After a few days in Chiang Mai, the girl I had been talking to in my hostel mentioned that she was going to a farm to learn to meditate and save a bit of money, suggesting that I accompany her. Great! I had always been interested in meditation and the farm seemed like a great place! Get up in the morning, do yoga for an hour, have breakfast, work the land for three hours, ‘skill share’ in the afternoon and meditate after dinner. It seemed like the perfect balance between hard work and learning to quieten your mind.
It got off to a great start, twenty four of us in one tiny little yellow bus, all getting to know each other on the long four hour ride there. People sitting on the roof, the floor and hanging out the back of it. It was an experience I’m certain I won’t forget anytime soon! The first day at the farm was pretty relaxed and we all got to know each other fairly well.
Over the next four days, however, I realised how disorganised the farm was. There was very little instruction in what to do whilst we were there and no instruction on how to meditate, the very thing I was there to learn! There was stress on keeping your mind level, but there was no guidance on how to achieve a level mind. In fact, I had to learn how to meditate from another volunteer instead of the owner of the programme! Not exactly ideal, and certainly not what I was paying for!
Don’t get me wrong, I loved cooking on the farm, it is a foodie paradise! Using all the fresh ingredients that were picked that morning and creating something amazing with them, although only after the volunteers cooked. The resident cook served the same few dishes every meal every day, which I could not stomach after two days. Thankfully the whole camp decided it was better to cook ourselves. Thanks to a pair of Italian girls we had fresh bread and bruschetta, tomato gnocchi and fried potatoes. The freshness of the ingredients just made it all that much better! (I am certainly convinced that a foodie trip to Italy is in order!) I loved being able to pick a banana off the tree and eat it. Or a strawberry from the garden or lemongrass for tea. It was a a great experience in that sense!
What did make it worth it was the view. Every morning waking up to the sound of birds and experiencing sunrise with a view of banana trees and rice fields was a beautiful sight. If I had to endure a few cold water showers for it, then so be it! However, as far as meditation went, it was not good. I felt a lot of the time like the owner was not overly interested in teaching, but in having manual labour that he got us to pay for in the first place!
Overall, I’m glad I went, I’m happy for the friends I met at the farm, but in retrospect I perhaps would do an actual meditation course. Upon returning to Chiang Mai I found myself moving straight towards the little fairytale themed cafe that I loved and blissing out on wifi and iced tea! The perfect antidote to a long week on a farm!