Sharing an article that GoWonder posted about Art of Living Retreats and about my personal journey - from working in the finance industry to now living my dream, hosting retreats around the world! Also information about our upcoming Bali retreats!
For any solo female travellers, this is an amazing resource and group to support you on your adventures! Thanks Dora Sun for creating this community!
Today we want to share with you the amazing story of Bianca Kempe, a story of finding the right path in life. Bianca had the courage to leave her job and find her life purpose. Now she does what she loves every single day and lives in what most people call the paradise on Earth – Bali. Meet Bianca Kempe, yoga instructor and Founder of Art of Living Retreats.
In our stories of #Wonderer series, we share with you snippets from the road. These are stories from the women in our community, they are powerful, bold and free-spirited #Wonderers who love to travel.
Full of Wanderlust?
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your story?
About me – I’ll begin some years back to paint a good picture of how I got to where I am.
Like many Gen Ys, I jumped into university straight after high school. Completed a Business degree and entered the world of Finance. It was exciting at first. Especially because I had launched my own private investment firm and the entrepreneurial grind was exciting! However, it didn’t take long until I was lost for purpose in the work I was doing. The unhealthy lifestyle of late nights, take out food, and a busy mind from thinking about work all the time. Eventually, lead me to hit a wall. One evening I was in my downtown apartment and suddenly collapsed. I fainted and this was enough to make me inquire deeper, “what was I doing with my life?”. It gave me the inspiration to make a change.
What exactly did you change?
Well, I’ve been practising yoga since I was my teens. And becoming a yoga teacher was a secret dream I had. However, I never pursued this path because I came from a family that had high expectations for me. I believed that becoming a yoga teacher wouldn’t fit their idea of “successful”. Fainting that evening gave me the kick I needed to drop everything. Book a flight to Bali and pursue a Yoga Teacher Training Course. After one month in Bali, I was able to clear my mind enough to realise that I could no longer continue on the path I was on.
I was deeply inspired and decided to extend my stay in Bali an extra three months. Dedicating myself to learning about the Human Experience – What is our Purpose as Humans on this Planet? What is Spirituality? How is Humanity going to evolve? Doing this work made me realise that I had been barely scratching the surface of the rich depths of Life. In that moment a beautiful relationship with myself unfolded. I met a teacher who told me, “Life is an 18-inch journey, from the head to the heart”, and this is the journey I have since committed myself to, and I have never felt more fulfilled and alive.
Do you believe that you found your life purpose?
Yes, of course! From that point forward I pursued the study of consciousness and yoga full-time. Which lead me to all corners of the world. From the Sacred Valley of Peru to India, Malaysia and Philippines, among others. I took a second yoga teacher training course in India (Sivananda). Spent time in the Philippines learning Inner Dance, and continue to study yoga from my teacher in Malaysia. Last year I decided to move to Bali to teach yoga full time and to continue breathing in the rich Hindu culture. After one year of Bali Bliss, my partner and I began travelling through Asia, Australia and America. Serving communities with workshops and retreats focused on healing through food, detoxification, inner dance, yoga, and meditation.
There is nothing that brings me more joy than teaching yoga. And being able to hold space for people while they go through their own “ah-has” and awakenings! I know how much my life transformed when I began to live from my heart and now it is my passion and purpose to share my experience so others can do the same.
What do you do?
Last year my partner, Jose (raw food chef and detox consultant), and I began to run retreats based on all the knowledge and experiences we had cultivated. Our first retreats were 10 days long in Bali and the Philippines. We then brought the retreats to Canada and now run them throughout the summer on Bowen Island, Canada (20 min ferry from Vancouver, British Columbia) and in Mazunte, Mexico and Ubud, Bali during the winter season.
Jose and I created Art of Living Retreats. The retreats empower people and allow them to awaken to their highest potential and find happiness through an experience of detox, raw food, yoga, meditation, nature and adventure!
The art of Living Retreats is a journey for you to clarify your most fulfilling dreams so that you can live this life to your fullest potential, on purpose, and in alignment with your innermost being.
It sounds amazing Bianca, can you tell us something more about Art of Living Retreats?
The retreats combine multiple paths of awakening so that you can rediscover who you are and what you want in life. There is a big focus on food, as we believe that we are what we eat and by becoming more conscious about the food we take one step closer to transforming our life for the better. Most of our food philosophies come from the work of Dr Robert Morse (said to be the greatest healer of our time). Another focus is on the Vision Quest workshops. We take our participants through various “Vision Quest” exercises (based on Advaita principles) which allow them to gain new perspectives so they can begin to understand themselves better. I believe we can live happier lives the better we know ourselves because when we know what makes us happy we can craft a life that fulfils us! Yoga, breath work, and meditation are also a core component of the retreat as they are great tools for better physical, emotional and mental health. A form of meditation called Inner Dance is also practised frequently. Through the Inner Dance process, we are brought into a state of deep reflection and often clarity arises and any roadblocks we face in life can be worked through. Lastly, nature is also very important.
Can you explain more about the meditation?
A form of meditation called Inner Dance is also practised frequently. Through the Inner Dance process, we are brought into a state of deep reflection and often clarity arises and any roadblocks we face in life can be worked through. Lastly, nature is also very important.
Tell us more about the organic food what you serve at your retreats?
We often make visits to organic farms to learn some basics about permaculture, get our hands dirty in the soil, and prepare delicious meals from the plants we’ve harvested from the land. There is nothing more fulfilling than picking and preparing your own food!
What else these retreats offer?
The retreats offer our participants tools so that their experience with us isn’t a “step out of reality for some days” rather an experience that they can learn from and implement what they’ve learned to make changes towards a happier and fuller life. All the participants get a goody bag with tools they need to improve the quality of their life (ex: dry brush, tongue cleaner, natural toothpaste and floss etc).
I love running our retreats! It gives me so much joy to share my passions and to watch individuals go through beautiful transformations! I am beyond grateful that the universe has opened up this path for me and I can not wait to share the experience with the Go Wonder community!
What inspired you to start the Art of Living Retreats?
While we were living in Bali we had visitors with us all the time. Friends and family were constantly visiting us and we were happily holding space for them, showing them the magic of Bali and working with them on different levels (physically, mentally, and emotionally through yoga, inner dance, healthy meals, fresh fruit, juices, detoxes, a beautiful environment and more). We were spending all day, everyday sharing with others the experiences that helped us become positive people and it brought us so much joy!
We then realised that we could offer this experience to more people and at the same time create something that would sustain our own lifestyle. That’s how it was birthed, out of sheer passion and joy for serving people in the way we do. Our first retreats were in Bali and then we brought them to Palawan, Philippines because that’s where our teacher of Inner Dance is from.
When Canadian summer came along we held some on Bowen Island, Canada (20 min ferry from Vancouver). I am originally from Vancouver and wanted to bring the retreats to my community at home AND the islands off the west coast of Canada are simply magical! Jose is from Mexico, hence our upcoming retreat is in Mexico (the beaches here aren’t bad either :P).
All our retreats take place at conscious retreat centres that are free of any chemical products and aim to leave a minimal impact on the environment. You will see for yourself; venue is very important for us! Sometimes we’re deep in the jungle sleeping in cobb buildings, under the stars, fetching our own water from the well, among a community in an eco-village! Other times we are in more modern and cosy places! ALL are inspiring places to retreat in
What does travelling mean to you?
To me, travelling means expanding my field of awareness. I believe we are here on an infinite journey of expanding ourselves. Through new experiences, places, and people we shatter our known reality and move into something greater. It’s about growing our awareness beyond our current ideas and beliefs. So we can see each other and the world with a new lens; a lens that through the diversity of our experiences begins to see a unity.
Travelling means stepping outside of my comfort zones. To face fears, to overcome them. And to teach me over and over again that we alone set our limitations and can, therefore, overcome them.
Travelling is a moment to peel yourself away from your known environment where sometimes you have to play a certain role (“the sister”, “the daughter”, “the mother”, “the girlfriend”) and can simply just BE who you are and open yourSELF to what the universe has in store for you.
It’s a moment that I can surrender myself to that magical FLOW of life and let the current move me to just exactly where I need to be.
What three advice would you give to your younger self?
Have the courage to pursue your gift, and you will live a life on purpose, painting the world a rainbow”
I used to doodle this quote all over my notebooks and papers, not fully realising what I meant by it. Now I know. It means to TRUST the inner voice inside your heart, despite the noise all around you! It will lead you to where you need to be. The scarier that leap of faith into the direction of your heart, the more the universe will reward you! As Joseph Campbell says: “Follow your Bliss and the Universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
If we don’t have new experiences we become stuck in a narrow reality. Travel shows us the many colours of the world- people, cultures, places and nature. Which expands our known reality and thereby shifts our perspective and changes who we are.
Believe in something beyond yourself. I believe that the Universe, God, Pacha Mama, Mother Earth (whatever you may call it) is always present in our lives. The essence of the divine is always around us, cheering us on as we live out our journeys. To cultivate this FAITH, develop a practice. I start my day with some prayers, reading from inspiring texts followed by an asana practice and a meditation.
During this practice, I surrender to the flow of the universe and devote myself to being an instrument of Love. Trusting that everything is exactly as it is meant to be and that life will continue to unfold perfectly. Trusting that the hurdles and challenges along the way are simply opportunities for me to learn. Yoga is a great way to begin cultivating your “own practice”. A practice can take many forms. For some, it is in expressing themselves through painting, dancing, singing, or cooking. It is a moment where we are acting in alignment with our hearts. The mind is quieted and we are PRESENT. Living in the NOW.
What is the hardest thing about running your own ventures?
The hardest part of running my own venture really came at the beginning. When I quickly learned that it was going to be a process of consistency and perseverance to find people who were just as excited as I was about the retreats. It was a slow start, to say the least, but we continued with determination. Always optimistic, trusting that things take their time and if we continue to do what makes us come alive, everything would work out.
We had one guest at our first official retreat! We continued understanding and trusting that it was truly perfect and that we were learning what we needed to learn in order to continue and grow. Now our retreats are filling up and we’re working towards putting MORE on the calendar!
Congratulations, it sounds so exciting! Your hard work paid off and you do what you are truly passionate about!
Yes, I feel blessed that Life feels balanced. When our retreats are ON I am there ready to give my whole self to the moment. There is nothing I love more than to serve in the way I do in our retreats. To hold space for a group of individuals, to create a family together, to share and expose our deepest selves, to laugh, cry, love and to witness the beautiful transformation of every individual there.
Follow your bliss, trust yourself and start manifesting your dream. I can now say, I am truly living my Dream and I could not be more grateful.
A quote that continues to inspire me:“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask, what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!” Howard Thurman
Information on the retreat in Bali.
I don’t think I can properly express just how excited I am for our upcoming Bali retreats in April and May 2017! The retreats are themed “Discovering your Heart”. They are 6 nights/7 days in the spiritual capital of Bali, Ubud. The April retreat is for women only and the May retreat is open to both men and women! Writing about it just won’t do it justice!
Imagine waking up to the sun rising through the jungle trees. Coming to your yoga mat for a morning practice. Dipping your toes in the pool. Then sitting for a gourmet raw breakfast by our two highly trained chefs (Mango Joe and Sergio Leon). I don’t want to give too much away but get ready to dive deep into the depths of your Being.
We will be visiting a High Priestess of Bali for a purification and blessing. We will take part in Balinese ceremonies. Dance our hearts away, be touched by the soft and beautiful singing of world renowned kirtan performer. And be pampered with fresh juices, smoothies, fruits and raw meals all day…
All I can say is, get ready to reconnect with that warrior Goddess within you!