This week’s post was originally supposed to have been called ” The Law of Attraction Part IV” , but I just had to take a moment to pause, reflect and put pen to paper ( or is it key to monitor?) my thoughts from over the last few weeks. Destiny sometimes takes you into the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times. And with good reason. Sometimes the perspectives of an entire lifetime can change in an instant. And so it was this time when I travelled to Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai, relatively lesser known than it’s more populous counterpart Bangkok, is the second largest city in Thailand. A calm and peaceful haven which appeals to both back packers and luxury tourists alike, Chiang Mai is fast becoming a must-do on the average tourist’s Thailand itinerary. Tourist attractions include site visits to historical places of interest, elephant farms, night markets, cooking classes, yoga, meditation and massage schools. However, the big highlight of the trip for me ( aside from learning how to cook pad thai :-)) was my morning alms giving to Buddhist monks and the site visit to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, more popularly known as Doi Suthep, a spectacular Buddhist temple which is visible from any vantage point within Chiang Mai.
I was eager and excited about seeing Buddhist monks , having felt a closeness to Buddha ever since I was a child. And I was hoping in my own whimsical way that my tour guide would be someone who would make me comfortable with that whole experience of receiving blessings and visiting a highly revered Buddhist temple. As it turned out, Joy just happens to be a remarkable woman full of innate grace and compassion. 3 hours flew by like racing thunderbirds in her illumined presence and contained wisdom. “A lot of people are unhappy with their lives, wanting to end them and escape. Many talk of committing suicide even. But this life, it’s incredible. And they are many things that are beautiful and joyous in living. The important thing is to control your thoughts. Because it’s your thoughts that lead you down through that never ending spiral,” she said as she drove us both towards the foot of Doi Suthep. And she would know wouldn’t she?, having lost her husband, brother and son , all within the close space of 2 years.
Joy says she started to meditate in an attempt to control her thinking, especially after the many tragedies she encountered in her life. She found it difficult initially, but with consistent practice is now able to sit for periods of upto an hour daily in meditative silence.” When you meditate, let the thoughts surface and drift. Observe and consider. In your life too consider the things that happen around you without judgement. Reach a point where you are able to consider and not judge and question everything that occurs in your life.” I guess for many of us city dwellers and/or restless souls, that really is key. Being able to reach that stage in life where things don’t ruffle you, and you can see the events that go on in your life for what they really are,without struggle and strife.
Joy also found a lot of other benefits in maintaining a regular and consistent meditation practice. She now has incredible focus and concentration, and finds that she is able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously without feeling overwhelmed. She also has increasing ability to stay in the present moment and have her mind focus on the person or task at hand. “Worrying about the future is fear based thinking. Your life is what goes on in the present moment. Don’t worry about the things yet to come and lose sight of what you have now.”
Joy taught me many things during the drive and her educational tour. A lot of things I already knew in a fuzzy sort of way, but somewhow hearing everything from her perspective, phrased in a different sort of turn, made everything start to make sense and fall into place.
When I eventually kneeled before my monk , having placed into his alms-bowl my small offerings of food , all my fears and worries had dissolved into a calm, clear pool of nothingness. I poured water from the jug onto the ornate silver plate asking for the blessings of my ancestors, forgiveness for any wrong doings and resolution from my accumulated karmas. The sound of the chants and their blessings exploded into my head in a rush of light and heat energy as I made my merit to the spirits of the past. My future is ahead of me and a treasure of immense value. It is worth holding onto and worth looking forward to.
Hopefully your moment of Nirvana doesn’t have to arrive miles away in Chiang Mai like it did for me. But I hope that when it does, you can recognise it and learn to apply it in a way that helps you see the true beauty and light that already exists in your life.
© Irene Lopez and An Urban Mystic’s Blog, 2013