With warm crystal waters, fresh tropical fruits, relaxed friendly people and (nearly) perfect weather, the island of Jamaica is a slice of paradise. That was the setting for our writing retreat with 96-year-old Tao Porchon-Lynch and her upcoming inspirational memoir, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master.
From December 15th through 20th, 2014, Tao joined my family at Dreamtime Villa in Montego Bay, a gorgeous oasis right on the ocean. That was the perfect backdrop for inspiration and relaxation, as well as filming and photos for the book promotion – a nice pre-holiday gift. Valentino Smith and his staff offered impeccable service and the food from Chef Loxley Murray was amazing. I gave the chef a list of Tao’s favorites and he exceeded our expectations. There was a steady stream of coconut, mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi and watermelon, as well as homemade soups and local vegetarian dishes like callaloo. There were also non-vegetarian options such as grilled fish and jerk and curried chicken for the rest of the family. He threw in a bit of decadence with ice cream and pastries. I’ve spent a lot of time with Tao and I’ve never seen her eat that much. At one point Tao said, “This is the best quiche I’ve had since I left France.” What a testimonial!
Although the original intention was to have a quiet getaway, that didn’t last long. With the help of local yogi Sharon Feanny, we set out to hold a small meet-and-greet reception for Tao at the prestigious Round Hill Hotel & Villas. Instead, with just a couple of days notice, over 60 yogis came out in monsoon rain to what turned out to be a full yoga session with Tao. Some drove over four hours from Kingston and other areas. Much thanks to Round Hill’s Managing Director Josef Forstmayr and Director of Sales & Marketing Linda Lawrence. It was a treat all around! The event was covered by the island’s top newspapers, the Jamaica Gleaner (“Oldest Yoga Practitioner at 96″) and Jamaica Observer (“Lessons from Tao”). Thanks to Marcia Richards of Sagicor for making my connection with Sharon, allowing all of this to happen!
We then went back to Round Hill for an incredible farm-to-table dinner – similar to the one Tao and I had at the Bartlett Farm in Nantucket this summer. Round Hill debuted its farm-to-table menu in 2013 focusing on using local, sustainably-grown and organic ingredients – which I love (check out my Seven-Day PWR Detox book and coverage of a Biodynamic Farm in Slovenia). Everything comes directly from the on-property garden or farmers in the community, including all aspects of the meal — from the meat to herbs and dressings for salads. Seafood and meat is sourced from the Caribbean and nearby waters or farms in Jamaica. Chef Martin Ian Maginley provides a culinary delight with items such as Chigwell Farms jerked chicken, sautéed local Callaloo, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and homemade scotch bonnet ice cream. Among my highlights were the incredible beet dish and coconut ice cream. The farm-to-table menu is available for guests to experience at The Grill Restaurant Montego Bay every Thursday and Sunday night – so we happened to be in town on the right days!
Finally, we did get some work done. We went through Tao’s notes on the manuscript and did some filming. We even had an impromptu “dress-up” photo shoot with our cinematographer Eu-nah Lee even though our planned shoot with local photographer Dwayne Watkins was rained out – though he did stop in with Michelle Gordon (Editor, B3 Caribbean Magazine and Indulge) to say hello. Tao also had some media interviews, including a sit-down with local journalist Janet Silvera. Once the weather cleared up, we got in some yoga by the water – and, of course, my private instruction from Tao. It was glorious!!
Jamaica has a burgeoning yoga community. I’ve taught on the island (“Stretching her Limits“), been a keynote for speaking events (Sagicor Motivational Seminar, Jamaica Customer Service Association), and coached some of their top executives (Jamaica National Bank and Spanish Court Hotel). I’ve also been covered by their local media (“Juice and Yoga for Healthy Living,” Ian Boyne Part I, Ian Boyne Part II). Tao’s presence provided a boost of spiritual energy and was a good introduction for when she returns to Jamaica May 2015 to lead a more in-depth yoga retreat. Here’s information on the upcoming retreat:
Be sure to support the Advanced Sales Campaign for Tao’s long-awaited inspirational memoir, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through the Eyes of a Modern Yoga Master. I am honored to have co-authored the book with Tao and my mom, journalist Janie Sykes-Kennedy. Two years, 70 hours of interview footage and 125,000 words later, the book is almost ready for its debut. Two months ago, Tao asked my company Power Living Media to publish and promote it in order to get the book out as soon as possible. We are offering a numbered Special Edition Hardcover Book and have already cut a year off the traditional publishing process. Your support of the Advanced Sales Campaign will allow for more expanded production, distribution and promotion – including Tao’s book tour. We want to make 2015 Tao’s best year yet!
Tao embodies the principles and essence of Power Living – that we each can live to our Highest Potential and dance to our own rhythm. Highlights of my collaboration with Tao includes Yoga at the Pentagon, Tao’s Guinness World Record, Yoga Journal Conference, Tao in Harlem, and the Newark Peace Education Summit with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Find out more about the incredible Tao at www.TheTaoExperience.com. Check out the retreat information below.
Written, Curated and Designed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy.
Photo Credits: Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Eu-nah Lee.
PRODUCTS & COACHING: Check out www.PowerLivingMedia.com for our products. Need help reaching your health & wellness goals, clarifying your purpose or taking your work/life to the next level? Find out about our coaching services.
ADD YOUR VOICE: Share your stories and impressions of Tao Porchon-Lynch by posting a comment below.