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In October 2014 I did my first trip to Asia ever.

I was able to travel during 5 weeks on that trip, weeks in which I dedicated my time to explore Thailand and a tiny bit of Cambodia. I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed about jumping between destinations every 3 days. My life plan and situation back then craved for some peaceful and easy-going pace. I did this trip entirely on my own and it turned out to be among the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

On my quest for peace and far away lands I was delighted to the top with exquisite unimagined bites. My brain and my whole self wandered freely while being taken into a constant dance of flavours and aromas. Not without experiencing sounds and sights beyond my deepest dreams.

This two places are just one small sample of all that Asia is: vast, humble, exquisite and welcoming.

Despite being a small sample as I chose it, it left a huge mark on me. It all went deep into my veins and throughout my body. And now my brain knows this place and it craves for more. Asia calls me ever since. I will certainly go back, probably for a longer stay.

During my last days in Thailand, the even deeper instinct inside guided me to a meditation retreat.

Completely isolated from my world, my people and my reality. I need and wanted it. So I did the obvious: get myself into a buddhist monastery for a few days. Nothing I had experienced before but something that suddenly felt right.

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Here’s a list of things (said in simple words, the exact words that came out when I wrote this down just after my experience) that I learned while sharing and absorbing the wisdom of the buddhist mindset…one that got into me. I’m definitely not becoming a buddhist nun but I certainly took some lessons for my daily life and overall wisdom. I hope you can see a few lessons in here also suitable and enjoyable for you.

Without further ado:

22 Lessons from a Hardcore Buddhist Meditation Retreat in Thailand

1. We don’t need as much food as we think we do.

2. Just a few squares of toilet paper are enough to keep you clean. Don’t waste.

3. The body is wise, always seeking for its natural rhythm and cycles without you even noticing. But it struggles due to the usual modern lifestyle nowadays. Not healthy.

4. Dipping inside your mind is quite releasing, relieving and empowering.

5. Not talking at all for days is tough but also interesting. Complete silence: a must-try some time.

6. The brain works in mysterious and powerful ways. Better get to know it before it plays tricks on you. Plus, the best relationship with yourself will come through this.

7. We need to know ourselves better. Silence is the best and only way for a start. Most people fear it…but the results are truly unique. To me, writing is the best way to know myself. What’s yours?

8. Always eat light food. The feeling on the long run is just wonderful and amazingly useful.

9. Control your impulses. Mostly regarding food and hyper-connectivity: our modern worst enemies.

10. Sing out loud. Enjoy it deeply and learn to not care if others are listening. Singing is a powerful soul cleanser.

11. Following the body’s natural rhythm is good and it feels good after you learn to actually notice it. Sleeping early, waking up early after several days during the retreat is the best proof. It all suddenly felt like falling back into place. Amazing. I promise.

12. Focus on the moment you’re at every time. Whether it’s eating, walking, talking, peeing, pooping, reading. Be there. Be present.

13. Bugs and insects are really harmless. No actual need to panic and kill them in one slap. Let them be. It’s interesting what happens when you do this…even when sharing the shower and you feel like creeping out! Just interesting.

14. Boredoom hours are beyond fatal. Makes you feel insane. Avoid them.

15.  Having hobbies is vital. No, the internet is not a hobby.

16. Breathing deeply and doing it consciously and frequently during the day can make you feel light, good and calm. The world needs more of this. It’s free!

17. We can have a good life with far fewer possessions. Call it appliances, clothing, electronics, luxury or whatever you feel like cutting off. Just do it. Sometimes it’s even interesting how some of our collecting habits are a hidden meaning of something else.

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18. We need to go out and blend with nature more frequently. Real nature: silent, fresh, away from any kind of cement jungle.

19. Missing people and being missed is a good and healthy part of life. One thing leads to another into a chain of goodness: good relationships, good communication, good social interaction.

20. Focus. Again. Whatever it is that you are doing, just focus on it.

21. Be here. Be present. I repeat these words inside my head every time I start to do something. Makes me ease down nicely.

22. Be thankful. Thinking on what you’re grateful for every day makes an interesting thing inside your brain. Be curious, try it out.

This list is just a sample of what I sensed and learned. Your experience might be different, but there are certainly some general lessons in life that can be applied to anyone and anywhere.

Why not try some if these if you feel like it? Take some time every day to sit down and feel your body. Not trying to think or manage your thoughts. Just see what your body feels like.

In the end is about feeling like your true self.

Your happiest, your best.

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Dr. Mariana Calleja

Mariana Calleja is a doctor, writer and entrepreneur. Teaching people healthy habits that stick, and how to manage stress to live a better, healthier, calmer life. Pain management specialist, with a deep story of her own on learning how to heal a personal sexual pain, that would allow her embrace and live a true, meaningful life. (More on the blog.)

Mariana is an absolute advocate of communication, relationships, tackling taboos and digging inner fears for better living. Health is a whole. Mindset, awareness and communication are the key to a good, calm, healthy life.

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  1. Wow Mariana, que belleza de articulo, realmente interesante, retador y muy consistente. De verdad me alegra muchisimo por vos y gracias por compartirlo. Son estas cosas las que nunca se sabe cuanta inspiracion, retos y realidades pueden influir en una o varias personas.
    De verdad gratificante. Un besote mi amor y no parés de sorprenderme, felicidades por el camino escogido, vas muy bien!!!

    1. Aw me encantan tus palabras, gracias de corazón! Realmente increíble además lo de la meditación. Si algo de esa sabiduría y experiencia sirve a otros, para mí es genial poder compartirla. Un abrazote!

  2. hi there,

    It sounds like an amazing experience, although I am sure not always an easy one! I spent time meditating with a monk in Myanmar albeit for a shorter period and many of your lessons resonate with me.

    I’m going to Thailand later this year, it would be great to know the name of the monastery you did your training at please?


    1. Hi Phil! Thank you so much on your comment. Glad to see how many people finds this idea interesting, wondering on experiencing it at some point. It was certainly tough but I can’t wait to go on it again. The values I gained from that time alone are forever. And the whole experience ends up being one of the best things you can sense. Of course many people will differ. It might not be just for everyone. Personally, I enjoyed what I learned those days.

      The monastery I attended was Doi Suthep Temple’s meditation centre. This is their website: http://www.fivethousandyears.org/ | I wrote them and didn’t get immediate response. In the end I called the place since I was in the area, which made it all easier and faster for me to attend. Good luck! Would love to hear if you get to attend some meditation retreat and how it goes 🙂

      Dr. Mariana

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