I flew with my husband to the rural north of Thailand, late at night. We awoke in the morning in the cool air of the highlands. The streets were pleasantly chaotic with vendors, and we heard the laughter of children from a nearby school.
Behind high, whitewashed stone walls and massive golden gates stood towering pagodas covered in intricate gold leaf woodwork.
We could see a majestic temple flanked by huge stone dragons.
We entered with heads bowed and were met by a thousand-year-old tree with a massive trunk that shot straight skywards.
It emanated the power of an ancient being. Under it sat a statue of Buddha. I thought of the centuries of drama that took place in the shade of this tree, and the countless prayers and meditations made to the Buddha here before me.
The spiritual and peaceful ambience of this place washed over us like a wave. We looked silently at each other. “This is a very special place,” Bill murmured quietly.
Thus, began our discovery of the ancient Buddhist temple, Wat Chedi Luang, in the heart of the Old City of Chiang Mai.
The central temple is surrounded by heavy bronze bells. I watched boys and girls play with them for some time.
I listened to the deep and clear echoes in the morning air. The “bom, bom, bom” was calming and reverent. This hollow sound of the bells held some special significance for me.
I rang the bells, then struck a huge gong — a completely unusual instrument with tremendous energy and healing power. The vibrations linger for a long time, and the sound waves resonate in your body.
The Buddhists believe this vibration stabilises your seven spiritual centres or “chakras” and helps to bring you back to physical, emotional and spiritual balance.
While it was vibrating, I remembered my own story about a gong. Thirteen years ago, when I had just emigrated to Vancouver, I made one of the craziest purchases of my life. I used my last money for it, and I will never regret it. One late evening, I walked along a deserted street.
In a brightly lit shop window of a tiny antique store, I saw a beautiful gong. It looked so foreign in Canada, both lonely and at the same time proud.
It shook me so deeply that I stopped and gazed at the glittering and mysterious circle for a long time. I imagined how it rang before in an exotic place, perhaps in a Buddhist monastery, at the beginning of each day.
That night I could not fall asleep for a long time. I clearly understood that I had to buy it. It belonged in my hands.
The gong, just like me, came from a distant country and was not needed by anyone here. However, it should ring out loud and strong because this is its mission. It was made for it.
In the morning I collected all the money I had and ran to the store before it opened so no one could buy the gong before me.
Seeing my impatience, the store owner, an elegant older woman, smiled and said, “It will serve you well and set a good tone in your soul and your home.”
So it did. I began my morning by striking the gong. I felt it ripple through my body and, with closed eyes, I set myself up for a new day, new victories and good luck. It was my gong before my fight where I intended to be the winner. When I left Vancouver for Bermuda, I gave the gong to my daughter. Now it is with Maria, balancing and inspiring her for her own victories.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at ninalondon.com