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Plum Village Thailand

5 Key Take-Aways From My Sabbatical

I recently spent a month in South-East Asia, traveling around Bali, Bangkok, Chiangmai and Pong Ta Long. I was living in “monk mode”, disconnecting from digital distractions, social media, and a tight schedule.

The break was long overdue, after an intense year in my professional and personal life. With the support of my coaching clients and colleagues, I was able to create the necessary space to unplug and recharge. I am so grateful that I was able to take this opportunity.

Since being back, I’ve been synthesizing a list of 5 insights I experienced throughout the sabbatical, which weren’t all new but still meaningful to be reminded of during this time.

  1. Embodied Self: All lasting spiritual, leadership and self-help teachings lead to the same basic truths about a meaningful life.  The hard part isn’t finding those truths.  The hard part is to embody those truths, and create the necessary habits to sustain the embodiment.  There are many paths to getting there, but all paths require commitment and faith. When you meet someone who fully and effortlessly embodies this way of Being in their life, you can feel the difference.  It feels like true power.
  2. Legacy: People who have changed the world and left a positive legacy have all experienced deep suffering in their past. This is often the common characteristic of people who have achieved greatness. Their differentiator is that they turned their pain into fuel for goodness, advocacy and innovation. “No Mud, No Lotus” (Thich Nhat Hanh) means suffering is the necessary mud from which the lotus can grow. The secret to leaving a lasting legacy is to learn to transform your suffering into something beautiful that moves the world forward.
  3. Knowledge vs Wisdom: Knowledge is everywhere. Wisdom is rare. Wisdom is the ability to discern what’s really true and important in the noise, to see through dualistic thinking, and to achieve freedom from ego. Knowing the difference between knowledge and wisdom already puts you ahead of most people. More knowledge doesn’t lead to more wisdom.
  4. Conscious Consumption: What we consume (material things, food, media, gaming, external vibes) affects our individual and collective well-being. Our culture constantly puts forward things that will make us happy. In truth, seeking happiness in external things always comes at the cost of our inner peace. Conscious consumption is about practicing moderation and discernment about how we nourish our body, mind and soul. Swapping digital tools for time in nature (without air pods!) is a great practice to clear one’s mind.
  5. The Most Important Habit: The most important habit is choosing who to surround yourself with. James Clear, author of ‘Atomic Habits’, said the same thing in an interview recently. The key is to surround yourself with people whose results, habits and values you admire. The company you keep has an impact on your long-term results.

I hope this brings you some insight or perspective during this time. Stepping outside of our day-to-day life and environment allows us to see things in new ways with new eyes. If you’re ever afforded the opportunity to do so, I would highly recommend a solo trip to give yourself the space for self-reflection.

With love,


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