Blog Post #1 Yer Her
As I pulled into the driveway at the Wat Temple in Elk River, I was filled with mixed emotions. I was excited to be one step closer to leaving for Thailand and to experience a different culture on that beautiful Saturday, but quite honestly I was nervous. I was nervous I would offend someone while I was there. I was nervous I would do or say the “wrong” thing.
Twenty University of Minnesota students and two faculty are preparing to embark on a 3-week learning adventure in Thailand, beginning May 17, 2015. We met at the Thai Wat (temple) in Elk River Minnesota (http://watthaiofminnesota.org) for an orientation session on April 18th. Students will initiate our blog by introducing themselves and sharing their thoughts on that session as well as their goals for Thailand. Students unable to attend the April 18th session will share thoughts about “A Meditator’s Initiation” by J. Hamilton-Merrit in the 2002 book Travelers’ Tales Thailand (J. O’Reilly & L. Habegger, Eds.), Palo Alto, CA: Solas House, Inc.
While reading “A Meditator’s Initiation”, I found myself connecting with the experiences that Jane was partaking in. As the piece started, I immediately felt like I was there with her, experiencing it alongside her. Jane described feelings of fear for this new experience that was occurring. Often times when I am fearful like this in new situations, I do exactly what Jane did in her experience. My mind is racing and I often second guess my intentions and abilities. Initially my fear can have the tendency to get the better of me. After her experience, she questions herself “Why had I been so afraid?”. I think that this is a common thought when we encounter new, scary, and exciting things. The key is finding a balance between our perceived fears and the actual situation enfolding around us.
I have attended some mediation classes here in Minneapolis at Tergar Meditation Center. My first time attending a mediation class I felt overwhelmed, yet excited, and like Jane I was deeply observing the room I was in, the people that attended and their rituals, and the teacher and his ways. I was very conscientious of everything around me, both externally and internally. I think that there is nothing that can take away from the purity of a true first experience.
I enjoy some of the teachings mentioned in this text that Buddha taught. There were a few phrases: dukkha, sukkha, and anicca. Dukkha is suffering or unsatisfactoriness caused by wanting, desire, craving, clinging, grasping. Sukkha is the elimination of all desires, including the desire to cling to life itself. Anicca is impermanence, or a constant decaying and changing that is common to all things. All of these words have to deal with the idea of detachment along with truly experiencing, something I am constantly working towards.
In regards to learning abroad, a goal that I have coming on this trip is is to go into this completely new experience and to detach from my expectations. I also hope to diminish my fears and experience what comes my way and go with the flow. I am excited for what is to come in Thailand!