Travelers I meet from other countries are curious about my blog and want to read it. I therefore assume that it is time that I write in English. Maybe I can not express myself as well as in Swedish and the grammar may not be the best, but I’ll give it a try. Right now I’m in Bangkok for my final three days before the journey back home to Sweden. To write these words hurts my heart. I feel very emotional and many thoughts are going through my head. And this morning I cried. I feel happy and sad at the same time. After I have been without wifi throughout the week in the monastery, I was very pleased by the messages that awaited me from friends when I returned to Chiang Mai. I long to meet them. My heart is wide open and my feelings are very strong. Especially now after a week in silence. It opened up a lot. While I am happy to come home and meet friends and family, I am sorry that my journey has come to an end. I have met so many wonderful people from the whole world and as I feel so connected with and I will miss them, the time we have spent together and the inspiring conversations and thoughts we have exchanged. But I comfort myself that there’s always Skype, WhatsApp and those living in Europe, it’s just a cheap flight in between. I already know that my dear friend from Holland will visit me in May, I cannot wait to see you Weekhas!
This journey may have come to an end, but it’s definitely just the beginning in a new direction and travel in my life. I’m so proud of myself for the steps I have taken this year. It can be a rocky road to change your life, but it is so worth it. As long as you are true to yourself, I am sure that life itself and the universe helps one to find their way. And I have certainly experienced it. The last three months have been absolutely amazing. The Life design retreat in Koh Lanta, where I let go of a lot of old feelings, patterns and also my job, the weeks in Ubud, Bali, where I worked a lot with my body through detox, yoga, meditation and healthy food. And also where I got to experience true friendship. The great time at sea in Seminyak and Gili Air with beautiful people, Bintang beer, dance, trekking and many massage treatments. And now, finally, a loving week at a Buddhist monastery. With beautiful scenery around, wildflowers and orchids, waterfall, streams and mountains, it is like a little paradise on earth.
After five hours of traveling along the serpentine road between the mountains of northern Thailand, I finally arrived at the monastery. I was happy and excited about what awaited me. And the first thing I was beeing greeted by was a warm and loving smile from the Abbott who founded the monastery. It was impossible not to get affected. I felt so welcome. He was very humorous and we clicked quickly.
– Oooo, from Sweden, from heaven, you stay long?!
He gave me a bracelet for good luck, said something about that he liked my big nose and that he was going to give me a very nice room. When I then registered myself with help from Sue, a Thai woman who left her business behind in Bangkok to live and help out with foreigners in the monastery and told her that I had received Kuti number 22, she looked at me in surprise and said,
Well, I guess I made a good impression on the Abbot. I also quickly agreed with Sue . But who would not? Such an energetic woman with a big smile on her face all the time. So helpful and kind to everyone. I called her the little princess toward the end of my stay. And when she did not want me to leave, I said to her,
– Sue, there can be only one princess at the monastery.
She and the Abbott made me smile and laugh every day and it seemed like it was mutual. I knew from the beginning that I would have a lovely time here.
Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery offers spiritual guidance in practicing Vipassana Meditation, to calm your mind and refresh your spirit. Insight (Vipassana) involves first, allowing one’s mind to settle and become calm. In meditation, one learns to rest in mindfulness, bare awareness of the present, while letting go of habitual thought patterns and emotions. With a calm, open mind free of preconceptions, beliefs, opinions or desires, it is possible to see deeply into the nature of things and understand the relationship between our experiences of happiness and suffering their causes. The practice contains sitting, lying and walking meditation.
Some come here to practice meditation for the first time, others are here to develop their ongoing practice. No prior knowledge is required and everyone is welcome. Olivia, 23, a girl from England arrived with her friend. They were recommended the place of some girls they met on a bus and thought it might be an exciting and totally different experience. Mark, a 53 year-old German man who over the last 13 years worked as an organic fruit farmer in Cambodia, came here for the third time. After 15 years of regular meditation, he felt stuck in the same place in his practice and wanted to develop. He even considered to become a Monk.
During my stay here we were, about 30-40 people from all over the world. I was the only swede. Since 1993, when the monastery began to accept foreigners only 50 swedes have been here. The monastery does not market itself. Those who come here have usually been recommended by others who stayed here. Likewise for me. The data you can find on the internet are written by those who been here before.
Wat Tam Wua provide full acommodation such as single kuties, dormitories, two vegetarian meals per day with tea, coffee, juice or milk in place of dinner. Dress should be modest, ideally the white loose fitting garments worn by lay meditators in Thai wats. But if you don’t have any when you arrive the monastery, they will provide it for you. Staying here is free of charge, but a contribution that covers at least the basic costs of your stay is appropriate. Participants are asked to be disciplined in their practice, to follow the daily schedule, to keep their area tidy and clean. You are welcome to stay as long as you like, but a minimum of a week is recommended.
Mark has been to another monastery in Thailand three times before. But he likes Wat Tam Wua much more and keeps coming back. He told me that the other place was much more strict and structured. Here it is more personal and informal and the Abbott is very inviting. He means that in Wat Tam Wua they are teaching Metta, loving kindness and I totally agree with him.
Unlike other Vipassancenter this place doesn’t require complete silence, but quiet moderation is respectful and talking is best kept to a minimum functional. You decide yourself if you want to wear an ”in silence sign” or not. And with six hours of meditation every day you are much in silence anyway. I tried to be in total silence for one day, but I felt that it was nice to share the experiences you have during the meditation.
Me and Dorota, a 27 year old girl from Poland had similar experiences. We both felt that our sensory impressions became stronger. The teaching Monk, who held most of the meditations meant that it was a good thing and that our intuition was developing. Both I and Dorota also felt that we received responses during meditations on things we had been thinking over and needed to be answered. During a walking meditation, I also heard my mother’s voice and saw a clear picture of her. She sat with a cup of coffee and smoked in a colorful hat that she used to wear, and said,
– Jenny, I am so happy for you. You are so on the right path in your life now and I’m here for you, whenever you need me. She laughed and continued, I am just fine, ” tjingeling i lingonskogen”. A greeting which I have just heard her saying before. I smiled and I felt so grateful for this moment. Imagine what can come to us if we only calm our minds down.
Dorota’s boyfriend as she came along with had never meditated before, but had been curious about meditation. The third day, he felt, however, so dejected and frustrated that he did not achieve any results and that it was so horrible to sit in the same position for a long time. He was even thinking of leaving the place. But then the fourth day something happened. He could separate the body from the mind and observe their thoughts and feelings away without being affected by them. Something he had never experienced. He was mesmerized. We will all three definitely continue to meditate and I hope we keep in touch and share our experiences in the future.
Some people think that to go away is like to escape from reality. But what is the reality? As my wise father says, there are as many realities as there are people. And for me, this journey has meant that I have come even closer to myself and the reality that is true for me. And I can not express enough how grateful and happy I am for this, both outer and inner journey. It is never too late to change your life or fulfill the dreams you have, every day is a new day. On my boat ride out to the Gili Islands, I talked about this with an Australian couple in their 50s. Her father did the skydive and made at tatoo at the age of 75, something he had always dreamed of. And speaking of tattoos, about 30 minutes I willl make one. I’ve been thinking about it for over two months and now is the time.
Live today, tomorrow it may be too late!
Love and peace