10 Secrets of Meditation Success

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there—buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” ~ Deepak Chopra

I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga and mindfulness for 12 years. I’m neither a guru nor an expert and I’ve gone through many phases of practicing regularly and not practicing regularly.

I am currently, for example, out of habit.

I could list excuses or reasons but I won’t bore you with the details. Point is, I’m starting fresh.

Beginner’s mind.

And so, as I begin again these are five techniques I find helpful in my own meditation practice along with five wisdom quotes from great spiritual teachers. May they be of benefit!

Thank you for reading…

Mindfulness, Yoga & Writing Retreats in Guatemala {2014-15 Schedule}

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others;
for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness;
and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
Audrey Hepburn

buddha facesDharma Yoga Retreats

Dharma Yoga Retreats focus on sharing Buddhist teachings and meditation practice, combined with hatha yoga. These retreats will include periods of silence and optional fasting.

November 7-9, 2014
February 27-March 1, 2015
April 30-May 3, 2015
June 12-14, 2015

the written word

Writing & Yoga Retreats

Writing Yoga Retreats focus on cultivating creativity, journaling and writing, combined with hatha yoga, meditation and relaxation practices.

October 17-19, 2014
November 27-30, 2014
January 30-February 1, 2015
March 28-April 1, 2015

Sample Daily Schedule

7:00-8:00 a.m. Yoga and meditation (all things are optional, always ~ go with the flow)
8:30-10:30 a.m. Breakfast & Rest
10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Yoga or writing workshop
12:00-4:00 p.m. Lunch & rest/hike/swim/etc
4:00-6:00 p.m. Yoga & meditation workshop or Yoga & writing workshop
7:00 p.m. Dinner
8:30-8:45 p.m. Group meditation


We host retreats at various fabulous locations in Guatemala, including the following:

Lake Atitlan: La K-Zona (Cerro de Oro), Casa Colibri (Santa Catarina Palopo), Venado Azul Yoga (Pasajcap), Maya Moon Lodge (Tzununa), La Paz (San Marcos La Laguna), La Fortuna, La Iguana Perdida (Santa Cruz La Laguna)
Antigua and the City: Earth Lodge, G-22
Pacific Coast: Paredon Surf House, Paredon Surf Camp


Accommodation and food costs vary from $20-100 per day (Q150-800 cada día), depending on where the retreat is held and what types of accommodations and meals you choose.

Yoga, meditation and writing instruction and coaching are offered on a sliding scale, based upon the honor system. People who live here at the lake in Guatemala generally have less money than tourists and travelers coming from the US, Europe and elsewhere. I trust that people will pay what they can and what they feel for the yoga and other workshops. Here are the sliding-scale suggestions:

3-day retreats: $100-300+ / Q800-3000
4-day retreats: $150-400+ / Q1200-4000
5-day retreats: $200-500+ / Q1600-5000

So, the total cost (accommodations + food + yoga, etc.) for a retreat could range from $140 / Q1100 (for a local resident of Lake Atitlan attending a 3-day retreat at most affordable location) to $1000 / Q8500 for a (for an affluent visitor from Canada attending a 5-day retreat at our most luxurious location)


Michelle Margaret Fajkus has been practicing yoga for the past 20 years and teaching since 2002. Her style is hatha vinyasa yoga and her teachers are too many to be listed here. She is a secular Buddhist and a Gemini yogini. Her classes and retreats are open to all levels and are usually taught in Spanglish. For more information on Michelle and her yoga, please visit Yoga Freedom!

Some of the retreats will be co-led by other teachers as well. Details on that to follow soon. Collaboration, baby!


To get more information or register for a retreat, please contact Michelle at yogafreedom @ gmail dot com or by phone (in Guatemala) 5703 3989.


Photos courtesy of: Flickr & Flickr & me

Liberty and yoga for all.

Every one of us has a choice, every moment. Every body has a choice in yoga.

Thanks to the numberless gurus, buddhas and divine souls since the beginning of time, and thanks to the seeds of dharma and yoga from India having been planted in American soil, we are now witnessing the cultivation of a vast variety of yogas.

Our minds often like to judge and categorize what is “real” yoga versus what is faux.

Every teacher has their own style. Every yogi has their own practice. There are as many yogas as yogis.

It’s more than asana.

It’s more than meditation.

It’s more than ethics and morals.

It’s more than we can even imagine.

Yoga is a constant practice.

Yoga is achieved when practicing constantly and consistently. Yoga is not just on the mat. Yoga is not just in a class.

It’s more than the conscious inhale and exhale.

It’s more than the balance.

It’s more than relaxation.

It’s more than flexibility.

It is even more than mindfulness!

Yoga blesses us with well being and freedom from inflexibility, weakness and chronic imbalance. Freedom from rigid beliefs about life, God and our own bodies and abilities.

Yoga is the dance of the soul, the root of the smile, the hollow center inside the space that fills the heart.

It is more than we know.

It is more than we think.

It is who we are.

It is what we do.

We must integrate Yoga into our lives—not just the physical asana or scriptural philosophy or lovely pranayama breath techniques—but the moment-to-moment awareness of constant change.

Yoga gives us the energy to practice daily, to serve others, to give love, kindness and compassion to all beings, including ourselves.

Yoga is not dogmatic or bound to a single lineage or guru.

Yoga has no physical or spiritual prerequisites, requires no fancy clothing, props or accessories.

Make a vow to practice everywhere, all the time.

Yoga is the connection to our breath, our bodies, our minds, our souls, and each other—no exceptions.

The practice of yoga sows seeds of wisdom and cultivates gratitude every morning, noon and night for this life, this breath, these teachings, this chance to be here and love and grow and let go.

Om mani padme hum.


yoga schmoga book cover

Encountering Orchids & Poetry Where You Least Expect Them

On the outskirts of a small town in the south of Colombia
We were invited to Jose Raul’s garden
(He is a smiling security guard at my sister-in-law’s place)
We walked in to his family’s humble abode
Greeted by dogs, kids, a bunny and a cup of homemade blackberry wine from his lovely wife
He has over 200 species of orchids growing there in a tiny greenhouse
Some microscopic, some medium, some large
One that only blooms once every six years
He’s also a poet, with two published books to boot
Jose Raul the smiling security guard, the hospitable botanist, the published poet
Thank you for showing me your flowers and poems
Thank you for reminding me to drop expectations
Thank you for reminding me not to judge a book by its cover
Thank you
Mil gracias