My secret garden in Chiang Mai

My mind is on overdrive. It is excited. It is thinking. It is analyzing. It is planning, plotting, worrying.

It’s the first time during this overseas journey when I’ve felt what feels like a combustion of unnecessary energy swirling around in my head and in my stomach. I am aware of it and aware that it needn’t be this way … but the coaxing it from my system has proven a challenge.

I have the tools to re-align myself to a better balance. In fact, I have spent the past few months honing these skills! But recently, I have been extremely preoccupied with planning, plotting and worrying. Embracing it even.

Oh, the irony.

The thing is, I want to make the most of my time in Chiang Mai. I don’t want to miss a moment or an opportunity. Petting tigers, temples visits, monk chats, night market exploration — it is all part of the experience. And my life currency runs on experience, experience, experience.

Simulataneously, I am organizing the next phases of this journey to bring me home — the travel plans, the re-connecting with friends, the email networking so that I can secure job leads. All of the practical stuff that keeps me grounded.

And simultaneously to all of this, I am attempting to carve out space to reflect and assess my realizations thus far and my goals upon returning to Chicago. Not that I have big expectations for this. I am OK with my experience still baking long-after I have returned back to Chicago. But there are certain goals that I have thought about and pondered, only to be distracted by something else. I haven’t been writing on this blog nearly as much as I “should,” either.

In short: There is a lot going on, and the self-imposed pressure behind perfecting each area is all pegged to the future. This has seriously compromised my “live in the moment” mantra — a foundational premise for this entire journey.

I need to switch the gear from “Go, Go, Go” back to “Be, Be, Be.”

Somewhere during this past week, I have allowed the mental chatter to grow louder, and I’ve felt how it affects my physical body: headaches, back pain re-igniting, stomach pains.

I tell others to listen to their bodies; now I need to follow my own advice.

Part of my remedy: Next week, I am going to make a point to visit to a “secret garden” each morning before my Thai massage class. Instead of physical morning yoga practice, I am going to walk here … and just breathe.

The setting is just so enchanting. The pictures really don’t do it justice.

The garden is on a “soi” (side street) in the southeast corner of Chiang Mai’s old city, and about a 15-minute walk from my guesthouse. It is across the street from the Baan Phor Liang Meun’s Terra-cotta Arts center. This center produces amazing (and expensive) Terra-cotta sculptures for fancy hotels, major companies and wealthy people. They are replicas of ancient works of Buddhist and Hindu origin, mainly. Giant Ganeshes. Serene-looking Buddhas. Ancient texts brought to life in terra-cotta tablets. That sort of thing.

The garden across the street is a shaded area that features some of this artwork, likely the pieces not suitable for distribution. They have cracks. Some are broken. Some remain unfinished. But when they are scattered among the trees, moss and vines of this enclosed garden, a spiritually-inspired setting emerges. It is just so serene and magical. A perfect place to come sit, and be still.

I need a little more still right now.

Well … starting Monday. Tomorrow I journey several hours north to the Golden Triangle, which is where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.

But on Monday morning, I will be back in my “secret garden.”

Leave a Reply