In Pai, Thailand, I attended a few meditation classes. One class was at The Good Life, a relaxed restaurant serving homemade kombucha, kefir, decent food, and various kinds of tea. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, there is a free meditation class at 11am. I went twice and the same man led the session.
Stan Kipkin, who led the class, is American, but moved to Pai ten years ago. The older gentleman has a calming and relaxing. He also seems to be full of wisdom from the way he articulates his words, like everything he is an inspirational quote without sounding trite. You can listen to his guided meditation below.
This style of meditation is to let go. First, he instructed us to pay attention to our sensations, particularly sound. Construction, barking, chatter, clanking of forks from the restaurant, and scooters whizzing by were all perceived even though I would usually tune them out.
I wrote out my visualizations in my notebook after the session and want to share it here. If I can, I would love to see it as an animation, like a Pixar short. It was the first time I truly let go of my pesky thoughts while meditation. If anyone knows someone who is just dying to make a short cartoon, let me know!
I visualized these sounds as paints in my mind. Each sound had a different color and brush stroke. The chirping birds created fine blue squiggles. The laughter looked like thick yellow clouds. The shrieking power saw resembled harsh lightening bolts. My mind became flooded with colors and abstract shapes.
He then guided us to pay attention to the thing in our minds that is aware of the sounds. So, I saw myself surrounded by paints and paintbrushes. I listened for the sounds and reached for a brush to make a stroke. But there were moments I’d get so overwhelmed with the influx of stimulus that my arm would become sore and I’d feel nervous about all of the painting I have to quickly do before the next sound. Sounds familiar.
Suddenly, he told us to find a gap between the awareness and the thing that’s aware of the awareness. Find that gap and just let go.
In my mind, a canyon formed between me and the gigantic canvas. I heard the sounds and I wanted to do my “job” and paint them, but I physically couldn’t reach across the canyon.
So, I let go.
I couldn’t do anything but let go. Hesitating at first, I carefully slid down into the canyon. Thoughts were embedded into the sides of the cliffs: worries, people, plans for what to eat for breakfast. I just slid past those thoughts and didn’t attend to them.
I found a bed in the middle of the vast empty canyon and sunk in. Above me was the open sky plastered with stars, the kind of sky you’ll see in Utah, the Australian outback, or the middle-of-nowhere Mongolia. On the surface above the canyon, my loud thoughts still existed like a rambunctious carnival. But I was deep at the bottom, finally unable and unwilling to tend to them. Why bother being distracted by something that doesn’t exist right now when I have this incredible night sky right in front of me?
I finally learned how to let go of my thoughts. Even for that short session, it rejuvenated me. Whenever I practice meditation again, it will be easier to attain that inner peace again. Heck, even when I’m not intentionally sitting down to meditate, I hope to experience a quiet mind more frequently. Adam and I signed up for a 10-day silent meditation Vipassana course in Malaysia this February.