Recently I had to go outside of Thailand for a couple of days so that I could apply for my new long term visa. I wound up choosing Vientiane, Laos as my destination.
For me, much more than the usual sightseeing most folks do, I prefer watching and interacting with people. Most any day, I would rather visit a crowded traditional market than a museum. In Vientiane I met a small cluster of young monks sitting outside their temple. I sat down and chatted with them for about 45 minutes, only to finally realize that the temple had just closed for the day, and I was not a bit disappointed. I knew I hadn’t missed a thing!
Being that I have done bodywork for most of my life, when traveling in Asia one of the things I like to do most is sample the work of the local people. So I walked around for a while until I found a massage shop that had a nice feel for me, and then I went in to sample their offering. I chose a one-hour traditional Lao massage and then I was introduced to six potential people and asked to choose who I wanted to work with me. There were five women ranging in age from about 20 to 50 years old, and one young man with a shaven head dressed very simply. I chose the young man because I felt a warmness from him when he looked at me and because it was the first time outside of Japan that I had the opportunity to be worked on by a man.
He had a gentle intensity to him and I was intrigued to discover that he spoke a basic form of English that he had learned along the way. He was 19 years old and yet he had the presence of someone much older. What was most fascinating was that, as he worked on me, he told me things about myself that he learned by touching me. As I laid on a futon on the floor he said “Big heart” after kneeling alongside me and laying his right hand on my stomach for about 20 seconds or so. “Lonely a little” he said after placing his left hand on my chest. Next he said “no marry” which I took to mean his correct understanding that I am single.
At some point he was sitting cross legged above my head and he placed both of his hands over my face. “Friendly man” he said, then “let go sadness”. Next I was surprised to hear him say “You father” and I took this to mean he knew I had at least one child.
Towards the end of the massage he was sitting with his back against the wall and he placed a large thin cushion in front of his chest and invited me to recline into his chest. He did various rocking movements and then said “Breathe”. I took a deep breath and he said “Again” and I took another deep breath. and then he tapped my stomach and said “Close eyes, breathe big”. I did just that for several rounds, and then we both came to a place of being very still, very quiet. I felt deeply protected and cared for and had this wonderful sense of being held by my mother. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that I felt he was offering me the experience of being a child held by his mother. I felt sadness, a feeling that I can only describe as “love”, and a great sense of freeing myself from my everyday concerns. I knew in that moment that the thing to do was to fully surrender to life, to let go of my thinking mind, so that I could more deeply touch my feeling mind.
One of the sweetest parts of the experience was when we bowed to each other once the massage was over. I had this deep sense that I had just met myself as a young man. That he and I were part of the same lineage system, tapping into the same field of wisdom and love. Both touching and being touched and feeling an experience that is common to all human beings. Knowing that beneath the surface there is a constant yearning to be seen and touched by others. No right or wrong, no good or bad, just the experience of witnessing and being fully accepted. In such moments all is just as it should be, just as it is.
Waking up feeling ready for the day ahead is one of the most important activities you can engage in. You can wake up feeling rested and energized by focusing on the positive aspects and relationships in your life.
When it is time to wake up, if your head is filled with tasks that you don’t enjoy or relationships that are problematic you won’t want to get up and face the day. So especially if you have a challenging day in front of you, it is best to spend a few minutes when you first wake up, and before you get out of bed, to think about the circumstances and relationships in your life that you are thankful for. When you do such thinking you will feel more appreciative of all the good things in your life, and thus you will feel more energized.
Even as you read this text now, take a moment to do what I suggest and see if it doesn’t leave you feeling more thankful and at peace.
Considering what your dreams for your life are…
The things that you really want to accomplish, you really want to do.
The activities that you really want to be a part of.
The activities and relationships that can help to define who you really are, deep down inside.
Take some time now to think of the people in your life that you care about and are thankful for. And internally say their names, slowly, one by one…
The people in your life that support you and care for you and about you.
The people in your life that enrich the quality of your life.
The people in your life that bring a smile to your heart.
And please also take the time to consider the many aspects of your life you likely usually take for granted. A roof over your head, food to eat, clean water to drink, and simply the fact that you are here now, engaging in life.
You see, the more you take the time to be thankful for the many wonderful aspects of your life, the more you will want to get up and start again. Being thankful is a great way to keep your life in perspective.
For me it is like this… I wake up on a particular morning and think “Wow, I have so much to do today and I am not sure I can get it all done.” I say these words to myself as if I have a tape playing in my head that I have no control over. But next, I become somewhat mindful and I say to myself, “I love my daughter and I wish she was still just 6 years old so I could take her and her friends to the zoo this Saturday. I am so thankful for all the love she has brought into my life.” And when I say these words I see us at the zoo and smile as I remember the curiosity and fear my daughter had when she once stood in front of a lions cage. “Oh dada” she said, “Are lions always hungry? Do they always want to eat people?” I bent down and gave her a hug and said, “Well Marina, I don’t know if lions are always hungry, but best to keep your distance, and good to know that you always have mommy and dada to depend on.”
Having just run this scenario through my memory bank I realize that there is much more than just “work, work, work” in my life, and I am thankful for all the wonderful times I have spent with my family and friends. I realize just how much my family and friends add to the quality of my life and I feel blessed to have shared so much love. And when I feel thankful I also feel much more ready to face the day ahead.
What I have just shared with you here gives you a good taste of what today’s podcast is about, I hope you will listen to what we have to say and draw inspiration for your life going forward.