No phone. No electronics. No internet. No music. No lies. No skin showing. No hugs. No smoking. No stealing. No alcohol. No sex. No killing!!!!
Me: “But what do you mean, no killing???! Of course I am not going to kill anyone….!”
Monk: “Well, no, we mean don’t kill ANYTHING including spiders or flies… “
Me: “Oooooohhhh ok, pretty safe then, it has been a while that the only thing I have been tempted to kill are the mosquitos and even that I stop a few years ago, soooooo I should be fine… Unless Trump comes by..?.. But doubt. More worried about dress code… I will try to cover my skin… That will be the hardest… and no music… ahhhh. But I am ok and I will behave”…
This was how we were greeted at the Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu mountains, Nepal, to spend a couple of weeks learning about Buddhism in silence which apparently was a sort of meditation prison…!
To be honest, I was pretty ok with most of it… The hardest was supposed to be the no phone/electronics/internet but I was genuinely looking for a digital detox; I don’t drink or smoke and stopped killing mosquitos a while ago so all good,… not showing my skin should be sorted as went clothes shopping before leaving Bali as all my clothes are… let’s say, summerish…. Who knows me know what I mean… but even tho I would have to use same stuff every day I should be good..! now the hugs and music… that might be hard but I am on a mission. I thought.
And I was right… It was a mission, but a beautiful and inspiring one.
So let me tell you the story of how I got there:
Tell me, how many times have you have achieved or crossed an item from your bucket list, by a string of coincidences?
As a spontaneous aficionado, I have to admit that has happened to me several times, and today I want to share what just happened recently.
So back in 2013, I started my Footprints In The Clouds journey in India, and as I was exploring that colorful and mysterious country, I end up finding myself on several Buddhist pilgrimage sites as often they were the main attractions in the area.
Back then I didn’t have a profound knowledge on Buddhism per se, however, I have always seen it more as a Philosophy than an actual religion which I have been a fan of, as it seems that I share several of the values, morals, and ethics of Buddhism.
So while in India, I have met several people that have done all sort of Buddhist retreats: from Vipassana (silence), mindfulness, transcendental meditation retreats, spiritual retreats, all sort of different types of Buddhism learning retreats, etc and I thought it would be cool to do one so I added it to my bucket list.
I checked a couple of places online. But after over 2 months in India touring the entire country, I was ready to exchange my curries for dumplings & spring rolls and the Buddhism retreat goal was parked right there.
A few months later, while still in China, I end up in this gorgeous small backpacker town called Dali, in Yunnan province. While there, I found out about this monastery/temple called Shaolin Temple where they were running some retreats – Learning about Buddhism and martial arts.
It got me excited and curious.
Had so many questions.
But as I started digging in… a lot of the stuff I was fine with: vegetarian food (was a plus); no electricity or electronics (I wanted a detox from social media anyway), the 4am starts (I do love a challenge and that was a big one), were quickly overshadowed by the lack of hot water, (it was winter yall and I have to wash my curly hair every day) plus the full days training Kung Fu moves were no longer as exciting. And once again, the retreat goal got parked in China.
Then in 2016, as I am finally preparing to replace Asia with Oceania after 3 long exciting years wanderlusting around, I decided I had to cross the “Having a retreat” item…
At that time I was in Bali and found out about this wonderful place called Bali Silent Retreat, where I end up spending 5 days of complete bliss in a strict silence joined by a social media detox – was incredible and I knew I would have to repeat it eventually. If you want to read more about this check my past blog about Bali Silent Retreat
2018 came and I started my year by moving back to Bali to work on an incredibly exciting project and for 4 months I kept telling myself that before leaving Bali I would have to repeat the experience and have my Bali silent retreat part 2.0
But then I realized I couldn’t stay much longer in the country – VISA reasons, and still had so much work to do. So out of nowhere, 3 thoughts came to my mind: