Sunrise at 37,000 feet over Siberia. It was stunningly beautiful. Still. Peaceful. Time was already shifting. Or was it my relationship to time? I had been traveling for many hours and had completely lost any sense of what time, and even what day, it was.
I was in the middle of a 48-hour journey from Boston to the jungle in the south of Thailand – hurtling through the sky toward what I sensed would be a completely different world. And in that moment, as I sat mesmerized by this spectacular sunrise, I had the feeling that perhaps that different world was already reaching out to find me.
I arrived in Bangkok very late in the evening. After a few hours of sleep in a hotel near the airport, I met my fellow travelers from Europe for the final leg of our journey. We had a short flight down to Phuket on the southern coast of Thailand and then drove north for about three hours into Khao Sok National Park. Located in one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world, the new Anurak Community Lodge would be our home base for the next five days.
As we drove through towns and villages along the coastline and then began to ascend into the mountains, the surroundings felt both new and oddly familiar. Once again, something was happening with time. It was as if time was somehow opening up and slowing down. In the last two days, I had traveled halfway around the world and would have expected to be exhausted by now, yet I was fully awake and eager to take it all in. I had the feeling that the beautiful limestone spires and curiously shaped mountains all around us were holding us in their embrace. It was healing, and I felt so welcomed by this new world.
Arriving at the Anurak Lodge in the late afternoon, I quickly settled into my cozy cottage on stilts and headed to the open-air dining pavilion and bar where I would meet my companions. We were a group of seven men and two women from three countries. We had come to the jungle to be inspired as we continued our work together on a project.
Yet it became clear to us very quickly that the “work” would come in its own time. Time seemed to work differently here in the jungle. It was slower. It was quieter. Nothing happened in a hurry. It felt unfamiliar when compared to our fast-paced normal lives, and yet was so right. An unspoken awareness and agreement quietly moved through our group — a recognition that we should just follow the energy of the moment and see where it would lead us. There was an unacknowledged yet tangible trust that whatever needed to happen during these days would happen.
Although we had planned to begin our first working session right after breakfast the following morning, upon arriving at the dining pavilion, we learned that monks from local Buddhist monasteries would arrive within a couple of hours to lead a blessing ceremony for the new lodge. Our plans for the morning were immediately rearranged by an unexpected and beautiful ceremony that, as it turned out, created a powerful opening for our work together. Soon, we and the entire staff of the lodge were sitting cross-legged on mats on the floor of the open-air pavilion listening to the hypnotic chanting of the nine monks and participating, as best we could, in what was happening.
On the third morning, we left the lodge for an overnight trip to Rachaprabha Lake. After an hour-long drive, we climbed into a longtail boat for the one-and-a-half-hour-trip to a floating lodge at the other end of the lake where we would spend the night. We were told that our accommodations would be very simple and basic. Indeed, they were, and so perfect for the continued unfolding of our Thai jungle experience.
It’s difficult to find words that can capture the incredible beauty and magic of Rachaprabha Lake. Here, time seemed to completely stop. The day seemed to stretch on and on in the most wonderful way. We arrived at the floating lodge just after noon, enjoyed a quick swim in the bathtub-warm, clear, sparkling lake, and then were served a simple lunch. In the afternoon, we had a very creative work session while sitting around an old table on wooden benches and plastic chairs. We were in the open air, surrounded by the lake and the jungle—an amazing “meeting room!” The combination of the setting and working with an intuitive drawing exercise brought very helpful insights about our project. After a while, however, the call of the lake overtook us and back into the water we went.
In the afternoon, we had a very creative work session while sitting around a picnic table on wooden benches and plastic chairs in the open air, surrounded by the lake and the jungle. The combination of the setting and working in a very intuitive process brought helpful insights about our project. After a while, however, the call of the lake overtook us and back into the water we went.
As the day faded to dusk, the sunset over Rachaprabha brought me to an even deeper stillness within. I was amazed at how well I slept that night, even though my “bed” was just a thin mattress on the bamboo floor of my little floating hut. Occasionally, I was awakened by the sounds of the gibbons (monkeys) as they called out to one another and sang their complex songs across different parts of the jungle and even across the lake. I drifted in and out of deep sleep. It was a night I will not soon forget.
As the first light shone over Rachaprabha the next morning, I was already sitting on the porch of my little hut to greet the new day. The night had brought me back to a stillness inside that I hadn’t experienced for quite some time. In that early dawn, I realized how much I had been longing for that stillness.
It appeared that Rachaprabha was working her magic on others in our group, as well. Shifts seemed to be happening within everyone on some level. We sat silently in awe and wonder, each on our own little porches, just taking in the moment. Slowly, the early morning fog lifted to reveal the soft colors of dawn – colors that would soon vanish into the full light of day.
Later that day, after traveling back to Anurak Lodge, we experienced a breakthrough in our work. Although we had received many insights and had been making progress on our project, we had all felt that something was still missing. Then suddenly, while working with the Transformational Presence “Learning Forward” exercise, everything became clear. Being in the jungle and on the lake, allowing ourselves to step into a slower flow of time, and surrendering to the primal rhythms and elements of life had opened us up to greater clarity and creativity. The breakthrough we had been hoping for had come.
A day later, we traveled back to Bangkok where we said our farewells and continued on our separate journeys home. Now, six weeks later, our project continues to show us the way forward. What was a dream is now becoming a reality. We are experiencing a momentum that would not have happened so quickly had we not stepped out of our comfortable and habitual worlds and into the expansiveness and spaciousness of time that was waiting for us in Thailand.
This trip was also a turning point for me, personally, and for my work. Touching that stillness deep inside once again brought a realignment within that has inspired a new burst of creative energy and a clearer vision for the next decade. Since I’ve returned home, every day has brought new discoveries. The Khao Sok jungle and Rachaprabha remain with me. I am incredibly grateful. And I’m so happy to have come home once again to the deep stillness within.
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