Our first of many guest posts to come! On a recent trip to Thailand I was privileged to meet soul brother Will Hardy of Suan Sati Yoga Retreat Centre in Chiang Mai. Here he shares his inspiring tale of what you can achieve when you choose to believe.
I remember when I first had the audacity to consider that I had something worth sharing. I had just suffered a breakup with a long term partner while traveling in Central America, and my life was at a crossroads. I had complete freedom for the first time in five years, so I asked myself the question “What is worth doing with this life?” After much reflection, the answer that I received was to spread loving kindness and to be of service to others. How that would manifest was yet to be seen, but I let this answer determine my next steps. I would go back to Chiang Mai, Thailand to do a one month massage course, and then I would go to India to complete a 200 hour yoga teacher training course. I knew that I felt like I didn’t yet have enough skills or knowledge to be a teacher, but with some training and education, I felt confident that eventually I could contribute to healing others.
While I was in Thailand, the opportunity arose to pursue opening a meditation and yoga retreat center. I hadn’t even finished the first course I had planned, and yet this opportunity came to meet me. I went through many deep levels of doubt, thinking “Who am I to think I can be a yoga teacher? I’m not qualified to guide meditation. I’ve never opened a business before, much less in Thailand. This is obviously impossible.” I didn’t dismiss my doubts right away, but I allowed myself to dream. As a left-brain oriented person, that dreaming took form as exploring legal incorporation, pursuing investment, and visiting potential rental properties. The more I investigated, the more confident I felt it was something I might be able to make work. I’d need a lot of hard work, and a larger measure of luck, but I thought, why not me? Why not now? What if I could positively affect even one person, but I let my doubts stop me from even trying?
After much research, I eventually decided to go forward with this project despite my nagging inner critic. I finished my yoga teacher training course and then made my way back to Chiang Mai to build a retreat center from the ground up. The first six months on the land, I got a chance to develop skills in yoga teaching, gardening, business, social media, leadership, and community living, to name a few. This time spent building the project gave me a far more comprehensive education than any course could have. People began to praise me for what I had to offer, and I began to believe that I did have something worth sharing, that I was good enough to deserve my own self-love.
In throwing myself out there at the mercy of the universe, I became transformed into the person I always dreamed of being, in a space that I always dreamed of being in. My days consist of starting early with sharing or practicing yoga and meditation, eating delicious locally grown organic food, spending all my time in nature with like-minded souls, and immersing myself in a foreign country that I love and call home. There have been many difficult moments along the way, and the doubts still pop up from time to time. But, I have developed the inner strength and courage to face the doubts and not shy away from going after something I really want because of negative self-talk. And to think that if I didn’t start this project, I wouldn’t have been privileged to read several personal letters from guests saying that their time at this center had saved their lives through avoiding suicide or simply giving up on diseases.
In the end, I agree with the quote from Nelson Mandela when he said that “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
May we all acknowledge our fears, honor them, and develop the strength to cast them aside as we follow our hearts.
Written by Will Hardy
Owner and founder of Suan Sati Retreat Center