I rarely see it coming. I arrived in Kathmandu and felt grumpy. It’s dusty, dry and cold here, in the depths of winter. The internet isn’t working and I have a full day of Skype supervision scheduled for the next day. The stupa isn’t repaired and I felt sad and grumpy about that too. The wind blows freezing down from the mountains and I wondered if people will enjoy the Mindful Adventure we are going on. On and on it goes …
Finally I reached out and sent a few messages of distress to friends. I didn’t realize it then, but I am doing what Porges calls step one in the mammalian distress response – seek help from the social engagement system. My dear friends reply. One simply says, “I see you’re taking your uninvited guest on the trek”. Bam. Thanks Carly for an instant perspective change. I didn’t see it, but my Advisor was at work, telling me I have to make the trek ‘amazing’ for people, “I have to” as if the Himalaya and her weather is my sole responsibility.
I step into my noticer space.
Rising this morning I head out to do the morning kora. That is 3 times circumambulating The Great Stupa of Boudhanath. I notice my pace is slowing. The morning candles are stunning in their beauty. One can never get from photos how deeply moving it is to walk the kora – a mindful experience of the senses. Here mindfulness is not only done internally and privately, it’s just as often in community, a shared experience. Loud. Fragrant. Visual. A feast of the senses. I am a noticer.
A massive reconstruction is underway even as the kora continues. The stupa was originally built 1600 years ago, reconstructed again 400 years ago, and is being reconstructed now after last year’s earthquakes. This stupa is one of the most important sites in the world for Buddhists. Inside it is hollow, like a vase, the relics were removed and stored at the local monastery, and now thousands of bricks are repairing the inside. Up, and up, into the great dome.
It’s in community that it’s being reconstructed. I watch as many people volunteer their kora time and work in a conga line, passing bricks, hand over hand, one at a time. This line happens each morning and evening. Working on the stupa is thought to bring one closer to enlightenment, a mindfulness experience. This place of daily ritual is the spiritual home for thousands of locals who come here daily.
I notice peacefulness in my mind and body, and reflect on how it usually takes a few days to shake off my western mindset. “The Himalaya Effect” has begun. Kora ends in coffee time.
Soon I will be able to share these experiences with the coming guests.
I plan to blog a few times, as the internet allows, so you can join us on our Mindful Adventure.
- Discoverer, Noticer and Advisor are terms used in our book, The Thriving Adolescent.
- Find out more about Mindful Adventures.