What Thailand Taught Me
by Emilie Rambaud
I sensed from the very beginning of my journey, right there on the first plane from New York to Hong Kong, sobbing along to the movies of our dearly missed Robin Williams that I would soon learn a great deal about love. In one movie, Robin Williams’ wife is crying in despair that the two of them have nothing in common. He turns to her and says, “The one thing we have in common is that we love each other”.
Suddenly, some of the most important relationships in my life made a little more sense. Yes, despite our differences, deep down we have the one thing in common that truly matters: we love each other. This realization enveloped me. It felt nice.
Soon I arrived in Thailand. I gave myself a lot of time to explore. Perhaps too much! I probably had the time to visit all of the must-see places on my list two times each. Yet, I chose to focus on just two islands nestled close to one other, Ko Phagan and Ko Samui. It would be here that I would spend one sublimely long month.
It would be here that I reset myself. I reset my soul, my spirit, my entire body.
Firstly, I learned how to breathe.
Well, I learned how to properly breathe.
From the moment I arrived at the Sanctuary, I noticed that my breathing was always being questioned. Here, in this crazily unique, detoxifying mélange of parties and massages and healing of all kinds with people from all over the globe, my little ol’ breath was somehow worthy of focus. When I was doing push-ups at the gym, I’d hear “Emilie, stop. Please breathe fully, you’re only breathing half way”. When I was getting a massage, “Please, breathe in completely” was whispered to me. I trained to become a Thai Vedic massage therapist and soon heard myself requesting the same thing: for those around me to shut down their minds and wholeheartedly breathe in and out with each touch. Before each yoga class I was taught to enjoy pranayama and asked to feel the power of creating and circulating fire within my body, to thoroughly connect to my mat and to my entire being.
Learning how to breathe absolutely was such an effort for me that at first I thought it might all be a little bit extreme. Of course, I defaulted to thinking the problem was them, not me! Then I went through a phase of feeling hopeless. I would get hiccups in the evenings and worry about what was wrong with me. Then I emerged from the worry feeling amazingly alive and able to relish each tasty moment, sunrise, walk or chance to gaze at the moon. I was breathing with all of myself and I was happy again.
Next, I met my belly.
When I arrived in Thailand, my poor belly was riddled with pain. I was going mad because my belly was going mad. It was mad at me! Once I shushed my mind, breathed in deeply and properly and fairly listened to my belly, I slowly began to feel better.
In order to feel light again, I needed to put a “hand” on all of the traumas and wounds I had stored up in my belly.
A man named Khun Jimmy I met at the Spa of the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui (read more here) is a pure master of Chi Nei Tsang, a Taoist form of “applied qigong” abdominal massage that cultivates your “qi” or life force energy by releasing a series of spasms into the muscles of your digestive system. He taught me how to eliminate the knots of fear and sadness from myself by allowing my qi to flow freely and for that I cannot thank him enough.
I even began to write to my belly daily. All of a sudden I felt an unfathomable love for my whole body. My belly, my very center, stopped being mad at me and became my best friend.
Then, I listened.
Maybe it was the radical change of environment or the sound of cicadas and geckos, sea waves and tropical birds that forced me to sit up pay attention to my world. Maybe it was the number of times I heard the word “listen” being given as the answer to my questions. I asked Moon, the director of the Sanctuary’s detox center, so many questions at first. I asked about the best kind of green juice to drink, the best kind of breakfast to eat, and about the best way for everything to be cooked. The answer was always the same: “Just listen to your body”. Finally, I stopped peppering him with questions. I did just what he said. I listened to my body.
I also listened to nature and to silence. I listened to music. I listened to the rain. I listened to the sky, to thunderstorms and to Buddha’s principles about how we should not kill, lie, steal, cheat or drink alcohol. I listened to the wisdom of the four-faced goddess who teaches us to be kind, to forgive, to be at peace and to be polite. I listened to my Thai bodywork teachers and learned how to be impeccably careful with my words, to not take things personally, to not make assumptions and to always do my best. I listened to it ALL. I listened to every squeak of pain and fear. I listened to every note of kindness and beauty. I learned to listen to my heart first.
I finally opened up.
I dared myself to try new flavors and new foods that’s I’d never experienced before. I found love in coconuts, papaya, banana leaves, lemongrass, kaffir and the brilliance of Thai food in general.
I threw myself headfirst into practices and techniques I had never tried before. I loved using my hands to cook delightful, sensual new foods, to massage new bodies and to feel sacred stones. I learned more about chakras, kundalini, jade eggs, craniosacral, the moon and third eye center. You can most definitely look forward to more information from me about these wonders!
I smelled burning sage everywhere, which is said to clean energy and farewell bad smells. I went to full moon ceremonies wearing white, with women only. I tried contact dances with strangers. I woke up super early to watch the sunrise; I rushed from my afternoon fun to steal a glimpse of the sunset. I let go of pretty much everything I was doing before. I learnt pretty much everything again. I saw a rainbow.
At the start of my trip, an incredible woman offered a book to me. It was called The Mastery of Love, by Don Miguel Ruiz. I devoured it hungrily. This book gave me the answer to what love truly is. After reading it, I smiled differently. I prayed differently. I looked at animals, monks, gardeners and people in a totally new way. I better understood why my yoga teacher kept on “sharing” with me about my parents being “my Buddha”. He always used the word “share” to mean “tell” and now this made more sense.
I fell in love with the idea of joining hands with others to say thank you or hello.
I wrote “Ho’opopono” letters to lots of people in my life and I still have them with me. This word means a prayer of reconciliation, forgiveness, gratitude and pure love.
I learnt about the “meta” concept of love and kindness. This is truly the essence of life and Thai people. I realized how similar we all are. I appreciated, finally, that we all “share the same sun”.
The journey continues. Turn the page by clicking here…
Illustrations: Agnes Fischer