New Life volunteer Karol is the man with the magic hands. His love of good conversation, willingness to share and his impish sense of humour have seen him become part of the fabric of the community. This is his New Life story.
I was holidaying in Bangkok and looking for a place in Thailand that offered meditation, detox and Buddhism. Google brought up Thamkrabok (monastery). That seemed a little extreme but I am a little extreme so I thought I would check it out but it happened to be the time of the year when the monks weren’t at Thamkrabok. I saw on the site a link for New Life Foundation and looked at the list of things to be had here and I thought, ‘Wow, that might be a nice alternative’ so I contacted New Life via the internet and made arrangements to come here.
What were you looking for from your New Life experience?
I was looking for meditation, yoga, being refocused with life, taking some time to re-evaluate the transitory period of this particular time in my life, in this particular life that I was experiencing.
What do you hope to get from New Life?
Well, I’ve been here two months so that’s changed quite a bit. Now I am looking for a clear vision on my life after New Life. That is, what to do next, professionally, personally and spiritually – how to put that in a package that I can feel strong about. It’s to have a more in-depth understanding of the (life) tools I have and how I can apply them in my life.
How would you describe the community here?
Like a troop of baboons that have stumbled on to a hornet’s nest… But seriously, it’s diverse and constantly changing with all the people coming and going and all the energies being brought in but it has a steady undertone at the same time.
What do you do for the community? How do you see your part in the community?
I don’t, really. It’s kind of what the community found me for, which is doing the bodywork and “alternative healing modalities” as well as teaching the yoga so I didn’t come here thinking I was going to do this with the community or that in the community. The community just kind of figured out what they needed me for, or how I could best suit them. It happened very organically.
Can you tell me a little bit about what it is you do – your healing work?
Different modalities of massage, from Hawaiian massage to Thai massage to medical massage to sports massage. Primarily I’ve found that a lot of what I am doing here is different modes of medical and orthopaedic massage, working on people with injuries they have, and blending that with corrective exercise modalities and perhaps different ways of yoga therapy.
What’s your career background?
I am a licensed massage therapist in the United States as well as a licensed yoga teacher, personal fitness trainer and martial arts trainer. I’ve worked in executive protection as well as working with people as a personal assistant who travels and does all of the above.
What gives you the most joy out of your New Life experience?
Jack the dog. Because he’s definitely overcome some obstacles (he only has three legs due to an accident) and still seems to be very optimistic, cheerful and mindful in his everyday activities.
And what about Jack do you wish to replicate?
Not really the three-legged status, I prefer to avoid that and I don’t really envy his muzzle experience or his hairstyle.
But truly what gives me the most joy is helping. Being able to assist people in their recovery whether it’s in doing body work or yoga or just contributing to people’s experience, whatever that may be. It’s kind of narcissistic thinking you are contributing – maybe you are just being part of, being allowed to become part of people’s experience. Whether it’s a healing thing or whether it’s a yoga thing, being able to share that time with other human beings, it’s a very precious experience and the interaction we have with one another is often taken for granted.
What’s been your biggest challenge here?
The constant ebb and flow of people and friends, confidants, people that you build relationships with. That constantly changes.
What do you think is different about New Life to anything you’ve come across before?
What each person finds here – people come here for so many different reasons but in a lot of ways a lot of the answers are very similar. Strength and hope and a new relationship perhaps with themselves and what they deem as their higher power seems to be a common ground.
Any advice you would give to future residents on how to get the most out of it?
Try to have a good idea on why you are coming here but don’t have any expectations. The “why you are coming” is just a good reference point as it is not always why you are here a week later.