Life is a series of meaningful coincidences we weave together to tell the story of our lives. The next few blog posts I write will be devoted to my story about being here with my teacher Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni at her monastery, Wat Songdhammakalyani, in Nakom Pathom, Thailand. Writing these blogs are a way for me to share my adventures with you on the page. I hope you enjoy them.
You might ask why I decided to visit the temple for the month of March 2020? I am here to write a book about Dhammananda, her teachings and her practices. During my time here Dhammananda has graciously agreed to meet with me on a daily basis so that I can gather the information I need to write the book.
Ever since I first visited the monastery in October of 2005, I consider it my home. Being with Venerable Dhammananda, is where I draw my soul’s inspiration. It is where I drew the inspiration to write my memoir, Finding Venerable Mother, and where I return to write my second book now.
Let me tell you what it’s like living here. In the safety of the monastery walls, time slows down. Monastery time is different from the outside world. I enter into an internal world no longer driven by external chaos of my daily life at home—family friends, doctor’s appointments, texts, email—everything that demands my attention. (I will admit I’m still attached to my computer here, and the funny thing is the nuns all have cell phones too. So, I guess I’m not alone.)
The first few days here were not easy. It’s hard to silence the busy chatter of my mind leaving the chaotic pace of my life on the outside. I walked around in a jet-lagged fugue state somewhere between Northern California and Thailand. It’s disorienting at first. It takes me about 4 days to arrive, but on day 5, I feel myself awakening. I’m adjusting to the normal routine.
The day has an organic flow and I simply fall into that rhythm. I wake up around 4:30 am and head to the dining area for coffee. Chanting starts at 5:30 and meditation at 6:00. After half hour of sitting meditation, we sweep the outside free of leaves and debris for half an hour. Breakfast starts at 7:00 and I’m then I’m on my own writing or reading until 11:00 am when it’s time for lunch. Later in the day we work in the garden for an hour doing community work and evening chanting starts at 7:00 pm.
A little bit about living here. It’s about 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 90% humidity. Of course, there is no air conditioning in our rooms, and I take cold water showers about 6 pm every day. The food is very simple and nourishing, all vegetarian. Every meal rice is served, a curry dish, braised vegetables, and fresh fruit. We eat breakfast and lunch, just two meals but that is very filling.
That’s what a typical day looks like. I’ll write more soon!