The wind’s mood’s swings: fresh perspectives at Kamalaya, Ko Samui
Last April, in 2018, as I swam to and fro in the lap pool at Kamalaya, a wellness retreat on the island of Ko Samui, I pondered on the plight of the long, streaming Buddhist prayer flags flying woebegone before the sea. I thought of the relentless routine determined by the weather-beaten mood swings of their boss, the venerable wind—be it a strong steady stream, a buffeting breeze, or a willful wind … or the thrashing recklessness of storms. And then too, the menacing monsoon that drenches the warp and weft, so that the cloth is rendered soggy and sullen, shuddering with cold and dripping with a superfluity of water.
Is your life in a perpetual flap?
Those flags, I thought, were in a perpetual flap. I watched them as they furled and unfurled. I listened to their furious ‘flapping’ sounding like a flock of birds beating a passage overhead. I observed each independently wrap and unwrap, ravel and unravel full frontal, before the sea. The process of their constant motion had rendered each shredded, and torn. They shuddered in trembling tatters, worn down by constant work and absent rest.
Do you get a good night’s rest?
Their nights are sleepless. Each tosses and turns and can never dream. Professional insomnia is their way of being, unless the wind adopts a whispering listlessness, allowing the sea to calm and assume the character of a glacial pool. Then a flag may be stilled, too. Positioned as they are, these flags are ‘flag-ships’ of a kind, confronting the Gulf of Thailand, that indomitable and unrelenting sea. Unlike teak ships that ride the waves and don’t rot, these flags had seen their days and those days were numbered.
Are you flying your true colours? Or are they jaded and fading fast?
As I return during these June days, and swim to and fro, amidst spots of rain, I see that, as always, the flags are ‘on the go’. However, something distinctly different is blowing in the wind. I look up and sense the flags refreshed and distinctly renewed. Their colours are no longer faded. Rather they are emboldened, blue, white red, green and yellow. They are flags ablaze, and freshly enlivened. They seem for now, re-rendered and resistant to the confrontational sea of life.
Recovery and Renewal
I ponder how a flag can personify the job of keeping well, in a world of constant cut and thrust? Kamalaya is a retreat, where guests arrive often pummelled and nearly pulverised by the vagaries of contemporary life. They arrive stretched, physically, psychically, at both ends, and worn thin (or fat) in between. They come in need of re-grounding, re-generation, re-connection. To repair and renew.
Some may view the pilgrimage to a world where wellness is the word on ‘worried’ lips as indulgence rather than an investment in oneself. And yet, when you can invest in yourself, or choose to invest in yourself, you are better positioned to do a better job of being present, of being empowered and effective.
Jesus chose the best!
I am always intrigued that Jesus took great care to count himself in, with quality potions and oils like frankincense, acknowledged to be costly in his day. I wonder did he understand aromatherapy and the restorative healing powers of self-care? He promoted prayer and contemplation as a spiritually nutritional supplement to life. Had he had the vocabulary of meditation and mindfulness he may well have ensured their place in the Gospel too.
Let go of the Go Go Go…
If you are going to keep going and flying your flag, you’ve got to ‘let go’ of the go, go, go. Sit down. Close your eyes and let yourself just be. Allow the prevailing howl of the worrying wind blow over you without touching you. Be neither shaken nor stirred by the wind. Be the motionless eye of the hurricane that blows through the world around you, and let the howls become as breezes to you.
Then the rain may fall more softly on the mental plain. The whispering breeze may change the direction of your thoughts and channel guidance from within a more mindful and clement mind. With stillness, sunshine may shine within. You may discover resolution, and a more resourced perspective on your life may emerge within you. Gently award yourself permission to fly with equanimity and energy.
Upon leaving Kamalaya, the guest is asked to comment upon their experience. I did so upon the Buddhist prayer flags that seemed to have been forgotton. Now they are remembered and refreshed, flying in full flood.