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Yoga Retreat Thailand: My Anxiety Returns! (Part 2)

View from Vikasa Life Cafe of Vikasa Yoga Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand


In part 1, I told the story of the beginning of my new life (created using the law of attraction) in Thailand. I now live a digital nomad lifestyle where I intend to travel and only do work that I love, after many years of struggle and pain both with and recovering from, anxiety.

My first week, I took part in a yoga retreat in Thailand, hosted and run by Brett Moran, who has been a huge inspiration to me during my spiritual awakening of the past 2 years, with his YouTube vlogs. But this retreat brought up some new issues. Many people on the retreat, if not everyone, found emotions creeping to the fore and tears were shed on several occasions, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect I’d be one of those people!

I was only on the retreat because I’m working with Brett as part of his team. Twinned with the fact I honestly thought I was mentally in a great place for the first time any many, many years (the best place I’d ever been, actually!), meant I really didn’t think I had any issues still lurking.

Over the past 2 years, I have done so much self-development work, almost every day, working through complex limiting beliefs and all the other shit which comes with an anxiety disorder and a lack of confidence, that the last thing I thought I needed help with was my self-esteem!

Yet there I was, sat up in bed on my fourth night in a row with barely an hour of sleep, at 2am, sobbing gratuitously. And it wasn’t just the lack of shuteye. I had no problem getting to sleep, as I was out like a light every single evening, after tough yoga sessions and intense heat. But I would wake up after an hour every time, because my mind was racing.

A mixture of intense excitement at living out my dream, being around and talking to people constantly (something I have not done for many years) and struggling to process the vast change in my life.


My New Life

I’d gone from spending almost my entire days shut away in the spare room of my Mum’s house, staring at a computer screen all day, struggling to make money doing mostly, something I didn’t enjoy (with very little contact with anyone outside my family), in a cold British city; to 30 degree heat in a tropical paradise, doing work I love, living with two nubile, young, female yogis, one of my mentors (who I’d only met in person once), and a trainee shaman who used to go to the exact same primary school as me, even though we never knew each other! Get your head around that mouthful, folks!! And that’s before you even get to the stunning view from my wonderful room (see second pic, below!), the amazing healthy food I now eat at Vikasa Life Cafe and the beautiful souls on the retreat itself.

View from my bedroom, Koh Samui sunrise!

Within 24 hours, my whole life had turned upside down and even though it was in the most magical and exciting way possible, it was still an assault on the senses I couldn’t prepare for. So yeah, I cried like a fucking baby! Because I wanted to be fully present to enjoy it all, but with mental clarity and physical energy taken away from me due to lack of sleep, I missed out on a few retreat classes and day trips, which meant I was a little out of the loop when it came to conversation at meal times.


Anxiety Returns

As the week went on, I noticed more and more that feeling of being an outsider start to grow, to the point where I shrank into myself. My confidence waned and although I was fine in one to one situations, any time I was around louder, more boisterous members of the retreat, I felt like that kid again, back in school and college and the young adult struggling with social anxiety at university.

It was the exact same feeling that I was slipping further and further down a well, and as each day ended, it became harder and harder to clamber my way out, till I reached a point where I just gave up. I genuinely thought I’d blown the best opportunity of my entire life and that it was just a matter of time before I’d be going back home to England with my tail between my legs.

I felt absolutely sick and ashamed of myself. Yet again, I had allowed this mental pattern to take me over and turn me into this scared, weak, quiet little mouse. But this time was worse because when I was younger, I didn’t realise the patterns I was in, didn’t know it was anxiety. This time, I knew exactly what was happening and could see the pattern but couldn’t break it. I saw the paranoia for what it was – a story in my head. But I still let it overwhelm me. I still believed that I was the outsider of the group and people disliked me and didn’t want to share their time with me.


The Turning Point

But two things changed the situation. Firstly, Brett Moran. I don’t see him as a mentor for nothing! When I asked to make my excuses and leave a yoga class if it got too tough for my tired body and wired mind, he urged me to push through it. I was ready to give up, as I had in a couple of other sessions but after that pep talk, I gave it my all in the next session. And as he would say, I smashed it! I found an extra reserve of strength and powered through, leaving no room for excuses.

I still don’t know how I got through that day after 4 nights without sleep but I made it – and finally got some rest! I have slept well every day since!

I also ended up talking to some people on the retreat and hearing very similar stories to my own, of people who, on the outside, appeared confident and extremely likeable but with inner self-esteem problems and a worry that others would reject them. People who I just could not fathom why they would ever think that! And of course, I then realised that this is exactly what they were probably thinking about me!

Looking back, I think the lack of sleep, plus the situation of feeling like an outsider after missing a few classes, brought up those old memories of feeling rejected during my academic years, where I really struggled to get my voice heard and make friends. After many years of being alone, the new daily interactions, especially the larger, group ones where everyone was talking and several big characters tended to hog the limelight, made it tough for me to get a word in edgeways.

Nothing against those more extrovert people, they were all lovely too (and I genuinely mean that about every single person on this retreat), it’s just that I’m not the sort of person who wants to fight for attention and whilst some have this need to be constantly chiming in with comments, I don’t. So it might seem as though I’m ignorant or miserable or feeling down but I’m not at all; I just don’t have this  urge to always speak. But when I did, I was sometimes spoken over or just couldn’t find a gap – they hardly ever occurred!

Brett Moran Yoga Retreat April 2018 Group (some people missing: Katie, Katie P, Gaz, Andrae, Faye, Anne, Nicola – sorry!) (photo by Andrae Love Photography, Instagram #iamandraelove)


Some Thank Yous!

But my new-found awareness of the pit I was falling into, allowed me to find a way out. My housemate Katie helped a lot too, so big shout out to her! She was the only one who went out of her way to talk to me and see if I was alright, when I was in my darkest place and contemplating going home.

I also want to mention Rachel, Claire, Andy and the other Katie, whose stories about also feeling as though they were being ill-judged, really helped me to see I wasn’t alone in how I felt. Also thanks to Debbie, Kiki, Tyrone, Gaz, Andrae, Emma and Faye, who might not have even realised this, but little gestures they made towards me made all the difference in helping me feel like I did fit in. I have a good memory, I remember every little detail when someone does even the smallest, nice thing. By the end of the retreat, I was feeling better and only wished I could start the whole thing over!


Why You Should Do a Yoga Retreat

My mini capitulation spoilt what should have been a mega intro to my new life but ended up a damp squib without the connections I hoped to have made. That said, I still feel like I made new friends and I wholeheartedly recommend everyone to try a yoga retreat (particularly Brett Moran’s!), no matter where they are in life or how much they know about yoga.

Because it’s not really about fancy poses and stretching. It’s about getting the most out of your mind and body. It’s about connection; REAL connection, that we are seriously missing in our stressed out, busy, individualistic and materialistic society. Connection to the inner-self, the real you. Connection to others. Connection to nature. And yes – connection to the universe! I don’t care how woo-woo that sounds because I know where I was when I didn’t believe in all that and I know where I am now I do – it’s not even close.

I haven’t met many people in my life who were so in the moment, so loving life, so connected to the world and at total peace, that they wouldn’t benefit from a good yoga retreat. So please, consider going. I think it’s the way forward. Love is all that matters. It’s the only truth. I guarantee you’ll discover that if you go to a retreat like this one – just be prepared to work through some shit too!

But I guess it needs to happen. I needed to show that the old me, the ego with the lies about me being hated and an outcast, before I became Timothy Phoenix, was not still lingering. Trying to drag me back into the flames of the past. In the end, I flew free of those ashes.


  1. Anonymous says:

    😚 Great read. Glad you’re doing ok xx

    1. Thank you, let me know your name though! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Aww love this Tim xxxxx

    1. Anonymous says:

      Claire x

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good to read, Tim… and so glad you continued in that class and to the end with us. love Claire xxx

    1. Thank you Clairte, really appreciate you taking the time to comment 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just seen this! A super read! Very proud of you! Katie P xx

    1. Where have you been Katie – you’re way behind 😉 Great to hear from you, get in touch, let me know how you’re doing!

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