I attended a retreat in Bali last August. This blog series chronicles my adventures.

August 2, 2012 Taipei Airport

I am at the Taipei airport and I’ve been here for 12 hours.  After having breakfast on the plane, which was appropriate given I left SFO last night at 6:40 p.m. and landed at what would have been morning in California, I disembarked in Taipei at 10 p.m. an entire day later.  I had focused on so many details of my trip, but I failed to look at what time I landed in Taipei.  So much for exploring the city in the middle of the night! And in pouring rain.

One of life’s traveling lessons that I learned when I went to Italy last year was to bring a baggie of necessities to freshen up for long flights.  I had airport approved quart sized baggie filled with a tooth brush, travel-size toothpaste, contact solution and body toilettes, usually reserved for gym work outs. As I groggily left the plane and struggled to get my bearings, I was directed to the upper level to hang out for my extended layover.  I found a bathroom to freshen up and was relieved to see there is an international symbol for “Ladies” as I gratefully located the skirt outlined stick figure on the bathroom door.

 

 

While I was tired and my contacts were dry from my recent nap, I was pleasantly surprised to get off the plane with a feeling of confident ease, a complete absence of nervousness, about figuring out how to get around a foreign airport.  Last year, I was completely overwhelmed in Germany and it took a lot of effort to find my way.  Fortunately, that was not the case this year.

I wandered to one of the airport directories and was immediately impressed. The airport has an art gallery, prayer rooms, an orchid garden, a playground, and not just any playground – a Hello Kitty playground, relaxation locations, reading locations, a multitude of shops from the standard fare to high end boutiques.  The airport was clean and friendly.  While it was late, I wasn’t sleepy.  Excitement set in and I decided to start my exploration focusing on the art gallery, the prayer rooms and the orchids.

 

 

Admittedly, I didn’t have very high expectations for the orchid garden.  After all, I am at an airport.  I failed to recognize I was in an airport in a region that lives for orchids.  The orchid garden was amazing!  Orchids are a significant agricultural crop for Taiwan and they appear to have cornered the orchid market based on what I read at the orchid garden.  I shot some amazing photos and was so moved by the flower’s exquisite beauty that I changed the background of my Facebook page to one of my orchid photos.

 

 

Next stop, art gallery: a display on perception in black and white.

As I made my way through the airport, I enjoyed a colorful display describing the local aborigines.  They had a detailed photo display of the various tribes, where they lived and the highlights of their culture. It was fascinating to read about their cultures – so contrary to the modern day, techno crazed society in which I live.

 

Finally, I discovered the prayer rooms.  I was struck by the serenity nestled in the midst of a bustling concourse.  Here I am in a Taipei airport and I have a choice of prayer rooms to explore my spirituality, find a moment of peace, or simply reflect in the comfort of my belief system.  I find myself appreciative of the airport planning process that thought to include this non-traditional offering in a commercial hub of international travel.

There were three diverse prayer rooms.  One was Christian and it reminded me of a hospital chapel. One looked orthodox and as I peered inside, there was a section for men and one for women and they were separated by a screen.  Neither of these felt like a good choice for me.  Feeling a bit like Goldilocks, I peeked into the third room – the meditation room filled with a peacefulness flowing from Buddha.  There were prayer/mediation mats on the floor and an alter with incense and two ornately carved wooden screens.  There was a polite reminder to remove your shoes.  This porridge was just right.

I removed my shoes and stepped inside.  Immediately, I felt at home.  The hustle of the airport and weight of lengthy travel was a distant memory. I selected a mat and sat down to meditate.  I softened my face and closed my eyes. I let my mind quiet and settle.  My meditations usually start with breathing in a healing, loving life force that looks like an emerald fog misting through my body. Green from the heart chakra for love and healing.  I sat for an undetermined time breathing in a healing, loving energy and releasing anything that was not serving me. Once I released everything that was not serving me, I envisioned myself surrounded by a glowing green aura that represented love. From this space, I exhaled – breathing out love to the world. I started sharing it with my immediate surroundings – the airport and then Taipei. I eventually extended it to the entire world, until I could see the world covered with a brilliant green glow, surrounded in love and healing energy.  It was very interesting doing this from Taipei.  Generally, I do this from Napa. I start with sending out the energy to my home, then my community, then Napa, then CA, then the US, and so on until I cover the world. It was rather interesting to be starting from Taiwan and working my way around the world to CA!

Once I completed my ritual to embrace love and share it with the world, I decided to meditate on each chakra and its corresponding color, some with more intention than others:

Red –  Root chakra – is responsible for the ability to be grounded, to be present in the here and now.  I meditated on being grounded in life to keep me centered for the adventures that were about to begin.

Orange –  Sacral Chakra – is found in the abdomen and this chakra is the center of creativity. I sought openness to creativity so that it would flow during my retreat. I sought expressiveness in writing and art.

Yellow – Solar Plexus Chakra is found between the solar plexus and the navel.  It is the source of personal power. It is associated with the ease with which one is able to be themselves – the ease of being.

Green – the Heart Chakra – is centered in the chest and is a healing, loving force.

Blue – the Throat Chakra – regulates our ability to communicate honestly and forcefully.

Indigo – the Third Eye – This chakra is associated with the deep inner level of being and intuition, also associated with the subconscious or unconscious in the western traditions.

Violet, Gold and White – the Crown Chakra – this chakra represents a soulful connection to our source. Considering I am going to be in a spiritual place with a goal of connecting richly with myself, this chakra was my focus for a fulfilling and meaningful voyage into growth and purpose.

I remained in the meditation room until I felt complete, rested and satisfied.  It was a beautiful, and unexpected, way for me to start this trip.

I left the mediation room and slipped back into my sandals.  I wandered and explored until my back hurt under the weight of my loaded backpack, which signaled it was time to find a place to sit.  I made my way down a concourse until I experienced a taste of the States – on the second story I spied a Burger King and Starbucks.  I made my way up the stairs to discover both American franchises were closing.  The lady at Starbucks generously filled my water bottle so I could hydrate as I pulled out my computer.  While night had fallen on Taipei, it was the start of a normal day for me.