In our latest guest post on Amanda’s Wanderlust, Kellie Mogg from The Wandering Movement (formerly Gypsy Tomato) shares her experience of discovering Mindful Farming in Thailand…
When people find out I spent three months in Thailand, usually one of the first assumptions is that I spent my nights dancing and downing booze as if the entire population of backpackers there are at a never-ending full moon party. However, my reality wasn’t quite so liver damaging
In fact, one of my favorite experiences from Thailand came from my time on a farm so simply named Mindful Farm about a three hour songthaew (a type of passenger transport in Thailand) ride northwest of Chiang Mai in Samoeng.
The farm is run by an ex-monk, his Japanese wife, and their trilingual 3 year old daughter as well as the ever rotating batch of volunteers.
The premise was simple, volunteers worked a few hours a day on the organic farm, helped prepare vegetarian meals that all came from the farm, sold excess food at the market and paid a very small stipend to supplement the rest of their stay.
We enjoyed silent breakfasts looking out over the garden, daily yoga, and group meditation followed by inspiring and usually entertaining stories from the ex-monk who we called Peenan (I have no idea the proper spelling but it did translate to some form of ‘father’.)
Part of the family
He would remind us that we were family and that he considered us his children and that he wanted to plant the seed of mindfulness in our hearts so that we may go out into the world and spread this concept which would eventually result in peacefulness. The calming energy surrounding that place was undeniable.
During my nine days there, I experienced two of the best yoga teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet who were also volunteers.
One of them had been on the farm for over a month and the level of patience and intention behind every word she spoke while she led us through asanas and meditation was transformational. This authentic intention transferred from her words to our physical movements.
Meet the volunteers
Lunch and dinner were social occasions. A variety of nationalities represented, but all with the same motivation to be more mindful. Some people had specific interest in organic food, living sustainably, or maybe just escaping consumerism. But every person there was on the search for something deeper in life and for peace at mind.
Discussions would range and we would challenge each other without tempers ever rising. Intention to learn and to better our understanding of the world and our purpose was behind every conversation or group discussion allowing a safe zone of expression.
On my last full day there, we actually had an entire day of silence. The point was, of course, to practice mindfulness. To think only of what was happening at that moment. We all took the day off from work and a couple neighbouring farmers actually carried out the preparation of our meals for us. Partaking in any activities, even reading or writing, was discouraged. The day was for living each moment fully.
Philosophies not rules
A few weeks earlier, I had tried another meditation retreat centre but it was more heavily influenced by traditional Buddhism. Although I agree with a lot of Buddhist theories, I’ve never been able to feel too comfortable with organised religion.
That is another reason Mindful Farm spoke to me so much. Although Penaan was an ex-monk and still held faith in Buddhism, it was more of his intention to live by, and to share, the philosophies rather than the rules.
At the first meditation retreat centre, I was required to sit in the back and I was not allowed to speak with any of the monks in private because I am a woman. However, at Mindful Farm, sitting order did not matter as long as you were respecting the space of your neighbour and on the first day Penaan spoke to me privately to get to know me and to welcome me to the family.
It was a very beautiful balance of traditional philosophy integrated into a more new age appreciation for the way in which our society has evolved. I would recommend this farm to anyone traveling to Thailand.
But in general, wherever you are traveling, I would advise to seek out opportunities that integrate you into the culture and allow you to contribute as a part of the community. To see the world without truly seeing the people of the world is missing over half the point.
Words and pictures courtesy of Kellie Mogg.
After getting a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Oklahoma, Kellie has been travelling for the past two years mainly on the US festival circuit, on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Thailand.
She is passionate about writing, all things handmade, conscious eating, fire dancing, and education. In her writing, she aims to always convey her message with authenticity and to share what she feels is most pertinent to an overall happy existence. You can follow Kellie on her travels at The Wandering Movement (formerly Gypsy Tomato).