Kathmandu: Kopan Monastery Calling

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How do you define a calling? You never did.

Studying at a Catholic school for eleven bloody years. Growing up in a country where the Moslem population is the biggest in the world. Ending up in the high peaks of sacred ancient temples of the Hindu or Buddhist from another civilization. Finding yourself in some shamanistic journey of different tribes in forgotten interiors. You would start question what do you seek in this world?

You feel you are not all that religious being brought up in one of most mixed up family in one of the most mixed up environment, a so called Indonesian, but always puzzled with your own background when they asked you where do you really come from? Those background already at least take 15 to 30 minutes explanation, let alone when they ask you what you believe in?

***

For me all of this issues are personal. In this age of confusion, religious or not, spiritualist or not, atheist or theistic or agnostic, whatever, I most feel that our sickness is the sickness of the heart. Often we don’t know what to do with our own heart. To build our walls around it or to keep it open to the world.

I personally don’t know how I ended up hanging out with the Tibetan Buddhist monks. Back in Indonesia or in Tibet or in Kathmandu. Stumbling and finding myself in the many Tibetan quarters. In New Delhi, Dharamsala, inside China, in Tibet and now in Nepal. Some people say I look like one. I don’t know. I stop defining how I look ages ago. As long as a person is not making a racist comment, I go along just fine. It is maybe the nomadic nature of the Tibetan that somehow have some personal connection to my soul. In short maybe I was Tibetan in my previous life.

Though, in May 2014, thinking that I would spend the Vesak day somewhere in Borobudur temple in Central Java or in one of the biggest Buddhist temple in Trowulan, where the old Hindu kingdom was, I ended up flying to Nepal and apply to a 10 days of meditation retreat in the Kopan Monastery. On Vesak day, where they celebrated the Buddha’s birthday, I saw the Boudanath stupa from the high hill of Kopan Monastery, seeing the lights and festive from quiet a far. I remember that night was silent and I seek for the stars and one of the biggest super moon of this year shine from above. The same fullmoon where 2600 years(?) ago that Siddharta Gautama become Buddha under a bodhi tree.

IMG_0864Sunrise at Kopan Hill

IMG_0894Kopan Monastery main hall

I was sitting in the Kopan Monastery hall with around 80 other people from all over the world. Each with their own purpose, questions and process as a seeker in life. Some are so young in age, some are in the mid-life, some are easy going, some are serious. The background was so diverse, it is so interesting how this groups actually made off. We spend days hearing Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, spending half days in silence and full silence on the last two days, doing meditation and walking meditation, doing discussion on the some major questions in life and share each other experiences, and in some other times just having good time sharing food or travel stories. One Morrocon friend spend his days with his roomies, one a Jew, one an Indian Hindu, one a Christian and they all somehow met in the Tibetan Buddhist monastery. I end up hugging a stranger in one afternoon and she turn to be the only other Indonesian of the whole group. She was crying in that point and ended up laughing out loud with this universal joke. The whole experience has enrich part of my heart and I can feel the beat has somehow calm down than its usually are.

IMG_0442Spending 10 days here :) Sharing the space with 3 other girls

IMG_0912Sharing lunch with the girls

IMG_0467Voluntary yoga sessions on the hill

There are some of major questions in my life that had been answer without me asking my own questions. I found myself doing yoga in the morning because we agreed to have some short class in one the hill of the monastery. I was so thankful with the shared experience. I found a lot of talk session with myself. Looking at the moon at the top of the building late at night and be grateful with all the things in life that had brought me there. It is somehow like counting my blessing and being thankful for all the people who had somehow guided me here.

IMG_0911Initiation session on final day

My major lesson in Kopan was about wisdom and compassion, how it has to go together in order to work. How it is supporting each other. My Morrocon friend, who later become my somehow sangha brother, at the end of our journey decided to get the same tatto reminder in one of the studio in Freak Street. Three weeks ago he managed to message me and said that our two names means the same, Reda and Reza, which means “he/she who prays”. I end up laughing hard in the many coincidences in life that is actually making patterns in my daily life.

IMG_0672Wisdom reminder on the making

IMG_0693Reda, me and our Nepali tatto artist, Sanjay

Post Kopan session, it was not only a calling anymore, it was a real test in going back to the real wild world outside the monastery gate. Finding peace in the middle of a chaotic world and meditate your mind in the ongoing fast pace changing world is a challenge. I realized that this path is the way of going to the deepest mystery of the human heart. May peace be upon us all.

Om Mune Mune Maha Munaye Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

The Journey of Finding Home

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Banyuripan teak forest – our future home, Bangunjiwo, Jogjakarta

In so many ways, everybody need to find their own home. My life has been quiet random in the terms of the places I live in. Since 2012, I had the 10 years itch to move somewhere else. I had lived in Jogjakarta for the last 12 years. A city that I fall in love with since I was 18 years old. A city where I found my skills, gain my knowledge, belonging to communities, finding my ancestral roots, meeting all the beautiful people I love, fall in love, break my heart, again and again, where I deliver my son into the world, finish my degree after 8 years, a city where I build and rebuild my life, over and over. A city where I am most comfortable with. But also a city where I know I would not grow from it anymore. Jogjakarta is my comfort zone and everything has become too easy. Although I am at the utmost grateful with this beloved city, where I feel I answered part of my ancestry calling.

This feeling were answered in the moments I had in Tsuglag Khang Monastery when I went to Dharamsala back in 2012. I had nearly forgotten my travel passion due to all the family matters, motherhood and a faltering marriage. I was kinda lost for a while. Knowing too well that I’m actually best when I’m on the move. That my life energy is based on movement. My ways of grounding myself is often when I’m flying all over the place, doing yoga or just stare at the sea for hours (that goes for mountains too).

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The magical waterfalls of Pupuan, Tabanan, Bali

Photo courtesy of Labodalih Sembiring

Last year I tried to move to Bali, where I live in a beautiful mountain for nearly 7 months. It is a process of slowing down everything in my life. A process of cracking the nutshell to grow. The process to find the blooming of my own heart. It was a process of mirroring each other in the eyes of someone else. It was the process of opening the heart. It was about patient, resilience and perseverance. It is a process to know the right timing for every single thing naturally, something that I’m not so good at. But I learned. The hard way.

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Asabhumy on the way to Kethek Temple, Cetho, Solo

Then, it is my son. It was not easy to move permanently without slowly adjusting about his life and mine. Our own needs and our space. I decided not to go that fast this time. Though Bali stayed as our second home forever. We love Bali and its beautiful nature. His ancestral place and my love affair forever with the island which I need to answer myself. Somehow I’m starting to found Bali as my working base to be, very soon :)
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Me and Asabhumy chilling in Nusa Ceningan, Bali

Despite all things, I’m in my second trip back in Kathmandu this year. Where I found the gracious pace of Tibetan old ladies doing the kora in Boudanath had calm my mind and help me to keep my creative juice flowing through my writings. My days in Indonesia in 2014 were so intense that I need another break from it. I’m currently also helping my friend, Anggi Frisca, who managed itinerary adventurous trips around Indonesia and also Nepal, do check it out and contact them if you want to go to Everest Base Camp this year and next year: http://www.rokaora.com (ROKAORA)
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Tibetan Ladies doing the kora, Boudanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

I’m currently feeling so home staying around Boudanath Stupa this time. Of course I will share more on all the stories of the Himalayan regions since last year, so stay tune on this blog :) Bless all of you

Om Mane Padme Hum

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Boudanath Stupa under the moonsoon, Kathmandu, Nepal

A Personal Journey to the Edge

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Tibetan summer, Jergu – Tibet

Imagine yourself suddenly moving out from your comfort zone. Your house, the life you have been the last 4 years, your very dear friends, your yoga classes, your students, your work, even your blog and everything you think before was important. Imagine yourself suddenly moving to the place you thought you are scared off after your marriage failed, thought people say it is the island of the gods where magic still happens. Gods forgive your grudges after all. Things work out not the way you want, but in some ways the way you needed. And trust me it’s not all magical.

You finally let your only son to see his father after four years, because he ask you too. You believe in choices and chances. So you giving them a chance. You took that break, even you know you would not like it. It is part of your biggest fear. You give yourself some time alone. Maybe not perfectly alone because you met someone along the way. You decided to have it a go.

Then you decided to realise one dream. Going to one edge of the world. Places you only see in dreams and magazines, in pictures and films. One things lead to the other. You’re finally there. Like just being there.

***

A Nepali guy said this to me, “After you climb the tallest mountain in the world, what do you want to do next? What’s obvious is that you have to go down in the end. I don’t get it why we as human do it like that,” while we are looking at the snowy mountain capes from afar.

I didn’t climb any mountain yet in this journey, but I was up in the Himalayas. A Nepali shaman, Mina, even decided to give me a new name, Himali, as her god-daughter. It means the range of mountain.

I didn’t feel to do some climbing or hiking in this trip, but I feel I’m climbing my own personal mountain along the journey. But it is back to the Nepali guy questions, what do you want to do next? We are all back in this realities. We are back home now. Did something change then? Did ourselves change along the way?

I just realised it took me nearly a month to even continue a paragraph of this post. It took me to take some distance with myself to digest everything after this journey. It is one of those kind of moments. It  does took me time to write it all and I could say most of it is still in digestion.

I feel I’ve been through my own darkness along the way, seeing the glimpse of myself here and there. It’s funny how travelling with someone could make you reflect every single thing about yourself and your life. And in the end still being thankful of the intense journey that both of you go through.

It is hard to write about the places I’ve been through the last intense two months. It is hard for anybody I guess. It is hard to write it wisely somehow. I’m on my way of finding my own wisdom in writing it. Although I found the whole experience had a very personal impact on me. You could called it  spiritual, you could also call it the way to get deeper into yourself. I think it’s what this journey all about. At the end of this day, I think I’m so grateful for making it, for passing it through this regions and also my own regional hearts. It was vast and simple at the same time.

Om Mane Padme Hum

IMG_6902In the middle of Lhasa, Tibet

P1020883The misty mountain view from the cosiest place in Bandipur, Nepal

bali: retracing kintamani – batur

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batur in a mist

i fall in love again with bali, that’s all i have to say on my nine days stay after not being there the last three years. being in kintamani, seeing the mount batur and batur lake all over again just pour out all the random emotions. that bali is always and always will be my second home.

Continue reading “bali: retracing kintamani – batur”

why women should share their experience, gather and celebrate themselves

i had an open eyes experiences last week. my friend, inna, just got back from ubud and share the things she learned while she was in her own personal journey. this month we also celebrate the international women’s day at the 8th march, there were a series of event in yogyakarta relating to this celebration. two of them involving samsara where inna do her amazing work.

i joined the two workshops: cervical exam and schakty which were held in samsara, in the middle of the bantul village, in the middle of the paddy field.

the cervical exam workshop was blowing my mind. i realized how much i’ve been ignoring my own body as a woman all this time. i already gave birth to my son, but i didn’t even had the time to look at my own cervix. how it look like, how it had been treated, how it also represent my inner self as a woman: my desire, my sexuality, my mind, my heart and soul. it’s literally looking inside you. i didn’t realize the woman’s body qualities. i was always scared to see myself as a full grown mature woman. because it’s present the image of weakness in the society and i don’t like to be seen to be weak.

but i realized, i had to stop to deny that i’m strong all the time. because i’m not. i collect many unresolved wound along the way and now i learn to heal them one by one.

living in indonesia and growing up in this culture, had made so many contradiction in my life. i’m in the process where i want to put my live to be align and balance. there has been so much pain that i have to go through and every path, every step has not become easier. having the courage to open yourself had mean to dissect your own reality and being.

i reflect all the many relationship i have, the emotional connection and the different situation which we experience in our life. sharing sessions such as the schakty workshop, had open my heart to others. learning how to trust life and others fully. that spending your life with worries and being scared are unworthy.

i still have many things i would like to reflect. but now, i had never been this proud to be a woman, in this body and being.

“your heart is your guru

your body is your home

your life is your class

your mind and yourself is the real enemies

while you teaching yourself at peace, your inner self grows. and the world will follow you”

~inna schakty

namaste, inna. namaste, girls :)