These are the brilliant flowers over my room at "Smile House" in Chiang Mai". For the last 2 days I have biked 2 hours a day stopping at Wats and buying snacks, going to yoga class, swimming in a small outdoor pool and speaking with people in outdoor cafes and juice houses.
Yesterday morning I was worried because my plan was to go to Laos and travel down the Mekong river to get to Cambodia by Jan 20th seemed like a lot of work and travel. There were so many things I wanted to do and it would require me to keep moving almost every day. Not only was I worrying about what to do but I was judging myself critically for worrying about it, and then doubly-judging because I wasn't being Gentle and Kind.
So...I asked myself what would be most Gentle and Kind? and the answer was very happily to stay in Chiang Mai. Oh, it was so easy! :)
To celebrate I rented a bicycle and visited some lager temple complexes a few km outside Chiang Mai. One was Suan Dok which was quite brilliant in the afternoon sun.
I also found another little Wat nearby that had a little jungle-scene behind my Golden Friendly that I really liked
I biked on toward Wat Umon and even as I peddled up the hill on my one-speed cruiser (complete with basket) I could already feel I was entering a much quieter area. I parked my bike in a pile of leaves and was greeted with a sign in english: "If you would like to help tie orange ribbons on the trees, please come see the Meditation Center Office"...and I thought: Oooh, I would really like to do that!
I walked along the concrete pathway flanked with ribboned trees...
and came to the main office where I took off my shoes and spoke with the monk. I asked him if I could stay here and meditate and he said " Yes, when would you like to come?" and I said "maybe tomorrow?...I will walk around and decide". He gave me a photocopied diagram of the complex and cirlced the places I should visit including the fish feeding pond:
One of the terraces for worship including a large and heavily ribboned tree
and the pagoda (the picture here is actually down the stairs from the pagoda but you can see how lovely the forest is in the afternoon light)
...So, I stopped back and said I would come in 2 days at 7:15am and bring my things and stay for at least 3 days. He said: I will see you on Monday before breakfast.
He gave me a pamphlet and I gave him my info and signed a sheet saying I would comply by all the rules on the Temple.
This is what the next few days will look like starting tomorrow morning:
4am Wake up
5-7am Meditation practice
9-11am Meditation practice
1:30-3 Meditation practice
3-3:15 tea break
4:30-6 Breaking Time
6-9pm Meditation practice
...I think there is about 13 hours of meditation...and only 2 meals... a day. I am not going to comment at this point on the daily schedule except to say that I am excited to see what unfolds and I can't imagine a more perfect place for me right now, than this forrested temple complex filled with stone sculptures, monks and trees with ribbons.
Last night I went to the night market and got my required outfit. here is me giving it a whirl after I showered. I am so happy to be going on this adventure and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't given myself space from my original plan. I am learning that being Gentle and Kind means not clinging to what I thought the answer should be and being willing to step back and trust my intuition.