Trip Start Jan 15, 2012
Trip End Feb 15, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay,
Monday, January 30, 2012

So, our next stop was... a monastery. OK! At least it wasn't a pagoda. We were the first tourists of the day and a young monk who wanted to practice his English asked if he could walk with us.

Monks were washing robes and hanging them to dry in front of barrack-like buildings. Others were sweeping. Some were talking in small groups and would smile shyly as we passed. Our personal monk asked if we wanted to meet his teacher. Of course we would.  He led us to a small stand-alone cabin and knocked on the door. A voice from inside replied that he was meditating and we should wait a few minutes.

When we met monk Ashin San Da Zow Ti, he told us that he went to school and lived in Port Arthur Texas for 5 years and showed us his scrapbook of pictures and memorabilia. He said that seeing people who had a lot of money but were very unhappy was his impetus to become a monk. He had been to New York City for 1 day. "Too much big!"

He asked if there was anything we would like him to teach us. Denise mentioned that she studied Yoga, but had a difficult time meditating... her mind would wander. He made us sit on the floor exactly where he wanted us... Not an inch too far from where we were told to sit. Thoughts of special prayers or Oommmmms flitted through our consciousness. We're we facing towards a special Buddah? Or, a special direction that would help focus meditative energy?

He then stepped over to a bookcase filled with all sorts of interesting looking volumes and proceeded to take out a small video camera and set it up on top. "I hope you don't mind but I would like to videotape this" he said as he sat down opposite us.

There we were in an ancient Buddhist monastery in the old Burmese royal city of Amarapura learning how to meditate from a saffron robed monk and he wants to tape the session. You have to run pretty fast to keep up with things nowadays.

He began by showing us how to breathe properly through our nose... Even breaths... Out should not be shorter or longer than in. That makes sense.

He then proceeded to show us how the stomach, or diaphragm should be connected to our breathing. He than went on to discuss how we should focus on the points where the body touches the floor. No screwed up contortioned legs... Just easily crossed. We were just starting to fall into a rhythm when "Pooff" there was a loud tapping at the window. It was our driver saying we had to hurry to catch the ferry to the island of Ava

We have no idea what he will do with the tape... perhaps we'll be on Burmese reality TV. We shook hands... He would not touch Denise's hand and he gave us his email address. I was ready to move on to something old…. The ancient capital of Ava.

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