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I visited Ubud last year on a yoga retreat and it rocked my world. It was there in September of 2012, that I finally gave myself permission to just be me. To forget what everyone else thought, to let go of what was stopping me from being truly authentic in the world, and just be Claire Baker in all her inner-health-freak, self-love-preaching, yogini-wannabe glory. While still being totally cool and awesome.

I reflect upon that week as a real catalyst in the journey I’ve been on, as I figure out how I want to live my one precious life. There’s nothing like spending time in an environment that embraces and embodies yoga, organic food, meditation, art and spirituality in the way that Ubud does; the place is a haven for holistic health and it holds an incredibly special place in my heart.

Last week I trekked back to Ubud for 5 days on a little solo DIY yoga retreat and to be honest, I kind of hoped it would rock my world in the same way this time around. I wanted it to shake my soul and crack me open. I wanted to unravel.

But, it didn’t reeeaaaally do that.

I didn’t feel the same raw excitement I had felt last year when I’d discovered Ubud; the abundance of Ayurvedic healing centres, raw food, crystals, spiritual bookstores and yoga schools had me in fits of elation! I was hungry for change and desperate for guidance and enlightenment. I found a freedom I had never felt before amongst a myriad of like-minded souls.

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But, I discovered quickly that this trip wasn’t about aha! moments as it was much more about finding peace, release and space. Expansion. Limitless living. Connecting with God. Coming home.

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It was in the second of two conversations I had in the entire 5 days I was in Ubud (a mini silent retreat really!), with a chilled out meditation-junkie dude named Mal, that I heard myself say ‘I guess I realise how far I have come this year’, as it hadn’t felt like a revelation that a relaxing time away could encompass vast amounts of silence, coconut kefir and 8pm bedtimes.

A year ago, that notion would have both excited and terrified me. A year later, I now recognise it as apart of me. So much of what rocked my world about Ubud a year before, has become my norm now. I have succesfully integrated so much of what I had fallen in love with, into my daily life. Which is both totally cool and awesome. Mal thought so too.

Plus, last year I was dreading returning home to my not-exactly-soul-satisfying-job, while this time around, I went back to work on Sunday because I love what I do!

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So, what else did I realise?

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+ Ubud embodies the three biggest loves of my life; nourishment, exploration and creativity. Yoga, food, meditation, art, music, adventure. Love.

+ That this time to myself wasn’t so much about reassessing the life-changing events of the past year, but about embracing what is to come and being comfortable with the uncertainty of it all. Acceptance of reality; full and total acceptance of the unknown.

I need to take more time away from my phone, social media, my laptop and my emails. I had neither a phone, laptop or TV for 5 days and it was bliss. I slept better. Decisions were infinitely easier to make. I ate mindfully. I read books. I was present.

+ Honey and cucumber facials and yoghurt body scrubs are heaven sent. Where did that forehead wrinkle run off to?

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+ That wherever I am, I am always connected to my brother. I thought about him every minute of the day; everything reminded me of him. Prawn crackers, floating on my back in the pool, sweet breads, boys in board-shorts. We are always connected.

+ I love taking myself out for dinner. I need to do this more often!

+ I need to open my heart more. Be the one who inspires others to smile with my warmth, open arms and love of life. And give this love with no expectations of return. BE this love.  

+ I really, really want to write a book.

+ I definitely don’t need alcohol to relax anymore. I didn’t have a single drink the whole time I was away and I didn’t even think about it. This is big for me.

+ But I do need to allow myself to feel more. I know I’ve been distracting myself with other things. Need to stop escaping.

+ I freakin’ love yoga. So much. And I can’t wait to teach it myself!

+ I am supported, always. And so are you. We are given only what we can handle and precisely what we need.

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Yep, it was a seriously relaxing, blissful little retreat filled to the brim with gratitude, fresh coconuts and banana pancakes.

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Next week, I am going to post some tips on how to do your own DIY Yoga Retreat in Ubud!

I’d love for you to tell me in the comments if you have any specific questions relating to my time away. And tell me, have you ever gone on a retreat before and how did it change your life?