Mindless vs. Mindful Vacations


There’s this cultural habit the western world often embraces that I’ve come to learn is a major impediment for our mental, emotional, physical and financial maturation.

It’s the tendency to “vacation” in such a way that when it’s over, we find ourselves requiring time to nourish [read: detox] ourselves back into a high functioning member of our communities.

Have you ever said "I need a vacation after that vacation?”

By no means am I preaching to you from a high horse. I’ve been there, I’ve said that.

The way late nights turned early morning parties. The copious alcohol consumption, over indulgence in the all you can eat buffets and a general air of nonchalance towards the habits, actions and attitudes that best serve our highest self.

We guise this abuse under the veil of “vacation”.

I’ve been on “holidays” that have battered my health so much that the thought of climbing a mountain or getting on my yoga mat midst “break,” was out of the question.
But as I live out the later years of my twenties I’ve been able to see the other side of that coin.

Let me explain.

Like many of you, I’ve worked my ass off to save and visit a beautiful, exotic destination - just to party so hard for the majority of my trip that upon my arrival back home I’m cranky, tired and less productive then before I left.

Admitting this is not the hard part, because I know I’m not alone. What is hard, is wrapping my mind around how long it took me to see the light.

Sure, I like a good party and have been known to throw down on a dance for ‘til the wee hours of the morning. And yes, I’ll always have a weakness for quality red wine. But, somewhere in the last couple of years my style of “vacationing” has changed dramatically and not so coincidentally, the quality of my life.

I think the pinnacle of this evolution can be summed up in my most recent Exhale Yoga Retreat experience.


At the end of last year I embarked on an epic two week adventure with the Exhale Yoga Retreat Tribe and can honestly say that when it was (sadly) over I felt - revitalised, rejuvenated, full of energy, inspiration and motivation to live my fullest, most bad ass self upon my return to “reality.”

A stability and energy level that has not depleted in the weeks since my departure.

Prior to my retreat, I had completed a 200 hr yoga teacher training (also with Exhale - full disclosure, I am an avid Exhale addict). I knew that after my training I would be living abroad, travelling Asia as I continued to navigate the unfamiliar waters of nomadic entrepreneurialism.

I left the safety of that incredible teacher training feeling a little exhausted, slightly overwhelmed and yet eager to “do something” with my life. However, since I wasn’t heading back home, I had no idea what that was going to look like and had little motivation to figure out how I was going to sustain myself.

I did have these grand ideas of what I “could" create but lacked the concentration, the clarity and the drive to make it happen. For a few weeks after my training I basically just floated out on a surf board in the ocean contemplating my existence.

Then I decided to join Exhale on their Bali Wander Retreat because I wasn’t ready to be back in reality.

We had an insane amount of fun.


Jungle dance parties, long pool side chats and laughter that lingered late into the evening. We rode horses along beaches, gawked at the stunning scenery, marvelled the magnificent sunrises and soaked in every sunset. We ate like royalty and there may have been a cocktail or two enjoyed during a happy hour outing in Ubud.

My routine was pretty steady, I woke early with the sun every morning and rolled out my mat with my tribe. During my flow I was incredibly present to the power of the people that surrounded me, to the potential that flowed within me, and to the inner voice that kept repeating "you are exactly where you are supposed to be and the universe is taking you exactly where you need to go.”


During my practice, I held in my mind’s eye, this image of me living an incredible life. I saw myself as a successful, motivated entrepreneur, in deep meaningful relationships with people that contributed to the light and positive development of our world. I made a point of injecting intention into everything - from what I ate, to how I moved, to the conversations I had and the activities I did.

In the evenings we practiced this incredibly nourishing, slow yin class and again I would lay there embracing the beauty of self-care and repeating kind words to myself over and over and over. It instilled within me a sense of trust, that I knew that I was doing what I needed to do, to be all that I had to be, to live the life I desired to live.

I had these extraordinary conversations - ones that inspired me to share my biggest dreams and open up to people about my fears and all that may prevent me from leaping with both feet into my truth.


I immersed myself in this environment for two whole weeks. It was bliss.

As they say, all things come to an end and I reluctantly had to leave our hub and embark back into the world.

I’m not sure how else to describe this, other than the person I came out of that retreat as was not the same person who entered.


My state of mind, my capacity, my bravery, my life… exploded in the best sense of the word.

I made these ridiculously incredible connections with outrageously inspiring individuals. I manifested a legal working and resident permit on an island that is notoriously challenging to do so in. I landed clients and built a rapidly growing media agency online. I so quickly manifested the ideas that I had whispered to my soul during those yoga classes on our retreat - to the point where I have had to hire help, expand, and say no to some otherwise desirable yes’s, because my life is over flowing with opportunity.

I say this with slight trepidation. I don’t want to sound boastful or at all like I haven’t had to work for this good fortune - trust me, I have, a lot.

The point of my story is this. I think that it is foolish or naive not to connect all the dots.


I have always had drive and ambition and yet I have constantly struggled in the past with properly utilising it in order to bring to fruition all that I could imagine for myself. However, in the last year I have made major lifestyle shifts. Ones that have moved me away from the work hard, party harder perspective and instead have birthed a mindful approach to literally everything I do.

This is not to say I never party or lose my balance, I do - I’m in my 20’s after all. I’m an advocate of ripping up a dance floor and living life to the fullest. However I no longer destroy my body in the process. I make sure that my health, my mental clarity, my emotional stability and my overall happiness are kept paramount. This allows me to stay focused, clear and intentional about the actions I am doing and how they impact the goals I know I aim to achieve.

My Exhale Retreat was a defining experience in my life that showed me the dramatic difference between a mindful and a mindless vacation. It so blatantly laid out for me the impact that each can have on your life, long term.


So, should you batter your immune system, sleep the day away and disconnect from the practices that ignite your light within - or - should you consider what a mindful vacation looks like for you and invest your time and money in something that will actually serve you in the big picture?

I won’t answer that for you - and I don’t think anyone else can.

The decision to put your well-being first, to consider alternative ways to relax, restore and retreat that differ from a traditional “all-inclusive vacation package,” will always be your call.

However I will leave you with this…

You can spend money on a trip that you will enjoy in the moment and perhaps have a couple of stories to share later on - or - you can spend your money on an experience that shapes who you are as a being in this world. One that aids you on your journey to living your highest self.

Those experiences in which you invest in your growth, health and overall betterment will ALWAYS stay with YOU forever and not only that, they will positively impact each individual you meet thereafter.


Under that analysis, any entrepreneur or rational intellectual would say that the latter of the two, has a much higher return on investment.

But it’s your call.


Baillie Thornhill
Drishti Digital Media