Visiting spiritual places have an effect on us that last longer than our stay, it has always fascinated me to observe this every time I take on a journey to a special place (I actually make a conscious effort to continuously visit places that are known for their spirituality or power); My visit to Samye Ling did not fall short on my expectations, so let me share with you part of this experience with you.
Little did I know about Samye Ling, nor the fact that it is located in a relatively remote place in Scotland and was founded by Tibetan Monks, the journey itself holds a bit of magic, it seems like driving in the middle of nowhere when suddenly, the traveler sees a series of flags in the distance, and once you are there, then you start seeing the buildings & elements that belong to a Tibetan region, what is of particular interest is the combination of traditional elements melted with modern essentials (wifi, an advanced electronic booking system, etc), not long after we walked in we found a Tibetan Monk who greeted us he checked us in for our stay. The monk handed out a daily timetable that started at 6 am! (at that point I realized that although I was taking days off work, I was not going to have sleep ins, as I wanted to experience the WHOLE package during my stay), the Monk also kindly shared that 5 golden rules of the monastery, which set the tone of the visit:
1. To protect life and refrain from killing.
2. To respect other's property and refrain from stealing.
3. To speak the truth and refrain from lying.
4. To embrace health and refrain from intoxicants.
5. To respect others and refrain from harmful sexual activity.
I began to understand this place is about respecting all life, including the freedom from others, but at the same time you are invited to melt into community, this really is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. I look how the volunteers who live there have adapted and apart from looking chilled and happy, they wear comfy shoes they remove in a blink of an eye every time we enter a room (instead of me standing in 1 foot for about a minute trying to remove my winter boots, in what I attempt it to look as an effortless activity!...ha rookies like me are easy to spot).
I joined the first 1 hr. meditation session, being the first day at the center, it took some effort to keep the mind centered, then the pins and needles hit me after 45 min of cross legged sitting, my mind kept wondering looking at the temple and still thinking of the day to day concerns that started to melt away as I immersed myself deeper with the energy of the place. The chanting / praying session before bedtime did remove any leftover city concerns, and as I went to bed that night, I was feeling the spiritual vibe of the place. Woke up at 540 am the following day to get to morning prayers, a sleepy but eager me walks into the temple to find out several very awake monks & volunteers, I grabbed two cushions (in preparation to avoid more pins and needles!) as I sit to pray/meditate, shortly I found comfort and peace within the silence of the early morning. The sounds of gongs that call for Morning Prayer are heard across monastery. The meals are served at specific times (breakfast at 7 am), all food is vegetarian and very tasty.
As I wondered around visiting the place with my companion, I can’t stop myself from doing the odd yoga movement here and there (like for example… in the middle of the square!) of course my lack of shyness raises some eyebrows from day visitors who might not get the yogi spirit J, especially as I did arm balances on the snow!
The day to day continues and I began talking with the volunteers who live there, they just seem happy! The monks share meals with visitors, and they inspire huge respect, so I have a few doubtful thoughts before I dare to ask one of them about the possibility of me running a Yoga retreat, the smile and their answer is so welcoming, and soon after I find myself in the abbot’s office talking about possibilities and fixing a date, how amazing to have the opportunity to bring people to experience this fantastic place!.
I visited the Tibetan rooms for tea and coffee as I sat peacefully reading a book. Worth to say, there is a book on each bed time table so visitors can read, mine was “Restoring balance – Sharing Tibetan Wisdom –“ and I found it fitting to a particular time that was about to set off in the weeks that followed my visit to Samye Ling, I extract the quote below:
“The real challenge is to have balance and stability within continuous change”, little did I know at the time how timely this read was.
I spent a few days at the monastery, and I will be sure of coming back often.
I will co-host a Yoga retreat in Samye Ling on June 19 – 21st. It is really an opportunity that should not be missed, I am busy planning the themes and each yoga class with precision, with the intention to give the practitioner a space for transformation, giving also the space for the individual to immerse themselves in the daily time table that I so much enjoyed.
Thanks for reading
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Yoga teacher & Senior Scientist working full time with a major Multinational.