Alain decided to quit everything in France three years ago at the age of 52 and finally decided to settle down in Koh Phangan.
After 12 years as a professional musician and 19 years working in Radio France, a big state company where he was the concert producer in France with 7 radios and 4 symphonic orchestras and choirs as administrator in charge with the concerts logistics throughout the world. Providing the stage installations and musical instruments as well, Alain understood he was looking in the wrong direction to try to move up in life and finally quit everything in France in January 2014.
When did you decide to first come to Koh Phangan?
I first decided to change my life settling down in the tropics so I started to look for different places to live including South America and Thailand. Everyone talked to me about Phuket so I began there but it's really not a place for me and then by chance I discovered Koh Phangan.
It is a good compromise for me here between calm and nature on one hand (a few cars and a little traffic), and animated life on the other one. I feel good here. But I needed to understand first where I was putting my feet, what were the written and unwritten rules.
So I spent more than one year here out of three before deciding to settle down for real.
How did you meet Phra Olarn?
I have a friend who has already worked with him and she knew I was looking for something like this, close to this philosophy.
There were two things which confirmed for me that it was a possible direction: number one; I thought that meditation had to be done seated and I knew it would be painful for my legs and back but Phra Olarn teaches walking meditation.
Number two; the usual way of teaching this (meditation, yoga, tantrism, Buddhism etc) has turned into a huge business especially here in Phangan, made by people so skillful for ‘blabla’ and to take your money, but not so expert about the essence of their subject. So I can't get involved in this.
But Olarn never talks about money, religion, dogmas, rites or even himself. He never tries to attatch you or manipulate you because he doesn't want for anything from you. He is not a guru. He just likes to transmit and to share.
He only talks about meditation philosophy and techniques, so he is exactly who I needed.
How long have you been learning?
In the beginning of March I started learning intensively with Olarn but then I had to go back to France for six months, and there it was different as I was out of context, so I stopped but I came back with a keen desire to learn again and have now been back for five weeks.
I started with little 60 to 90 minute walks nearly everyday, but I knew that I would have to come back to intensive sessions if I wanted to make real progress as Olarn suggested it. So I now make a minimum of 4 to 5 hour sessions, a minimum of 2 or 3 days in a row, more or less once a month. And it surely changes things a lot.
When you meditate, there are moments when you're lost, you feel that you can't do it, that you can't reach any result. And for sure, you can't if you don't give up your occidental result culture.
You have to give up all your expectations and will and to accept these sometimes long moments when you feel like nothing happens. But if you overstep your discouragement and insist and do, without expecting a result but just letting it come, its way, its time; then things happen.
It’s exactly when you think you fail, when you’re discouraged and don’t believe that you can make progress, that you make some if you insist anyway.
Can you pinpoint any progress you have personally made through this?
I would say that there are two kinds of progress. First are the ‘technical’ ones; You can improve your perceptions/sensations of your inside body through your breathing. For example, feeling each of your fingers, the inside and outside of your skin, and mainly each of your chakras, opening them breathing through them. And you can improve too your perception/consciousness of the outside world (seeing everything in your vision area without watching/concentrating on anything special. And the same principle with audition).
Meditation is about being aware of everything inside and outside your body without concentrating on anything particular.
Second are the ones in your everyday life. As soon as after my second session with Olarn, I discovered without thinking about it something I was looking for more than 30 years for; I became suddenly able to chew fully and slowly what I was eating, to eat in ‘full consciousness’, for me who just swallowed food so quickly all of my life without really enjoying it, it was a real ‘shock’ for me to discover this new sensation.
At the same time, I began to drive really slowly, I was such a fast and nervous driver (bike or car) all my life. It was really surprising too to see this ‘brutal’ change without even looking for it or without wanting anything.
Meditation was just calming me and then, that was the result: slow eating and driving.
How do you hope to implement what you are learning with Phra Olarn and walking meditation to your everyday life?
Meditation is supposed to be a part of your everyday life. You can practice anywhere, anytime, you don't have to walk or to sit and it can last 10 minutes or 10 seconds.
It can be a really short moment, just enough time to reconnect yourself to yourself, apart from your emotions, ego (everything that spoils the way you face yourself, others and the whole world).
Just the time to feel wellness invading you. So I can practice it 5, 10 or 20 times in a day and the more I do it and the more I feel good.
How do you like Wat Samai Kongka Temple?
As I told you, I'm not very much a man of god, I'm not either a man of rites but I would say that this temple is the place that welcomed me for a generous and open teaching and to offer me an adapted place to go to try to improve myself. So I'm just deeply grateful and I love it.
What would you say to other people thinking of trying this?
I guess you need to know what you're looking for (inside peace?), to be convinced that there's a way to get closer to it, and to be ready to work for it.
If that's so and if you find the good person with the good state of mind to guide you, then I'm sure that meditation can be a lot more helpful than any psychotherapy to help get rid of your stress, mental and physical tensions, bad emotions, obsessions, doubts, lack of self confidence, paranoia... and all the diseases/physical disorders connected to them, and without creating any dependence to anyone. Because the purpose of a real teacher whatever he teaches, is to make you free and not to attach you to himself.
How is island life treating you, do you partake in any other activities?
It offers me heat, beautiful nature, a warm sea, calmness, good pals and the possibility to consider a new direction, so it's nearly perfect.
I usually do a lot of sports (I'm looking for tennis courts and partners for any kind of sport at the moment), I'm playing music with some friends, and for sure I'm meditating. I'm also looking for Chi Gong activities if there are some.
And leave us with your life philosophy....
Oh! Do I have one? I'm not really sure but let's say that today's answer is;
Take and give joy and pleasure as much as you can, as long as you don't hurt physically or mentally anyone and as long as you don't destroy anything.
Don't want things too much but create good conditions to let them come by themselves.
And if you look for any kind of truth, begin facing yourself which is the most difficult and cruel, concentrate on the essence of things and not on their form, and take a huge distance with anything that doesn't belong to you.