I Lived in a Buddhist Monastery | LOH #110

in Ladies of Hive2 months ago (edited)

Everything was chaotic - I felt disconnected; my body seemed to be always on guard against a constant threat. I grew up too fast, the years being a breadwinner juggling jobs, never ending stress and drinking nights away took a toll on my mental health. The joke was, at 33, when things finally got better - landing a good-paying job and finding a supportive partner, my mind somehow did not know how to pause..stop..relax. So I packed up and kissed my husband goodbye.

Landed in Nepal. I remember the noise, dusts and overwhelming crowd in Kathmandu, the uncomfortable cab ride to Koppan Monastery. I came across their week-long program on learning the Buddhists' way of dealing with negative human emotions. I did not have anger issues or anything, I guess the idea of going away to an unfamiliar environment enticed me to come to this religious country.

I handed over my phone's sim at check-in. Contact with the outside world was not allowed. It felt like they chopped my arms off, like I was an invalid idiot without that small piece of electronic device.

There were about 40 participants from all over the world. Some people came out of curiosity, some seeking atonement, some looking for answers to their self-inflicted dilemmas. One guy was too vocal to share he was conflicted about leaving his wife for an affair. Welp, And there I was - like a floating entity just observing everybody else.

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The women's dormitory was in another building about 100m away from the main temple. There was intermittent rain, and I was lucky to have packed my rain jacket with me. The monastery was located on top of a hill, so the air could get chilly early evening and at dawn. My first night was a struggle. My body was too tired to sleep; it was a long day of exhausting travel to get there. I had my phone, but I could not do anything. It was hours of staring at the ceiling and letting my thoughts wildly flow until I drifted into slumber.

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About 5am, the monks started chanting at the temple, it was impossible to not get awoken by them. At 6am we headed to the main temple for a guided meditation with Tony, an Australian monk who was also the main speaker of the sessions. At 7am we proceeded to the canteen where a vegan breakfast was served in a buffet - usually paratha or chapati, some dal soup, and chai. Minimal talking was encouraged, a few people were wearing the silent badge - they decided not to engage in any conversation all throughout their stay.

On my second day I met my roommate Sabita, a local 25-year old girl who was teaching elementary children in Kathmandu. She was there because one of the speakers was her benefactor and he invited her to join. Another pal I met was Ram, Sabita's childhood friend who seemed to be very fond of her. At breaks, we snuck out of the monastery to go drink chai and eat paratha at the cafe just outside. I basically spent most of my time with them, they were easy to get along with. They are both orphans, met in the orphanage when they were young, and just found each other again recently. They laughed at small jokes and made fun of each other like the world is a perfect place. And there I was, yes, walking away from my comfortable life not knowing what I sought for.... ?

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One day during break, we took a small road to go to a nearby monastery and visited a geshe along the way. The monk blessed my wooden beads and prayed for us. We were on a hill so we could also see a good view of Kathmandu.

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I missed my mom and husband so much, not hearing from them was a torment. I wrote a mini diary on my phone at night whenever I could not sleep. The sleeping situation eventually got better; though the bed was uncomfortable, the temperature was perfect, at least we never needed air conditioning.

Meditation - it's easy peasy, they say. You just have to close your eyes and clear your mind, they say. Well, I got scammed! If the mind can be as still as water, mine was the ocean during typhoon Haiyan. And since the monastery was on a flight path, the planes mocked me every time I tried. My neck hurt so bad, and the sitting position made me fart a lot. After a couple of failed attempts, I gave up and just started praying.

Everything was calm in the monastery. Yes the chanting noise was distracting at first, but I somehow liked it after a few days. It was also fun to watch the kids run around and play soccer in the afternoon. Things were basic. We ate what the monks ate, we slept with one pillow and thin blanket, meditate at the start and end of days. It was an interesting practice of living with only the basic things the mind and body needed- no social media and starbucks.

Half of the participants left before the program ended. Some did not find what they were looking for, obviously. I stayed until the end because I liked living there; I never checked the time nor thought about what to do next. Of course, I craved to hear about my family but aside from that everything else was peaceful. I never learned meditation at all (lol), but I also did not have an anxiety attack.

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I cried the moment I got my sim and read my family's messages. In retrospect nothing spectacular happened to me in that one week off radar; but I felt more connected to myself, more conscious about my train of thoughts. Also I gained two wonderful friends who by just being themselves, taught me so much about life. I guess the experience made me love life a little bit more.

Buddhism's ultimate achievement is enlightenment and that journey involves a series of reincarnation. Who or what will my next life be, if I were to reincarnate? I know life has been a fluctuation of struggles and joy, and it would never change; but it has been and always will be full of wonders and new beginnings. So can I just be...me again? xoxo

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Thank you for reading this far; I never poured so much effort in writing like this before. Knowing a good community like you does not judge is a comfort. Till my next post, love. ♥️

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What an achievement! Finishing that program despite the longing for your family is really an accomplishment for you! I can't imagine myself living there tbh.
I guess one needed to be stripped away of every comfort to appreciate life more.

Yes, nowadays try being offline for an hour and you'll feel like you're missing half of your life already, joke!

Hahahah! It's hard to be offline 😅
I mean I can maybe do that, but I need my movies hahahaha

Thank you for sharing your story and photos! Sounds like a very interesting experience. I especially love the pictures of the temple.

Meditation - it's easy peasy, they say. You just have to close your eyes and clear your mind, they say. Well, I got scammed! If the mind can be as still as water, mine was the ocean during typhoon Haiyan.

I think that's a great line and sums up the whole meditation thing perfectly. And I was laughing at the line about the planes mocking you. I've done the same thing many times!

Hiiii im glad you liked the photos and the write up, Im happy to have shared them. Im still struggling with meditation until now, so i switched to yin yoga 🤣

Have a nice day and see you around!

What an amazing and unique experience! Your time living in a Buddhist monastery sounds like it was incredibly enriching and transformative. Thank you for sharing your story and insights with us. It's clear that your time in the monastery has had a profound impact on your life, and I am sure that it will continue to shape and guide you in the future. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into this fascinating and spiritual world.

Heyah thanks for stopping by and taking time to read! It was indeed a once in a lifetime spiritual experience. See you around! 😬

Living in a Buddhist monastery must be such an interesting thing to experience in your life even though the reasons for doing so are a lot different than what others think.

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What an inspiring journey and a priceless experience! I'm sure that period has brought you many valuable lessons, intellectually and spiritually. thanks for your sharing @kebula

Hello 😘 thanks a lot for stopping by, it was indeed a great experience. xoxo

Lovely post. I think more of us should just take a week to disconnect and be a bit more mindful. We should frame this sentence:

My neck hurt so bad, and the sitting position made me fart a lot. After a couple of failed attempts, I gave up and just started praying.

Thank you so much for reading my blog, I didn't expect this much response 🙇‍♀️

What beautiful photos and a very nice post. It must have been very difficult to be away from your family without being able to communicate, you are brave!

I was struck by Sabita and Ram's friendship, how nice that they found each other again after the orphanage, I hope they are well and continue their beautiful friendship :D

Sometimes disconnecting in a certain way is what is needed in overwhelming moments, thank you for sharing your experience, I hope for more! <3

Yes, Sabita and Ram's friendship came a long way. I actually feel Ram loves her since childhood 😍

It's difficult not to look for our mobile phones first thing in the morning, disrupting this routine sometimes is good. I'm still struggling everyday haha

Thank you so much for reading my blog 😘

Congrats for that experience @kebula, leaving your husband and your family is a challenging things to do but you conquer it. It was a great experience to be there, leaving the usual life and trying to embrace new way of life.

hello @jenthoughts , thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. see you around! xoxo

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!
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I loved reading about your visit to the Koppan Monastery and seeing the photos! I read about this place online, maybe back in 2007 or 2008. Their website had a shop that sold hand-made malas to support the work they do, so I bought a couple and still cherish them today. So, connecting to someone on Hive who has actually been there is very special to me! Thank you so much for sharing your entire story — the driving factors that prompted your visit, as well as your impressions of the place and the spiritual/emotional progress you made there. What a fabulous thing! 💜

#india thanks 🎄👍