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Keep calm and meditate

Meditation session in Bangkok

Photo from casnocha.com

My fascination for meditation began when I came in Thailand in 2009. It’s no surprise because meditation is greatly embedded in Thais’ religious lifestyle. Although some would argue that meditation is not confined to Buddhism. Many practice meditation solely to enhance their well-being without any religious connotation.

I started meditating in 2009 but I only do it for 10 minutes, at the office toilet! It was my way of preparing my mind to write –I work as a writer at the marketing department at the time—or coping with stress. But I have not gone far from that until I stopped.

Yesterday was my first time to attend a meditation session. The weekly meditation happens every Thursday from 6:30-8PM at Ariyasom in Sukhumvit Soi 1. The place is really nice with lots of plants around and some vintage-looking ornaments.

The meditation was led by an English monk. I heard that he was fascinated with Buddhism and came to study Buddhism in Thailand. Since then, he has organized various meditation groups and meditation courses. The session started with a brief introduction of meditation for those who are first-timers including me. After the introduction, we are left to meditate with our own style for 30 minutes.

At first, I felt so calm and at ease, focusing only on my breathing. Whenever my mind starts to wander, I would gently bring back my focus on my breathing. But after a few minutes, the impatient monster began giving me a nudge. I started talking to myself. “I should blog about this. No, don’t think about that yet, just focus on meditating. Hmmm, that Arabic restaurant along the road seems interesting; we should have dinner there after this. Shut up, just meditate. God, when will 30 minutes be over?”


My legs felt numb and then painful. The English monk said that whenever we want to move, we should let 2 minutes pass and see if we still want to move. He encouraged us to just be still and learn to let go of the whim to move. I also learned from a Thai friend who became a monk that pain is part of the process. “When you meditate, it’s normal to feel pain in your legs but after sometime you will learn to accept pain and detach yourself from it.”

I felt uneasy and impatient. Then I told myself, this is exactly what meditation is for. It will teach us to be patient and tame our thoughts. Nothing comes easy. Reaping the life changing benefits of meditation must start with the will and a great deal of hard work –which is ironic because meditation should be making our mind and body still – because silencing our mind is the hardest thing to do.

I realized that attending a meditation session is an effective way to start the practice because with a group, you are compelled to finish the allotted time. Before, no matter how I forced myself to meditate for 30 minutes, I always get up before my time is up. I was so impatient. It needs getting used to and hopefully with the support of our meditation group, I will be able to make this a habit.

After the session, we had dinner at a Bangladeshi restaurant nearby. I had a good time with new awesome friends from Colombia who work at the newly opened Colombian Embassy, an American former professor who has a book on poetry, and a Brazilian lady who came to Bangkok for 3 months to find herself. And oh, I’m able to drink lassi again! I ordered it because the name sounds familiar and when I tasted it I remembered I had it in Nepal. Their fattoush salad is delicioso! Thanks to my colleague Olesya for bringing me there.

Becoming the monster I abhor

Plato quoteA friend introduced me to her colleagues who were visiting Bangkok over the weekend. One of my joys being away from home is to meet old and new friends visiting Bangkok. Touring them around is also my way of getting to know Thailand better.

All of them –my friend’s colleagues—were nice and fun to be with. But one of them is just extra warm, it’s like her heart is full of kindness which radiates from her sweet smile and soft voice. She’s the oldest among the group, much like our mother. But really, I felt so at ease around her that I couldn’t help but mention it to my friend. That’s when I heard an interesting story.

My friend said that she has never really spoken to that lady except for work-related matters. “People say her personality used to be like that, kind and loving. But she suddenly changed about two years ago. They say she suddenly became aloof. She doesn’t talk to people anymore except for work. Even after meetings, she doesn’t join her colleagues for a cup of coffee. She became strict and unfriendly, very opposite to what she used to be. Even people who have been so close to her, who have worked with her for over 10 years couldn’t understand what has gone wrong with her. She was like that for two years and now she is back to how she used to be, kind and friendly.

I got curious. I told my friend; maybe that lady has gone through very challenging trials in her life. And tough times always bring out the worst in us. And I smiled at the thought that I had my own share of unleashing the monster in me.

I hate confrontations. Whenever I encounter misunderstandings with people, I would opt to stay quiet and not defend myself even if that means I have to take the blame. I could not speak out for myself because sometimes it would mean revealing the other person’s mistake and I could not stand that a person is humiliated or hurt because of me.

My colleague once told me, “nobody can stand up for you except yourself. You can’t just let people abuse you.” I also read somewhere that staying silent and suppressing your emotions is not good. It will eventually take its toll on your health. But I was stubborn. Until one day, I just lose it.


I was overly stressed at work and was facing a lot of problems in my personal life too. I had been suffering from insomnia and I couldn’t eat well. I just don’t have the appetite for any food. I knew something was wrong with me. I was aware that I was not being myself. I just don’t know how to stop the negativities. I cannot decide whether I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder (see, I have already made my own psychological diagnosis hahaha). Kidding aside, I knew now that I could have been better if I had enough sleep then.

But anyway, in that not-so-good episode of my life, I turned into the monster I abhor. I made this stupid argument with someone and ended up saying words I could not imagine coming out from me. Now that I’m over those dark hours of my life, whenever I think about it, I would regret why I had not dealt with the negative situation positively. But regrets don’t come first and feeling it would not help either.

I believe that the first step to move on is to forgive ourselves and accept that we are just humans; we are not perfect and we are bound to commit mistakes. Like what Rahim Khan said in the book The Kite Runner, “there’s a way to be good again”.

People who we see as bad, people who are cruel and unkind are people who are hurting inside. They need our understanding and love, not our hatred and scrutiny. And when this happens to us, let us not forget to appreciate those people who stayed by our side, the people who never gave up believing in us when the rest of the world slummed its doors.

Longings of my heart

Cup of tea with lemon and honey

Enjoying my cup of tea. I love weekends like this!

My work had been hectic this whole month of August. After our communications workshop in Tagaytay, Philippines in July, I went home for an 11-day vacation. When I came back in the office, I was swamped with emails, reports and articles to write, and meetings which seemed like an everyday affair.

Yesterday I was writing a report then decided to take a 10-minute break to just breathe and do some stretching. I suddenly felt a longing for some creative activities. But no, not only that, I longed for the tranquility of a slow-paced lifestyle I once enjoyed when work was still not as busy as now. These days I normally go home after 6PM even if work finish at 5:30.

I miss photography. Before, I only had my pink Sony digital camera. But with the limitations of digital cameras, I decided to get a DSLR. However when I got my Nikon D3100, that was when work started to get busier. I hardly find time to take photos, much more, learn the technicalities of photography.

I miss drawing. Well, I was never really into drawing. That was only my childhood hobby. But I started drawing again in 2011 and to date I only managed to draw four. Although sometimes, I just feel like doodling or painting. Unfortunately, when that craving hits me, I’m usually out of the house or in the middle of work so I don’t get to sit and draw.

I miss yoga. I have been fascinated with yoga since the first time I knew about it. I joined a class in February but a lot of travels in Thailand and abroad followed after I finished the beginner’s class. But I’m thinking of enrolling in another session soon, hopefully I will find the time.


I miss writing. I’ve been wanting to write about my recent travels but somehow, I find it hard to write when I don’t feel like writing. I know, I read it several times that writers shouldn’t wait until they feel the urge to write. But my few attempts in the past all failed. I haven’t gone past staring at an empty page and a blinking cursor.

I miss those weekends when I’d just enjoy a cup of tea and a good book or watch a documentary and news on BBC. Although my long train rides to and from work every day enables me to read, still it’s different when the environment is more relaxed and quiet.

Sometimes, we tend to get so overwhelmed by our fast-paced lifestyle. Worse, we are inundated with technology that at times we forget to even appreciate the aroma of coffee or the warm hug of our loved ones. So today, I decided to refuel my soul by not working; by letting go of the chattering in my head. I will be still and enjoy a cup of tea; savor the serenity of a relaxing Saturday and be thankful for the gift of life. I will hold my camera and write again. Sometimes, we just have to stop planning and wanting, and instead start doing. Happy weekend 🙂