One of the highlights of a visit to humble Chiang Rai is the new clocktower light show. Each evening from 7-9, on the hour (so at 7, 8 and 9pm) you get a song and a dance, accompanied by colored lights.
If you plan ahead, you can stroll down the market lane from the old clocktower to the new clocktower, and if the season is right, you can get a mango sticky rice to enjoy at the show.
If ever you need a reminder on why to practice Dharma, Pema’s message of love is the only reminder you need. Enjoy.
On a journey to explore the northern highlands of Thailand this weekend, we ended up at the Chiang Dao temple, Wat Tham Pha Plong. The founding monk, Luang Poo Sim Buddhacaro, landed here after spending the earlier part of his life wandering as a solitary forest monk, meditating and sleeping in caves.
On a silent walk up the 500 steps to the temple at dawn, reminders of how to live in the present moment are posted along the path.
Protectors looking out over the valley below.
We are all connected, you’ve no doubt heard this before. A friend recently sent me a link to this incredible video that shows why, from a scientific and a spiritual perspective. Rather than looking to the outside world to create peace on earth, we can change our planet by changing how we see things.
Please have a look.
A visit to the Golden Triangle…
Elephant fields viewed from our (complimentary) suite at the Anantara resort, with a Burmese casino on the horizon.
Golden Buddha looking over the Mekong, Burma in the background
Downriver toward Laos
A rainbow appeared out of the blue one day recently. It’s not a regular occurrence around here in Chiang Rai, so a few of us stood around taking photos.
I learned later in the day that an old friend –on the other side of the planet–had passed at the same moment. I wonder if this brightly colored arc served as his pathway?
Though I rarely celebrate Thanksgiving anymore– I’ve lived in Asia for over 10 years now– I love the spirit behind this day of thanks. There is a powerful message to be learned here.
This message was brought to me loud and clear this past few weeks, which have presented quite a few obstacles. Now, I know, obstacles are part of life. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. But I realized recently how much time I spend dwelling on disturbance, instead of reflecting on how darned lucky I am to have such unique obstacles.
The fact is, ruminating on how things are wrong does not make them right. So, as my wise and cheerful mother often says: just get over it! There are better ways to spend time than reviewing what went wrong.
I”m not suggesting that we go into denial–there is power in recognizing where things go slightly “off.” But once the mistake, or failure, or challenge has been identified, and we re-set our course, then it is a total waste of energy to keep looking back at what might have been. As we frequently hear, we attract the energies we send out. So if we want good things to come our way, there is no better practice than gratitude for what we already have.
I’m mixing things up this year: instead of waiting for New Years Day to make my resolutions, I’m starting early. My Thanksgiving resolution is to start each day with gratitude. I’m resolving to commit to a writing practice: to identify at least 20 things I’m grateful for in my life. The first on my list is yoga and meditation practice, which changed my life. Read how yoga and meditation can change your life too. Also high up on the list is writing, which keeps me sane and happy. And another entry on my gratitude list is readers like you, who allow me to share what I write.
So, thanks. May blessings flow to you.
Just back from retreat at the new Soma Retreat Center in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
It’s tempting to think that the spiritual path is a linear journey. What a surprise when you see your old neurotic patterns re-surfacing again, just like an old dysfunctional relationship you thought you had outgrown. Sometimes it can be painful to look in the mirror and not see growth.
Chogyam Trungpa puts it nicely:
“There is a problem in thinking that you are supposed to be advancing in your practice all the time. You don’t have to constantly be on the road. If you have a flat tire, that is also part of the journey. Ambition makes you feel that you are not doing anything. There seems to be a hypnotic quality to ambition and speed, so that you feel that you are standing still just because you want to go so fast. You might actually be getting close to your goal.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Once upon a time I taught yoga in Hong Kong, managing the yoga studio at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It was an intense phase, living in the big, bustling, money-worshipping city. I had a hard time relaxing into the pace of that life.
What I learned then was that yoga practice has to involve a transformation of mind, otherwise you don’t really get the full benefit of practice. When yoga practice includes working with the mind–sometimes called mindfulness or meditation — then lasting evolution occurs. Since my time in Hong Kong, I’ve spent alot of time meditating.
This past week I re-visited my old neighborhood friends and realized how experience is colored by our state of mind. Whereas my previous time there was often characterized by struggle, something in my current state of mind allowed me to appreciate the beauty of life in that city. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So if you live in a state of contentment, you can find beauty anywhere. The best way I know to access that peaceful state is through a constant application of mindfulness, learned through meditation practice.