<< Read Part 9

 

Welcome Home

Transitions

The most uncomfortable I got during this trip was probably during any of the transition periods I went through. Leaving a situation and entering a new one triggers my insecurity or my impatience. I wish I could fast-forward through those times but I have no choice but to live through the discomfort. So I stop, feel and welcome physical sensations related to my emotions (one of the most useful Dharma teachings I received during my Vipassana retreat at the beginning of this trip). I've recently started welcoming my feelings and their physical sensations rather than avoiding them on the grounds that it's annoying or not "the right timing".

And every time I face them, I have one of those big "AHA! moment". It's actually pretty easy and soothing! I'm thankful for receiving those teachings and putting them to practice: it changes everything! I'm better at understanding my own experiences and emotions, and I can move forward instead of getting stuck.

Journey

Here I am back in Thailand, looking at the landscape through the window of a bus. Surprise: I realize in the following hours that I feel at ease, as if I were coming back home. What's changed? Why am I suddenly feeling familiar with the Thai people? I'm on the other side of the globe and yet I realize we have a lot in common with Thais!

But the relief turns into impatience, as we get closer to the megacity: Bangkok's traffic jams keep us stuck on the bus for 3 additional hours than scheduled. I'll be honest: some emotions are harder to welcome than others!!!

Transfer in a huge station outside of Bangkok, late at night. As I'm looking for an information booth, a very helpful old Thai man offers his help:

- Him: “Bonjour!” (in French!)
- Me: “Bonjour???”
- Him: … (apparently his French skills stop at Hello!)
- Me: “Sir, how did you know I speak French?”
- Him (smiling) : “Don’t know, I just guess, what you look for?”
- Me: Oh… well I need to get to town, I just arrived from Laos and I am a bit lost in this bus station”
- Him: “I show you, come!”
- Me: …
- Him: “Don’t worry, I show you!”

I decided to trust him. For an hour, from the local bus to the BTS Skytrain, this man (who was heading in the same direction) became my guide. He shared his life story with me but had such a thick Thai accent that I had trouble understanding him. I was tired and nodded but tried my best to listen. He was very sweet and apparently happy to chat. I followed him through crowded corridors (at 11:30pm?!) until it was time to part ways (his stop was before mine). Before leaving, he made sure I knew where to go next by repeating 3 times and showing me on a map: get off at SIAM station and transfer on the other side of the platform…

Thanks to this nice man, I arrived safely, spent a night in a hostel, and on the next day, took the road to the Gulf of Thailand… Another 13 hours on a night bus + a long boat ride to reach my last destination before returning home: Koh Phangan.

Straight from the boat, I got on a tuk-tuk and headed to Samma Karuna: Healing and Awakening Center, where I would spend a month volunteering in exchange for unlimited access to all their workshops and courses.

I was very excited about the place, although I didn't initially feel like I belonged there. At first glance, it looked like a gathering of people (mostly Westerners) excessively consuming all sorts of spiritual experiences: Yoga, martial arts, Reiki, Qigong, Tantra, various massage techniques, crystal healing, divination, all sorts of retreats, etc.

Oh how quickly I judged! The first few days, I really felt out of place! There were so many (aesthetically) beautiful people with this "too cool for you" vibe and it made me uncomfortable! It seemed to me like the Hollywood of spirituality: superficial above all! But I quickly had to change my perspective if I wanted a harmonious stay. I would need to be more open-minded, a little less critical and judging.

Once I decided to enjoy my stay here as much as possible, I settled down and focused on fully experiencing the classes I took. A morning swim (less than 100m between my room and the sea!), various classes, “work” (footpaths sweeping, beach cleaning, welcoming students to the classrooms, etc.) and another swim at the end of the day!

I adjusted slowly, until one morning, I dared to try an approach strongly recommended to me: dynamic meditation, which is designed for North Americans unable to sit and remain still to meditate… I'll skip the details but let's just say that I was absolutely blown away by this method! I felt extremely light and energized throughout the rest of the day. I could have stayed up all night... I forced myself to go to bed but didn't sleep much, actually. And after this experience, I stopped being so judgemental!

It also inspired me to expand my horizons. I tried other traditions and approaches that I knew little or nothing about:

-Daily QiGong with a former Shaolin monk (wow!)
-Yoga Kundalini,
-Innerdance,
-Sudarchan Kriya,
-Soham meditation,
-Nadabrahma,
-Atisha meditation,
-Osho dynamic meditation,
-Ecstatic dance
and more!

All of them were worth a try and once I immersed myself in a daily practice, I found inner peace, joy, and even a "pleasure for the senses" I had never felt before.

Towards the end of my stay, one late afternoon, I attended a one-hour humming meditation workshop ("Nadabrahma", a meditation approach using the humming sound Mmm). At the end, I was in a wonderful and peaceful state of contemplation, and decided to go swimming in the sea.

Blinded by the setting sun on the waves and delighted by the soothing sensation of the water, I cried for a second time in the Gulf of Thailand (the first time was at the beginning of my trip, for different reasons). As I entered the warm waters, a voice resonated in my whole being. It said "Welcome Home" and I burst into tears of emotion (and surprisingly it did come up to me in English, probably because I had been living and speaking in English for 4 months!). For the first time, at 43 years old, I was suddenly seeing and feeling my interior beauty, unaltered by the layers of conditioning and judgement that are usually crushing me (less and less now). Everything looked soft and golden, and I felt I was one with life, the ocean, and the universe.

In hindsight, I think that I was ready to go through those experiences and the context was perfect. I could never recreate those moments. I can only move forward now, with a full heart and the vivid memory of communion with life. I'll cherish this feeling and reach for it whenever I need comfort in the future.

I am forever grateful for this wonderful life-changing journey. Thank you to everyone who inspired me and thanks to me for daring to go on this trip.

And thank you all for reading. So long!

 

<< Read Part 9

 


 

Many of you have met Véronique Laplante during her 3 years and more as Lotus Palm administrator and massage therapist. She is a dear member of the Lotus Palm family and we follow her journey with great pride and love.

She has graciously agreed to share with us her thoughts, experiences and photos while she is traveling through Southeast Asia. Follow the guide!