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-
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.
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.
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.
Renewed and Refreshed
The qigong series helped me feel strong, focused, mentally prepared for the class, despite having travelled 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.
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.