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Taking Risks, Teaching and Writing in Thailand

Teaching and Writing in Thailand: Taking Risks

As I planned my time for teaching and writing in Thailand, I asked my inner muse for clarity about my trip to Thailand. “Don’t plan,” she advised. “Be in the moment. Let it unfold. See where you’re led.”

Though it challenged me, I listened to my muse.

I had a couple of ideas for where I wanted to visit on my days off from teaching, but I mostly let go of those ideas and set out on adventures that presented themselves day to day.

Discovering the Chao Phraya River and a New Teacher

Much of my adventure centered around an article I read in the Bangkok Post about Kundalini Yoga teacher Sunderta She Kaur and the Shaolin Staff Qigong class she would be offering at The Siam Hotel that week. I’d been praying for a qigong teacher/mentor and, though the idea of practicing with a staff didn’t particularly appeal to me, I decided to reach out, in case this was my answered prayer—though a teacher halfway across the globe seemed a bit extreme.

I scheduled a private session for the following day and,  at Sunderta’s urging, I took the “sky train”—think above ground “subway”—and met her at Saphan Taksin BTS Station pier on the Chao Phraya River.

I’d been intimidated by the river on my first trip to Bangkok, but my muse seemed to lead me there.

We took the Siam Hotel taxi boat up river, about a 45 minute ride taking us past old homes, dilapidated industrial spaces, skyscraper hotels and residences, elaborate and colorful Buddhist temples (my favorite), barges, taxi boats, long tail boats (for traveling the city’s canals)—such variety.
The journey seemed to tell a story of Bangkok—about its traditional-modern-artistic-anciently-rooted-spiritual culture.

The cool breeze on the river, as well as the covered boat, served as the perfect antidote to the otherwise steamy weather.
Our river trip was followed by a private lesson in Shaolin Staff Qigong, in an exquisite space on a circular marble dais, followed by Kundalini yoga breath work and then a gong sound meditation.

My teacher, Sunderta, teaching Shaolin Staff Qigong at The Siam

The staff techniques turned out to be especially appealing—Twisting Dragon, Carry the Moon, Lifting the Sky, Cleaning the Rice, Dancing Crane, Monkey Alert. Each move taught me about energy flow, conservation, efficiency.

It felt as if the staff imbued me with a sense of support, strength and power. It helped guide my movements and focus my energy.

Ginger tea in the Spa

Later, I spent a few minutes sipping ginger tea in a quiet spa room followed by a relaxing lunch by the river with Sunderta, learning more about her Manitoba roots and her yoga and qigong journey.

The professors at NIDA Business School asked great questions and also shared their book writing strategies with each other.

I reviewed the movements—sans staff—that night in my hotel room at the Radisson Hotel and again the morning before I taught a writing and publishing workshop at NIDA Business School.

Renewed and Refreshed

The qigong series helped me feel strong, focused, mentally prepared for the class, despite having traveled 30 hours door-to-door just two days prior—operating halfway around the world in an opposing time zone.

Until my workshop finished, I hardly wrote. I jotted down a few rough notes. That’s all. The productive “do-er” in me wanted more.

I let it be okay—both the not writing much and the judgment about it.

Flowing Like a River

Once class ended, the words began to flow and I captured the surprises and quirky details of my trip. But I didn’t “make” the next few days about writing, despite feeling tempted to do so.

I listened to my muse. I let it be about surrender and trust.

And that helped my writing flow.

I had thought that my writing in Thailand about this trip might complete the writing I began on my first trip, but it didn’t. The two bodies of work, if you can call it that, have their own themes, tone and voice.

I let that be okay, too.

The bookstore at Siam Paragon

Sometimes you just have to write and let the writing take you where it wants—up a river; under an awning at a temple during a raging thunderstorm; in Shivassana—corpse pose—listening to the whistles, caws and songs of the garden birds outside the opulent marble room; to about a dozen colorfully neon-lit banks (to wire my Thai baht payment to my bank); through the flooded streets of Sukhumvit; and to a warming shower.

Trying to control where the writing travels stops the flow. And so you follow the muse and wait.

I’m still waiting. I’m not sure how these trips will tie together in a book or whether they will at all.

And that’s okay. As long as I keep writing—in Thailand and when I return home.

 

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Mariko says

    This is beautiful Lisa! If this were a book about your process of being ok and in the flow I’d read it.

    • Rhea Atwood says

      Your writing brings me much joy, Lisa. Taking risks and listening to your inner voice seems to be living Bangkok’s inner rhythm.
      Do write more!

  2. Rhea Atwood says

    Your writing brings me joy, Lisa. Perhaps your willingness to take risks and wait for your guidance echo Bangkok’s inner rhythms Please write more.

  3. kathleen squillante says

    Hi, Lisa. I am intrigued with all you have done. I love reading about your visit to Thailand. You have brought just that little bit of writing about Thailand a visual for me. I hope one day to be able to write my story.

    • Lisa Tener says

      Hi Kathy,
      It’s so great to see you here on the blog and to realize you have a desire to write. My friend Ginger Moran is offering a memoir and novel writing class this summer (by webinar). You can sign up for the free intro masterclass here.

  4. Rhea Atwood says

    Hello Lisa,
    Writing away on the first draft yet huge surprise last night has me wondering. Amazing new author Daniel Magariel held a workshop and book signing in Phoenix for his book One of The Boys. The workshop was small so I and another woman had time to ask questions etc. Magariel spent 3 and a half years editing this terse, fast-moving, rock-hard 168-page book. When he was satisfied with his work, he got an agent.

    When I mentioned Natalie Goldberg’s style: writing the blurt followed by putting on the editor’s hat, he said, “,Just make sure each word gets the reader’s attention and keeps moving at a fast pace to keep people engaged.” His workshop topic: How to edit ruthlessly.

    I’d like some feedback, please if you have a few minutes. I’m being exposed to your expertise and people like Magariel to advance beyond my present abilities.

    Thank you,
    Rhea

    • Lisa Tener says

      A book like yours, that takes people on an exciting journey–geographically, culturally, historically, spiritually–will benefit from many rounds of “ruthless editing” as Magariel put it. Some books can be quicker but for a book like yours, I would agree that spending lots of time on it, perhaps workshopping it in a class or with an editor, could continue to make it better and better, improving your possibilities with publishers and also in making a bigger impact.

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