Chicky Net, the on-line social network for expat women in Thailand, interviewed me recently about living and working in Thailand.
Read the interview below:
At the best of times, expat life broadens your mind and expands your horizons. But let’s face it, sometimes living abroad can feel like a test of your sanity. You may suddenly wonder why you choose to live on the opposite side of the planet from those who love you. An innocent impulse to call friends and family back home may aggravate an increasing sense of alienation; they may not have a clue about living outside the box of their own lives. Along with being a patient listener and coach, Kim from Tools for Evolution teaches tools: meditation, yoga, and creative writing practice to help identify troublesome patterns so that they can be managed, step by step.
I’m originally from Washington, DC but now call the Colorado Rockies my home base in the US. I moved to Thailand 2 years ago to run a yoga program at a center in Phuket. A few months ago I was offered a position more in line with my vision at a mindfulness based recovery center in Chiang Rai. I’m single and childless, a fact that used to cause me stress, but now is a source of total joy and freedom! I’ve lived in Asia for over 12 years and have had the good fortune to make a fabulous living doing what I love (teaching yoga) and in retrospect it would have been impossible to do this if I had been raising a family. I also realized a while ago that I may as well appreciate what I have, rather than fretting about what I don’t.
I love helping people and connecting with them about real-life issues. I’m not much of a small-talker, and love to go deep into how things work. I’m fascinated to learn what makes people do what they do. I am completely devoted to practicing yoga and meditation, and go every year to study with at least one of my teachers. This year I’m going to Nepal to attend a meditation program with my Tibetan Buddhist teacher. I also love to write and have recently been expanding that passion on many levels; blogging, publishing an Ebook, and creating a wide variety of options to share with people from my website. Basically, my whole motivation in life is to share the powerful practices of yoga and meditation with people so that we can all live more peacefully and happily together! Sounds idealistic perhaps, but I have experienced the results so I know it works!
About Tools for Evolution
I teach classes and retreats that incorporate a variety of modalities: yoga postures, breathing techniques, sitting meditation, creative writing as a therapeutic practice, and group coaching. The forum works to help people identify blocks and obstacles that prevent them from thriving, then together we create a “diet” of daily practices that help shift the mind to help initiate the changes desired. It’s all about learning to work with the mind in a more positive way, using traditional, time-tested wisdom.
I have a unique perspective that stems from some good luck I had early in my career. I learned Ashtanga Yoga directly with Richard Freeman and Pattabhi Jois, two gifted teachers. I’ve studied Buddhist meditation and philosophy with the world’s greatest Buddhist masters. And I have a master’s degree in psychology from a Buddhist university. The joining of these 3 paths, yoga, Buddhist meditation, and psychology, is a hugely powerful mix, and is only recently starting to get air-time in the popular media. I’ve been doing this for the past 20 years and am just now organizing to start offering a wide variety of programs and retreats in the region. It’s an exciting time.
I have retreat programs in the development stage tentatively scheduled for Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Bali. I’m also creating an Ecourse for teachers, therapists, leaders and healers who wish to take their skills to a wider audience. Learning how to work with mind can have huge affects on your life, so this will be a practical application of using the meditation practices to release fears that hold you back and find true confidence to do what you have always wanted to do. I’ve also got lots of free stuff to send out over the next few months; audio recordings, interviews, writings and resources. All of this will be available from my website Toolsforevolution.org and Facebook page.
The biggest challenge I’ve had, I prefer to look at it like this instead of calling it a negative, has been the recent popularity explosion of yoga in the West. It has introduced all sorts of materialistic influences that compete with more authentic teachings and makes it hard for those of us who see the potential of yoga. It’s hard not to wince when I see yoga being sold as a tool for weight loss, for example. That said, the best thing that has happened is the recent popularity explosion of yoga in the West! I know! It’s a contradiction! But the good thing about this is that almost everyone knows something about yoga these days, so it helps make yoga more accessible to those who may not have discovered it, had it stayed an obscure esoteric practice.
I actually got thrown into this 12 years ago while I was living in Paris, a journalist for a popular ladies magazine (Madame Figaro) listed my name in an article about yoga, and suddenly I had hundreds of women contacting me for yoga classes. I had to quite my day job at UNESCO to organize it all! This was just at the beginning of the internet era, so I didn’t have a website and just organized classes and retreats as best I could. If I wrote something inspiring, I sent it to my email list. Now, last year, after 10 years of hiding my head in the sand of technology, I have decided to face the internet head on, and am embracing these great tools to help share my teaching.
About living in Thailand
What’s not to like about Thailand? It’s warm, safe, the food is good, women have rights and don’t have any dress code restrictions. It’s unique in Asia that way. After living all throughout South Asia, this is my first choice. The worst thing in Thailand is perhaps the fear of a military coup every couple of years. The best things are the beaches and coconuts.