by Roberta Margison
Zulu has been practising mindfulness meditation for 24 years. A world traveller, he’s picked up many skills along the way. He is a long term volunteer at New Life and there seems to be no end to his talents. The community looks forward to his delicious breakfast each morning featuring homemade cheese, yogurt, bread, jam, fresh eggs and milk from the foundation’s ducks and Blossom the cow. One Scottish volunteer comments that Zulu’s porridge (oatmeal) is as good as she gets back home! Zulu is always on hand when something needs fixed and many of the sculptures and flower beds on the grounds of New Life Foundation were created by him. He’s also one of the first faces that new arrivals encounter as our main tour guide.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am from Hungary, I left there in 1999 to go to London and do some travelling. I’ve visited many countries in Europe and Asia. I came to Thailand in 2006 and feel very comfortable here. It’s an easy country to live in. I want to share my knowledge of what I’ve learned here about natural building and and my aim is to travel around the world. I have a flexible attitude and I’m interested in natural art, Zen Buddhism and transcendental meditation. I’ve done various massage courses including Thai massage, aromatherapy, foot reflexology and fire spirit massage. I was a cave tour guide in Hungary and I’m interested in extreme sports.
How did you hear about the foundation and what made you want to volunteer here?
I had been in Thailand since 2006 learning massage and doing various things and I went to Chiang Mai University for a year to learn the Thai language in 2009. I had a friend who was a volunteer at New Life and she told me about it so I came here in April 2012 as a volunteer for 7 months. I came back again in September 2013 as a long-term volunteer.
The New Life Foundation is really well protected, there’s nothing to worry about when you are here: you’ve got food, water, a room and working meditation is arranged for you. When you’re travelling there is a lot to think about and organise. At New Life all you have to think about is to work on yourself.
When I came to New Life in 2012 it was the first time I’d lived in a community. I enjoyed the natural building and I was the ‘mixer machine’ when we built the forest hall. I made the flower beds and I like being creative. I started up the New Life mud brick factory which we use to build our adobe houses. Now I’m responsible for building maintenance, making breakfast, some shopping and taking people on the tour when they arrive.
Had you ever tried mindfulness meditation before you came here? What did you think of it?
I learned transcendental meditation, which is a mindful practice, in 1990. I’ve meditated twice a day for 20 minutes for the last 24 years. I don’t need a watch, I’ve been doing it so long it is ‘inside my body’, it is part of me now. I just close my eyes and open them 20 minutes later. Meditation releases stress from the body and recharges the body.
What have been your greatest joys and challenges while being at New Life Foundation?
My challenge and my joy is having the opportunity to learn new things every day. I am always learning. I recently learned how to make cheese, yogurt and bread and I learn new things about building all the time. It is a joy to meet many different types of people from different cultures.