Meditating in Bangkok

October 13, 2015

I could feel the monk’s eyes on me as I stumbled into the room with my camera bag and my day backpack. My purple hoop was sticking out of my bag, making it look like I was some wanna-be ninja warrior. I prayed that he wasn’t silently cursing me for being late to his meditation class, and I suddenly wondered what I was even doing there. 

Hi,” I said as I passed the group of 6 students and a monk waiting impatiently for me to sit down. I grabbed a mat and accidentally slammed it on the floor in the back of the room, aware of how obnoxious I was being. Everyone sat in silence while they waited for me to sit down.

DSC_0051

The monk resumed his meditation speech once I settled down. I was attending a free meditation class at Wat Maha That, a temple in Thailand. This was the second day of my journey through Southeast Asia, and I was already getting myself into awkward situations.

The monk spoke for the first hour or so about walking and sitting meditation, and demonstrated the proper way to do both. As we were getting up to practice the walking meditation, I moved my bags to a cubby on the side of the wall and knocked over someone’s cell phone. The entire class was silent and watched as I picked it up and put it back into its place. 

After we practiced, the monk left us to ourselves to begin the meditation. 

I tried, I really did. I walked back and forth in a line for a half an hour, and tried my hardest to “let my mind go.” Instead, I ended up focusing on the fact that I had 28 minutes left, then 22, then 17, then 12…

I looked up at the other students in the room a few times, and wondered if anyone else was distracted like I was. I was scared the monk was going to appear in the room and see me doing something other than meditating, so I inconspicuously peeked at the clock every so often. 

We had to repeat this sentence the entire time: walking, walking, walking, standing, standing, standing, turning, turning, turning, standing, standing, standing, walking, walking, walking, over and over again. This meditation thing is not for me. 

meditation

When the thirty minutes was up, I ran over to the mats to begin the sitting meditation. I knew it was going to be tough, so I stretched my legs before I sat down in preparation for the pain.

The first ten minutes were fine. This isn’t too bad, I thought to myself as I deeply breathed into my stomach and out my nose.

Suddenly, my left leg started tingling. And then it fell asleep. My right leg didn’t want to be left out, so it decided to start tingling too, and eventually fell asleep. 

I opened my eyes to make sure the monk wasn’t watching me and moved my right leg a few inches forward to ease the pain. Oh my god, this is horrible, what did I get myself into, I thought to myself as the pain grew with each passing second. After a few moments, I lost complete feeling in both of my legs. 

Don’t focus on it, don’t focus on it, oh my god I’m going to need to get my leg amputated, don’t focus, oh my god they’re numb and I feel like I’m floating, I kept thinking to myself. I eventually felt like I was a torso, completely detached from the lower half of my body.  

meditation

This continued until the alarm went off. I opened my eyes and moved my right foot to shake it out, thankful that the thirty minutes was up.

I couldn’t move my left leg. I grabbed it and stretched it out in front of me, only to then realize that my left foot was completely numb. I poked it with my finger and stared in shock as my foot did not respond to the feeling. Great, now I’m going to have to get my foot amputated. 

No one else in the class looked like they were in as much pain as I was in, and I wondered what I did wrong (with my luck, everything). After I spent a few minutes rocking back and forth to ease the pain and convincing myself that I would never regain feeling again, the pain subsided and was taken over by a very cold feeling.

I left the class thankful that I was able to have an experience like that, but I acknowledged the fact that meditation is definitely not for me. 

This Buddhist temple offers free meditation classes at Wat Maha That three times per day, at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 6 p.m., to those who want to experience a beginner’s meditation class.

Remember to follow me on Snapchat for live videos and pictures of my trip! My username is globetrottica. 

6 comments

  1. Comment by tpetriano

    tpetriano October 13, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    It’s great you tried meditation. I find that it’s something that you have to gradually build up I am teaching a course on Buddhism right now and we spend some time at the end of each class meditating. I might share your experience with them. It’s a very honest reaction, and I think it’s something most people experience the first time.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica October 15, 2015 at 4:42 am

      Thank you so much for reading! I would definitely like to try it again, but maybe take baby steps this time- haha! I really appreciate that and would love if you shared it :] Thank you!

  2. Comment by Janet Sunderland

    Janet Sunderland October 14, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Ah, little sister. You may have jumped in over your head at this one. But good on ya for experiencing it. Walking meditation, which I like a lot, is a LOT more pleasant when you’re outside, on the grass, and can really feel your foot curve into the earth. It’s not a matter of “giving up” on meditation, rather it’s finding one that works for you. An hour for a beginner is a loooooonnnnnnggggg time. Try 10 minutes.

    Thanks for keeping us posted on your journey. BTW, if you want to go walk on grass, try being a resident worker at Kalani Honua on the Big Island in Hawaii. You’ll learn all sorts of cool stuff. And have a bed to sleep in.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica October 15, 2015 at 4:51 am

      Hahaha I definitely did- I’ll be the first to admit it! That sounds so great- I would love to try that. And I will definitely try it for a shorter amount of time next time! That sounds amazing! I would love to have little jobs such as that. A new city, and new experiences :]

  3. Comment by Julie Wallace

    Julie Wallace March 5, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Found your post through Triberr & added it to my queue. Having meditated regularly for years, I can tell you that some days are just like you described. Other times it is serene and peaceful. And no matter what, there is always something, however subtle, happening. Oh! And a great frame of reference for what ‘good’ meditation feels like is remembering any time in your life that you were so wrapped up in what you were doing that you didn’t think about what time it was, or what you were going to do next: you just did what you were doing and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica March 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks so much for reading Julie! It’s really great to hear that about meditating :] And that frame a reference is really relatable, and really helps me picture what good meditation feels like- thank you for that.

Comments are closed.

Go top
%d bloggers like this: