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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.

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 🙂

Sunday fun overload

You know those times when you are having so much fun and you just can’t help but relish the sweetness of life? Today is one of those with my partner in crime Ate Sheila. Although I woke up a bit late, I’m still able to wash some of my laundry before heading off to our first stop, Big Bite Bangkok. Big Bite is a series of outdoor markets featuring the best of the city’s small-scale artisanal food producers. You can sample big bites of the food for free but you can also purchase more if you want to take some home. Donations are encouraged. All proceeds will go to In Search of Sanuk, a non-profit benefitting the needy in Bangkok. About $1,000 was raised today!

After making our belly happy, we went to Dasa bookstore. They sell secondhand English books at very low prices. There are only few English bookstores in Thailand and most of them are very expensive. What I hate about going to Dasa though is that I can’t leave the place empty-handed. They have almost all the books I can die for. As a result, I keep hoarding more books even before I finish reading the others. But despite my indulgence I always go home super happy.

We then walked to Queen Sirikit park just beside Emporium. One of the things I love about Bangkok is that in the midst of the metropolitan’s skycrapers there are plenty of parks to relax and just be still.

We hiked the next train station and just enjoyed the walk while taking some snaps of the typical Bangkok street. And just before we hop in the train, a splendid dusk stunned us in awe. Rainbow colors crept from the clouds, such beauty I have never seen before.

A delicious Thai food dinner was savored with Neil. Before heading out the mall we dropped by at the DVD shop to search for good movies. And finally our last trip for the day, lightning photography 😀 Ate Sheila was patient enough to wait for the next lightning to strike. When it finally came I gushed with excitement causing her to capture a shaky photo. Oopps my bad.

Now gotta read my newly hoarded book, Stumbling on happiness by Daniel Gilbert, before going to sleep. La dolce vita! What a wonderful world indeed 🙂