06.10.2015 - 06.10.2015
Last night I finished my time with the Mindfulness Project. This morning I woke up late and on my own, which feels strange after communal living for nearly two weeks. What is even stranger is that I thought the communal living was one of the biggest challenges for me whilst at the project so I'm somewhat surprised to find I missed the bustle this morning and even the gong - although not the 5:00 am start.
So looking back at the experience, what do I think? Well without a doubt it is a truly inspirational project with special individuals focused on genuinely making a difference. The project fundamentals of learning and developing in the areas of Mindfulness, Buddhism, permaculture, yoga and meditation will no doubt leave a mark on anyone who attends the project, myself included. Gaining an understanding of the local people and the wider Thai community was one of the things I particularly enjoyed learning about. I knew from those I'd already met that they were nice people but having gained a deeper understanding of their values and belief system I am truly touched.
When I arrived I had absolutely no insight into what I was undertaking and in lots of ways that was probably just as well. Without a doubt the practicalities of communal living in a permaculture community was a bit of a shock to me. Some things I never managed to fully embrace. For example, no running water, let alone hot water. The amount of critters that were omnipresent, ants, mosquitoes, daddy long legs, spiders, frogs, I could go on but Sharon will probably already have stopped reading by now! I also felt constantly tired which I think was a combination of the early morning starts and the emotional challenges that mindfullness brings. Also, having spent my life in an office environment I'm not used to daily physical work, so even though we only had around four hours a day to do jobs like, flipping compost, these were hard for me, I thought the fact that I had my hands deep in piles of rotting vegetables and shit in the mid day sun would be the hard bit of that task, but it seems I didn't mind that, or even the smell but it did get to my back.
Setting the practicalities aside, it was the emotional challenges that learning about mindfullness brings that I think I probably gained the most from. I had several light bulb moments surrounding 'issues' I didn't even know I had and these were accompanied by Buddist teachings to help develop further. Although we were staying in a monastery outside of Khon Klen we were in a building located in the grounds so the interaction with the monks and their practices weren't as I'd anticipated. This changed when we went to stay in the main monastery in Khon Klen. What an experience! We took part in 'Buddha Day' with both local people and the Monks. The day comprised of various Buddhist 'ceremonies' lots of meditation, chanting etc. And was incredible. The time we spent in the project learning how to meditate beforehand proved invaluable and our Buddhist teachers stayed with us throughout to support us and answer the many questions we had.
On reflection, the whole experience was very difficult to do but totally amazing. I've left feeling saturated with the amount of revelations I've discovered and I recognise I need to absorb some of the teachings and practice active mindfullness before I will really understand what I've taken away from the experience.
Being invited into the Khon Klen monastery and having the opportunity to attend Buddha Day, not as a tourist but as a participant is a privilege that I'm sure will stay with me for years to come, Thank You x