“I noticed that I was doing my most important work, invisibly, just by sitting still, and coming to my most critical decisions the way I never could when I was racing from the last e-mail or to the next appointment. I began to think that something in me had been crying out for stillness but of course I couldn’t hear it because I’d been running around so much. Only by stopping movement can you see where to go. Only by stepping out of your life and the world, can you see what you most deeply care about.” (Pico Iyer)
Travel itself is a form of art, and when the knowledgeable talk I like to listen. In a recent TED Talk, respected Indian Travel Writer, Pico Iyer illuminates the necessity of bringing stillness into our lives and our travels. It is easy to believe that racing from one adventure to the next will help us gain a deeper sense of self, but how are we supposed to hear what we are learning if we do not take time to reflect? How can we welcome in new insight, or perspectives, or desires if we do not give them time to marinate and become fully flavoured? How can travel inspire us and guide us without a heavy dose of time for ourselves in the mix? In a world of crowded hostels and overnight trains it can be hard to find a space or a time to develop the greater part of you that is inevitably growing. Sometimes seeking out a specific time and place in your trip that is devoted to oneself is a mighty good idea. Whether you are spending time to learn a new life skill, working through a personal problem that you’ve suffered with for a while such as anxiety or depression or just taking time out to appreciate the beautiful, natural surroundings, South East Asia is a great place to start!
At the Kailash Akhara Centre in Loei, Thailand.The Kailash Akhara Centre by DHARMA INC is a special place that we discovered just recently. DHARMA INC is an organization that brings ancient wisdom to the modern world. The centre was founded by Dharma Bodhi (born in Chicago, USA), who spent much of his life practicing yoga and Dharma with great teachers in the mountain caves of India. After years of practice, he was instructed by his teachers to open a school of classical Tantra for students in the West. After several years of teaching in the USA, Dharma Bodhi moved to Thailand and founded Kailash Akhara as the headquarters of DHARMA INC. The center is both a community and a school of classical Tantra, as well as a retreat center that invites travellers to participate in the community and enjoy the serene natural setting. The center is home to two gorgeous mandirs, or practice halls, hand-painted in Tibetan and Newari styles, one of which is the largest dedicated yoga temple in Asia. Visitors can help out with the permaculture farm, one of the most extensive in Thailand, enjoy yoga and meditation classes, or take a number of the courses on offer. It’s also a wonderful place to relax and simply appreciate the stillness of Thailand’s majestic mountain region.
Enjoying a community meal at the center.What initially attracted us to the centre was the spectacular location; Loei province, a land of rolling hills, jagged cliffs, and one of the most sparsely populated ‘off the beaten track’ provinces in Thailand.
The stillness of Loei, Thailand.However, we were equally intrigued by the courses available – from yoga trainings, to entire 10=day retreats dedicated to healing anxiety, stress, and depression, and even courses on Primal Ayurveda. All of the courses take place in spectacular surroundings complimented by a symphony of wildlife, cooing chickens, and bleating goats. Visitors enjoy fresh, regional cuisine prepared daily with organic ingredients from the centre’s permaculture gardens. Kailash Akhara also offers custom retreats for travelers wanting a more personalized experience. You can choose what you want to dive into, whether it’s Adi-Yoga, Primal Ayurveda, Tantrik Astrology, or Eco-Dharma and Permaculture. Paired with trips to local destinations, like breathtaking Buddhist temples, neighboring organic farms, gorgeous waterfalls, and the nearby Phu Ruea National Park, you can create your dream travel itinerary and tap into your spiritual side at the same time. Here’s an idea of the variety of courses coming up at the Kailash Akhara Centre in Loei Province over the next six months. If you’re interested in a custom retreat or simply visiting the center, check out the DHARMA INC Website. In the words of Dharma Bodhi:
“May all Beings be free of delusion.
May all Beings know the eternal peace of their true nature.”
1. Adi Yoga Immersion(13th October and 1st December 2013) An enriching, one-week yoga course based on the authentic system of Kundalini Hatha Yoga. Dating back to 3102 BCE, this form of yoga brings great health, calmness, openness, and spiritual benefits to the practitioner. The course will consist of daily classes, weaving together asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, chanting, yoga nidra (the science of ‘Yogic Sleep’, a Tantrik Yoga practice) and meditation (kriya yoga, mantra yoga, non-conceptual).
2. Manifesting Divinity: Arts as Spiritual PracticeA very unique course which teaches sacred art as a fun, beautiful and profound practise. Students will get the chance to work on murals at the stunning “Maha Bodhi Sri Macchanda Natha Yoga Mandir,” as well as work on their own personal art projects. You will learn about the symbolism of Himalayan sacred art, such as mandalas, yantras, deity images, esoteric iconography, and learn how these are used in ritual and meditation. Daily dynamic yoga classes and massage sessions are also a part of the course, as well as field trips to the remote local temples and mountains, off the beaten track to most tourists.
3. 8 Gates Silent Meditation Retreat(3rd – 10th November 2013, 31st – 7th April 2014, 19th – 21st September 2014, 4th – 10th November 2014) Open to beginners as well as experienced meditators, this 7-day retreat is held in complete silence apart from specific instructions and question sessions. The meditation is bases on the occurring auspiciousness of the 8 Gates time periods, which correspond to the beauty and serenity of the natural surroundings. It is about bringing your meditation practice in line with the supportive energies of time and space to allow a deeper awakening.
4. Rammed Earth Natural Building Workshop(21st October 2013) A 10-day natural building workshop teaching you the ‘rammed-earth’ technique, a technique which dates back thousands of years. Did you know that certain parts of the Great Wall of China are constructed from rammed earth! The workshop is taught by expert designer and builder, Clifton Schooley based in Bali and Vancouver.
5. Healing the Roots of Depression(20th January 2013) A-10 day retreat dedicated to healing based on the techniques of Sauhu Therapy and Primal Ayurveda. As each case of depression is unique, despite having similar symptoms, each student will be treated differently during a personalized retreat. You will be taught to remove damaging energy from the mind and emotions and you will be taught the very important healing technique of ‘nadi’, which means a sense of purpose that one was born to fulfill. In beautiful tropical natural surroundings you will re-learn the healing power of the Universe.
The tropic Permaculture garden at the centre
6. Healing the Roots of Anxiety & Stress(5th August 2013) Search within on this 10-day course designed to transform anxiety and stress at the root. From the view of Sauhu Therapy and Primal Ayurveda, the client is made aware of their own energy and consciousness. These gentle, non-confrontational practices create a sense of natural ease by soothing disturbed “wind” in the subtle channels of the mind. A mix of exercises, yoga, massage, writing, contemplation, meditation, dietary advice, one-on-one therapy, as well as quiet time spent in the beautiful natural surroundings, will be catered to each person’s unique case. Participants will learn techniques to treat fatigue and tiredness as well as energy depletion from mental strain. They will have the chance to slow down and rejuvenate while decreasing emotional reactivity and mental agitation. The idea is to come away with tools to decrease anxiety and stress in the wider world and a way to practice what you have learnt in your every day life.
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