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Learning in Asia Experiences and life lessons while teaching in Thailand.

Friday - An awakening

THAILAND | Friday, 7 November 2014 | Views [540] | Comments [1]

I came to Thailand for a reason. Packing up and leaving all I know for a foreign land after a quarter life crisis may seem somewhat impulsive, but my decision was no doubt purposeful. So, why have I come here? Spiritual enlightenment seems too grandiose a term to use to describe what I am seeking in Southeast Asia, however I did want to embark on a spiritual journey of some sort. I believe that we are three part beings, and to function at our highest capacity we must nurture our mind, body and spirit. This is what I intend to gain from my time away from Western culture; a lifestyle whereby each day entails love and care for every part of my being. 
What care of mind, body and soul means to a person is very individual. What nourishes my soul may be like watching paint dry to another person. The things I have learned to love and that I gain spiritual satisfaction from are writing, reading, taking photographs, connecting with others on a deep level, connecting with nature and overall engaging in practices that quiet my mind. The aforementioned activities concomitantly appease the yearnings of my mind and soul, as for my body, it desires movement. I desire movement of all types, vigorous as well as slow but deliberate movement. I figured that immersing myself in a Buddhist culture in a rural town while attempting to engage and inspire young minds would effortlessly yield a satisfaction of mind, body and spirit. I was wrong. 
I have been in Thailand for 7 weeks. That’s 49 days. And I am only now reaching out to friends and family to share my journey. I had intended to share my stories as they happened, but this clearly did not happen. I felt like I was busy all the time. Granted, I did have a lot going on, but truthfully I squandered my idle time. Perhaps squander is too harsh a word, I did journal and photograph a decent amount, but it was no different than my practices in Canada. Upon arriving in Sakon Nakhon, the Northern province where I am teaching, I felt that having a place to call home would allow me to establish a physically, mentally and spiritually satisfying routine. Wrong again. 
Yesterday I had a harsh realization that was brought about by an interesting sequence of events. Maybe something was happening in the universe to shake me up as it was the 12th full moon of the year, whatever it was grabbed my attention...
Friday was my fifth day teaching and I had begun to get into a morning routine. While I was in the bathroom, I noted to myself that my mind was really racing this morning. I made no attempt to slow it down, I just continued with the flurry of thoughts that consumed my morning ritual. Before zipping off to school on my scooter I had to pay my landlady the rent for said scooter, so I picked up the two 1,000 Baht bills I owed and ran out to give them to her. As I handed over the payment, I realized that I only had one bill in my hand, so I quickly ran back to my room to get the other bill. While looking for it, I felt the mounting stress of having to leave for school as well as trying to locate the cash to pay my debt. I began to feel frazzled, but then found the bill on the floor. I picked it up and dashed for the door and in doing so I dropped the bill again! This induced some self-directed profanities and again mounted stress. I paid Lucy and then walked over to my Honda Wave to take out my sunglasses as by 6:45am, it is really bright in Sakon Nakhon. While removing my sunglasses from my bag, I dropped them on the floor. That was the straw. I knew something was off. A disturbing thought came to my mind: “I do not trust my hands.” I was about to get on a scooter to battle Thai rush hour and I did not trust a part of my body that could steer me away from danger. 
“Breathe,” I told myself. “Stop, and breathe.” So, I did. I took three breaths, and on the third I realized that my ‘deep’ breaths were relatively shallow considering my pulmonary capacity. I stared at a big, beautiful tree and took in two more breaths that filled my entire lungs. These inhalations gave me the grounding that I needed. I rode my scooter safely and with steady hands all the way to Sakolraj High School. Upon arrival I was immediately grateful for arriving safely, and by expressing this gratitude I opened myself to being thankful for a whole bunch of things! 
I expressed thanks for my lungs, my hands, my eyes, trees, the ground, etc. all the way to my office. I had not brought my journal on any of the previous days, but, perhaps by divine order, it was in my bag on Friday. I immediately wrote about my experience and in doing so I came to a harrowing conclusion: nothing has changed in my behaviour since I’ve been here. I had become complacent. I fell into a comfortable routine of just working and surviving, a routine no different than what I had been trying to escape. I had an idea of the person I wanted to be, the lifestyle I wanted to live, and I had forgotten it. Although upsetting, I did not see this as a failure, I was grateful that the culmination of events led me to an awareness that a conscious change was required. I wrote my intentions in my journal and on Saturday, they were answered.

Tags: body, learning, mind, spirit, teaching, thailand




"Upon arriving in Sakon Nakhon, the Northern province where " , incorrect , it is a North Eastern Province.

  Lloyd Jan 4, 2015 7:45 PM

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