Saturday, July 27, 2013

Things I Learned in Thailand

30) Meditation should be a part of everyone's life. Do it for a month straight and you'll never want to stop.

29) Question everything. We were given this beautiful thing called "intellect" for a reason. Although Eastern philosophies teach blind faith and Western ideals teach a need for proof, there really is a happy medium where these "yin and yang" ways of thinking can come together and coexist harmoniously and to their fullest capabilities. I really believe it is our goal to break past our conditioning/programming; to be able to marry the esoteric and exoteric that way and see them as one, rather than as separate entities.

28) Island clothing (aka goddess gear) is a ton of fun to wear.

27) You don't get extra Karma points if your rice actually lands in the fire during a Puja ceremony.

26) Yoga school creates a bucket full of inside jokes that only you and your classmates could possibly understand.

25) Compassion is easy when you learn to love yourself. That being said, jet lag, moon cycles, and being thrown back into the western world make it a harder task to exercise both.

24)  Silence is golden. Although it may be uncomfortable at first, finding the beauty in stillness is something you have to experience. Less talking, more awareness.

23) "Life doesn't happen in Downward Dog. We are dynamic creatures that move and celebrate life." - Swami Baldy

22) Yoga is more than just exercise. It is a beautiful tool that helps us connect mind, body and spirit.

21) There are so many different philosophies available to us that ultimately have the same goal in mind. I doubt any one is more correct than the others. However, it is absolutely wonderful to piece together the parts from each that resonate with you and create your own standard of moving and existing on this planet in the most helpful, peaceful and loving way possible.

20) Back-to-nature experiences like mine in Thailand should be on everyone's to-do list every few years (at the very least). There is something awe-inspiring and eye-opening about simplifying your life and really grounding yourself.

19) Like-minded individuals exist all across the globe.

18) A major shift is happening on our planet. People are becoming more in-tune with what they can offer to help other human beings in their life journeys, and even to give back to our beautiful planet. Unfortunately we have acted like parasites, or even cancer, on Mother Nature for far too long, and it really is our responsibility to make things right.

17) I am a natural teacher. I already knew that, given the fact that I used to teach children in my teen years, but it was quite refreshing to get back in touch with this side of my self.

16) Watching the sun rise on a clear day is absolutely magical.

15) Waking up to roosters crowing at 6:30am is actually quite awesome!

  14) Frogs, crickets and geckos make for amazingly soothing night-time noises.

13) Intentions are at the heart of everything. Luckily for us, a negative action without any negative intent does not yield negative karma. 

12) Karma is extremely complicated. But extremely beautiful.

11) People in Thailand are unbelievably kind. 

10) Tattoos don't hurt as much as people claim. And the artists in Koh Phangan are ridiculously talented! 

9) Returning to the western world is a little overwhelming...

8) Mosquitoes are nasty little creatures. Thailand's mosquitoes seem to be smarter than Deet and bite through your clothes. Tiger Balm helps soothe the itch.

7) That being said, night time showers are the absolute best because that's when you finally have an opportunity to wash off all the hormone-disrupting chemical bomb known as Deet, and sleep soundly under a mosquito net, safe from those wretched little beings. Building off of that...

6) Cold showers are only great when it's really warm out. They're horrible when you have a cold, though.

5) Island fruits taste so much better than fruits elsewhere. Thai coconuts are amazingly delicious as well!

4) Butterflies are beautiful creatures. Butterflies in large numbers make for a magical, fairytale-like experience.

3) We are all very special. Unfortunately for us, the society we live in is very left-brained and does not hone the wonderful gifts we are given. As a result, it's up to us to activate the right-brain and to discover which gifts we have and fully embrace them.

2) Large groups of women can live together in close quarters, day in and day out, and get along just fine without jealousy, envy, hate, etc. I came from a situation not too long ago where I was with a LOT of women -- and it lived up to every stereotype ever perpetrated on our gender. Naturally, I was nervous to jump into a similar situation: 16 women and 2 men in our program, not including the 2 women and 1 man who were our teachers. So much estrogen... How would this work? But it did. Everyone was so gracious, so like-minded, so loving and generous. We all were pleasant, even if we didn't agree on issues or opinions. Actually, my friend Syma made a very interesting observation about our group's dynamic: when one person was sick or injured, everyone would rush to their side with "Try this potion! This herb will help! Rub some turmeric into it! Here's some Tiger Balm!" 16 women embracing the goddesses within us and really tuning in to our nurturing side. And we all got along, even when some of us were hormonal. That's really saying something!

1) The answer to any issue is love. No matter how big or how small a problem is, the solution lies in love. And it isn't always an outward projection of love. Sometimes loving yourself is the key. Think about it -- we live in a world that screams "You're not good enough just the way you are!" We are constantly fed messages of "You need *insert item or socioeconomic status here* in order to be of any worth." And we buy into it. Quite literally. We are constantly buying and/or upgrading cars, houses, handbags, clothes, perfume, etc. All physical, tangible items. But we fail to realize the monster behind the marketing machine. Maintaining all these items requires us to remain hamsters in the wheel of capitalism. And we fail to see the bigger picture. Being "enough" only requires a genuine belief that you are enough. The ability to love ourselves just as we are is the answer to everything. Think about it. When you love yourself fully and completely, security in one self is no longer an issue. Unconditional love for yourself eliminates jealousy, envy, intolerance, hate, greed... and the list could go on. Wars would cease to exist. Power struggles would be eradicated. Everyone and everything could exist simultaneously on this wonderful planet in a peaceful and harmonious manner. Love. So complicated, yet so simple.