Many of us dream of starting a new life halfway around the world. Ocean Bloom did just that by heading due east – and has never looked back.
Ocean Bloom joins our Zoom call dressed in yoga gear and she’s sitting comfortably on the carpeted floor. Behind her is a painting featuring a peaceful scene of a waterfall. The windows of her apartment are open and outside the sun is shining and the ocean is glistening just past a few rooftops. The 45-year-old is fresh from teaching yoga at the studio across the street from her apartment in Phuket and she exudes an enviable ease when she speaks.
The life I’m getting a peek into on this call is a very different life from the one she left in Vancouver nearly 13 years ago. Then, she was competing in bodybuilding, at the gym three times a day, while also juggling a multitude of jobs–stunt work, fitness modeling, running Status fitness magazine, working as a fitness instructor. Vancouver, with its often grey skies and rainy weather, it just wasn’t her vibe, nor was the fitness competitions. “It’s not a team sport. It’s about ‘look at me,’” says Bloom. For her, she was craving ways to find connection with others and while she loves to perform, the attitude of “My body I better than your body” simply didn’t resonate with her values.
It took a close friend’s terminal diagnosis of lung cancer and brain tumours to light a fire under her. “It was an awakening for me,” she says. “My life needed to change and this girlfriend asked me what I would do if I only had two years to live.” Bloom told her that she would travel the world and go to the most beautiful, exotic places and live with no fear. Her friend’s face lit up when Bloom mentioned Thailand and that took away any fear she had about the idea of uprooting her life to move across the world.
The conversation proved to be a reality check–Bloom decided after that conversation that she was going to go to Asia to explore. “It was my inner calling and it felt right,” she says. Having never been to Asia, at the age of 32, she ended a relationship, packed up her life, and headed to Chiang Mai. She continued traveling through 2011 and visited Cambodia, Bali, India and Sri Lanka. “I was really on a mission to study different healing modalities,” says Bloom, who spent time learning Thai yoga massage and more.
And it turns out her instincts to leave Canada were right. Culturally, Bloom feels much more at home in Asia. “In the western world, they say no pain, no gain. Here in the eastern world, it’s like ‘No pain, no pain’. The way of life here feels ‘me,’” she says, adding that she loves the hot climate. “I love the simplicity and peacefulness–you don’t even really need shoes here. There’s just a way of honouring the way of being that is lost in the western world.”
Although her friend passed away 18 months after her terminal diagnosis, Bloom had a chance to thank her for her life experience changing her own. Now nearly 13 years later, Bloom continues to have steady work as a yoga teacher, teaching a range of types of yoga, from restorative to flow, and also fits in her own practice daily. “I like to offer something more experiential, where you just feel into where we’re at on this day in our body. How do I want to feel in my body? How do I want to feel in my relationships? This is what I share with my clients,” says Bloom. She’s also developed a signature treatment, Conscious Movement Therapy, with which she works with private clients; the therapy encompasses modalities including Thai yoga massage, breath work and neuro-linguistic programming.
As we wrap up our call, I notice a tattoo in sanskrit spanning Bloom’s forearm. She tells me she got it about six months ago to honour a close friend. At the time, she was living in Paris working for a private client when this friend professed his love for her in a letter. He asked her to move back to Thailand. “This was the most beautiful love letter I’ve ever received or read,” she says. He’d just visited her in Paris bearing gifts, including a deck of positive affirmation cards, one of which featured the mantra now tattooed on her arm.
Soon after his visit, he wrote the love letter, and unexpectedly–he was young and in good health–he tragically died of a heart attack. For Bloom, it’s as though he lives on through her having this mantra on her skin. The crazy thing is that at different times, it will elevate from my skin, and it’s as though he’s talking to me.” The mantra? “OM. The material world. The physical world. The celestial world. The Supreme Being. The source. To be worshipped. The Divine Light. The sacred truth. We deeply meditate. The Intellect, which to us may Light be endowed.” For Bloom, it’s in memory of her dear friend and for self protection.
Photos by ChrisVLilnton