From my last post you might be forgiven for thinking that life on Lanta is a never-ending party. Well I guess you wouldn’t be entirely wrong; there is always a party to go to with fantastic people if and when you’re in the mood. However, my most profound and rewarding moments on this beautiful island have come when I have withdrawn from the crowd to sit with my Self and embrace the serenity of solitude.
You might have noticed that all has been quiet on the Happy Chanter front for the last couple of weeks. My excuse for that comes in the form of my lovely friend Emily who came to visit for the holiday season, kicked up a party storm on the island, and left a series of hangovers in her wake. To be fair, I welcomed the opportunity to consciously step back from anything resembling work and have a bit of a holiday myself. Days, evenings and nights spent on the beach, basking, swimming, singing, eating, drinking, dancing… It was an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t change any of it. Well, except maybe that last SangSom bucket on Saturday night… That was the final straw as my body finally gave up, said NO, and the 6 day party binge left me suffering from vertigo and fatigue for 4 days in the run up to New Year’s Eve. That part wasn’t quite so much fun.
Ho-ho-hooo! Christmas is nearly upon us and I’m sure some of you out there are looking for some last minute gift ideas. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite spiritual resources which are all just a click away on Amazon* to avoid that last minute scramble around the shops! If you know anyone who might appreciate this airy-fairy stuff, or even if you’ve enjoyed my last couple of posts and would like treat yourself to your own gift and delve a little deeper into the concepts I’ve talked about, I have gotten huge value out of each item below and think any one of them would make a fantastic stocking filler.
After posting about how I started chanting, I’ve had a few comments from you guys asking for more information about nam myoho renge kyo, what it means and how to try it out. I’m delighted to see some interest in this practice and I can’t wait to hear how you get on! Why not even try out the 21 Day Challenge and keep each other posted there??
As for the questions you’ve been asking, well there is already enough information in the About NMRK pages to get started, so you should check those out. It all ties into a much bigger picture though, each element of which will be fleshed out in future posts. But for now, I thought it would be helpful to provide a general overview of what I think it’s all about and how it actually works.
Since I set out on this journey, launching this blog and telling more and more people about nam myoho renge kyo, people have often asked me how exactly this chanting practice has impacted upon my life? How does it work? What exactly does it do for you? There is no easy answer to the bigger questions; in fact, my attempts to understand the cosmic mechanisms at play will make up the main focus of this blog. But for now I’d like to answer the first question at least, by telling you the story of the very first change that manifested in my life, and in myself, after I started chanting. There are two threads to this story which will come together, so bear with me…
It has officially been one month since I arrived on Ko Lanta. I know, I can’t believe it either! Time really does fly…
Apart from finally managing to get my Abu Dhabi trip all written up and posted, it might seem to you that I’ve been sitting back, taking it easy, and not getting much in the way of “work” done. Well, you’re not entirely wrong. But you know what? I’m not beating myself up about it. Not any more anyway.
See, during my year of intense student life, every single minute spent doing anything other than burying my nose in a book was riddled with guilt. There was always that feeling of “I should be doing <something>”, no matter how much I’d already done that day or week. That kind of guilty auto-response is probably familiar to a lot of people, whether you’re a student or a worker or a parent or just a person. And this is exactly the kind of automatic response-to-self that I am trying to escape, and that I have realised is unnecessary, pointless and even harmful. Harmful to your own sense of happiness and well-being. Why is it that we condition ourselves to berate ourselves far easier than patting ourselves on the back – or even simply giving ourselves a break?
For the last post in this series, but most definitely not least, we turn to Friday brunch, by all accounts a “must do” tradition when visiting Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Imagining a tasty plate and maybe a cheeky Mimosa, I was like, “sure, I love brunch, let’s do it!” when Cait suggested it. Turns out I really had no idea what I was getting myself into…
Friday brunch serves as the epitome of indulgence and extravagance in Abu Dhabi. Quick side note: weekends in the UAE are on Friday and Saturday, so the fact that it takes place on a Friday is not strange. Everything else about it, however, blows your mind.
After an introduction to the luxury and opulence of Abu Dhabi, it was time to experience another aspect of life in the desert – adventure and adrenaline on a desert safari! I was particularly excited about this excursion, particularly to get out and take in the view of an endless sea of sand in the open desert for the first time. The experience certainly did not disappoint!
With a full day of activities planned, we woke up bright and early and headed over to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. “Grand” doesn’t even begin to describe the opulence of this building. “Immense” would be closer to the mark. Visible from many areas of the city, it stands out as the white marble jewel of the city. Even at night, spectacular blue lighting, which (incredibly) varies each night to coincide with the phases of the moon, draws the eye to the imposing domes. And that’s just the exterior.
Now that I’m finally decluttered, packed, goodbyed out and all ready to go, it’s time to fly!
Going from Dublin to Thailand is a looong journey, and as my lovely friend Cait lives in Abu Dhabi, it made sense to take a long transfer there and visit her for a few days. I also figured that Abu Dhabi could be a nice introduction to life in Thailand – they’re both pretty hot, right? As I soon realised, that is pretty much the only thing these places have in common. My time in the desert was awesome fun and an eye opener to a wealthy and extravagant world, but ultimately my short visit served to reinforce my decision to locate myself in the rustic charm of SE Asia. Abu Dhabi is definitely worthy of at least a visit though, so follow this series to discover just how much fun and amazement we managed to squeeze into three short days!