Good day people of a rich world filled with toilet seats you can sit on and toilet paper to wipe your preciuos ass with... life is good my friends! I am preparing to go into a month to a month in a half meditation/buddhist study retreat at Kopan monastery in Nepal...yes NEPAL!!! There are a little over two hundred people attending the month long program and the last two weeks are supposedly taught by an incredible Lama named Lama Zopa Rinpoche. I am staying at a massive monastary in a cozy dorm room, and next to a nunnery. I have to say that though the place is a bit overwhelming in size, it is quite beautiful, and you can see almost all of Kathmandu from here when the sun rises. Now i have only just arrived and explored little of Kathmandu, but it (to me) quite a modern city, but a little mixed with a chaotic china town flare. There is a lot less poverty here than in the places i visited in India, but equal in terms of constant movement and horn honking! Honestly i was a little overwhelmed exploring the city for a day because of the amount of stimulation for you senses, but the nice thiong is that it assisted me in a decent night's sleep. So yes, I am going into retreat and this is my last post for a while. Who ever is here reading this, please feel free to email and tell me how you are doing, with great mailto:detail...email@example.com and i will get back to you when Im back in the world. Much love and remember life is short, so enjoy it, and remember the kindness of others...because without it, you would have nothing...
Holy Canola oil, Deep fried chocolate banana and cinnamon apple samosas with a hint of sweet cake balls, chai chai chai, paneer pizza with a dash of cumin please! Hello all, I am here on my last night in Rishikesh and finally feel as though i have the energy to write something slightly interesting...key word slightly...So I have made a record of three full body immersions in the holy Ganaga river in order to make sure i rid all my sins from the past...and because the sun was setting and it seemed so romantic. So yes, Rishikesh is the yoga capital of India, but what that really means is that 30 years or so ago the beatles came to this little town city called rishikesh and stayed at an ashram, and then that attracted more tourists and soon enough the place was booming, yoga ashrams, asana classes, philosophy, etc. began to line up every block and now the culmination is a mix between the western view of yoga as purely a form of exercise and to look healthy, but also the spiritual, genuine roots of yoga are sprinkled atop, depensing where you go. There are some very traditional places here, dont get me wrong, but many of the classes are tailored to westerners for the purpose of economic survival and material gain. This guy who's been living in an ashram in Rishikesh since birth told me that the place has really changed, that traditionally the real yogis would get up around 4 or 5am and begin practicing, and it was a spiritual practice to the fullest, the preoccupation wasnt looking good, but self-realization; and now the essence of yoga is still there but people go to class at around 8:30 and the focus is more on the physical rather than the mental. Now the reason I share this little piece of knowledge is because I feel that this is not only the issue in Rishikesh but with the western view of or should I say method/s of finding happiness, and this is why so many migrate to India, one of the most spiritual places on the earth. I think as a westerner it is difficult and almost seems completely foreign to practice spirituality in terms of really working with the mind, and that being the priority as opposed to our appearance to the rest of the world. People go to india or they study something or whatever for the purpose of searching for something larger or with a bigger view then what the currently have, really simply put, happiness...and its not just India, it could be going for the big corporate position or that delicious chocolate cake sitting in the window, and you see that "oh, if I can have this, then I will be really happy", but if you reallydig deep into all the things that you "think" will make you happy, you will see that most of the things that you assume will make you happy are so temporary that you only create more suffering for yourself, further desire to find the next thing that will fulfill your never ending thirst. So what do you do when you realise that chasing happiness(or what you percieve happiness to be) or leads to dissatisfaction in the end? You must work with your mind! How? By being aware that what you truly seek in all your temporary pleasures is ultimate and lasting happiness, and knowing that when you get that corporate position or succulent papaya, that it is pleasurable and delicious for a short time but it is not ultimatley what you are looking for...okay now im going to get a little more intense about it and you can take or leave at it, but make sure you have a big laugh at the end because im just typing a whole bunch of words at you face...remember when you take a bite of that papaya that you are alive! Remember how thankful you are to be able to enjoy just even one bite of this beautiful fruit because of all of the work others cultivated in order for you to enjoy this moment you have....okay, okay i know intense and i cuold go on and on on what you cuold remember in order to make this moment whatever it may be whther you view it as good or bad based in your perception of what you believe to be true happiness, but all im saying is that you could really get what you want(true happiness) if you cuold simply remind yourself that you are part of a community of beings that without them you could not even enjoy a bite of fruit, because somehow thruogh an uncountable link or causes and conditions, you my friend are alive and able to enjoy, alive, able to remember that you are not alone, but a part of the whole stream of events that led up to this moment, where you have the perfect capability to really see what it is you truly seek: life! And that, that is yoga, a form of it atleast, so please, if you can stop for even one moment of your day, remind your self of this fact, that you,yourself depend on others for your own happiness and without apprecaition for others and their contributions, you could not experience this thing we call life! Namaste and now I must go eat Italian food in India, love you all and hope that some part of this blabbering was useful...carpe diem!
Okay i am goin to type this with out looking at the screen and you are warned that will be likely typos because I only know how to touch type and the keys on the keyboard are super faded so here we go...I am extremely tired but in a goos way. I am currently in Rishikesh, the yoga capital of India and I have to say that it is quite the beautiful place, I am right on the GAnga river(which I bathed in fyi) and when the sun is rising and setting, it is the most beautiful thing in the city...I am tired and slightly foggy at the moment becasue I have not been getting much sleep,; see right now it is Diwali, basically like India christmas with lots of candy and fireworks. They light the types of fireworks that are only legal for firemen to light off in the us, and children are doing this in allys and what not. Holy Shit! I felt as if I was in a beautiful warzone of flashin lights in the nights sky and massive cannons and bazookas going off right by my ear. Every stands around when you light the bomb and then runs for there life to here the incredible explosions. Many people were burned and some caught fire...the festivities go on until the end of tonight the 7th I hope only because I tyhink my ears are shot, haha! I ate hazelnut chocolate for breakfast and half a bottle of water and then I ate a dosa later on which is a masssive thin savory crepe with whatever filling you would like inside...i got a vegetable dosa and it was tre magnific. Also I have been eating lot of Muesli..okay through the subject and level of interest in the topic you can see that my brain is slightly fried and I feel as though the only way I can say what I feel is through what Ive eaten and the fact that I am typing with my sunglasses on, haha! I will update you later when I have the hutzspa two. n oy I must go, the firewokrs continue to call my name ...adios...and much love and good hugs!
yo yo yo! I am in a mountaneous region full of car horn honkings, cute little old laies walking up the foothills of the himalayas, momos, prayer wheels, wool shawls and buddhism up the wazoo. Yes i am in northern India, in the home of the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan refugees. I love this plce, truly, it is a breath of fresh air...again I am typing extraordinarily fast because I am on a time limit and am in between retreats.
I am just going to freestyle whats goin on in my mind right now because I feel that is really the only way I can communicate what is slightly going on...
Heart beating, silence...achy knees, sitting all day, buddhist teachings, Dalai Lama, Tashi Delek( tibetan), lost, How do I get to Bhagsu Road? OKay I am totally going to take my vows to become a buddhist, literally promising that I will do my best to not intentionally harm others for the rest of my life...I like him, she's cool, too many people, I was just silent for ten days and then BAM! everyone explodes after retreat, as if they were forced to keep them shut for those ten days of intensive strudy, Karma, everything being made up from caauses and conditions and resulting in positive or negative ways, from beyond this life, from all your past lives...back to the subject, zen style awareness with a cocaine infested language of fear amnd freedom from a feeling of being trapped in silence, key word trapped. Explosions of noise and meaningful babbling, finally aware of the fact that , wow, these people are human...Searching for the Karmapa, so close to the public seeing of him, right on the steps about to enter the building and , wait, stop, shit, I have to go back into town, 30minute taxi ride, I have to mave into another room for the convenience of the next retreat I have where I am not allowed to be around people from another program and someone needed to move into my room. Again, cocaine speed with cal and slightly sad concentration emanating from my being. I express in minimal understable language styles mixed with internal matters that have a touch of poetry to such expressions.
What I am really trying to say is that again, like everything and everyday of my life, I am in transition, transition from peace into chaos, introverted to extroverted, and always practicing to find some middle ground, some sanity in all the shifting... I had lunch with a friend yeterday, she was walking down the street in Mcleod Ganj, I was on the roof top of this Tibetan Cafe, and I called out to her randomly and tacfully inviting her up to share a meal with me of eggplant and garlic sauce with white rice, with ginger lemon honey tea on the side. We spent a good couple hours there just chatting about life, chatting about the fact that we just had our brains filled in to the brim with buddhist philosophy, and that now, the world seems much different, not new, not old, just different. And I bring this up because the main topic that was of our conversation was finding a way to be honest and genuine with your self and pthers in a way that is direct but kind, regardless of the internal fiasco tha is occuring, and making the decision in how you communicate based on your intention "May I do what is most beneficial". Amd the funny thing was that this was an incredibly juicy toppic because of how much of a temptation comes out of our neurosis to communicate from a place of fear, and sometimes it is so subtle that you dont even realize you are lying to yourseklf or another person and you dont see the future reprucusions of your actions of creating only further delusion.
for example, this could stem from a simple conversation with you friend, you had plans already with your boyfriend or girlfriend or whatever, and you have cancelled so many times with this friend that is calling that you feel that if you cancel again, your friend will feel as thouugh you dont care about the friendship any more, the simple problem is not the friend, or even the lover, but the timing of the situation. You inclination, habit or instinct is to tell a little lie because you have built up this guilt from previous times of cancelling with this friend. You have the intention, out of fear, to instead of simply telling your freind the truth, that you have plans with your lover, you pretend that you are sick, concocting this idea in your head that somehow lieing to your friend and telling them you are sick is a much more legitamite excuse than sadly turning them down because you have other plans, and even deeper you dont want to even bring up the past times that because of timing and differnt proirities, you chose to spend your time differently...so you lie to you friend, and this builds inside of you, because then the next time you friend calls and you happen to be busym you continue to produce the same behavior of being dishonest, and you build up a horrble habit of this delided idea of what it trult means to be a friends, and you totally have forgotten about the intention "may i do what is most beneficial", and a simple act has turned into years of habit, innocently ignorant habit of trying to make you friend happy but making yourself the centralized person in the realtionship because you would rather save face than simply tell your friend the truth, which is truly no ones fault, but simply timing, and this is (in the conversatuion with my polish friend in the Tibetan Cafe) how problems start, from something as little as a lie, because you were in such a rush to avoid the truth that you didnt even realize that you cause more damage..its simple ignorance, we all have it from ohne degree to another. I am saying this because I think this is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind when you are communicating with others, just being aware if your speech is coming from a place the will have long term beneficial consequences, not short term, like upsetting you friend, but long term like staying committed and loyal in the relationship with honesty and respect... its the little things that really matter, the big too, but dont forget the little. Try this when you go out into the world or when you are ever face with any decisions...stop for a moment and make the wish, aspiration or question to your self,"May I do what is most beneficial"...just try it, even just once, and think long term, with a sense of utter honesty. okay I must run to another retreat but I will check back in some time after, I hope you are well and miss you much, who ever you are. And, thankyou for taking the time to read this, it shows how much patience you have, and that youhave a genuine interest in some sort of truth...chao bella! xoxo.
What up people I'm in Mcleod Ganj, darhamasala, INdia! Yes! and i have to say, today I am incredibly exausted but I have survived, I am having trouble typing because I feel as though I am on anotheer planet right now, so maybe its better that I check in again withy more clarity tomorro. I am safe and jus got out of retreat so just know all is good and i will talk to you tomorro. Much love to whoever you are reading this and take care of yourself, you only have this body in this life.
What is up people? Me actually, up in at the foothills of the himalayas i rest and feel as though I have finally found a temporary home. I am not alone here, not the only foreigner, not the only solo traveller, but one of many and finally, even though I am very high up in the mnountains, I finally feel like I can breathe!
It has been a long time since I posted anything and its because its been hard to find good internet in the places Ive been. So much has happened that I cant express the half of it but I will summarize so you can sort of imagine...I was in Chiang Mai THailand last time we spoke and since then I flew into Delhi and was hanging around there for a little bit. I had met a boy in BAngkok that offered to tour me around Delhi, little did I know that he would take me into his family and protect me as if I were the fair skinned princess of India. He was a religios Sikh, along with his family(They wear turbans), and him and his family taugh me the basics of Sikhism and temple/family life. It is an incredibly simple yet beautiful religion where they accept people of all different backrounds and social classes( especially important in INdia with the class differences here). I went to many Sikh temples where you sing gods name out, ask for special wishes, drink and wash in holy water, and take prasad(blessed food, that tastes like oats) to remain holy. I even took a seven hour train to the biggest sikh temple in the world called Shri Sahib Amritsar. This friend of mine, who will not be named for persopnal reasons, was one of the kindest people I have ever met, he always told me, even on the first day, that I was his bestest friend. I found it very endearing in the beginning because he was so sweet, but sometimes things that are too sweet become nauseated or unappetizing after a few bites...
I feel horrible of course, but at the same time I feel incredibly free, as though I made the correct descision, the decision for my mental health...I had to leave him, yesterday actually, because I couldnt handle living with him any more. Yes I know, a total flip from happy family to hell in a backpack. He was a great friend, to too nice, overly caring, overly protective, and to be quite honest the situation got very old very fast, and simply because it was too sweet, like an indian dessert. See, he was willing to do anything for me, anything, his family took me in and cater to my every need, to an extent of insanity, that I couldnt handle it anymore. I am a spoiled american, yes I like hot showers and a toilet to sit on, I love food and chai, but I am not or should I say, do not need to be treated as though I am royalty. I was overwhelmed when I came to India, not because of how India really was, but because of all the horrible stories everyone told me...and you know what? So far I have not encountered the severity of this country as expressed by others. Yes there are a shit load of people and its dirty as hell, compared to my suburban home, but it's not that bad. So when I arrived in India, I was fucking scared, and the reality of the situation was not nearly as intense as I thought. But to get back to the point I am trying to make, this guy I met from Delhi, I clung to him the first day, because I was scared for my life and he guarded me as if I needed to do the same(his family made sure he was my body guard), and after the first couple of days, and the repeated questions of if I am happy and the horrible language barrier(only preschool english), I got sick of the situation, I wanted to leave, because I could communicate how I was feeling, I even cried at one point because if I wasnt constantly smiling or speaking, him and his whole entire family would be at my feet begging for me to be happy. This is why I say too sweet, and why there is guilt attached to the situation. I was offered to stay at the home, and very well could have lived there the rest of my life without ever having to pay for anything again, but I couldnt live a life so comfortable, because the overavailability of it was uncomfortable. I stayed in my expensive hotel room. But even that was not enough and I had constant feeling of guilt mixed with joy. I could only handle so much and it was hard for me to decide whether I should leave or not because I was afraid for my life, afraid to be alone in INdia because this whole time I was guarded and had every need met. So I kept compromising, holding my temper when no matter how long I would try to explain, I could nt be understood, and I left. I got the hell out of there, and had my friend arrange a private car for me to go to Darmasala, where the Dalai Lama lives and is the place where all the Tibetan refugees reside.
SO this is just a summary of what has happened so far and you probably dont understand my reasons for leaving fully, and theres a lot more to the story thatn is said, but that is the gist and the decision to leave my friend from delhi took a lot of courage because now, I am truly alone in India, and I feel fucking great. Yes, of course I'm scared for my life and have to arrange things myself as opposed to being the Princess of India, but this is how I would prefer it, more personal freedom, and more to watch out for, but this is why I came to India, to travel, to be by myself in another country(which is not to say I will make friends along the way) but I am not going to accomodate anyone right now, I have to take care of myself, and my simple needs. It was a great lesson and maybe I will see him again(I wish I could tell you the whole story but I made a promise not to) but right now I am happy, scared, but happy, because finally I am in a new country, alone and have no clue of what the future holds. Until next time, I am safe, without a schedule and in a place that is the most beautiful part of india I have seen so far. Goodbye and please, take care of yourself
Hello all! i am here in my guesthouse in chiang mai typing out my feelings of ungroundedness because I am having trouble making a lot of desciscions n its on a counter of men, they all like me once we get to talking and then they just want more than friendship. Okay i know im complaining and yes its flattering but at the same time, what happened to just being friends? It's so hard to have a non-sexual freely open friendship with a guy for me because of course when the topic of sex comes up, the blood starts pumping and simple discussion turns into a turn directed at fulfilling ones own desire to feel pleasure. Yesterday, my friend whos in his 50's offered over and over to have sex with me; not in an incredibly aggresive way, actually in the nicest way possible but I am not down with the whole "life's short, lets have sex together" approach. He told me he was a "butterfly" man and had had sex with many women, but neverhad he hd the chance to be with an american, with a perfect body nd white skin...okay so our conversation got pretty deep, we talked about everything, even the way he likes to make love to the women he pays for sex or pay him. I even pondered it for a moment as if I should just go and say what the hell i'm in Thailand, no one will know, and hilariously enough i probably would have if there were any sexual attraction towards him, but no. My gut said no, because it didnt feel right. I loved talking to him though before the topic turned to him wanting to get into my american pants but now there's an akwardness, a mature akwardness though because i told him the truth, "im only interested in friendship and no sex, I just think the whole view of sex in thailand and relationships, atleast in your own personal experience, is very interesting, but I dont want you to think i feel you are bad, because I dont, I am glad that we can talk about this so openly." so that day ended slightly akward with again another tinge of bitter sweetness but its all good, haha! He understood and invited me over to have dinner with him and his family the night before I leave, dont worry though I met his daughter and shes very nice, I just had to set a boundary with him because he didnt have one.
So anyways, to quickly sum up the point in this whole tid bit of a story is that Im having trouble making decisions because I see the other perspective of each scenario and dont really see a good or bad view on things as much but more of a difference in preference. This guy was a really nice guy, i could taklk to him about anything until emotions got invovled and now theres a hairline fracture tht will be mended because I set a boundary. And I say it was a mature akwardness because it was completely genuine. So yes, another experience for sonia feldman, foreigner in thailand, learning about sex here without having to have it and having incredibly honest conversations with the locals.
The experince opened my eyes on my view towards sex, which doesnt mean that I need to take on the view as my own, or i can if i would like, but it gave me a less judgemental view on fulfilling one's own desires and anothers and what it is that allows sex to so much more accesible to anyone at anytime in this country. Paying for sex here is not a big deal, lady boys and girls who want to be men, lesbians, gays, married couples having sex with other people, butterfly men and women, anything having to do with sex and preferences is a lot looser here and the people who make a lving at it, at least from what this man told me, for the most part, still have respect for themselves. That doesnt mean that some people making a living from their bodies are not depressed but i see the pther side... i must go on a tour good bye
Heelo, I am currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand; located in a mountaineous rainforest region of the northern side of the country. I have been away from the computer for a while because Ive been having issues with loading pictures on to the computers here but oh well. So much has happened, yet so little and the only way I feel I can express even an ounce of what I've experienced is through a stream of conciousness that may or may not make sense and have some artistic randomness to it, so here we go:
SKin is moist...humid, hottter than ever, sun shining on face as if to burn all my sins away, t t t t thai land. Where do I go? Where am I going? Where am I from? Wher are al the Americans. Bangkok, hotttttt, bangkok, sexy clothes and thai hookers dangling on percievingly rich white men.
-TAT: Thailand Authority of Tourism, simple tours with a side of bitter sweet chocolate, meaning your head has a dollar sign on it, meaning, you better understand that mean thai accent with those ears of yours, meaning prepare to mostly sit in a minivan with light a/c and a bunch of foreigners, meaning an all inclisive package with monkey shows and elephant rides full of abuse and innocently ignorent torture in order to survive through the falangs aka foreigners, meaning you will see beautiful temples, sites and cities, but you will also never forget the eyes of those people whop needed your money and the monkey being dragged around on a bicycle by a chain around its neck or the hook of the mahout(elephant owner/driver) digging into the elephants head without shedding a tear at the fresh wounds made. BItter sweet from the joy of being a foreigner and seeing both the beautiful n the ugly, and sometimes the vastly boringness of it all.
-Money: Cheap, cheap cheap, said the bird. HAha! I am in a computere cafe right now and a computer just expolded! Everyone stops for a second, laughs, amnd then goes back to their games. Cheap, 10 baht(like 40 cents) to be on this computer, 800 baht to be in a high/midrange geusthouse with a pool with breakfast included, 20 baht to ride around town on a tuktuk(motorcycle with a carriage) for nearly the whole day, 15baht for a deliociously healthy vegetarian thai meal from a restaraunt...but then comes the foreigners charge, eaving one feeling as though yes, life here is stil incredibly affordable but for someone of a different race, there is a swindling, extra price, you have more money and they know it. even if you take a taxi somewhere, they will charge you more than a local, usually double, but thats the price of what it is to be a travelling newbie. We, americans and europeans at least, regardless of our social class in our own country, are considered rich in Thai eyes, and its true, we are, our comforts go far bayond this country.
-americanbization: hearing hip-hop music down the street, fake gucci and pradda bags, incredibly good american singing accents(but not talking), spaghetti with rice noodles and pizza served with spicy ketchup in a high class restaurant that charges 6us per meal, flipped up polo collars, chevrolet and toyota, englidh signs all over, an obsession with 7elevens, ovaltine and coffee, cigarettes with a person dieing on them, subtitled movies and starbucks.
-sexuality: I have short hair due to shaving my head several times and I cannot say how many times I have been called sir!haha! So I figured it out after looking around for a while and hearing stories of the cultural sexuality differences here...so here there are a lot of women who dress like boys and have short hair, kind of like a very masculine lesbian, the only otyher thai women who have short hair are nuns and old ladies, all women who have short hair are regraded and regard themselves as male here except the two previously listed, so I am considered by most in this country to be a man! haha! An the funnier and sometimes more irritating thing is that I dont really dress girly so I fit into this percieved niche of people which I find incredibly strange and interesting, now I am more comfortable with being called sir but I still have a slight frustration because I feel misunderstood, I understand, but am misunderstood when I swim in a female bathing suit or wear earings. Oh yeah and the pther thing that I have finally seen wioth my own eyes are lady boys, also termed rudley as farangs, they look exact;y like women, plastic boobs and waxed upped lips, but before all thopse surgeries, they were men, and these ladyboys can only be spotted if you look incredibly close and if they havent taken hormone pills to change there vioice yet. They are for the most part accepted here but still stick out when noticed. The guest house I am stayong at now has a ladyboy working at the counter and I swear you wouldnt know by looking.
-Vipassan: A type of meditation that requires a cultivation of mindfulnness training where one must constantly mentally note their current experience...in thervadin buddhism at the temple I stayed at they had us mentally say the experioence three times each, "standing, standing, standing. Intention to turn, intention to turn, intention to turn. Hearin, hearing, hearing, thinking, thinking, thinking. Anger, Anger, Anger", you get the idea. It was incredibly boring yet incredibly interesting because of the simplicity of this practice and the effects it had on bring one back into their body and the present m,oment. I had to wear all white as a symbol for purification and could not communicate with anyone but my teacher. I think it is a great way of learning how to meditate in action.
Okay now I must end this long ass session because my eyes are becoming irritated from the screen, I hope you enjoyed listening, listening, listening, and thinking, thinking, thinking. tata!
SO yes IU am in thailans officially and am enjoying the exaustion from the beautiful humid air. What I mean to say is that its freaking hot over here, like hotter than I've ever experienced. Today I went on a tour to all the temples in this sacred city near Bangkok and I kid you not I was sweating the entire day. But other than that life is pretty good down hither. I have traveeled from a small island/beachy area in a place called phuket and it was quite beautiful, rainy and slower paced than the big city. Everyone rides motorbike/vespa scooters and those are also used as a type of taxi which is super fun and cheap to get anywhere...BAngkok is humongous! It's like New York City and Mexico City combined, holy kaka! Yes, but it's a georgoes city that is increidbly affordable and a great place to travel for americans. All I have to say is that I am incredibly thankful for all that I have and to be able to see another part of the world with my very own eyes oh yeah! Here is my photobucket account so you can see some of the pictures Ive taken so far in a larger group, note they are not all full uploaded yet, these are just the beginning...http://s900.photobucket.com/albums/ac210/soniamf6120/ muah! carpe diem
Whatup! Yes, I am still stuck in denva colorado but soon I am off to venture the world and be a true foreigner. This is my first blog ever so bare with me, but I will keep updating every so often so please join in on my adventures and see where it takes you. And by the way, if I was not able to say goodbye to you, I say now: au revoir