Vol. VIII No. 24 - Tuesday
June 16 - June 22, 2009



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Chiang Mai FeMail  by Elena Edwards
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Happiness is dog-shaped at Care for Dogs’ 3rd anniversary party

Taming the ‘wild mustang’ mind

New Soroptimist scholarship for brilliant Ban Tawai girl

 

Happiness is dog-shaped at Care for Dogs’ 3rd anniversary party

Everyone’s in a party mood...the Care for Dogs’ 3rd anniversary party!

Elena Edwards
We all feel better when we’re given love, attention and cuddles…the same held true on Sunday 7 for the dogs being cared for at the Care for Dogs Shelter in Samoeng. Not, of course, that they don’t get lots of love from the CFD volunteers and Karin, the director of the shelter—but when lots of people turn up as well, a dog’s life improves that little bit more!

The appropriately named, ‘Fluffy’, small, cute, white, and settled happily in his new home.
Care for Dogs has being doing just that—caring for dogs—strays, street dogs, sick dogs, injured dogs, pregnant dogs and their puppies, unwanted dogs, dumped dogs, old dogs and very young dogs since its founding 3 years ago. It’s hard work, chasing donations, (and often chasing dogs…), vet runs, collecting dogs, rescuing dogs, dealing with everything from ignorance to downright cruelty and stupidity, educating, vaccinating, removing ticks, spraying, de-worming, forcing tablets past rows of sharp teeth down reluctant doggy throats, arranging for speying and castrating, bathing, brushing—the list is endless, as are the costs. The upside, of course, is watching the sick or injured get well, and the endless cuddles from an endless number of grateful dogs. The real thrill comes when a dog who, on arrival at the shelter, was scared rigid of humans and covered in mud, dirt, ticks and fleas after being kept in a cage or worse by its so-called owner, is chosen and re-homed by a kind person or family who, simply, love to love dogs!
Three years on…a real cause for celebration, attended throughout the day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by a great many supporters of the shelter, who enjoyed a delicious lunch, music from a very ‘cool’ live jazz band, a ‘meet and greet’ with friends, and the undivided attention of a large number of happy, (if rather muddy-footed), dogs. The road had been closed so that tents could be erected; tables and chairs were set out to make the dining experience more comfortable! The rain, which had been threatening all day, managed to hold off until almost exactly 4 p.m…about the time when this writer found herself in possession of Dog No 5, an irresistible small, white ball of fur graced by the obvious name of Fluffy, who had been cared for at volunteer Teresa’s home for three weeks after being hit by a car. For the story of this seriously cute little lad, photos and all, please go to http://www. carefordogs.org/fluffy-needs-a-home/, and, while you’re there, take a look at the rest of the site as well; sadly, not all such stories have happy endings and the shelter needs all the help and donations it can get! A happy ending to a great day…a total of 6 dogs were adopted! We wish Care for Dogs a very happy anniversary and a great many more years to carry on their valuable work! Well done, you guys!

 

Taming the ‘wild mustang’ mind

A meditation experience

Muju Sangria
‘Lifting, moving, lowering, and putting’, I whispered softly to myself, as I gingerly placed my left foot on the frigid stone-paved walking path in Wat Ram Poeng, Chiang Mai. It was 7 a.m.; I wasn’t alone—several others, all dressed in long white gowns, were walking in the same incredibly slow manner. Visitors might assume this place is a psychiatric center if they hadn’t known what was going on in our minds!
Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Mai is much closer to nature and is a seductive paradise of holistic studies. When you arrive, you find yourself surrounded by ads for yoga, cooking schools, herbal medicine, and chi gong. For the majority of these courses, fees are involved. However, if you are a budget traveller with an interest in holistic studies, the meditation retreat at Wat Ram Poeng, where only small donations are accepted, is an excellent choice to begin your life in the city.
Wat Ram Poeng, or Northern Insight Meditation Centre, is a pleasant temple which accepts both foreigner and local Thais for meditation retreats. The temple is pervaded with the smell of incense and tranquility, taking you away from the hawkers peddling guidebooks and posters in the city centre. Large trees diffuse the sunlight into pale rays of light and monks’ chanting resonates throughout the temple. Stay there as long as you want—10 days, a month or even a year, but only if you can cope with the daily meditation assignments.
I’ve tried the 10 days’ meditation, in fact, 14 days, as I sneaked out from the temple on the 4th day, grabbed a Latte, fetched my meagre belongings and made time for some conversations! Not a nice experience, though, as the outside world seemed in turmoil, voiding all the practice conducted previously. On out return, I and another two farangs were greeted by an English-speaking monk at the Wat’s International Meditation Office. ‘Meditation is very difficult, you do not come here for a holiday’, he reminded us in a very solemn voice, adding, ‘you come here to battle with your own self’. He than led us to our segregated dormitory, and guided us through out warm-up exercises.
Every day, we reported to the teacher, ajarn Suphan, who would distribute new assignments and assist us in prolonging our practice hours. Reporting time was my favourite as, after long hours of practice, it was a real energy boost and gave me the strength to continue. There were times when I told him I felt so frustrated and weary, yet he would simply grin and tell me that was perfectly normal—just be mindful of such feelings.
There were both external and internal limitations during the meditation process. The exterior challenges were easier to handle; no writing, no reading, no talking, no eye contact, and only liquids like yogurt or milk after noon. My mind had prepared for this prior to coming here, yet my body was constantly attacked by hunger. A truly difficult task was concentrating entirely on the meditation, alternating between sitting and walking. For example, when sitting, you need to think about ‘breathing in, breathing out, sitting, point one on the left hip bone, and point two on the right hip bone’. Numerous obstacles arrive throughout the process: you doze off, you think about the succulent gooseberry pie you had two weeks ago at party, you wonder why that dog is barking outside—and what the heck you are doing here… Not an easy task to tune your body into absolute silence, since your body yearns to be entertained.
It was a fascinating experience because it’s a heightened state of awareness, a confrontation with your own self. When at work, you might well be able to mastermind multi-million dollar deals, but here you will find it difficult to turn your mind from specific emotions. The thing that intrigues me the most out of this meditation experience is the concept of acknowledgment, which is the core of meditation. This is crucial, as it keeps you calm at all times— a very helpful self-defense mechanism.
The Buddha said, ‘One may conquer a thousand men in thousand battles. But the person who conquers himself is the greatest conqueror’. I can’t say too much about life in the Wat, but— if you want to tame your ‘wild mustang’ mind and find some peace, go ahead, try this yourself, and awaken the magical power within.
Wat Ram Poeng is at Tambon Suthep in Muang, Chiang Mai. For further details, please call +66 (0) 53-278-620, ext. 13, or visit www. watrampoeng.com.


New Soroptimist scholarship for brilliant Ban Tawai girl

Elena Edwards
No-one could accuse us women of ‘sitting on our laurels’, particularly when Soroptimists are involved! This week’s great news was that a very talented young female scholar living in Ban Tawai has been awarded a scholarship, thanks to a generous donation of 30,000 baht from Soroptimist president Cory Croymans’s brother.

Pictured, (l-r), after the presentation of the 6- year scholarship to the talented youngster, are Cory, proud Mum Ampah and Kathy, with new Soroptimist member Liz Lovett and Ricky Op de Laak.

Sarita Sriboonluang, (Kathy), 9 years old, has been in Cory’s sights for 3 years now, due to her excellent academic record...straight ‘A’s every year! Kathy is the daughter of a single mother, Ampah; the donation means that her education can continue for 6 years, as with all Soroptimist scholarships, without Ampah having to worry about finding further annual tuition fees. We wish Kathy well, and hope to hear again about her educational success!



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