Chiang Mai, Thailand.
I am on a plane to Chiang Mai. The only thing I know is that it’s in the North of Thailand. It is my third day in Thailand and although I really tried to do stuff I can only say that I spent a lot of time in constipated traffic and the rest searching for a place to eat. But the food is great!
It is quite amazing, the street food culture that they have here. On literally every street corner you find stalls where somebody is cooking. So many people make a living this way. I can’t really tell yet if everyone has their own signature dish or that the quality or the preparation differs from stall to stall. Time will tell. But the outlook on a whole month of spectacularly tasty and fresh food puts a big smile on my face.
Just before take off I had a moment of huge shame. I was chatting to a Dutch friend (through Whatsap) and told her about my intention to find the monk and abbot of the Golden Horse Temple Phra Khru Bah. Today I saw a map of Thailand painted on a wall and realized that the North of Thailand is quite a broad area. I have no clue if flying to Chiang Mai is actually the wisest thing to do. I wanted to buy a Lonely Planet today but didn’t find time so I’m winging it. She told me that the documentary “Buddha’s Lost Children” is made by a Dutch guy and that I could connect with him to ask how to find Phra Khru Bah. My heart sank as I realized that I did not think of that myself. I felt shame, anger, self-hatred and sadness. I felt so stupid.
But I am ok now. I feel quite peaceful. Recently I have received some sort of meditation practice that I should do when things like this happen. That means a couple of things. When I do something that brings up negativity I can take over immediately. This way these moments become moments of learning and potential transformation. And since I like practice my hart jumps up when I receive an opportunity to practice something new, like a little boy who can’t wait for it to start raining so he can try out his new rubber boots. Ha! Self hatred! Now I can practice my new tool! Being armed with the right tool also gives confidence. When you go out with an umbrella you don’t have to be concerned about if it will rain or not. It is quite humbling to catch yourself on negativity and self-criticism and transform it on the spot. One becomes aware of how often we are tough on ourselves.
This is the trick: love yourself. Really, that is the practice. When you catch yourself judging yourself (harshly) there is a gap between yourself and yourself that needs to bridged. Focus on the knot inside and say: “I love you” and “I am sorry”. You can also add “Please forgive me” and “I am sorry”. But I find 2 sentences easier to work with than 4. Keeping offering yourself loving kindness until the knot dissolves. Let me know if it works as I will keep you posted.
There is a sweetness in nurturing ourselves with the food that heals us. This goes for both the mind, the body and the soul.
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Thank you for the last paragraph, Atalwin. I try to practice “I love you” and “I am sorry” when I encounter painful feelings. But I also have another very strong mantra: Observe, do not believe.