Only one week left and I can’t believe how many breathtaking experiences have already been had! Thailand has been a whirlwind. I came into this trip trying to keep myself open to the idea of new experiences, with no expectations holding me back. I wanted to experience Thailand for all that it is and the last thing I wanted was my anxiety, nerves, or worries to rob me of an amazing opportunity. As I prepared for this trip to a country on the opposite side of the world, so different from anything I had ever experienced, I just kept this quote I had been using as a mantra in my mind. “The comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there”. This has been a super healthy mindset for me during this trip to consistently put me in perspective and continue to challenge myself. I came on this trip for new experiences, new outlooks, to learn about the culture, and to learn more about myself as well. I already feel that this trip has granted me those wishes.
Looking back on these last two weeks I have learned so much, and really seen myself grow as a person. There has yet to be an experience I feel that I did not learn from, but there were a couple specific experiences that really stand out for me during this trip. The first significant experience for me was the trip to Wat Suan Dok, a buddhist temple in Chiang Mai. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. The temple was gorgeous, all white with a gold tower in the center. It is the biggest temple in Chiang Mai and utterly remarkable. We explored the temple for awhile, and after enjoying the temple we settled down in a room where a Buddhist monk, KK, came and shared the Buddhist philosophy and Monk way of life. This was a discussion that really hit me hard. It was everything I had been trying to embody. Everything I was trying to change, in order to take care of myself, and overcome my mental health issues. Each thing he said made so much sense and I just felt like this was knowledge that would help me longterm, and help me live and healthier, happier life overall. A few of my biggest takeaways from KK’s teachings include the importance of balance, mindfulness and the understanding of self, and the toll of attachment and dwelling. The Buddhist philosophy is all about balance, balance in your life, and more specifically balance between the physical being and the mental being. We do so much to care for our physical being, we exercise, shower, eat, sleep, but in what ways do we care for our mental being? This is something I had never considered before. Additionally, the Buddhism philosophy embraces the idea of self knowing. When our mind has unhealthy or unhelpful thoughts we need to know ourself enough to be able to overcome them. Using mental self care to establish the development of wisdom (knowing yourself), self awareness, mindfulness, and learn to be able to easily let things happen, and easily let them go, never to dwell. I was so surprised how much this session with KK meant to me and how much I would take with me once it ended. I already feel positive changes starting to happen in my life and I believe that all starts with a healthier and cleansed mind!
The second experience that really sticks out in my mind is the visit to the Karen village. Going in I really had no idea what to expect. But the village as a whole was so welcoming and warm. They were so sweet and eager to show us their culture. They were excited to share every aspect and even more excited to see us participate and engage in the activities they do on a daily basis. It was amazing to learn through this experience. We worked with the elders in the community, as they showed us their weaving projects and looms, the work they had done was amazing. I couldn’t believe the craft, dedication, and time these women put into these fabrics and embroidery. They had such kindness in their eyes and such patience to be working with us, even given the language barrier. I really felt accepted and wanted there. I learned so much about what it means to be a truly authentic person from the actions and lifestyles these women live. It was truly inspiring and I hope to be as much of a badass in my old age as the women who hopped in the back of a pickup truck like it was nothing and then proceeded to climb a mountain. Mind-blowing!!
There have been so many more events in my mind that make this trip one that I know I will cherish for a lifetime. I can’t imagine the possibilities for this last week in Thailand, but I’m sure they will be just as worthwhile as these ones have been. I cannot wait to share my experiences with my friends and family once I’m home, and also fully get the opportunity to process my time here.