This blog post “Love can Heal” is the third and last part of our blog series about the Healing Journey event we organized in October 2019. Do you want to know what this Healing Journey is about? Read part I of this series about Meditation as a Cure to Cancer. Part II of this blog series was about an afternoon swimming at the lake that perfectly represents the mindset of this Healing Center.
Thank you to the Cancer
Every morning patients and caregivers come together in the main hall for their morning routine. We do some yoga, yoga nidra and breathing exercises, led by Swami Atma. The goal is to bring relaxation, joy, and connection. There is one woman who tells us she is even grateful for the cancer. Before she was living in Bangkok, had a hectic lifestyle and was working in Business. Having cancer and coming to this place showed her what she was actually missing in her life: joy, warmth and a deeper connection with people around. She said:
Some people are sick in the mind and some in the body.
Just like a Community
During the day we visit the patients that cannot leave their bed or attend the group activities. We sing a song for them, make music together, or do a meditation. We try to give these people our full attention from the heart.
The people live here either with a family member in a house or with other patients in a dorm when their caregiver comes only once in a while. Having a family member or friend who cooks for them and takes care of the medicinal herbs, is one of the reasons this place can be free of charge. They also live from donations. Sometimes the whole family lives here, including children. Baby Buddha is a 1-year-old boy, who lost his mother to cancer 4 months ago. Now he continues living with his father in the house and steals the heart of not only the women and girls looking after him but that of everyone.
Children running around, university students regularly coming to volunteer and people like us visiting, make this place very lively. There is also a vegetable garden, cows live on the property and the staff drives around in golf carts. This palliative care center reminds me much more of a village-like bungalow park, then to a hospital. I am already hoping for a second visit.
Being here is not only healing for the patients, but also for myself. I was a very creative child. Up until the age of 10, my only hobby was painting and drawing. When I was four, I would make up my own songs in the car and sing them until it drove my mother crazy. Later during music classes, I learned that I wasn’t very good at keeping tone. So what happened to me, counts for a lot of us I assume. As humans, we are all very creative beings, but at a certain point in life judgment comes in.
We feel that we should only express our creativity if we’re really good at it.
And still, then, talented people often reach a point where they give up because the pressure to perform well becomes too high. The issue with not doing what you love is that it dries us out from the inside. The Prana, or life force, stops running through our veins. We even create internal blockages that might lead to diseases in the longer run. So I want to share the story of our second night in the Healing Temple with you, hoping that it might inspire you.
We all gather outside. Bamboo mats are rolled out on the floor, a typical Thai way to create a festive and ceremonial atmosphere. We have prepared a creative painting session for tonight. But first, our group mate Dan Quing from China brings a Korean song. She sings through a microphone and is accompanied by a sound system for the instrumental version. When it’s over the abbot says loudly “Belgium, sing!”
I am the only Belgian in our group. This afternoon during a private meeting with our group and the abbot, we introduced ourselves and spoke about our hobbies. I had mentioned singing but explicitly said that I wasn’t very good at it. Nonetheless, the request of the abbot sparks a mix of excitement and fear in me. While mumbling “yes” and grabbing my phone I try to think of a song. The only song that pops up is Garota de Ipanema, a Brazilian song that I learned during my exchange year. I put on the karaoke version and sing the first words. Somewhere in the back, I hear a voice slightly out of tone singing the same lyrics. I soon realize this voice is me. I continue singing as good as I can while fluttering my floral skirt. People are applauding and cheering me up.
When I sit down again I get a big high five from my friend Kerri. I feel so proud for having done this! Soon after all the other members of my group follow. Later I think of this quote:
Don’t wait until you’re perfect
for doing something that makes you happy!
You might inspire one person,
and even if that person is you,
isn’t that enough?
Heart to heart Healing
On our last night here we organize a touching circle. The first time we did this workshop in the Mindfulness Project I had a lot of questions. “We are going to touch each other?” “What does that mean?” “And how?” “And where?” However, touch is a very important thing for human beings and babies will even die if they don’t receive it. We still cuddle our own and someone else’s children, but the older we grow, it’s hard to receive touch in a non-sexual context. Therefore we want to organize it here at the Healing Center.
One-fourth of the group comes together in a circle on the ground. The other people stand around them and in the middle. When the music starts playing, the people standing slowly put their hands on the shoulders, head, neck, back and arms of the people in the middle. They stroke, squeeze and massage the body parts. It’s as if we are giving pure love to a baby. The people being touched have their eyes closed and radiate pure bliss.
As a conclusion for these three days at the Healing Temple, I can say that I believe all people have healing powers. Because love can heal!
Watch our video about the Healing Journey:
This video and most pictures in this blog series are taken by Audrey Parfait. She was a long term volunteer at the Mindfulness Project and is a journalist in the outside bubble we call “life”.