Mindfulness is a buzzword being bandied across the globe. With a wealth of options available in Cambodia, editor Marissa Carruthers looks at some of the ways to reach the ultimate state of mind.

In a world of technology, social media, phones and devices pinging throughout the day and night, and the expectation of being on 24/7 call, stress is an all too common ailment. The hustle and bustle of modern life can make finding a sanctuary away from it all increasingly difficult.

In a bid to escape, mindfulness has become the 21st century trend. The dictionary defines it as being a “mental state achieved by focusing on the awareness of the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feeling, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. So no daydreaming about the future, getting caught up in the frets of the past or worrying about what may be. Live purely in the now.

Thankfully, living in Cambodia, there is a wealth of options to get away from it all, seek solace, calm the mind, relax the body and detox the soul. From mindfulness courses to meditation retreats and yoga, there’s something to suit everyone seeking spiritual satisfaction and searching to create the perfect life balance.

Vagabond Temple

Offering ongoing yoga and meditation retreats, Vagabond Temple in Sihanoukville is a retreat where guests can choose how long they stay for, as long as it’s more than five nights. Regardless of whether it’s five nights or two months, experts work with guests to create spiritual yoga retreats based on the needs of each individual. Each day has a full programme of yoga classes, group meditations and dharma talks, with the option to tailor stays by adding a detox programme, Reiki course or healing sessions. Accommodation is also included, along with three vegan meals a day. Several 10-day yoga and meditation retreat courses will run this year. It aims to increase mindfulness and awareness and bring about real change in guests’ daily existence, using applied philosophy, life coaching techniques and various spiritual methods. The Community Member Programme is another option, offering two months of living and learning in a spiritual community. Devoted attendees engage in a deep self-exploration while gaining in-depth knowledge of yogic traditions and practices, and learning how to integrate spirituality into daily life.


Navutu Dreams Resort and Wellness Retreat

Being home to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is often associated with spirituality, and intimate yoga and meditation sessions take place around the temples and surrounding jungle. It’s therefore little wonder that it is home to a range of retreats. Well-established on the Southeast Asian retreat circuit, Natuvu Dreams in Siem Reap offers a range of classes and wellness programmes to help reach the perfect balance for the mind. Taking in yoga, detoxes, forms of traditional Chinese medicine and holistic treatments, hitting the heights of zen is made easy. Treatments include a sound bath, which uses vibrational sound, specifically crystal and Tibetan bowls, to reduce stress, uplift consciousness and create a deep sense of peace, and chakra balancing. A three-day detox for the mind takes in massages, yoga, meditation, healing sessions and Reiki. There is also a five-day burnout programme and three-day yoga mini-break available. Forest bathing sessions take guests for meditation walks throughout rural Siem Reap, sunset mediation classes are held at the majestic Wat Svay Romeat Pagoda, and one- and three-day detoxes are held.


Hariharalaya Retreat Centre

The tranquil rural setting of Hariharalaya, in the heart of the countryside surrounding Siem Reap town, instantly instills a sense of calm. Here, six-day integral yoga and conscious living courses steer guests towards a more mindful way of living. Taking in yoga, meditation, Dharma talks, communication classes, community activities and free time to appreciate the stunning setting, kick back in the reading room or get creative in the art studio, it’s hard to do much but chill. Teaching the importance of mindfulness, awareness is encouraged throughout the day, with a holistic approach taken to sooth the mind, body and soul. And there’s no fear of being interrupted by a quick peek on Facebook because no mobiles are allowed and a digital detox is observed, as well as silent mornings throughout the course.


Dr Derek Mitchell

UK-trained clinical psychologist, Dr Derek Mitchell, runs a series of mindfulness courses in Phnom Penh, which cater to both individuals and groups of between five and 10 people. Running across six weeks, each class last two hours, with an optional practice four hours in the penultimate week. With the majority of classes taking in meditation, sessions start with students practicing techniques taught the previous week before reflecting on the practice and previous tasks with a partner if in a group, or Mitchell in a private session. New techniques are learned, with homework set and questions asked. “You will learn a new approach and new skills for dealing with stress and enjoying your life more,” Mitchell says, adding most participants are keen to learn new ways of coping with work and life stress. Others sign up with the aim of boosting personal development, viewing mindfulness as a tool to help achieve this goal.