This comes a few weeks late at least. But hey, how much CAN you write and upload when you are on a sanctuary island far from civilization, network coverage and internet connection?
My first step into my long term traveling adventure was a quiet “safe” one, if we consider what I’m doing now. Just going to Thailand and meditating for two weeks. Hardly sounds amazing, huh? It’s all organized, we get picked up, brought around, have guided meditation sessions, some workshops and get dropped off in Bangkok after a closing ceremony. Too easy!
But let’s go step by step.
First, for people who don’t know what meditation is. It has nothing to do with Kung-Fu (Ok, Japanese Shaolin meditation does) or with flying monks. Meditation is just the practice of stilling the mind and letting go of worries to allow your brain, body and soul rest for a while. In meditation people concentrate on one idea until they silence the rest of the ideas that constantly roam around our brains unwillingly.
Doing this reduces stress levels and improves awareness. Science, which now is looking into meditation and yoga, has found tons of benefits that I won’t list here. Just go to our revered professor, Google, and ask!
I started meditation during my experience as an Au-Pair in Switzerland. The super warm weather and the good transport connections from the place that I lived (total irony) gave me time to try out meditation with www.peacerevolution.net.
The system was more than perfect for me because it is totally for free, you can set your own pace, and it starts from the very beginning of the meditation practice, slowly building up. More than recommended if you just want to try it out in the “safety” of your living room!
The idea of going on a Retreat on a sanctuary island is to be able to control all or most of the external factors to make the environment quasi perfect for the meditation practice. No telephones, no internet, breath taking scenery, beautiful natural environment, simple meals, no music, simple sleeping quarters, no alcohol, no drugs, no “fun”(if you know what I mean…), etc, and the best of the best teachers available: Buddhist monks.
Now, I know what you are thinking!
iiiiiimhoootep iiiiiimhooootep….a sect!
Just as I did! Because Buddhist monks are Buddhist right? And Buddhism is a religion, right? Well, yeah. But no religious ideas are ever expressed by the monks. They just help us do what they do best: meditation, because it’s an important practice in their culture and religion. They teach us meditation from a totally scientific approach. Meditation is inter-confessional and can be practiced by atheists or whoever. It has nothing to do with religion.
Just ask yourself what deep prayer is or finding the Kingdom of Heaven inside of yourself.
Just imagine, Buddhist Monks do meditation sometimes for 7 or 8 hours a day! It’s like going on a two week intensive computer engineering course with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates , and other computer geniuses I know nothing about. Or a being-a-prick Retreat with teaching experts like Putin, Kim Jon Un and Berlusconi.
We would call the living conditions “difficult”. Two weeks eating just twice a day very early in the morning and before noon. Add to that that you sleep on a simple matrass and wake up at 05.00. Matters only get worse from here on: no Fb to waste your time on, no outside news, nowhere to go actually, no phone, no music…
Still, it was GREAT. Beautifully organized and led by organizers and helpers. Was it tough? Yeah, at times. I was not the first or the last to fall asleep in the meditation room during the morning sessions (05.30-06.30) or to squander for any kind of food in the evening.
But the experience was not only great, beautiful and fun, it also served its purpose! Having experienced first hand help and advice from experts devoted to what you are learning is a massive advantage to improve your skills quickly. I think most or all of the 31 participants in the Retreat can say that we have improved or learnt a whole lot during those 2 weeks.
People have asked me many times why I meditate. For me, probably one of the biggest skeptics of this hemisphere, it is a scientifically proven way of taking more bad things out of your life and empowering the good things. It makes you less jumpy and stressed, more conscious of what’s around you and your decisions, better at resolving problems and keeping your calm, and a long etc.
And how have you been chosen to two events, one in Belgium and now this one in Thailand by the organization? What did they ask from you in return? Well first of all you might be asked if you would like to organize an event in your home country if there is none being organized yet. You can answer NO and case closed. The monks just asked us to be happy and be good role models (oh crap) for others.
How much did you pay the organization to attend this event and the one in Belgium? Ok. Counting from the first day to the last of both events it all sums up to a staggering 0 Euros and 00 cents. No joke. I did pay my whole flight to and back from Belgium and ¾ of my flight to Thailand and…done. The organization has struck some donors with large wallets that make this possible like European Parliament branches, companies or rich people.
So after a two week long body and mind cleaning event I got back to “real life”. I have adopted meditation in my life for good. And the best is that it’s not incompatible with anything else I did before! BUDDHAAAAA!
If anybody is interested in trying out this experience just check out the Peace revolution website and roam around. It might look very hippie to you and that’s because it is. But the idea is still great. A free meditation course for anybody, independent from nationality, faith, age or gender which lets you go at your own pace.
So don’t let me convince you. Just check out people who you know meditate. Just read a little bit about it. Try it out. It’s for free anyway!