MENA Salam Fellowship III

It does not feel as though I arrived yesterday. I am settling in very nicely.

I landed in Kuwait at 2am. My brother and cousin picked me up from the airport. When they dropped me off home, I suggested we order pizza and stay up all night — I know, not very monk-like behavior.

I started PMS-ing when I arrived. And since we’re dressed in white, I look like a marshmallow in most of the pictures. The good thing about meditating four times a day, one hour each, is that you learn to let go about these trivialities easily.

So we really did meditate four times a day. I never thought I’d be able to pull it off. I also didn’t expect I’d be able to face my fears of insects. We had to abide by a code of conduct which included: No intentional killing.

There were insects crawling all over my bed and pillow on the first day. I was able to sweep them off without killing them, but when I did I discovered a giant dead bug below the pillow. Naturally, I freaked out. My roommate was kind enough to help me remove it. I changed the position of the pillow, dragged the bed away from the wall, turned off the lights on the walls and closed the windows. I then took out a t-shirt from my bag and draped it over my pillow. I checked my bed again, then took a deep breath.

More insect drama followed. Breakfast was served buffet style. But the insects swarmed inside the net. It was tough at first. I did manage to deal and for that I am very grateful for the experience.

We had a number of amazing workshops and lectures. The entire point of this trip was to learn some necessary self-development tools that prioritize reaching peacefulness within ourselves before exporting it to our surrounding. I was especially grateful for a lecture about nonviolent communication, applying the theories and exercises developed by Marshall Rosenberg whom I had not known about. I look forward to exploring his books and delving further into the subject.

We even had a chance to ask the monk questions both publicly, in a group setting, and privately. Personally, I wanted to know if mixing different types of meditations (and prayer) was harmful or beneficial. The monk explained that it is important to know the function of each. For instance, it is important to connect to one’s center, to cleanse oneself of external prejudices, negativity, and illusions, before asking the universe for something (a wish, a prayer). Second, I asked if the temple accepted “reformed” murderers. The monk said yes. I then exclaimed that it is a waste for good people to become monks, quoting Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The monk nodded and said, “This is why we are advised to dedicate at least fifty percent of our time to improve our communities.” My housemates had a few interesting questions too, and received equally insightful comments.

In fact, I’d like to end on that note, on bonding with amazing people who share my values and culture.

For information, pictures/videos, self-development tips and more, please visit:

Peace in. Peace out.


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