I'm not sure I'll ever get used to a 5AM wake-up. Stephan borrowed some ear plugs, so he asked me to make sure he woke up this morning. I woke up about 4AM to go to the bathroom, but then couldn't get back to sleep because I was worried about oversleeping making both of us late for meditation.
One thing about our meeting last night, I got to know all of the lay people a little better. Besides those from France and Vietnam, there are folks here from Holland, Switzerland, England, Norway, Austria, Germany, the US, Brazil and Ireland. Truly an international group.
Mostly we eat Vietnamese-style food, but someone baked the most wonderful cinnamon-banana bread for breakfast this morning. I went back for more but it was all gone, but the slice I did eat was priceless.
First thing this morning was health class, given by one of the older Brothers who was a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. Today was part of a nutrition series dealing with cancer (how diet can increase the risk for cancer). He had pretty good explanations with a Western Medicine justification. After that one of the younger Brothers gave a good talk on the health benefits of green tea. What made it a little different than the stuff you read in the popular magazines was the research into the larger picture, like pesticide use on tea crops. So that in the end, you weighed both the health benefits and risks too.
For those of you that know me well, I seem to eat faster than the average guy. Whenever someone makes a comment about it, I usually say it was because I grew up in a household with three hungry brothers. It is kind of funny, but even Dominique figured it out real fast. So he kids me every day about finishing the meal before him. But with the mindfulness, my family would be shocked at how slow and methodical I eat here, tasting every bite instead of wolfing it down. Today at lunch, even though he ate a larger portion than me, at the end he had one bite of apple left, stalling until I finished my lunch first. I knew he was doing it so we both grinned about it (remember it's a silent lunch).
Dominique is such a good friend. It turns out he has studied Thai massage for the last ten years and offered to give me a massage. It was great. Then afterward we decided to take another night walk to the hilltop church. But on the way back in the dark we got lost. We kept hearing the large monastery bell. Later we found out it was the bell at Lower Hamlet. We backtracked and eventually got back to our rooms about an hour late. It didn't matter though because we talked about so many things in our lives. A good end to the day.