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What a weekend with a meditation guru looks like

Sometime back I wrote on how it’s like to be in a room with meditators and how I learned to let some battles go from a meditation teacher who used to be a monk. That meditation guru is Australian and I was lucky to catch him at home after years of traveling to teach meditation while I was doing my graduate studies in Sydney. He and his sister were very kind to welcome us in their home in Gosford and his friend who is also a meditator was very kind to drive us around.

It took me and my friend about an hour and 30 minutes by train from Sydney Central station to Gosford. I enjoyed the relaxing view on the way from the thick greenery to the distant mountain tops, wide flowing river and the vibrant blue sea; such sweet respite from the concrete jungle of Sydney. Though I haven’t had enough sleep the night before I was wide awake on the train to savor the natural scenery. Oh how I love long train rides.

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From the station we headed straight to Somersby Falls. I forgot I will be spending the weekend with a meditator and nature lover so instead of wearing pants and running shoes I wore a dress and boots which made it so hard to walk on slippery tracks that was about 250 meters long. The waterfalls wasn’t as huge as I expected but it was pretty. After we set our picnic we meditated for a few minutes. How lovely it was to meditate in a rainforest while listening to the sound of the waterfalls, the chirping birds and rustling of the leaves. It was made even sweeter by a cup of coffee afterwards. It was one of those moments when I wanted to scream, “I love my life!!!”

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somersby-falls

After the picnic we drove around to see more of Gosford, headed to the farmers market to grab food then proceeded to a nearby park to eat our lunch. I haven’t taken much photo because being with meditators reminded me to disconnect from technology and be in the moment. I felt ashamed to be using my phone a lot, though I took some snaps while we rested for lunch and played with Australian pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus). Lying on the grass felt so nice. We talked a lot but there were also times when we just stayed silent to meditate and be more aware of our environment.

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Our last stop before heading home was Wyrrabalong National Park which offered a stunning view of the ocean below. At the Crackneck lookout we could see Shelly beach, which we visited the following morning. The Crackneck lookout has a picnic area and is a great spot for whale watching, too bad we didn’t bring binoculars! We walked deeper unto the park and climbed on a tree. Before leaving we did standing meditation guided by our guru surrounded with the lush vegetation.

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In the evening we cooked a healthy vegetarian meal, pasta with veggies. After we had eaten and washed the dishes, we stayed outside of the house to gaze at the sky. The light pollution wasn’t so bad in their village so we could see more stars. Our guru realizing we loved stargazing decided to take us to the nearest golf course. It was so dark on the way, I could barely see what I was stepping on but he walked that area with mindfulness several times so he knew where to go even if we couldn’t see much.

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When we reached the edge we laid on the ground and looked at the stars silently. We could hear the sound of the waves splashing on the shore below us. It was freezing cold but I didn’t mind. The moment was a wonderful reminder that whatever we are going through, life is beautiful and sweet if we just know how to slow down to appreciate it.

The next day we woke up before sunrise and walked to Shelly beach passing through the golf course we went the night before. We stood at where we laid before for a few minutes of meditation or to simply take it all in and take mental pictures of the natural beauty around us. We then descended to Shelly beach as the sun began to rise. Our guru shared memories he had of the place while growing up. He also brought to our awareness the sound of Kookaburra birds. The beach had fine sands but there were rocky areas too. I stood on one of the rocks to do standing meditation while the waves passed by me. We walked barefoot until we reached the foot of Wyrrabalong National Park. We threw stones to the sea and competed which one could throw the farthest. I laid down on the rocky shore and meditated for a long while until we left.

The spot we laid down the night before to stargaze

The spot we laid down the night before to stargaze

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When we walked back, the sun has gotten hot and the beach was crowded with people. It was a pleasant weekend and I loved seeing families, especially those with kids, enjoying it. When we arrived home, I baked a muffin for the first time. It wasn’t rocket science of course but being someone who is scared of burning the kitchen, I was happy with that little achievement. We traveled back to Sydney in the afternoon and luckily since it was Sunday, we only paid $2.5 for the train ride. We brought back with us lots of happy memories and a book that our guru wrote himself.

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It was a weekend of fun and many activities but above all it was a weekend of friendship, of being still and living in the present moment.


New life down under

It was only when I was already on the plane to Sydney that it started to sink in that I am moving here. Having gone through many ups and downs, I did not expect much of what my life will be like here.

Dawn above the sky

Sydney Australia

I left home on Friday at 6:30 and arrived in my new home in Sydney Saturday at 13:15. It was a tiresome trip from 30 degrees to 15 degrees. My body felt frozen but I still managed to grab groceries. I was ecstatic to find out that my area has a lot of Thai restaurants – I’ve passed by at least 6 of them – as well as Thai massage. The area is actually very Asian as most restaurants are either Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese. But because I just came from Bangkok and my roommate Lavina from Taipei, we opted for Japanese food. I fell asleep at 20:30 still holding my phone.

I woke up Sunday feeling energised. Since Lavina has only a week in Sydney before moving to Macquarie University, we decided to be tourists for a day. We were lucky the weather was pleasant, sunny and not too cold. And on top of that, my place is close to the Sydney Harbour, just 10 minutes through a free bus! How cool is that?!

Sydney Harbour

Our first stop was at The Rocks along Sydney Harbour. It is known as the land of the Gadigal people and the first place of European settlement in Australia. During weekends there are stalls all over the streets selling various products so it is fun to walk around. There were also musicians playing soothing songs and instrumental. From there you can get a good view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Opera House

Mugs at The Rocks Sydney

Wall decor at The Rocks Sydney

The Rocks Sydney

Watch necklace at The Rocks Sydney

We had lunch at Phillip’s Foote, a hidden gem within busy The Rocks established in 1975. The restaurant is a bit hidden behind a pub, we would not have found it had Lavina not seen the ad on steak at $40 for two to commemorate their 40 years anniversary. We loved discovering this restaurant. With trees and plants around, you can’t ask for a better ambiance after a long day of walking. And their steak was just delicious. You have to grill it yourself which was an added fun.

Photo from Phillips Foote Facebook Page

Photo from Phillips Foote Facebook Page

My massive lunch!

My massive lunch!

After lunch we went to the Opera House and walked to the Royal Botanic Garden. This park is huge; a perfect place to chill out when readings and essays will begin to drown me. Across the park is the State Library of NSW. When I saw the library, my heart skipped a beat. I can’t believe I live close to everything that nurtures my soul!

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

State Library of the New South Wales

From SLNSW we walked to St. Mary’s Cathedral the prettiest church I’ve been to next to Westminster Abbey in London. It was amusing though because just outside the cathedral there was an ice skating rink which I bet was only for the weekend.

Inside St Mary's Cathedral Sydney

Across St. Mary’s Cathedral is Hyde Park, another good place to relax. From there we walked back, dropped by the dirty market to grab fruits and headed home.

I had a dynamic life in Bangkok but moving to Sydney was a huge change, I still can’t help but feel uneasy. All I did in the plane when fear started to creep in was meditate. I told myself to live in the moment and deal with whatever challenges that will come with calmness and kindness. I let my expectations low so that I will be less disappointed. And as it turned out, the universe seemed to be conspiring to grant more than what I could hope for a home away from home including housemates that I am now so fond of. I can only wish Lavina will stay longer coz other than she is the sweetest, she also brings the vibe of positive change, new beginnings and adventures. But short was our time together I am grateful we found each other; two kick-ass women plunging into an ocean of risks and possibilities.

Sydney harbour with the Opera House