Preparation for meditation

You did not think I would leave you with no reading material whilst I was busy meditating, did you? Thanks to wonderful blog, I can write stuff in advance and choose the day I want it put online.

After my week of fasting, I slowly went back to solids starting with fruit (papaya and fresh coconut), then vegetables (steamed and organic) and then carbohydrates (rice noodles). My body was starting to readapt to food, even though the carbs bloated me a little, and I feel nauseous after a meal. I have kept to snacks rather than meals actually, because my stomach has shrunk so does not allow to eat large quantities.
I feel good, my skin is clearing up, and the notorious purple shades I have under my eyes are nearly gone.

Actually I decided to consult a Chinese Doctor here, because my teachers at school said there was a particular good one in town, and a consultation costs 200 Bahts, which would be about 4.5 Euros (just under 4 pounds) (wow I’ve just realised it is nearly 1 euro to the pound! If only it had been like that when I was studying in London…)
So I went on Friday, on my last day on liquids. This Doctor is a short, tiny, Thai woman with Chinese features. We sat down and talked a little about France, Osteopathy, the Chi Abdominal massage course, my teachers at Sunshine, Chinese Medicine etc. After a quick case history, she took my pulses on the right and left wrist (radial artery, at several different places along the blood vessel), and observed my tongue.

She diagnosed my major problem: I am damp. More precisely, my spleen is particularly damp, as well as my left kidney. This is often constitutional, and the treatment is long and tedious because most of is concerns lifestyle changes.
The first thing to change, is to live and work on the ground floor, and never above. Also, I must not live near a river, a lake or the sea, as these are all damp environments that would make my condition worse. Lastly, I should avoid cold/icy and sweet drinks and foods. This one is easy, since I don’t like ice cream or cold drinks.
However, the water things could prove a little difficult, and the ground floor well that’s close to impossible if I see my future in a city.
The Doctor said that is I followed those changes, my dampness would get better within 10 to 15 years…

She encouraged me to follow my ambition, and go to China to find out more about Chi and Chinese Medicine. Also, she said that it might be an idea to visit her at a time when I am not fasting, so she can see what my body is like in “normal” circumstances. I will see when I return from meditation.

The followind day (Saturday), I cycled to the temple of Wat Ram Poeng, about 8km South West of Chiang Mai, to check out the surroundings and the meditation course. The monk in charge of the foreign meditators’ office told me there was a space for an introductory 10-day course starting on Monday. He gave a little explanatory booklet for me to go through, and asked whether I had understood everything.
I understand everything, I am ready for this, and from Monday I shall be meditating for 10-days. Or trying to anyway.

One of the requirements of most Buddhist temples, is that the meditators wear only white: trousers/sarongs, tops, and underwear. After a quick “wardrobe” check, I realise I had none of the above. The clothes can be purchased directly at the temple, but the underwear should be bought beforehand. Anyway I don’t see myself buying a bra from a Thai Monk.

So I took my faithful bicycle, and went all the way out of town to Tesco Lotus, the Thai version of the English Classic. The superstore is impressive. It is massive, the carpark is enormous, and on it are hundreds of cars, thousands of motorcycles, and tens of Thais doing Aerobics.
I park my bike near the entrance and bravely enter this major symbol of globalisation. Inside, beauty shops claim to make Asian skin “whiter than white”, Dunkin’ Donuts makes a very Thai Donut on a stick, Starbucks Coffee is thriving with spotty teenagers and the amp behind Ronald Mc Donald pumps out loud music.

I make my way to the first floor, where the main Tesco area is. The reason I went to Tesco, is that I don’t know the word for “knickers” or “bra” in Thai, and that I know for a fact that at the clothes markets around Chang Mai there is not my size.
Once I get to the right department, I realise that Tesco does not make my size either. I check the cheap Tesco Value area, the expensive “Sloggi” Bridget-Jones type pants, and the random shaped thongs. Nope, nothing will fit. Many shopping assistants try to convince me that the Triple-X-L synthetic lacy red thong would suit me, but I do not think it would be appropriate for my meditation retreat. She even whips out a calculator from nowhere, and offers me a 25% discount on it if I buy it immediately. Out of habit more than anything, I try to get the price down, and then I realise that: A) I don’t want it, B) it does not fit me anyway and C) We’re in a supermarket and we’re bargaining? What is going on here? So I walk away and escape in the washing powder/baby products aisle.

I wait a few minutes before I head back to the Ladies section, really wondering what I am going to do about this underwear situation. The white clothes I will get are bound to be transparent, and I don’t want a monk to be offended by my black knickers. So I look for something suitable in my size. And that’s when it all comes clear! I run around the place hoping for them to even exist in Thailand, and yep they do. Ladies Boxer Shorts! I am amazed. They look like something an old lady would wear over her knickers. They are cotton, white, ample and… they fit me! I grab a few.
Next to it are white tank tops… they fit me! I grab a few of those too. And I run away with the lot, as I see that one of the shopping assistants has spotted me and is walking hurriedly in my direction. This time I escape in the live fish section. I make sure my perfect white undies don’t get splashed by the overactive fish swimming in the shallow basins. And make my way to the checkout. For a grand total of 308 Bahts (so less than 6 Euros, 5 Pounds) I have underwear in which I can meditate. Genius.

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