Dear ex employers and ex boyfriends. Yes I can NOT talk for 10 days. You just had to lock me in a Buddhist monastery in Southern Thailand. It was as simple as that. Damn. Yes I suffered.
The silence? It was great...
Welcome to the 10 day meditation retreat In Suan Mokk International monastery. Please leave all temptation at reception. No music, no books , no writing , no mobile phones , no computer.
( My bag got a LOT lighter then)
You will find your mosquito net and your wooden pillow in the common room.
'' it's the first 10 days that are the most difficult'' said Roy , my favourite 60 year old Brit with dread locks. He's done it before. He tried to warn me but I never believe the Brits. They're always having you on. Not this time.
We entered silence at 7pm that night. So we could just stare blankly at each other as we found out that our mattress was pure concrete. No it did not feel like concrete. It WAS concrete. We could always cry on the wooden pillow without leaving any marks though. That was the good thing.
'' Body no need happy at night. Body sleeps'' our favourite Thai monk told us. Yeah that makes sense. Bloody Bhuddist wisdom.
Silence was bliss for the first couple of days. When you've worked in Hospitality and devoted your life ( as only Kipps backpackers hostels staff would do )to guests from all around the world for the last 3 years, you can only take that as a treat when you are surrounded by them and can't talk.
'' You want to know what you can do in the area or where the freaking toilet is ? I wish I can tell you but... I CAN'T TALK!!!!!! HAHAHAH ( nasty revenge laugh)
It's not the silence that was hard for me. Or the cement bed. or the fact that we had wash with a bucket and water from the well. And wake up at 4am every morning. Or even the 2 meals a day.
It was about following rules in silence. ME. NOT. SURRENDER.
I hated that guy who was wearing a Tee shirt that read ''OBEY'' almost everyday ( He became a very good aussie friend in the days that followed the end of the retreat. Sorry mate)
Each time I heard the bell or had to listen to yet another person giving a speech for hours as we were sitting there on the ground pretending we could do the full lotus with every bit of our body aching . with no freedom of speech was a sort of purgatory for my french side.
So.. I took part in the french revolution in a past life and was now punished for it. Is that right?
Yes , that's the sort of thing you are thinking about when you can't talk. You think about crazy shit. I even heard the Marseillaise, my national anthem each time we had to obey to yet another thing. Wake up to the bell at 4am. Marseillaise. 1 hour sitting meditation. Marseillaise. 1 hour yoga. 1 hour Monk Speech ( called Dhamma talk) . Give me that damn breakfast or I will do the revolution. NO FREE TIME.
That's when I saw that french woman's tee that said '' I am not moaning I am expressing myself'' I knew I was not the only one.
'' Meditation is NOT a cheap way to get high'' said our beloved British coordinator that I will call Ken here on the first day.
There was a few '' have I been lied to ? '' kind of looks. A few drop outs followed too.
Did I tell you what meditation is all about? D.I.S.C.I.P.L.I.N.E. Following your breath and watch your thinking. Do not get invloved in it.
Concentrating on your breath is a good way to train your mind so it does what it's told. The big goal is to avoid attachement to anything or anyone as all situations are impermanent anyway. If you do get attached it will lead to '' Ducca '' (suffering). Achieve detachement and you'll be in ''Nibbana'' , a state of pure joy. So guys, discipline your minds and love your life and other.( see I was not sleeping the WHOLE time during Dhamma talks. Point for me: 10)
Then wisdom will come. Or sleep. Or something totally unexpected like you stand up and go and hug trees and talk to ants. They are so beautiful.... ( cries) . I remember one day when we all gathered in awe around a flower that just blossomed. I suspect even guys cried. I was talking to Spiders from day 5. Fear just goes away as you get back to Nature. Amazing really.
So basically MY mind went like that :
Day 1: Silence is gold mate. But it's too loud. I did not choose it. Biggest headache ever. I had to skip a class. Damn , I've got fever too. Oh, what's that? Tea against fever. Awesome. I'll have some. Yuk. What does it also say ? '' LAXAT..'' Craaaap. I soon understood why this place was called ''the garden of liberation''
Day 2: you can't expect a bunch of women to keep a vow of silence when there are spiders and deadly scorpions involved. Each time we hear a shout we all run with our best loving kindness to the room where the crime took place and try hard to remember that we signed a paper that said '' Please do not kill any living being.'' And no, it was no just each other.
Day 3 : How can you NOT kill a mosquito for biting you constantly just as you were starting to meditate for 8 minutes in a row during a 3 hour group session. Everyone seems to be so concentrated. Or asleep. The Thai girl behind me has not moved for 2days.
Day 4 : Anyone gave food to the Thai girl? How can anyone sits there for hours just because they are told to. How is that wise. Bunch of ignorant people. I know better. I will NOT do what I'm told. I will find MY OWN WAY.
Day 5 : I can't sit still for more than 2.5 minutes now. It was either I heard something hilarious or I jump into the pond with a heavy stone attached to my 2 feet. Or I could still jump in with the Thai girl who still has not moved. That's when my prayer was answered . British humor saved my life. Once again. The funniest man on this planet is a British dude from Bristol who decided to become a Bhuddist monk in Thailand.
ANd we were lucky enough to listen to him everyday. The king of guy who just shows up for a 1 hour long speech with no notes and makes it all up.
'' Where do you go after death? Don't know... Australia probably. For sure I don't want go to hell, I've lived in the UK for too long'' Then I started thinking about my ideal life with him in the mountain eating 2 meals a day and laugh until the end of time (or our next life)
Day 6. 2 meals a day and guess what they give us for dessert? Durian fruit. Now imagine the smelliest camembert ever. Plus your dirtiest socks. You're not even close to durian. I'm sure the staff was crying out of laughter as they were hiding watching us eating it because we had to. Very funny.
Day 7,8 : I'm getting attached to detachement. How do you achieve this wisdom. It's freaking painful to be a human being. I want to ve free again. Can hardly describe the intensity of the pain. ( and it was not just my bottom that hurt) Now the Thai girl is smiling in a full lotus position. Glad she is still alive.
Day 9 only were allowed 1 meal a today. the British Monk decided to describe a pizza for half an hour. He even told us how to break out to go and buy it.
I decided I would stop meditating and try to guess people's nationalities. More fun. Can't achieve anything anymore.
Day 10 '' meditation is not about achieving anything, it's about letting go off things'' the note on the white board said. Now why did not you say it before???? It would have saved me 10 days.......
7pm we can talk again. The german girl was actually Dannish , the french woman was from Belgium and the Italian guy was australian.
Guess who did NOT want to talk that night? The french, yes. I was probably the last one to use my voice that day.
7.30pm We could give public speech about our experience. I was expecting people to talk about their great meditation sensations and skills but no. Instead it was only hilarious speeches about how they all wanted to kill everyone and themselves after loving everyone and themselves. No one had any answers. But... what was the question anyway?
That's when we all let go and realised how close we all got to each other in Silence. We were friends beyond words, names , nationalities. We had developped something insanely deep and what were we all doing? Making ourselves suffer for no reason.
I WAS FREE THE WHOLE TIME.
My 10 days were justified when a couple of girls told me that I smiled at them or made them laugh with crazy sign language RIGHT at the time they wanted to quit. So they did not. Yes I WAS FREE THE WHOLE TIME.
And we chatted away for a long , long time , united with this incredible bond. Pain? What pain? We can't remember. We could only see our liberation. We even lost 2 kilos. What more to ask. We did not even ask for names. We were far beyond that, mate.
My speech in the end simply said '' Guys, I've got it now.tomorrow seems like a good day 1 ... right? What time do we start? It was a pleasure to NOT talk to you for 10 days. Day 1 of the first day of our lives. Good luck and... See you soon... in Nibbana''
Many people came to me the next day and ask me about what sort of Day 1 I was planning for myself. Without thinking I said :
" I'm staying to live here in the mosnastery for a while. Because now, I don't HAVE TO anymore, i just WANT TO''