I’ve just returned from two months in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Twelve days ago we got back home and I find it’s time to put into writing some of my reflections. This was a first for me - I’ve never taken a trip that long, or that far away. I was nervous when we left and during the planning. So, in order to make the trip really rich and memorable, I had many intentions. One big driver was to carry with me a lesson from Jen Sincero - “You are an energetic being, in an energetic universe - when you shift, everything shifts.” For me this is a powerful lesson.
I thought it would be a great idea to be attuned to this lesson in nature. We could take pictures where we saw trees or plants demonstrating an energetic shift. This idea came to me as a result of a hike I took right here in my hometown where I found a tree that had been felled. I like to look at the rings in trees, and this one was particularly intriguing. Something had happened that had penetrated the trunk, and the following rings in the tree had a wrinkle in them that created a long point in the succeeding years of rings. I loved the image and for me, it seemed to embody the lesson. Here was physical evidence of energy, and the shift.
So, on our trip, I was on the lookout for these motifs in nature. We were in the jungle, hiking up Doi Suthep, a hugely popular temple where many people make pilgrimage to be in the presence of a relic of Lord Buddha. We floated for two days on the Mekong traveling to Luang Probang. We spent a week in a jungle preserve attending a yoga and meditation retreat. And I… was a little disappointed because I just wasn’t witnessing what I wanted to see in nature. I saw amazing stands of bamboo; gorgeous banyan trees with floating roots to the ground; waterfalls flowing into unearthly turquoise pools. So much natural and exotic beauty. But...not quite what I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong - I revelled in my new and verdant environments, and I couldn’t get enough. But at the end of the day, looking at my photos, I hadn’t captured that lesson.
So, I probably wasn’t trying hard enough, right?
All of these countries are also Buddhist countries, so there are lots of chances to stop into a Buddhist wat (temple) and meditate, sit in silence, or make wishes. Really, every time you turn around, there’s another wat to visit. The White Temple, the Silver Temple, the Garden Temple and on and on. These are just the ‘special’ ones - every neighborhood has its own temple. And I found that they are all worth the time, because, really, it was just for me and I had nothing better to do. What could be better? I sat. I thought - or tried not to think. For me, these temples and monasteries provided ample opportunity, while in silence, to confront my shadow side. While I walked in beauty, and sat with myself in silence, I had to sit with the exasperated, impatient, cranky self that I had brought along on this trip and was sharing in my snarky ways with my darling partner. I was embarrassed, ashamed, guilty and judgemental in these moments. Then one day, in a dusty, humble temple, where a wizened little old monk opened the doors just for us, I beheld the ultimate disco Buddha! He had a multicolor, neon halo that blinked and resonated out from his head. In this Buddha's presence, it came to me and I whispered, “Please, soften my heart”. I immediately felt my shoulders relax, my breath deepen and joy began to emanate from my prunelike heart.
And then, I smiled.
What’s the moral? Well, I had to be shown, AGAIN, that transformation is an inside job. After that, I found I was more generous in my interpretations of my photos and the lesson “You are an energetic being, in an energetic universe - when you shift, everything shifts.” I saw it demonstrated in the incredible trees at the ancient temples of Angkor Wat where trees have grown right out of the walls. I saw the lesson in a flower growing out of a water bottle cap. And I saw it in the 25 foot long load of bamboo being hauled by motorcycle and a cart. I saw it in my relationship with my partner when I softened my heart. He held my hand, put his arm around my waist, and was sweetly affectionate with me. I began to think of the lesson more as one of possibility, rather than a force of change. Subtle, yes?
This April, my friend Amy and I would like to invite you to join us for our inaugural Perfect Avocado retreat for women in transition. If you, like me notice that snarky dissatisfied self is poisoning your days, come with us to Maine. If you realize that you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, and you are still dreaming about that someday life, where you are a size 6, the bank account is overflowing and you are satisfied and happy, well it’s time to make that someday life today. And you may find that the shift is subtle. But something’s gotta give!
Please join us in April!