It’s about surrendering to a greater truth
It was five o’clock in the morning. I was alone.
I awoke and put on my rough, white linen robe. I walked out onto the wooden planks of my small hut.
Thick morning fog ebbed through the mountains in a dream of languid mist. I heard the joyful songs of hidden birds.
I stretched my stiff muscles. My body hurt from sleeping on a hard wooden pallet with a thin mattress and a small pillow.
The sun poured down like honey through the steaming jungle that was the wild border with Burma.
I ran barefoot along a path between blossoms of heavy, fragrant, yellow flowers. I splashed across a fast and narrow river. Icy water and small stones stung my feet.
I climbed ancient rock stairs that led into a vast cave at the base of the mountain. The air was still and I smelled the sharp burnt aroma of incense.
In front of me was a soft vision, pale as ivory. I dropped to my knees and pressed my forehead to the ground three times.
Above me, the Buddha regarded me with certainty. I felt an undeniable truth.
Looking into his eyes I felt a rush of self-appraisal. What do I hunger for most? What does the world need more than anything?
“Let us not forget compassion,” are the simple words of the Buddha.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm my racing heart. I felt I was on the edge of a precipice. I wanted, with all my being, to step off that edge and into the enlightenment that all is one.
My mind chatters, “Is that really true? Is all this happening to me?”
I concentrate on my breath, breathing slowly and purposefully. Inhale. Exhale. My mind empties and in floods a deep feeling of awe.
Where was I? I was in Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery, a Buddhist meditation retreat hidden in a stunning mountain valley surrounded by lush jungle.
It lies at the end of a red dirt road eight miles from the wilderness border with Burma.
I arrived there in a small local bus after five hours of sharp and dangerous turns.
I felt far away from where I started in the Old City of Chiang Mai, nestled in the lower plains of northern Thailand.
I was going to spend six days at the monastery in silence, work and meditation.
My journey to Buddhism began 20 years ago while I was living in San Francisco.
By pure chance, I wandered into a small, dim hall where they were showing a documentary about the life of monks in a snowy mountain monastery during a cold winter.
Their world was about simplicity, asceticism, hard work, calm, dedication, silence and ancient wisdom. It was about a life filled with a different and deeper meaning than mine. The movie shook me to the core. I could not get it out of my head.
I watched it again and again. Each time, I saw different possibilities, a different way to live my life.
Back then, my ambitions were building my career, making a living and raising my daughter.
It often takes a long time for our dreams to manifest. And here I was. Surrendering to a truth that called to me so long ago. To be continued …
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com
Tucker sues over education commissioner snub
New bus schedule scrapped
Herbal tea makers reap nature’s bounty
Argo jet use questioned by shareholder
Man remanded on sex assault charge
School ‘flop’ mapped path to success
Overseas Territories minister on island
Zacca heard on tape lecturing clerk
Premier defends Cabinet swap
Wolffe takes disabled campaign to next level
Bermuda ‘at inflection point’
Sri Lankan fears for his family’s safety
Detective: I made no promises to witness
Criminals ‘cuckooing’ in homes of vulnerable
Take Our Poll