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Do you know that one moment in life that changes everything completely unexpectedly? Something like this happened to me last year and threw me completely off track. Everybody has their own approach. Mine was simply not perceive or repress everything. What you can imagine, it absolutely did not work. It is not possible to run away from yourself.
After several months of standstill and the inner voice of changing something, I remembered a conversation on a journey through Asia. I met someone who was in a similar situation as I am right now. He told me about his intention to attend a meditation retreat. That was the first time I heard about it. I came across this topic a few times while traveling, but paid no attention to it.
Maybe something to my person, I was a very scientific person, very related to facts and investigations.
After some research, some dreams and finally a book in the waiting room of my doctor, I decided to get to know myself and my body properly. Through meditation.
Despite many positive experiences of other people, I considered the topic very skeptical. But wanted to learn it. So I bought this book and started … I do not know if any of you have ever tried to meditate, but with my belief and no idea what it’s all about, I gave up angrily.
In me the thought grew louder to visit a meditation retreat. I packed all my belongings and sat on the plane 2 weeks later, without a plan where to go and what to expect. My only goal was to find myself …
I decided to travel around for a month to open my mind and adjust to it. At the time, I had to attend the meditation retreat in Chiang Mai. That’s why my first tour ended in the north of Thailand.
As time and research progressed, I found a monastery that felt right for me. I chose a forest monastery on the border to Myanmar. Here the Vipassana mediation is practiced. Everyone is welcome, no reservation, no communication to the outside world, no alcohol, no cigarettes (I was still a smoker) and everything runs on a donation basis.
I have heard about a conversation from this place and getting more information about this monastery was a bit serious. But I had an address. The only information I had was that you needed white clothes. Now I had everything I clothes, an address and the departure time of a bus.
Now it was time, I was nervous. I sat at the bus station in Chiang Mai to do what I was here for. I smoked my last cigarette and took the bus …
Next to me was a Chinese tourist who was compulsively trying to talk to me by typing questions into a translator app in her cell phone and handing it over to me. In front of me a monk who endlessly scrolls down the homepage on Facebook. The bus goes to the vorder. There are no stops, you tell the driver where you want to get out, must hope that he remembers all the points or yells that you want out. I told the driver the monastery and showed him the address, he nods and I hoped he understood. I sat back in my seat and wished inwardly that the monk also drives to the same monastery like me. Too much was just unclear and chaotic
We drove deeper into the mountains, through suicidal roads, surrounded by deep jungle. I was the only tourist in the bus, and it was getting late. I got more nervous and asked the bus driver when I would arrive. He laughed, nodded and pointed to a mountain. I was not sure what he wanted to tell me. Suddenly the bus stopped, the driver climbed onto the roof and threw down my backpack. I got out, looked around … mountains, rivers and a small side path leading off the main road. The bus driver pointed the way, bowed, got in and drove off.
There I stood alone on a lonly street in the middle of the nowhere. I swallowed …, a look at my phone …, no signal. I picked up my things and followed the path.
The monastery! , I’m really here!
I was not received by a human, but by Pui the monastery dog. As a monk will explain later, Pui was a monk in his earlier life. He came one day through the jungle to the monastery and stayed, no one knows where he’s from. He participates every meditation, awakens the members together with the monks and lives like everyone else in the monastery.
After some time, Marc (his pseudonym for western visitors, because his name is too difficult to pronounce) came. He is a volunteer here, responsible for receiving the newcomers and translated into English for most monks. He was the interface to the monks. Marc immediately recognized my intention and gave me a bungalow. He explained to me how the daily routine was and how I should behave in the presence of the monks.
Never touch the head
Do not hold the soles towards monks
He gave me the key to my cabin, explained the way and I walked through the area for the first time. I was awesome! I have never seen such a beautiful place! Mountains, rivers, several lakes, palms, trees with huge yellow flowers and as many animals as I have not seen in a single place bevore.
The luxury of my cabin completely exceeded my expectations. I had a private bathroom with a shower! There were several cabins across the grounds and 2 large dorms, each separated by women and men. However, you sleep on a wooden board with a thin layer of cloth over it. At the beginning it’s really nice, but after a few days it’s horrible.
It is 6 pm and a beating against a bell was heard. It is called to evening chanting and meditation in the Dhamma hall.
The Dhamma Hall is a covered, open level where meditation and chanting takes place. I grabbed a song book in English (phonetic transcription), took a pillow and sat down in the third row. I was excited what followed …
All participants became silent. Then, slowly, the monks walked into the hall, taking a seat in the front.
One monk had a microphone, he welcomed us opened a page in the book and everbody began to sing in an incomprehensible language. At first I only sang inside, then with my voice.
Now I was sitting here in the middle of nowhere in the jungle between mountains, in an open hall, monks in front of me, about 100 participants in white clothes around me, dead silence and we sang together. I tried not to laugh. I am surprised where this thought took me. I enjoyed it, it had a power, at the same time I wondered what it had to do with meditating. After 1.5 hours, the monk came to the end and initiated a sitting meditation.
I listened to his instructions intently and let me fall. It worked better than my own attempts, but opened my eyes again and again and looked around me.
It was absolutely quiet, the only thing you heard was the wind.
After completing the meditation, I went back to my hut, holding a guide from the monastery, with meditation instructions and descriptions. I had made it and couldn’t believe that I am here.
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