

Part #3: Soon I'll be writing "Tantra Heart Thailand", about the Tantra Heart Tribe led by the brilliant co-creators, Kobi and Anna Maria. For now, here is one of their upcoming retreats: ECSTATIC LOVE  https://www.facebook.com/events/616640328725646/?ti=icl in Koh Phangan in January and this is a testimonial from me.

Lastly, it's not about just visiting Koh Phangan, while it has become home for me, my wish is that you follow your bliss, answer your call to adventure, go where you need to go.

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

Wondrous Photography: Vanessa Deering

You belong where you feel free.

And sometimes it just takes leaving your comfort zone to give you the space to see what has always been within you ready to be unlocked.

So here’s to the magic of possibility and the limitless frequency of love, may it shower you daily.

xx,

Lotus

p.s. see entire Koh Phan photo album

 

THE SACRED ART OF SHIBARI 縛り癒

How does one put words to an experience as electrifying, enlivening, and elevating as Shibari 縛り癒 Healing?

The first word that comes to heart is "Yugen" a Japanese word for describing the indescribable. Yugen is a profound awareness of the universe that triggers a deep emotional response.

That's what Bodhi Zapha's Shibari Workshop gave me.

Shibari 縛り癒 Healing  | Bodhi Zapha 
"A Shibari healing session involves working with ropes and meditative states to channel energy, feelings of surrender and connection with transcendental consciousness free from the limitations of the body." — Bodhi Zapha

In this sacred art form, Bodhi is a Shamanic Alchemist transforming what was once an act of torture and suffering into an initiation into conscious healing, pure beauty, and great fun!

Shibari 縛り癒 Healing has been likened to "a hot bath for your energy body", "meeting the edge of your humanity", "touching the void", "embracing the somatic landscape of vulnerability and surrender".

Shibari 縛り癒 Healing builds a bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind, the mind and body work together to bring a state of peace to the being. In this twilight place the mind is in resonance with it's own deeper intelligence, melting into source energy, the place from whence we all derive.

The singularity, the core of existence beyond duality. To experience oneness with this core universal energy realigns the individual with his or her own true essence leading to profound self evolution and reconnection to spirit.

My first experience with Shibari 縛り癒 Healing was completely unanticipated. Through the experience of being tied and un-tied, I was swiftly transported into a state of total surrender.

In that sacred space, I felt a soul wound hidden with me unlock and slowly come undone. I dove deep and discovered that under layers and layers, I have a profound feeling of distrust. Distrust for others, distrust for self, distrust in the Divine. Like no one and nothing can truly hold me.

Opening something like that can be quite startling and unnerving but the space was held so beautifully that it allowed for a gentle unraveling. My Shibari partner remained by my side and I was able to come to a place of wholeness and willingness to release this distrust and begin to rebuild my faith. 

From that session on, every experience we shared flowed. Each moment presented a new learning, teaching, and delight. Bodhi took us through various tying techniques and fun tantra exercises like "Predator and Prey" (aka Hunter and Hunted) where you take on different masculine and feminine roles to express and explore the wildness within.

Through Bodhi's Shibari workshop, I also learned more about the Wheel of Consent, a wheel that presents the spectrum of Doing/Not Doing and Giving/Receiving where there are four main actions of: Serving, Allowing, Taking, and Accepting.

Bodhi shared that in relationships it is often that one person is giving, say for example a man is giving his partner a massage. In this case, he is giving and feels he is SERVING his partner. She feels she is ALLOWING him to do what he wants to do. But no one is RECEIVING.

We practiced each of these and it was amazing to go full on into each. Particularly with TAKING. I've never been given permission or allowed myself to fully TAKE. It's been deemed as "selfish" and "wrong" and dependent on the context it can be. But in relationship where boundaries are clear and consent is given, it can be an opportunity to step into your power in a very sexy and invigorating way. It's also really exhilirating to be taken by your partner, to see them in their full power! 

This insight alone was worth the cost of the entire workshop. I now feel in-freedomed to introduce and practice giving, receiving, allowing, and taking in future relationships.

To conclude, the Shibari 縛り癒 Healing workshop was significant. I'm stunned by how much we covered in just two days together. 

I feel tremendous respect for this healing art and immense gratitude for the opportunity to explore Shibari as a new expression of sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality. 

Thank you to Bodhi for showing us the ropes (pun intended!) and to my fellow Shibari Initiators for a most transformative experience 🙏🏽.

Join the next 2 day Instructive Shibari Healing Adventure in Koh Phangan, Thailand on August 13-14th or treat yourself to a private Shibari 縛り癒 Healing session with Bodhi directly.

AHO!

With gratitude and lots of spanks,

Lotus 

Listen to the essence of life.

I have loved like the tide 🌊
The way it swallows you whole
Filling you without asking permission

I have loved like the trees 🌳
Expanding into your light
Rooted in your darkness
Without concern or judgment

I have loved like the ancient rocks ⛰
Solid and unwavering support
Like we would last forever

I have loved like the breeze 💨
Dancing across your skin
Swirling, sometimes sharp
Fierce and howling

I have loved from the first spark 🔥
To the last golden flame

No one really taught me how to love, how to listen, how to be

I guess my parents did in their own way

But Mother Earth and Father Sky are the true teachers during our temporary stay here

How we crave love, purpose, and connection and how society in its complexity separates, divides, and controls us. 

Our collective purpose on this planet is to tend to Mother Earth. That's it.

So simple. 🌏

To live in balance. To be in harmony. To coexist.

How hard it must be for Father Sky to watch his children relentlessly hurt their Mother.
But I guess when you give someone a gift you have no control over what they do with it.

These are our lessons. This is our karma.

Somehow even with the rate of human destruction, Mother Earth continues to give, nurture and grow. Humans try to fight over her. Claim her. Reserve her for the privileged few.

She is no one's. She IS ONE.

How little we know about home. How rarely we listen.
There are thousands of public speaking and writing courses but what about listening?

How can we expect and demand to speak when we cannot hear?

Carved by  Jasmin Power

Carved by Jasmin Power

Listen to the essence of life.

What is she sharing with you? Are you open to receiving it? Do you remember?

Release your stories, conditioning, programming, all of it.

Let it go and realize in nothingness you have everything.

Food. Water. Shelter. Love.
What else is there than this?🌱