Travels, Day 8: Mandalay Monasterys

Intention: presence.

Presence. This word to me sounds amorphous and, frankly, a little annoying. How many times have I heard presence touted as the Modus Operandi of all those questing toward “mindful living?” How many times have I rolled my eyes at someone telling me that learning to be Here, Now, will be the key to solving all of life’s problems?

And, today, I begrudgingly implore you all to do just that. To be present. To find even the briefest of moments during your day when you are fully conscious. One of my favorite practices is a simple phrase: “Where am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing it?” This where-what-why statement can pull me immediately out any addictive or conditioned behaviors — whether it be the Mindless Scroll of my news feed, or reaching for one more bite when I’m already full, or turning on a podcast while walking rather than listening to the world around me. I invite you to bring where-what-why into any experience today. How about, starting NOW?

Highlights:

  1. Walking around the enormous compound of a working monastery, seeing all the “baby monks,” the billowing red robes hanging out to dry, the dormitories, the outdoor showers, the amazing procession to the dining hall.
  2. View from the beautiful Mandalay City Hill, outside of spectacular Hyu Min Thone Sel (30-entrance pagoda with 108 buddhas). All of Mandalay was visible, plus surrounding countryside and views across the river, far into the distance.
  3. Marveling at the contrast between the Teak Monastery and others we had visited thus far. This one, enclosed in deep wood, was dark, grand, and hushed; holy with a very different flavor than the standard bright, celebratory, nearly gaudy white-washed and gold-plated religious structures that the Myanmar people have an affinity for. To my western understanding, this was more iconically sacred.
  4. Our sweet guide, Snow! Her exorbitantly long acrylic nails, her infectious giggle, her attempts to tell funny stories despite the language barrier. Her brightly-colored umbrella that caught the attention and delight of everyone we encountered.
  5. Spending a quiet moment next to the pool, where I allowed myself an experience of sadness. Once I really immersed myself in the sadness, I felt a sweetness underneath.
  6. Receiving an email from a hermano at home, feeling loving connection and support I had so been craving. Angels via the interwebs!

 

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