Home » connect

Tag: connect

Thimphu Tsechu

The Thimphu tsechu (religious festival) is probably the most grand and popular tsechu in Bhutan. It takes place once a year, over the period of 4 days.

As our group landed in the Paro airport that midday on Oct 1, I was already so eager to witness this festival, see all the colors, and simply be among the people.

As we arrived on the ground of the Trashi Chho Dzong (more familiarly known as the Thimphu Dzong), we were immediately surrounded by the vibrance of colors from the locals’ beautiful Gho (men’s traditional dress) and Kira (women’s traditional dress). A celebratory vibe is in the air! Extremely large and beautiful roses bloom along the little patch of garden on the perimeter of the Dzong. I see smiles all around.

The amazing Trashi Chho Dzong is built in the typical Bhutanese way of no nails and no blueprint. One can see how the building is sagging and curved at some places. Yet, it is still standing strong since the 17th century! Currently the Dzong (just like all the other Dzongs in Bhutan) houses both the administrative government and the monastic quarter.

 

Our team made our way to the dochey (courtyard), and I was struck by the sheer number of people in the courtyard and the amazing colors worn by the people attending the tsechu.

 

People gathered on all 4 sides of the courtyard as police and government officials did their best to perform crowd control.

Our group quickly found seats in the area facing the main utse (tower). I sat myself on the ground behind rows of the audience that had made themselves comfortable.

 

A cham (religious dance) is being performed in the main performance area. Cham dances tend to be very long. One takes about an hour to complete. I thought this was a perfect reflection of life in this beautiful country. People take their time, a luxury that we often take for granted and had slowly forgotten. Cham dances originate back in Guru Rinpoche days or the few centuries shortly after that. Some of them are created in honor of Guru Rinpoche, the yogi that brought Buddhism into Bhutan in 12th century.

 

The Thimpu tsechu was filmed and broadcasted live on national television as well. When we were there, the cham told a story of the 48 days that take place between a person’s passing and before the next stage of hell or heaven.

 

At one point in the dance, a group of dancers as dakinis or celestial beings came and performed their dance. All cham dances are performed by the monks. So that means the males also play female roles like the dakinis. I loved watching these dances. At one point, I was so enchanted by the animal-headed dancers. Their circular jumping movement went on and on. I could feel how difficult the movements were, yet I also understood how meditative the movements are. What a privilege to witness that.

As the cham was performed, devotees line up patiently in long lines to pay their respect to Yama, the god of death, whose statue is displayed in front of the main utse beyond the performing area. (See the lines of people in the photo above, flanked by officials in orange jumpsuits).

 

It’s impossible to not people-watch during the tsechu. The vibrant national dresses just make one wants to look at all of them. Men, women, children – all looked so beautiful in their best outfits.

 

The colors, especially the reds of the monks’ outfits and the traditional dresses stood up beautifully against the green mountains and the blue sky.

 

But the ones who had the most fun had to be the kids. A couple kids had so much fun following the cham dances that some of them had to be told to sit down by some of the security guards. Some boys were playing football with empty bottles near our seats. And this little kiddo took my friend’s camera and went to town with it. Going to his family and other passerby and happily took photos of them.

 

To be able to witness this beautiful and vibrant tsechu and being part of the people’s celebration was truly a privilege. Great reminder to always live in colors being part of a community and make togetherness a part of our lives.

 


Related Posts:

My magical journey in Bhutan: Journey back to Mother’s Womb

 

Journey back to Mother’s Womb

The Kingdom of Happiness is a place that has tugged the strings of my heart for a very long time. When my friend Gladys shared casually that she was organizing this trip during one of our monthly Skype calls, I said a very loud YES immediately (without knowing how I was going cover the trip). I just knew I would be there.

So as always, the Universe provided and shortly before the trip, it was revealed to me one of my past lives in the land. I flew the DrukAir that early morning on the 1st of October with a knowing that I was coming home. And right enough, as the plane made its maneuver around the green mountains of the Kingdom, as it navigated towards the tarmac, my heart joyfully screamed that she is home.

In the following 8 days after that, I walked a journey back towards my Mother’s womb, as guided by Tara, as the representation of the ultimate Divine Mother.

 

I walked deep inwards into the lands, caressing every veins of leaves and every granules of soil. 

 

Photo taken by Shin Lan on the field towards Chimi Lhakhang

The earth, is my home. In it, I am alive. For the first few days I was extremely quiet. My soul seemed to only want to listen to the vibrations the dwellers of Mama Gaia.

 

I almost ran towards this tree on the courtyard at the Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) like a child running towards her favorite friend. I spent several moments quietly just being with her. Only afterwards that I knew this was a Bodhi tree. A tree that I have mentioned repeatedly in the 4 weeks previous to the Bhutan trip as I kept telling a friend of mine (who owns a carved Bodhi seed) how I wanted to see the full thing in glory. And there she was.

 

Photo captured beautifully by Gladys Lee as I was communicating with the tree

This was a tree that called me outside Ponakha Dzong (also known as Palace of Great Happiness). Upon touching this tree, for the first time, I physically felt the pulsation of the trees upon my hands. Communicating, communing, with Mama Gaia.

 

The rocks of the hills towards Chagri Goemba (or Cheri Goemba) spoke to me. I was allowed to take one home and I found an eye lovingly ‘keeping an eye’ on me on the way home. Communication with nature continued.

 

Photo taken by my wonderful guide Jamyang Dorji using my camera

On the trail between Chele La Pass and Kila Nunnery, I heard the songs of the mountain in my soul’s ears, as well as the songs of the prayer flags. I understood how the macrocosm is the same as the microcosm and that I am a part of both and all. I was in the smallest of spores and in the farthest of trees. I was one with all.

 

The rock of the caves at Taktshang Goemba pulled me down in a wash of familiarty. The terma (treasure) uncovered by the terton (treasure finder) in the form of a large rock with a thumb print of Guru Rinpoche felt like a dear friend that I just met again. Rocks always store so much memories in them.

 

I walked through the doors of past, back to the beginnings. 

The currents of memories course through my veins, creating my blessed perfect life.

 

As soon as I stepped onto the grounds of Ponakha Dzong, I knew it was special. As soon as I saw the left most mandala on the main hall, I felt like I passed out for a split second. I was triggered, and my heart was on a roller coaster. This mandala was my beginning. I was once under the maker of the mandala. This mandala was also our beginning, the beginning of our cosmos.

 

This valley, the Phobjikha Valley, was once my land, where I roamed free and wide. I was emotional as I sat on the ledge looking down. I go to this place a lot in my meditation, not knowing where it was. I was finally physically there.

 

The Universe went on an effort to make me find this mandala on the gong by first knocking my head upon the rock near where it was hanging. But I only managed to see it at the end before I left.

I was also triggered. My heart felt deeply and widely in all directions and dimensions. I remembered the gong’s vibration and also knew that it was part of my past. I understood that my connection with mandala had started hundreds of lifetimes ago. I always forget with each rebirth, but the memory remains in me and eventually surfaces.

 

I walked back into Mother’s Womb, allowing myself to be embraced by her magnificent love.

Along these tall trees and mother earth, I had the most amazing connection with our tour guide. At one point, I shared how I love Tara and my connection with her has started intensifying before the trip and how I had been chanting her mantra. Then and there, I was also shown what an amazing role my guide has as an angel in this trip. Divine Mother spoke through the voices in my head, the images I see, the earth, trees, humans, and everything around us.

 

At the Taktshang Goemba, the Universe sent several different reminders of the Compassion chant, Om Mani Padme Hum. The reminders included the wonderful monk chants that was heard throughout the mountains, 2 locals who started chanting around me one after another as I got closer to the Monastery, and this sign that (again) led me to a short discussion with our wonderful guide (He was always at the right point and the right time to lead us to the right direction). It says om mani padme hum hri – which I was told to mean that the mantra is repeated a hundred times.

Upon the final and hardest part of the ascent, along with the reminder from the last local who chanted while climbing next to me, I took out my mala (or mani chim in local language), and started chanting 108 Om Mani Padme Hum all the way to the top and closed it with 3 Ohms. I did the same chant on the most difficult ascent back. Both done while being breathless, with burning thighs, trying to keep going on the steep climb. The Universe seems to remind me that on the toughest climb, trust that the Divine is there to guide you.

 

In this Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple), I was pulled down on my knees, unable to get up again, leaving me prostrating in front of Tse Lha Nam Sum (the Trinity Godess of Long Live). Yet again I was affected, my heart felt so much – elation, gratitude, melancholy, and love. I bowed down to such an amazing loving great power. I cleared my karma and opened myself wide to receive all her love.

That same night, during Rebirthing Breathwork, I owned my power of feminine and beauty and activated all 12 chakras.

 

On the last day of the trip, we had the pleasure of taking a traditional hot-stone bath. In the bath, I felt the most amazing bliss and spent the majority of time just curling in a fetus surrounded by the warm water as if I was back into my mother’s womb. Being the last significant thing I had on this trip, this felt like I had completed my journey back into my mother’s womb.

 

Land of the Thunder Dragon. Homeland.

 

Gangtey Goemba – a place where I truly felt I was a local.

I never imagined that so much of my past (that made up the person that I am) started in this magnificent Land of the Thunder Dragon. I drew the picture below in the rocking car on the way from Gangtey Goemba back to the capital Thimpu. I had one amazing meditation that morning in the lodge by the Goemba and saw this image.

Our past, present, and future are merely dimensions of the same point in time. There was no separations of the 3 and they all reside in ourselves.

 

Our eyes at our back are the brightest for we see best to the past.

Our third eye sees our way into the future.

But the most important one is the one that sees with the heart.

 

 

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.

 

with love,

 

 


Related Post:

Thimphu Tsechu

Retreat and Relax Banner

Retreat and Relax

We are coming closer to the middle part of the year. And since almost half a year has passed, I’d like to talk about Retreat and Relax cause between now and August is a great time to do both!

Why?

Cause we’re going into summer time in the northern hemisphere and winter time in the northern hemisphere. Both are great times to take it easy – whether to be more playful, or to take a reflective rest. 

Cause it’s the school holidays for those of you with little ones, still in school, or teaching at a school.

Cause it’s a good time to take a break, recalibrate, and gather energy to head towards the second half of the year :).

I believe that our beings are made up of a mind, a body, and a soul and that all 3 parts form a balanced trinity that make up our ultimate healthy, beautiful, amazing self. Unfortunately, most of the time, we pay more attention to 1 aspect of the trinity and neglect the others.

For example, in this crazy fast-paced world, often times, we only stop and take sick days from work when we are physically very sick. It’s rare that we stop and take a sick day when we’re just mentally exhausted. And that is not quite right cause a mental exhaustion impairs our ability to perform as much as a physical ailment. Luckily, our body is a very intelligent being, and normally we are just so exhausted that we take off days for the sake of our sanity and well-being.


Here’s an idea: don’t wait till your body sounds an alarm to take a break.

 

When was the last time you take a break from your life and really allow your mind, body, and soul to rest? When was the last time you go on a retreat?

Ever since I made my mental health and well-being a priority a few years ago, I started taking a retreat yearly and that is one of my greatest ways to stay balanced and to be reminded of the greater picture in my life. Some retreats led me to a journey of wonder and magic, like this one. Some reminded me why it is important to unplug from the world from time to time (as I wrote in my old post here).

So folks, if any part of you wishing you were taking a break somewhere else or if you’re wishing to retreat and relax, don’t hesitate. Make the time. Open your calendar and book the time and start making all necessary reservations.

Commit to honoring this time-off as much as you commit to your work cause your health and well being is extremely important and should be a priority in your life.


Now, if you’re interested to go on a retreat and don’t know where to start or where to look for one, you can join me and a bunch of friends at Glow in Thailand by Social Zen Retreats.e-flyer of Glow in Thailand retreat

My friends and I will be holding a retreat in August in the beautiful Koh Samui! Your days will be filled with Yoga, Meditation, Dancing, Great nutritious food, Pool time, and time to connect with the beauty of the island. Head over here to read all the details about Glow in Thailand!

I am extremely excited about facilitating Yoga and meditation in this retreat and I would be sooper excited if you could join us! It would be really awesome to share this beautiful retreat with you!

 

I hope you you give yourself a chance to retreat and relax and I hope you get to reconnect with your true self.

Good vibes,

PS: share with me stories and photos of your trip! I would love to hear about it!

Unplug to Connect

I don’t know about where you are, but here, in this part of the world, it’s a common scene to look at the surroundings and see people looking down to their phones. It’s a sad view. And in this part of the world, it’s mostly because people are just scrolling on various types of media on their phones.

And by people, I’m including myself.

Which is why, in the last 6 years, I’ve made the choice to give up social media for every lent season (with the exception of last year). So that is roughly 40 days of no facebook, no instagram, no twitter, no other online platform that engages in social connection. Each time. I think I’ve done it bout 5 times.

Why? Cause I have some level of attachment to it. Whether it’s an attachment of getting stories so that I’m not missing anything. Or an attachment of sharing about my life. Or an attachment of using it as a mind-numbing time-filler.

And the times I’ve given them up are absolutely rejuvenating. Not to mention, cutting off an attachment always feels extremely liberating.

In the last 2 years, I’ve also started attending silent retreats. These are the kinds where we are completely cut off from the world. No watching anything, no listening to anything, no reading, no writing, and obviously no communication with any devices or to any human beings around.

The first time I did it, it was a 5-day retreat with about 3.5 days of silence. The second time was a 10-day retreat with 9 days of silence.

These retreats have always been magical. I absolutely enjoy the silence.

Being unplugged is the greatest detox one can have. It’s like we’re removing all sorts of pollutions from our system.

And more than anything else, it’s a great time to connect with oneself. And amazing realizations happen when one connects with oneself.

Coming back to the everyday, I’m generally pretty alright when it comes to being glued to the phone. I generally choose to put my phone down and be away from it for a period of time. I then spend the time meeting people, or reading a book, or making art, or enjoying art, or cooking, or walking outside. There are really tons of things you can do when you’re away from the phone. There are even days when I really consider living without my cell phone.

But there are those times when I find myself getting very attached to social media and other communication apps. I would be aware that I’m constantly opening them even when there are no updates. And when I put down my phone, I just want to pick them up again. Generally, these are times when I didn’t want to face myself and I’m running away from my own problems.

When I get to this realization, I normally choose to turn the phone off and not touch it and any social media plus chat apps (like whatsapp) for about 6-10 hours (waking time. Not sleeping time. We are already unplugging during sleeping time).

And then I spend the time coming back to myself and being mindful of the present. And I let the voices come, I let the anxiety come up and face whatever it is I have to face. And then I let it go and release it and find that balance again.

I realize that so far, I’ve been doing this at least once a month. I have my phone-fasting day every now and then. And normally it’s never scheduled. It gets decided then and there, sometimes out of nowhere :).

Remember, we used to live without all of these. No cell phones, no medias. And it was quite fun, wasn’t it? And we were more connected to each other. Yes, we had less people we were connected to. But we had deeper connection with the ones we do.

We were also more connected to our own selves.

So once in a while, I unplug so I can connect. So I can clear out whatever confusion I had and therefore allowing good things to come in. Good things like clarity.

I also unplug so I can connect with others. I make it a point in my relationships to put down the phones during time together. Especially meal times.

But I have to admit, with some group of friends, I still get sucked by bright light of the phone. I’m working on it and I’m writing this as a form of accountability, so you can remind me if I do that when I hang out with you.

Anyway, I’m writing about unplugging as a simple reminder. So we remember to do it. And that we may remind others to do it as well.

I believe it’s the little things that change the world. Want to make a difference in the world? Want more peace and less hatred in this world? Let’s start by connecting with ourselves and others. Cause if we see ourselves as good and peace, and if we see others as our brothers who are also good and peace, we would not even think about hurting others.

Let’s spread the love and add more joy to this world :).