My Story – How I Ended Up Here
My first interest in ‘touch’ was when I was a child, my mother had debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and depression, and I used to rub my mum’s hands, and she said it felt nice and that I had soothing hands. I then found my way to Thai Yoga Massage at the age of 17, when my family friend Kira Balaskas was about to do a course in a hill tribe village in the north of Thailand. I jumped on a plane from Upper State New York, where I had been studying African Dance, Motor Mechanics and Herbology. I had been working in Cornell Bookshop and as a cleaner. Ironically, I gave my first paid massage to the woman I was cleaning for!
Post my initial training with Asokananda in Thai Massage, Yoga and Vippassana Meditation, I ended up in a one month Vippassana meditation retreat in the jungle with Asokananda and his group. This was not my intention! I was hoping to go to Goa or Bali to chill out. I was in a travel agents with my friend Kira, who was asking what I wanted to do and I didn’t know, but an outside voice, crazy as it sounds, said ‘you know what you have to do!’ I didn’t. But, I ended up in a truck going back up to the jungle and handed out all of my duty-free cigarettes to the local Lahu tribe people and headed into the jungle to make my home on a banana leaf!
The silent retreat consisted of waking up to a sitting and walking mediation, and yoga twice a day, and no evening meal. For me that was a challenge, because I like my food! The first two weeks of this silent retreat were hell for me. I got very sick, as I was detoxing intensely. There was a German woman nearby, next to my banana leaf, who was doing walking meditation, and was irritated by my non-spiritual involvement. I could do nothing but stare up at her under my pink Teletubby hat I’d purchased at the local Lahu store. We developed a silent dislike for each other. After two weeks, it was Shivaratri Night and I stayed up all night chanting, drinking soy milk and eating jaggeree I experienced 180 degree psychological shift, a paradigm shift, a change in my perspective. The latter two weeks was, dare I say it, bliss! Not that this remained. But I used to wake up every morning with the song ‘What a Wonderful World This Is’ playing in my head, looking up at trees and leaves.
Here is a link to a poem I wrote at the time:
Let it go, let it go
Like the leaves on the tree
Let it go, let it be
And then you will see
I am still learning from this poem.
Post leaving the jungle, I embarked on training with one of my teacher’s teachers, Master Ajahn Chaiyuth Priyasith for one-to-one training. Since then, I have studied with many more teachers and colleagues, trained as a Yoga, Pilates and Mindfulness teacher as well as Psychology and Counselling, and other mind-body healing arts.