The Ominous Fin

I always wondered what it would be like to stop moving. To stay still and not fidget.  There are animals that live their life waiting and in hiding; camouflaged by a shell of strategic colors and patterns, sharp teeth ready to grab lunch once it comes near enough–the animal goes unnoticed until it’s too late for the prey. Or there are animals that are hiding, not to attack but to stay safe. They blend in, close there eyes and hope the long toothed predator passes by with out blinking an eye in their direction. 

Some animals, like sharks, must continue moving in order to stay alive. I read somewhere that in order to breath they never stop moving. The oxygen in the water has to filter through their gills by them moving forward. Always chasing, or running, or just swimming along–they are always going somewhere.

Taking on the lifestyle approach of a shark seems evil. Sharks always play the villain. Movies and television tell us to fear the shark. To steer clear of that ominous fin that, for all we know, could be just going our for a breath of fresh ‘air’. He’s moving. He’s just moving forward to live.  How can we learn from this shark?

Keep moving. Keep going forward. Keep progressing. Keep challenging. Keep trying new things. Don’t fear change, challenge or different scenery.

Breath deep while you’re moving. Sit still and breath in the new experience of meditation. Fill your lungs with the opportunity of holding a Warrior II a bit longer.  Explore the the sensation of a new food rolling over your tongue. Gasp for breath as you laugh the night away with new friends. Love the feeling of crunching leaves under you feet as you walk through the woods breathing in the autumn colors. Move forward. Progress. Enjoy. Slow down.

 

 

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Searching For ‘it’

When I first arrived in Thailand nearly 3 months ago I tweeted: it’s hard to be homesick when you don’t know where you call home. Bittersweet, I suppose. Since I was a kid I’ve moved around about every 3 years. My adult life has been a series of avoiding unpacking boxes because I knew I wasn’t going to stay wherever I was for long. I have never signed a yearlong lease. Deep down I knew I wouldn’t be in that apartment or house for more than a few months and then I’d be on the road again searching for something new, something surely more exciting.

In a recent conversation with my Mum I realized that I haven’t had a real bedroom, decorated and made the way I wanted it, since I was in high school. Home is where the heart is. Blah, blah, blah. You can say that quote as many times as you’d like, it doesn’t ring true until you start dissecting, understanding and believing it. As I study Buddhism and begin my journey down the path of meditation, I’m reading that happiness lies within wishing others to be happy and that by giving that to the world, that is where you find happiness. I haven’t bought into this concept just yet—but I also hear it takes time to accept this notion.

My heart has been pulled overseas, it’s been pulled east and west each time searching but I’m not sure I’ve ever known quite what I’ve been looking for. My heart is inside of me, and I think that that’s where home has to be—we must find happiness within ourselves, create a comfortable and happy body and mind in order to be happy and healthy.

I believe that happiness is finding love within yourself. This may be obvious and simple for some but this is something I have struggled with—part of me wonders if I came around the world in search of myself, in search of acceptance. I’ll teach kids on the side, but this journey may be for selfish reasons. I think that that might be okay.

Khoa Ko

Khoa Ko

 

Finding Silence.

I had to remind myself that is was Christmas Day all day. Even though my morning started at 5:02am, just like many Christmas’s of my youth, I did not open stockings, I didn’t walk downstairs, sleepy eyed and groggy to see a mountain of gifts beneath the tree my family decorated. I woke up at my normal time and did my normal routine—coffee, small breakfast, yoga, dressed and walked to school.

My roommate and I were asked to dress as Santa and his helper and pass out candy to the Thai kids who think Christmas is no more than children getting presents and Santa riding a sleigh—oh wait…This is how Christmas in Thailand began.

Most of my kids that I teach on Tuesdays were spending the week at a Buddhist Temple getting education on meditation, Buddha, dangers of social media, history, The King, healthy living—everything you can imagine. They were asked to wear all white and spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday observing and learning. I was a bit jealous.

My boss, Kim, invited me to join her at the Temple for lunch and observation. Walking into a big room, meditation mats on the floor, a Buddha shrine in the front we were welcomed by a smiling monk and soon the children filed in, silently and respectfully. They sat, prayed and waited patiently for the speaker to begin her lesson on online gaming and the dangerous effects it has on the mind.

After a modest lunch and weird dessert, my new friend Oho (pronounced OhO, a dipping sound—start high, go low, end high again. I like to just call him Oh!) offered to walk the grounds with me. Oh is a student hoping to obtain his Doctorate degree in the next year, I told him to practice his English on me and we talked quietly about ourselves, asking questions and getting to know one another as we enjoyed the Temple property.

It was quiet there. We often take quiet for granted without realizing it. Until I was at the Temple I hadn’t realized how noisy my home is; even right now at 5:27am there is a motorbike starting, a rooster crowing and the noise of the street that is close by. At the Temple it was silent and so effortlessly peaceful.

Oh and I stopped at a shrine, knelt, and he told me that this is the Buddha you pray to for wealth, money, and success, he told me to pray if I wished. I prayed. I prayed hard. I prayed for a wealth of strength and personal success in accomplishing goals I am setting for myself. I prayed for help. No one likes asking for help but Buddha was offering it to me on Christmas day so I prayed to Buddha.

Oh watched me. I’m sure he noticed my discomfort and my lack of knowing what to do. He told me to slow down when I bow (three times when you come, three times when you go) he taught me take that moment slower, showed me where to put my hands, he told me to breathe. We talked about the difficulties of meditation. I told him my difficulties with religion in the past and then asked me how I felt with Buddha. Connected I said. Welcomed. He smiled and offered his knowledge to me any time.

We continued walking, talking and overcoming the language barrier. I again, reminded myself it was Christmas afternoon and I was wandering a Temple with a practicing Buddhist. Happy that I missed the crazy shoppers from my retail days, smiling that I didn’t have any obligations to fill, or meals to help clean up after. Reminding myself that it was Christmas and I was around the world in a Buddhist Temple.

I hope my loved ones had a wonderful, stress free Christmas season. I hope they were able to breathe and enjoy the moment. I hope they enjoyed one another’s company and appreciated the quiet that a snowfall brings.

 

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Kim, Oho and I at the Temple

Kim, Oho and I at the Temple

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