3) “Just being aware” Mindfulness Course by Phra Archan Nuan Chan
4) The International Youth Vipassana Program by the Young Buddhist Association of Thailand
5) Rhythmic Mindfulness Retreat at Wat Pa Sukato Forrest Monastery, Northeastern Thailand
Why attend the one-month mindfulness training?
It was the constant thought that I have never truly live my life – which I live for the next best thing, not the present moment. For instance, I would always look forward to the weekend after an exhausting week of work and classes. However, when the weekend arrives, it was impossible for me to enjoy it because I know Monday is right around the corner. Thus, as the sun rises, the cycle of waiting and suffering starts again. Before long, the year has come to an end without me being truly contented with what I am doing. As graduation is around the corner, I found myself being drag down by the whirlpool of thoughts. What if I live like this for the rest of my life? There are countless of things I should be doing right now but the more I think, the less I was able to do anything at all. Hence, my mother decided to send me to the one-month mindfulness training, in hope that Thailand’s heritage of Buddhist philosophies will shed light on my dilemma.
One of the main training is Rhythmic Mindfulness, which is walking with awareness (Thai: Daen Jong Klom). Each of the participants was given a concrete platform to walk. The aim of this training was to be with oneself by feeling the movement of the leg, the touch as the feet land on the ground.
The training began at 5:30am every morning and it continued for 6-9 hours with rest period in between. From walking for such a long time, my body reached the peak of fatigue that it ultimately gave up on trying to overcome the exhaustion. My mind also surrendered itself to time. It no longer wanted to keep staring at the watch or rush the time because it came to the realization that all it has is the present moment. Time and exhaustion took the backseat of attention as I shifted my focus to each step in front of me.
It was only till the last two days of my training that I was able to experience the freedom from thoughts. The freedom was not the result of thinking fervently and wanting to achieve it. The state of that freedom is the calmness and peace of the mind and heart. It just appear when I come back to my present self.
In retrospect, thoughts and feelings are similar to the cars that stop in front of the highway toll gate. My job is to let them through. If I were to engage them – whether in a conversation, debate or an argument- the line of cars would build up and cause a massive traffic jam. There would be angry horn beeping and crude hollering from the cars. These cars are identical to the thought and feelings. If I were to argue with the thoughts that pop up inside of me, all it would do is trigger a snowball of past events or future predictions that would bury me. Therefore, all I have to do was to acknowledge that the car of thought. That only required simple awareness and afterwards, the cars would naturally drive away. Thus, instead of continuously worrying about the next best thing, all I can do is to be aware of each moment.