Salutations. (this is Anna)
So we've just come back from a meditation course, which was brill-o but will do that in a min. Before that we had a day of pampering and went to a mega fab night market! Bought more stuff we don't really need but is great anyway! We got a thai massage again, determined to better our experience of it and had an amazing one, really relaxing, with gentle music playing and it was even more full on contact! They use their feet alot. S'all I'm gonna say folks. But we both clicked alot and decided the ladies were so nice that we also wanted manicures and pedicures (they were revolted at our feet which was an incentive too). That was really nice too and they scraped all the dead stuff off our feet so they're really smooth! Never though that could be done. It's like a razer thing but it doesn't hurt. And they sorted our our nails and general cleaned. Which was lovely and there was a layer of dirt invisible to the naked eye! Now it's gone! Tres bon.
So the monks. It was "free" but we paid 500bht (10 pounds) for the transportation and food which I thought was fair enough, seeing as they were giving us a course and accomodation for free. The food was pretty goood too.
We had to wear all white which was good becuase it is very cooling and relaxing. There was only 9 of us and 1 girl kept vomming everywhere so stayed in her room the whole time. They said they can get up to 22 people! We were lucky to have a small group.
So then they gave us a slide show of the basic rundown of Buddhism, which in itself was really interesting. So different to the buddhism you learn in RE at school. There are different types, and it's a big debate whether it should even be called a religion. There's a massive difference too between buddhism the religion (or is it) and buddist teachings. The teachings are what Buddha said, and taught, and there are 42 books of his teachings. Buddhism the religion (or is it) is how you carry out the teachings, how you relate them to yourself and your way of life. This is more about meditation and being a generally swell person.
We arrived at the center about 2ish and got into our monks togs - the center is 5 years old and built entirly from donations, on donated land. Which I think is pretty awsome to begin with. They gave us another talk and we did a bit of light meditation and he talked us through it. There are 4 types - sitting, standing, walking and lying. Lying is my favourite and I found sitting the hardest. You're legs cramp up after a while but you can't move because your in this stupor where you feel like there's no-one around you. It's pretty awsome really, when you're in the zone you really feel like you're in a cave on your own or something. You can't hear stuff around you and don't have any thoughts. But it's really hard to get there and keep it there. I'd get there and then think "ah cool I haven't thought anything for ages" but then realise that this is a thought in itself and then I'd start thinking about makeup or boys or something.
I jest. But your mind does wonder and when it starts, you have to say "thinking, thinking thinking" 3 times. Then you stop thinking! Its amazing! And you go back to concentrating on your breathing. But then if your leg cramps, you have to say (in your head this all is) "pain, pain, pain". Because your suppost to recognise physical pain before it becomes a pain in your mind as well. Because meditation is food for the brain. Deep stuff.
Then we did walking meditation which is easier to do, and quite amusing because you have to say (in your head) everything you do. Like you say "standing, standing, standing, intending to walk. right, go, thus. left, go thus. right go thus" etc as your walking along. And you have to do everything really slowly and really think about the movement of your feet.
So we had dinner at about 6 to 6.30 and then meditated more until 9.30. It was pretty intense. Then we were woken up at 5 and meditated from 5.30-8 when we had breakfast, then from 8.30 until 11.30. Which is enough for one day, you feel pretty tired after that. They gave us breaks though and in one of the 10 minute breaks me and Fran accidently fell asleep becuase were so tired! And missed like 45 mins of the next bit. But it was ok, they were just meditating so we slid in and joined in.
It was a really good experience though, I feel bffs with Buddha now (best friends forever, for those who need translation). It makes alot of sense, Buddhism, and he gave us this really moving speach about being better people and made us feel guilty but motivated at the same time. It's really calming and I think I might do meditation when I'm stressed now. Or bored. Or both. It's good for your mind. Stops you going crazy. We gave donations at the end, because obviously they don't get any money for electricity or anything apart from donations.
Tomorrow we're going zip-lining and Franny will do the blog in a couple of days for that, and on Friday we're getting a bus back to Bangkok. Though neither of us really like Bangkok, we're going to try and do day trips to good stuff around it. Like Buddha's footprint (I heart Buddha) and the floating markets etc.
So until next time! (Practise your meditation)