Wow! It's been over five months since our last blog, and so much has happened in this time!
Before filling you in on our progress, events and news, we would like to wish you a heartfelt (and belated!) happy Christmas and New Year! Our thoughts are always with friends and family, near and far, old and new, but particularly at this time of year! We can only begin to thank you all for your support, encouragement and faith in our journey as Gratitude Vietnam has blossomed into being, and is now beginning to put down roots and grow.
We also offer the deepest gratitude to David, Asha & Andreas, Juliana & Carlos, and Toni & Zoltan who have graced the villa with their presence and helped us immensely in a work-exchange scenario. Asha and Andreas were kind enough to offer me a D- for my attempt at SEO on the website (!), and redesigned the layout to optimise our presence on Google. Juliana and Carlos came for a week as instagram influencers and stayed for a second to put together a stunning video of the villa - even pinning us both down for interviews! Toni and Zoltan arrived in October to help us with social media and photography, and despite intending to be with us a month, only left on Monday of this week! All of our guests become family very quickly, but Zoltan and Toni's three month stint at Gratitude Vietnam, attendance at the retreats and constant presence has left a hole! We wish every one of you a successful 2020 as you continue your adventures around the world!
Since our last blog we have been delighted to welcome visitors and retreatees from all over the world - America, Norway, Germany, Italy, Australia, Austria, France, Brazil, the UK, Hungary, South Africa, and more! It's such a pleasure and a privilege to share stories, journeys and connection with so many fabulous souls, whether they have been staying for exploration, inner-work and retreating, or rest and relaxation.
The Villa and Animals
In villa news, we have been working hard to finish the remaining 'snags' from the initial build, re-design the downstairs of the spa to make it into a cosy and comfortable quiet communal area (our new snug), whilst changing the purpose of the upstairs room into a games and craft room! With the help of our neighbourhood community, we have reclaimed and upcycled a bamboo wardrobe into a shelving unit for yoga mats and props, and a gorgeous bench for extra seating in the garden. The garden itself is unrecognisable from a few months ago and is really beginning to look established and mature! We've even been able to enjoy vast quantities of home-grown bananas and look forward to our mango, papaya and breast milk fruit trees (yes, that's really a thing!) bearing fruit!
Poppet and Bobo are both healthy and smily and have definitely become an integral part of the retreat venue! Whilst Poppet has grown little, Bobo has transformed into a handsome almost adult with a hairstyle that looks as though we've deliberately cut it into a mohican (we haven't!). They both offer the best example of living in the moment, unconditional love, and provide laughter, joy and moments of silliness in workshops as well as a 'dogs sense' of where comfort is needed and gentle presence in those moments. We never intended to have dogs, but these loving souls are most definitely a part of the family, and we wouldn't be without them!
Dotty has now relocated to the villa and brings her own way of displaying affection! With a definitely disorganised attachment style, she loves to be around people, drops and rolls for cuddles but then bites when it's offered! She has been joined by our new addition 'Doodles' who is almost the spitting image of Dotty but smaller with green eyes and a slightly squarer face. Doodles has definitely adopted us and has taken on the role of Reiki cat - she loves nothing better than to sit and purr (or fall asleep!) on anyone receiving Reiki, and has a sixth sense of when and where she needs to move to be out of the way! Obviously her presence is optional during a Reiki session, but for those that love cats, she adds an extra dimension to a healing session!
Retreats and Trainings
The rainy season has been surprisingly busy, and apart from one storm warning that had us move the mattresses and other damageable items upstairs in preparation for a flood that did not materialise, we have enjoyed cold but pleasant weather throughout! We've run a number of retreats and trainings since we opened and have included a short summary of each below.
Everyday Radiance and Modern Devotion - Jeremy de Tolly
We were privileged to have Jeremy de Tolly with us for ten days in August - what now feels like a lifetime ago! Jeremy's 'Everyday Radiance' and 'Modern Devotion' workshops focused on heart conscious singing - a modern take on kirtan. With a beautifully meditative, heart-centred and truly embodied approach, the workshops enabled deep connection with the voice, body, heart and others present.
Sound Bowl Healing Trainings - Rj Noble
September brought us the wonderful singing bowl master, spiritual healer, therapeutic massage, reflexology, Feng Shui, EFT and bodywork practitioner, Rj Noble. Rj is an international trainer in the powerful art of sound bowl healing, with 2019 taking him to Thailand, England, China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam! We're truly delighted to announce that he will be returning this year to deliver Level 1 (3rd-7th September) and Level 2 (8th-11th September) trainings at Gratitude Vietnam.
Reiki Training and Retreats
Through the journey of our own training, Reiki has become not only a healing practice for both Hannah and I, but also a way of life. Leading training retreats for the First, Second and Third Degree Usui Ryoho Reiki has only consolidated and deepened this. It has been incredibly moving to share the practice of Reiki with others, but also to incorporate a retreat programme that brings the underpinning philosophies to life. With workshops targeted at exploring and processing the principles of Reiki on a personal level, these trainings have enabled each individual to discover how these can be immediately translated into a way of being in the world.
Our programme of mindful mini-breaks started to gain momentum in 2019! We've run three of these weekend breaks and due to their success, have many more planned for 2020. These retreats allow time to take stock and evaluate areas for change. As with all of our retreats, participants find tools that resonate on a personal level to incorporate greater joy, gratitude, self-love and compassion into their everyday as well as the opportunity to forge new friendships and deep connection with like-minded people!
The Rolling Retreat Programme
Since our last blog, we have also launched a rolling retreat programme which offers flexible dates for travellers in the area. This retreat provides morning yoga, evening meditation, accommodation, breakfast and dinner, with optional workshops, massages or 1:1 sessions. Whilst the intention was to provide time for guests to explore the area during the day, most have come and spent time relaxing, swimming, reading, painting baskets, or just catching up on much-needed sleep! We love that we really have created a little haven of peace where people can just come and 'be' - some have even extended their stay for not only days, but weeks!
The Alternative New Year Retreat
Our Alternative New Year Retreat surpassed all expectations and with ten diverse and beautiful retreatees, was almost sold out! As our first longer and bigger retreat, Hannah and I were both apprehensive, but are relieved, grateful and have found true validation in what we are doing as everyone left delighted. This time of year is a powerful time for reflection and making choices for lasting change - not through resolutions, but by digging deep, evaluating values and limiting beliefs to challenge obstacles and rewire our thinking and ways of being. It was a privilege to offer the space for the forming of deep friendships, a lot of laughter, and individual journeys of transformation. I am confident this will bring greater peace, self-love and acceptance into 2020 for all who attended as they move into the new year with a different outlook on life, and more importantly, themselves.
We're excited to be formulating an Alternative Christmas Retreat for this year that will either compliment the New Year Retreat as an extended 'seasonal getaway' or as a standalone rest, relax and reboot for those wishing to step away from tradition and nurture their being in a different way. More information coming soon!
Visiting Retreat Leaders
Alongside running our own retreats, Gratitude Vietnam is also a retreat venue for hire! We are delighted to be welcoming visiting retreat leaders from the UK, Australia, Hoi An, Italy and the Middle East over the coming year and have more bookings in the pipeline. We'll be running mini-features on each of these in turn over the coming weeks. Having met with each of the retreat leaders via Skype or Facetime, we are now excited to facilitate the planning of details and of course, meet in person as these retreats come to fruition!
It would be neglectful not to mention Hannah's incredible cooking! Catering for up to 15 people for three meals a day is no mean feat. The months of planning, trialling and testing are paying off however in meal-after-meal of visually stunning, delicious and lovingly prepared dishes - all refined sugar free, vegetarian or plant based, and as far as possible, farm to table. As so many visitors have asked for recipes, we will be starting a food thread to the blog in the next few weeks to share the love - watch this space!
2020 will be another exciting year as we continue to refine and develop our offerings and run the Inner Child, Chakra Balancing and Yoga Holiday Retreats. Whilst the nail-biting elements of meeting the biannual rent payment and establishing a new business continue to be there, we have deep faith in Gratitude Vietnam, grounded in the experiences and lovely feedback we have received from guests, both publicly and personally. Again, our gratitude extends to all who have attended our retreats, stayed for some R'n'R and supported us throughout this journey so far! Our word of intention for 2020 is balance... what's yours?
Wishing you a beautiful start to this new decade!
With deep gratitude and love,
"Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, 'No matter what gets done and how much is left undone,
I am enough." - Brené Brown