Meditating with Burmese Monks
Updated: Jul 27, 2020
My father has always traveled with his work & has been placed in some incredible countries. He stayed in Myanmar (used to be Burma) for 6 years & I was fortunate enough to go stay with him a couple of times.
The first time I ever traveled to Myanmar I got to my dad’s hotel & he said to me he must work so I must go off by myself, which was terrifying. So, I started walking around the Palace with many Burmese people staring at me because I look different, I got nervous because in Jozi if someone is staring they might be plotting to steal your bag or stab you. (I’m over exaggerating but yes we can be over dramatic at times) Anyways a taxi driver stopped and in broken English asked me would I like to see The Palace, being the all or nothing kind of girl I hopped in the taxi and off we went. The longer we drove the more I panicked, I started to think my decision was stupid. He started slowing down and we drove into Mandalay Palace. He then became my tour guide and I had met a German & Canadian traveler. The most amazing part of this experience for me was that My Burmese taxi & tour guide honestly wanted to show and teach me about his beautiful land but at the same time wanted to learn about me, South Africa & was there to guide & learn. The Burmese people are truly incredible, the most grateful & helpful human beings I have ever met.
The reason for saying this is that I got to really experience the place & the people. It was magic! December 2018 was the last year I went and was pretty darn good on the scooter, I trusted myself, I felt I knew the place & really allowed myself to connect with the people, try talk to them but most of the time I used google translate. I got to know a Burmese driver who had told me some of his life story (the parts I picked up on) & he had been a Burmese monk, so I asked could I maybe go to a school for monks (for children as I LOVE kids) & I was taken into the mountains (no idea where I was) and spent a couple of days with the monks. I sat and listened to his elder speak about meditation & the monk’s way of living.
The first thing he said about meditation is that every time the mind wanders you need to take your brain and put it on your nose. This made no sense to me but think about it – imagine your thoughts running away from you and in your head, you can take it and put it on your nose, you take your mind & place the attention into your breathing. I got to sit with this elder not understanding much but what a beautiful experience to enjoy another humans company without words, an experience that taught me to slow down & be grateful.
I got to help prepare the food for the monks and was able to sit and hear them chant blessings over the food and one another before they ate, I cried my eyes out. The vibration of that chanting sunk into my bones, I felt as if it vibrated into my heart. I got to taste real Burmese food, I got to eat with my hands and experience food. I got to spend time with the ‘little’ monks and be apart of their schooling. Curious little humans. An experience that made me realize that we don’t always need to know the same language to connect.