Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Mai Bpen Rai
Hi, my name is Rianne Matthews. I am a music therapy student from Colorado State University and, now that I’ve returned to the US, I am with my family in a small bluegrass-friendly town outside of Boulder.
“Mai bpen rai.” It’s a phrase you hear a lot in Thailand that, loosely, translates to “no worries”. It permeates everything from a standard “you’re welcome” to loose concepts of time to high levels of tolerance and patience. This past week I learned how much I want to incorporate a little more “Mai bpen rai” into my life now that I’m back in America.
Each July, there is a week-long music camp that allows middle school and high school students to participate in rehearsals, classes, concerts, and social experiences that help them to grow as musicians. I am very fortunate in that this is the third year I’ve been a camp counselor there. However, this year was the most stressful that I have experienced. There was a combination of both average (though frustrating) drama of 8th grade girls and the unexpected, over the top conduct instances that required us to make frequent contact with local police authorities. Unfortunately, luck had it that I ended up dealing with many of these situations directly and the result was a feeling of more stress, anger, and general emotional distress than I had ever dealt with before.Upon reflection of this week, a few simple realizations came to me. The 1st: I couldn’t change any of the chaos that happened. The 2nd: I could’ve changed the way I reacted. True, it’s difficult to be calm and happy when it feels like all Hell is breaking loose around you. However, I could’ve kept a “mai bpen rai” attitude and, instead of dwelling on the things that didn’t go right, move forward with an air of acceptance and forgiveness.
As the type of person with a Type A personality, I have a hard time accepting things that are outside of my control and strive for perfection. I need to learn to take some of that easygoing attitude I was so surrounded with (and had started to utilize) in my Thailand experience and bring it back to real life circumstances. True, it’s very difficult. Coming back to the environment where I was so used to being hyper-perfection oriented made me forget that I had ever begun to learn any differently. All the same it can be important to decreasing the stress in an individual and to increasing the general wellbeing of everyone that individual has some sort of interaction with.
I hope that you all will be able to begin incorporating some more relaxed thinking into whatever it is you do. Ask yourself: does this really matter? Be as willing to forgive the mistakes of other people as you would want them to be forgiving of you – or rather more so. Take some time to breathe and enjoy some good food and some time outdoors. Do whatever you can to go with the flow whenever you can.
How can we teach ourselves to go from rapid-pace chaos thinking to “Mai bpen rai”?