Dawn At The Shwedagon - 2
November 27th - December 2nd 2015

The flight wasn’t too long and we arrived at our hotel at dusk.

I was so glad Jules was with me. I have traveled alone quite a lot but I’m not sure I would have felt comfortable in Yangon all by myself.

We unpacked, and headed off on foot looking for somewhere to eat.

That was an interesting exercise and we made our way back to the hotel to sit down at one of their three available restaurants – Chinese it would be!

I looked at Jules excitedly and said, “Sunrise is at 5.25am tomorrow morning, so I will be catching a cab to the Pagoda at 5am. You coming?”

Poor Julius.

He was up at dawn. I was beyond excited to see this incredibly beautiful and spiritual monument and it was a full moon – how could I resist.

The Sun and the Moon emanate frequencies and these energy waves influence not only the Earth’s tides but also influence our physical bodies – it heightens our emotions and alters our behavior depending on what phase it is at.

The sun represents our masculine or yang archetype – it represents our ‘outer-world’, our personality and our ego and just as the sun does, it represents how we ‘shine our light’ out into the world. The Sun offers us strength, and courage.

The moon represents our yin or feminine goddess archetype. It represents our ‘inner world’, our hidden emotions, desires, our shadow-self, it represents our fears and our dreams. The gift of the moon offers us the ability to feel, to learn from the past and creatively unlock and express our essence.
The full moon gives us the opportunity to illuminate what has gone unseen. It can create challenges as we look at those places inside us that remain blocked, or that we feel are limited or restricted. The full moon exposes our shadow side and offers it up for healing.

The full moon is encouraging us to let go of that which no longer serves our highest or greatest good and is a powerful time for gratitude.

To be able to sit under the light of the silvery moon and meditate in this incredibly spiritual place was indeed an honour and a privilege and I would be sure to give thanks for this present moment – a true gift.

We arrived at the Shwedagon Pagoda not long after 5am. It was a beautiful morning, that familiar Asian summer that greats you warmly at sunrise. A spectacular full moon hung low in the sky, just above the golden stupor that was illuminated from the moons still radiant light.

There were people, mostly locals going about their prayer rituals, silently and peacefully, choosing their spot to honour and give thanks to their god.

This was a spectacular and beautiful temple.

Around 2,500 years old this sacred Buddhist site stands close to around 110 metres tall and sits atop Singutarra Hill in Yangon.

The Shwedagon Pagoda shines so brightly and is gilded in hundreds of gold plates, the top stupor encrusted in over four thousand diamonds – it is absolutely breathtaking.

We wandered around quietly, observing this sacred morning ritual. Buddhist monks came in numbers and I was so humbled to be sitting behind a group of them, my mala in hand, reciting what I could of their sacred mantra. It really calms me at the very centre of my being, right down deep in my heart space – the frequency they emanate when they chant is extraordinarily powerful and extraordinarily familiar.

During my meditation on each in breath I would allow the moon and the chanting monks to warm my heart and expand my gratitude and love for all beings at this present moment in time. I used every out breath to gently release all I was ready to let go of, all that no longer served me.

On this part of my journey and as I deepen my meditation practice I am deeply drawn to Buddhism in a very strong and palpable way – lucky I am where I am at this moment in time.

The hours passed peacefully and I will never ever forget my time here – although not quite over yet. There would still be more visits to the temple.

Jules and I went home after this magnificent morning and indulged in a local Burmese breakfast by the pool. We took to the streets of Yangon and visited some local markets and more temples. We had a very fun lunch at Monsoon that kind of turned into an early dinner!

It was home for a swim, and a mojito which tasted more like straight gin with a kind of strawberry liquor, needless to say that didn’t go down too well followed by a very early night.

The next morning we walked from our hotel, past the Pagoda, glistening in the morning light and made our way to Aung San Suu Kyi’s childhood home. It was a fascinating morning and a wonderful little insight into the life of this remarkable lady. We wandered around taking in the colourful streets of Yangon, getting a taste of local life in this bustling little town.

The day went quickly and we wandered down to the Pagoda late afternoon to be sure we made it by sunset. It was a wonderful experience making our way up the side streets to this majestic monument along with literally hundreds of others, a pilgrimage I imagine some make every day.

The little side streets were filled with tourist memorabilia and local food stalls offering all manner of interesting delicacies – however I wasn’t going to risk my sensitive western stomach on the local food tonight as it was my big day in front of the cameras and judges of Channel News Asia the following day.

The Shwedagon was a sea of people, thousands more than the previous morning’s visit. It looked unbelievable. There were these stunning little oil lamps around the entire base of the pagoda – it just looked extraordinary. A monk came up to Jules and I and offered to take us around the Pagoda and then gave us a beautiful blessing, lit some candles with us and went on his way. His eyes were framed with the most gentle of features and his calmness and reflectiveness radiated from his being. It was a very special moment indeed and one I will treasure forever. After and hour or so of taking in the sites and sounds of the evening ceremony we would make our way down the hundreds of steps and meander through the millions of tourist trinkets on offer.

As always Jules managed to find the most interesting and authentic momentos to take home. I don’t know how he does it but he always manages to stumble across the most beautiful little treasure amongst the sea of fake and somewhat horrible momentos. We came away with a huge solid wooden mala complete with red string, that would later look perfect on the wall at TempleSoul.

The following day was my big day.

I had just 5 minutes to impress the judges – and I’ll admit it – it was terrifying.

I arrived with the other contestants around 9am. Finding numbered houses on the streets of Yangon was challenging to say the least. After several attempts to find the place I stumbled across some other rather lost looking souls. Together we managed to find our meeting spot.

There were 13 entrants in total, from all over Asia.
It was a fascinating process and a long and exhausting day.

We did some workshops in the morning, had a break for lunch, met the judges and in the afternoon settled down and nervously awaited our time.

5 minutes goes very quickly and I’ll admit I’m not much of a salesperson.

Although I wasn’t victorious I had an awesome experience and met some really lovely entrepreneurs trying their hardest to catch a break.

I had a good chat to the judges about what I did well and what I could improve on all which helps enormously.

It was such a relief when it was all over. Jules and I made our way to the beautiful French restaurant Le Planteur for an amazing dinner by the lake - an extraordinary end to a very extraordinary day.

I never get worried or down, or think of myself as a failure when things don’t work out the way I’d hoped or imagined.

The universe has a way of working things out exactly as planned and all in divine timing.

If you take a minute in prayer or meditation to ask that things turn out for your highest and greatest good, then that is what will happen.

So often we anticipate a result and that blocks the flow.

It is best just to intend that things work out for the best and then step away and let the universe bring the perfect solution.

Far from being a failure, our trip to Yangon was a fabulous success.

Sure I mightn’t have made the final lineup for Start Up but I came damn close. I got to travel, to see a new country, to witness sunrise and sunset at the Shwedagon Pagoda amongst the monks and the locals and everything worked out exactly the way it was meant to.

Try to keep in mind on your journey through life that everything does happen for a reason and that everything works out exactly as planned.

Be grateful for every experience whether you deem it to be positive or negative for every experience has been placed on your path for you to learn and grow.