After staying in a crazy and hectic Hanoi I needed a break from the city life. I packed my backpack again and went to northern Thailand for a month, the time I spent there I like to call a detox for the body and mind The adventure started in Khon Kaen where I volunteered at the Mindfulness Project, after that I attended a 10 day meditation retreat in Chiang Mai.
So what is Mindfulness Project? To put it in a few words it’s a non profit organisation that creats a sustainable, healthy and ethically concious community. It brings together people who want to learn about permaculture, buddhism philosophy and most importantly, people who want to make a difference.
During my time at the project we were building a house for a local family… yes a house! And to build it we only used clay, sand, water and rice husk, that’s all! It was incredible to see the house coming together, especially that it required very little fouds and a lot of good energy from all the volunteers.
We had a pretty nice routine at the house we stayed at. Each day started with yoga and meditation at dawn, this was followed by cleaning the house, organising the garden and preparing breakfast, everyone was on a different duty. All of that was prepared in silence which was broken after breakfast. I especially enjoyed a quiet morning, I’m not really chatty right after waking up and some might say that I’m even grumpy so it worked out pretty well for me;)
Once a week the volunteers would go to the city centre to stay in a monastery, it was called the Buddha day We learnt about buddhism, practiced different forms of meditation and experienced a monastery life. In the morning we participated in alms giving, we offered food to the monks as a way of making merit. It was so nice to experience the ceremony in a non tourist place, I attended alms giving in Luang Prabang in Laos and I felt sorry for the monks had to pose to hundreds of pictures.
The Mindfulness Project taught me a lot about sustainable living and inspired me to continue my spitritual journey. This is also where I’ve met the most amazing people, we were all different age and backgrounds but we were brought together by one goal, it was truly wonderful!
If you feel like you find out more about this wonderful project check out their website http://www.mindfulness-project.org.
While staying in the monastery I also had an opportunity to experience a sensory deprivation meditation in a chamber which blocked all sounds and light from the outside world. It has been designed for long term meditation, even up to 2 or 3 weeks. There are toilet and washing facilities installed inside the chamber and the food is provided by a kind person from the outside. The food would be placed between 2 doors so the light wouldn’t go inside the chamber. My experience has been 3 hours only, I didn’t have enough time to stay longer and frankly I’m not sure if this kind of long term commitment to darkness is my thing I’d rather check out a floatation tank which is a similar concept, you’re deprived from all senses including touch. You achieve that by laying in a body temperature salted water which helps you to float. Then you’re literally deprived from all senses. That must be an interesting experience!
Here are some photos from the project: