Revitalised in Paradise

BaanSign

So, I left you as I was arriving at the Baan Hom Samunphrai “The House of Sweet Smelling Herbs”. http://www.homprang.com/

The two founders and carers for this place are Homprang and Christopher. I fell in love with Homprang the moment I met her. Unfortunately for me, she is married to this great guy Christopher. The first thing she did when she heard of my recent ailment was fix me a herbal rice soup with a mug of herbal tea. I was given a room and rested until dinner which was delicious as are all the meals here. Just being here on this two acre property is a treat. Lawns and trees, a pond, and old wooden houses that they bought locally, took apart and reassembled to Christopher’s designs with common areas on the ground and sleeping above.

BaanBuild

My room was upstairs in this building.

MedSala
The Meditation Sala where I played my flute.

InsideSala
Inside the Meditation Sala.

When I arrived, there was a class of four thai massage students in their last week. Three French and one American. (Classes are limited to eight students.) In my two weeks here, people have come and gone as students and as paying guests. We have our meals at a long table so that you get to see everyone as least at those times. We’re nine kms outside the centre of Chiang Mai, so, people don’t just drop in. Occasionally, someone will come all this way just for a massage. It’s worth it.

BaanDinner
This photo is unfortunately blurred. Sorry. It does give you and idea of dinner time. Standing is Christopher. The second person in on the right side is Homprang. Lots of young women around me at that time. That pepped me up.

My first massage here was on my second day. It was a ‘two hour full body massage’. Well, it went for two and three quarters of an hour and was one of the best therapeutic massages I’ve had in my long career of enjoying what life has to offer. None of my massages here have been less than two and a half hours. The credo here is to keep going until the massage is done. Nit, the woman who has been my massage therapist is this thin little woman who is very strong with incredible endurance. The first three of my five massages were two days apart but I found that I needed an extra day between for my body to fully integrate the changes. My last two massages included being massaged with hot herbal compresses during the second half. Want to melt your bones? That’s the way.

I must remember to mention the herbal steam baths I have been relishing every evening. How am I going to get one of those into my backpack?

Plunge
This is the plunge pool beneath the room where you receive massages. The door in the back leads into the steam bath.

I haven’t said much about Christopher and Homprang because there is so much to say about them and so much that can not be said about them. Homprang is this ball of energy and love who moves gracefully about with the ease of one who is in harmony with existence. She makes one smile in wonder. There is a brief bio at the bottom of the home page for their website. My next to last night I finally got Christopher to tell me how they met. He gave me her whole bio and it was a story that if you saw it in a film you wouldn’t believe it. Christopher is this soft spoken American poet who lived much of his life in Britian and is a wealth of fascinating knowledge about Thai culture and life. There’s a link to some of his poems and a brief bio on the homepage. The two of them join us all at the evening meal where we relax and wander in conversation. I am so happy to be one of their friends.

It only took me two days here to begin feeling sprightly again and every day since has been a day of increasing vitality. The last two weeks have been full of good company, loving care, transforming massages, delicious food and a peaceful environment.

If you are ever in Chiang Mai, visit this place. You will be happy you did.

The Book of Changes

A couple days ago, I got an email from one of the members of the Vihara Community of which I became a share holder this last year. He was informing us of his decision to withdraw from the enterprise. His reason being our shortage of shareholders as we neared the point where we would finalise our purchase of the magnificent property and infrastructure that was our first goal as a group. As things stood, we would need loans from some of the members in order to finance this first step. That would leave us in a position lacking reserves in money and energy to launch the community. What would be minor difficulties in other circumstances could develop easily into major difficulties with all of the attendant stress added. We had been hoping to recruit additional shareholders in the next few months but our efforts to date had met with limited success. So, the decision by this share holder, soon followed by a second, led to the rest of us realising that this particular venture was coming to an end.

I had been excited by the possible manifestation of the vision set forth in the Vihara Manifesto. It fit me very well. Though I made plans and took actions in that direction, I was aware of the possibility of the above occurring. Life is bigger than me and I have to move with what is.

Did I feel disappointment? Yes, I did. After all, he was sitting there on the floor next to my right leg; his squat rounded cubical body with the huge mouth and woeful eyes squirming in anticipation of my giving him the energy to turn into a screaming monster. I gave him a glance and turned away. I had better things to do. (Don’t know where he is now. When I ignore him, he just pisses off.)

The first cab off the rank for my attention was the feeling of immense gratefulness for the friends who have accompanied me on this part of the journey. It’s been a joy to get to know new friends and better know previous acquaintances. After that, I turned to reflect on the recent journey. What steps had we taken that helped the cause and what could we have done differently to our advantage? I let the options surface and absorbed the insights for future opportunities.

Life can take sudden turns. That’s just the wonder of it. Now, life is overwhelming me with possibilities. I am so fortunate: I’ve got a comfy bed to sleep in. A lovely house to live in located in a sub tropical paradise. Good food available. I’m healthy. There’s my Tai Chi and Bagua. My flute is always at hand to stretch the heavens. To top it all off, I have somehow learned the art of letting go into a meditative state. What more could one ask?

So, dear friends, I wonder what experience is awaiting me on the next page of this book.

The Zero Waste Home

Hello Friends,
I have been reading this blog for a little while and find it refreshing and informative. It’s an informal journal of one family’s journey to produce as little waste as possible. In telling her story, the author shows the readers possibilities to consider.

The current entry is a letter from one of her readers. A new phase of the blog.

http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/

Great TED Talk on Gaming

I have just posted a link to a talk about how gaming can be used to help save the world. It’s such an excellent presentation and idea. It is possible. It is happening. Take the eighteen minutes to watch it. Here’s the url- http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

For more current info about Jane, here’s here blog url.

http://janemcgonigal.com/

Yes or No?

Dear Friends,
The following is an excerpt from an email that I wrote to a friend.

I understand your cynicism. It’s easy to feel that way in when one looks at the actions of politicians, bankers, wall street and many corporate leaders. However, as much as I am aware of and frustrated by the above, I choose to focus on other segments of the world’s societies. As an example, The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). I was begun over twenty-five years ago by the scientists Amory and Hunter Lovins and a few others. It is a non-profit consultancy. They began by showing businesses how by saving energy and reducing waste, they could increase their bottom line. A simple concept that seems obvious but was not considered by most businesses back then. RMI is now a very large organization that is involved in many different projects. They were recently involved in the retrofit of the Empire State Building. They have been consulting with the defence department for many years. The cost of a gallon of gasoline in a battlefield situation is multiplied enormously do to the security issues while transporting it. The military have gone big time into the use of alternative energy application. A visit to the RMI website is very interesting. I receive their free newsletter. On a different tack, there is the Open Source Software movement. Thousands of programmers around the world have been working for decades to produce software that is free to use and alter. Not only do you have the well know Linux operating system but you have software such as GIMP that is an equivalent to Photoshop. There is the Libre Office Suite that is equal to MS Office and translates Office documents both ways. There are many others both large and small. Going to my home town, Byron Bay, we have a community radio station run by over one hundred volunteers with a few paid part time staff. There are more community radio stations in Australia than there are commercial radio stations. There are international organisations such as Transition Towns that promote local community based economics. In Byron Shire we have producer’s markets four times a week in a different location each time to service just 20,000 people. The markets are cooperatives.You have to produce what you sell and the other members can show up at any time to verify such. Besides the fruits and vegetables, there are coffee growers, a small vinyard, dairies producing cheeses, pork and beef, and even local seafood. Some of it is certified organic and most of it is grown that way. You can find many more examples of people helping people and doing positive things for the earth. The number of NGOs has grown immensely in the last thirty years. My own experience meeting many people in many countries from different races, religions and cultures is that the vast majority just want to live a life of security and basic comfort with friends and loved ones. I live a simple open life as much as possible while being aware that there are those amongst us who are very confused and desperate. It is amazing how people will respond to a genuine smile and a genuine “thanks” or compliment.

Love, Kundan

The Vihara Adventure

I have just been confirmed as member number ten of a group that is organising to purchase what is now being used as a Tibetan Buddhist retreat centre in Kyogle, NSW, Australia. We intend to finalise purchase in May of 2012. This is a very exciting new adventure. I’ve been searching for years for such a community to join and when I read the proposal, I knew immediately that this was for me. I’ll post more info as it progresses.