12 Months of Simple Living: End of Year Thoughts

It’s been a year of this transformation journey and as January 2018 arrived, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on each month and what impact, if any, it has had on the way I live my life now.

1. | January – Vegetarian |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Vegetarian Recipes

If there was ever going to be a controversial challenge it was this one. With opinions and beliefs splitting people world wide on the subject, it was always going to be harder for a previously strict carnivore to “try out” being Vegetarian for a month and then blog about the short lived and not hugely successful experience. But this journey is my own and now I can see this short lived month really did have an effect on my view, and now my lifestyle choices. However insignificant they might seem, they are still small steps toward a healthier life and a better world.

Since January, I’ve found myself increasingly choosing the vegetarian options whether it is in my work canteen, at home or out to eat with friends. I put this down to a change in my attitude towards meat as a result of understanding the vast amounts of waste, the damage to the environment and the inhumane treatment of animals all for the sake of corporate greed.

From a health point of view, I am so much more aware of the fats and greasiness of meat and how much heavier it sits in my stomach, I do tend to feel a little odd when I eat some types of meat now. It does make me wonder what sort of diseases we are potentially exposed to by eating meat.  That’s not to say I don’t crave the odd steak now and then but I am so much more aware of  trying to choose organic, free range, grass fed meat.

Having said that, I do want to aim to be even more veggie and I have concluded that being a full time vegetarian would be the ideal lifestyle choice and probably is how we were once meant to be. Not that any of my life choices are ideal- we’ll see!

Note: Spiralizers interest me now more than ever before!

 

2. | February – Forgiving |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
IMG_6078

This one has to be the hardest of all as it’s a continuous battle and a continuous cycle. Choosing to let people off the hook when they have wronged you seems unnatural to our human instincts and makes us feel like a doormat sometimes. But this doesn’t have to be so. I am continually reminding myself that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation; if you are continually wronged, don’t let them wrong you again. But love them and show them kindness anyway.

I can definitely see improvements with the way I handle disagreements, knowing that just because we have differences of opinion doesn’t make us bad people, just unique individuals who handle things in different ways. I try to respect another’s perspective even if I disagree.

I still struggle with letting things go quickly, but I can usually get over it after taking a breather. And with my long term grievances, it will always be a battle to maintain forgiveness but I will keep trying.

 

3. | March – Positivity & Thankfulness |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
img_4533

This challenge is one that went beyond my natural disposition. I’ve grown up in an environment of complaining, from my family to the culture of the UK, so trying not to was a real difficulty. Being thankful for everything, including the bad times, just opens your eyes to how blessed you really are. Blessed you have arms and legs, and eyes and ears, blessed you are able to use them, blessed you have food, shelter and a job. There’s actually a lot to be thankful for!

I really struggle, still, to see the glass half full rather than half empty but I am working on it. A good way to start thinking a bit more positively is by writing a diary of your week noting, at various points of the day, how you felt – happy, sad, angry – and to what degree out of 100% you felt those emotions. When you look back, you will likely realise you have a much happier life than you initially thought. This is because our minds get conditioned just to remember the negative and not the positive.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

 

4. | April – Stick at It |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
IMG_3775

This challenge  actually made me realise that my problem wasn’t so much giving up on things, as feeling like giving up every time something gets tough. Also it was about believing in my ability to achieve what I set out to do.

Through going travelling, something I needed to do for myself but was afraid to, it helped me build confidence in myself. I’m trying to maintain this confidence now that I am back; it’s actually the mundane things in life that knock the confidence out of you.

I have found myself being a little braver and taking those risks even if I might fail, but there’s still work to be done!

 

5. | May – Exercise |

Navigate: Part One| Part Two | Part Three

This one’s gone out the window! Seriously, I don’t like doing any of it – classes annoy me, I don’t even know where to start in the gym, I HATE running, going for walks in the cold British weather is not up there on my fun list… so what can I do?!

I know I have to exercise, I know it’s very important for mental and physical health, but I just need to find something I actually enjoy doing.

I am working on it!!! The only classes I do quite enjoy are yoga classes, so I will try to keep those up at least. Any suggestions? Let me know!

 

6. | June – Meditation |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two

A very interesting challenge, in that, I thought this would be the easiest, but it turned out to be much harder than I thought.

I enjoyed it when I did it, but I found that I had to make time for it, rather than try to fit it in my day.

I haven’t kept it up on a daily basis but have naturally found myself meditating on life, faith and positive thoughts when on my own and spending time enjoying the beauty of Nature.

“Beauty is the purest feeling of the soul. Beauty arises when soul is satisfied.”
― Amit Ray

 

7. | July – Water |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two
IMG_5017

A challenge that you either understood completely or didn’t get at all. Fellow water haters, I confess, I was doing so well and then I reverted… But I have a plan to get me back on track!

Drinking water has always been at the bottom of my to do list, and something happened when I realised, in my sugar free month, that (some) wines only had naturally occurring sugars; I started drinking more wine… And more… Not like an alcoholic, but just like with my dinner and in replacement for water…

Okay jokes aside (sort of), I just struggle in this already damp and wet, cold English weather to feel thirsty. I feel somehow I’m absorbing so much water just through breathing damp air. And even when thirsty, I’m so cold I opt for a dehydrating cup of tea (that’s right, tea is a diuretic so you ultimately lose more water than you take in).

But the plan? I bought this from Kikki.K and I intend to use it.
img_8219
New Year, new pee… I mean me.

8. | August – Say Yes |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two
Climb every mountain

This challenge was certainly the most adventurous and the most rewarding, delivering me to exciting new places, giving me more out of life and connecting me with the best people the world has to offer!

It’s an attitude that takes courage and takes self-belief. You need to be a risk taker, taking chances when there may be disappointment. Worst, you need to be prepared to be disappointed.

I have definitely carried on with this type of attitude, but I have to remind myself. I am naturally cautious and if left to my instincts, I would let opportunities pass me by. I struggle with disappointment and so when I am let down it hurts, a lot! But life is not going to get more interesting, fun or exciting if you don’t take risks.

I hope 2018 will be a year that I don’t hold myself back with my own self-doubt, but a year which I open my eyes to opportunities and take them with both hands!

 

9. | September – Slow Down |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two

slow down 1
Image Credit: ryangoggin.com

This one is harder to keep up when life just gives you busy schedules week on week. Certainly, my technology diet assisted with this and I naturally slowed down in most aspects of my life.

I have since had to remind myself to enjoy beautiful moments, the first full moon of 2018 for example, and a stunning sunrise the following morning.

Slowing down ties in with meditation, with reducing social media and other time fillers and many other parts of my yearly challenges.

I hope to carry on a slightly slower, more purposeful pace into 2018.

 

10. | October – Sugar Free |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Dessert
Home Made Ice Cream1

This is the challenge I am most proud of. It was complex and required a lot of effort; cooking, reading ALL labels, turning down tasty office junk food etc. But I smashed it!

I honestly saw the health benefits (especially when I returned to sugar), I realised the effect that sugar had on my asthma!

Sadly, the return to sugar has been a full submersion due to the time of year, but I would like that to change in the new year and I’d like to greatly reduce my intake. If not for my overall health, for my asthma (which has suffered greatly due to the return to sugar and all the other factors that trigger it).

I will proudly say though, that I have not returned to putting sugar in my tea!

 

11. | November – Technology Diet |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two
Technology1

Being cut off from the world of social media came with mixed feelings… It was strangely freeing but at the same time isolating.

Yes, I missed out on social events, life updates from all my 900+ facebook “friends” (ha! I have more than you! JK) and ultra-hilarious memes, BUT I gained an independence, learned a new language (slash carried on learning Spanish from all my years of dabbling) and met people in more organic ways.

Being back on social media, I actually am not as bothered anymore… It’s sort of an effort to post so I’m doing it less. And I’m only really scrolling through facebook for the “12 times you failed at life” style posts, because … they make me giggle.

So, although I won’t keep off social media, I think I have struck a balance along the way.

 

12. | December – Volunteer |

Navigate: Part One | Part Two
volunteer 1

What a feel-good way to end the year; by volunteering! I honestly got such a sense of achievement by helping these charities in the skills that I had to offer. I really cannot urge you enough, if you have any spare time, to give some of it to a charity of your choice. You will form new friendships, new connections and it can even help you gain more skills.

One thing that is overlooked when people are looking for jobs but lack the experience, is volunteering. The way I gained my administrative experience was by volunteering for the Lifetrain Trust. So if this is where you find yourself, just go for it – if not to help, then to look better on your CV. But you will feel good when you see the contribution you have made to these charities.

Charities do amazing work, and I will be more than happy to give more of my time to volunteer during 2018!

 

So that’s it, my end of year update! Let me know how you have found my challenges and if you have a resolution for 2018!

Thanks for reading!

Ciao!

X


Advertisements

September Month 9: Slow Down (Part One)


Challenge: To Slow Down

Supporting Naomi’s DTS this month.

Thoughts: We so often miss the little things that pass us by.


The Ninth Challenge: To Slow Down

slow down 1
Image Credit: ryangoggin.com

Everything is fast paced in this world, like we are all in a race. To grow up, to become successful, to find a partner, to have children. We set goals, we say “by this time I want to have achieved XYZ” and then we put our blinders on and we run.

Over time, we have invented shortcuts to get us there quicker. But instead of giving us more time, we have just given ourselves more; packing every spare moment with activities and things to achieve.

It seems that all of us have become so used to this pace of life that if we happen, by chance, to find ourselves with space to breathe, we feel awkward. Fidgety. Bored, even.

When did we get so busy that we lost sight of what really matters?

Some of my best and most rewarding moments have been when I’ve taken time to stop amidst the business and chaos of life.

 

The Woman by the Road

IMG_0186

One moment I will never forget was in Sapa, Vietnam. I was riding through the mountains on the back of a motorbike by the cliff edge on my way to catch a bus to Laos and the driver and I noticed a small crowd of people around a woman sitting on the road. Without hesitation my driver stopped the bike to see what was happening and (I presume) ask how he could help. It turned out that the woman had just given birth on the roadside but she and the baby were doing well and did not need any additional help. It was the most beautiful moment for me, knowing that this woman had brought a life into this world in the middle of the mountains by the cliff side overlooking the incredibly beautiful valleys of Sapa. I shed a small tear.

But I couldn’t help wondering, if this had been me in a taxi back home in England on the way to catch a train, would we have stopped to help?
What about if I had been rushing to work, running late, would I have taken the time to slow down and stop? Or would I assume the people around her had it in hand? Would I have missed out on this beautiful moment and opportunity to be part of something so wonderful?

I think for most of us, there have been times like that – not as dramatic and wonderful, but smaller and more discreet moments that we have brushed off with a slight guilty pang thinking “somebody else will”. And maybe they will, but maybe taking the time to slow down could mean you are part of something beautiful.

 

Rare Moments

But this isn’t just about stopping to help people, this is also not being so busy and in such a rush that you miss the beauty in small rare moments.

Another special moment for me in Sapa, was seeing a butterfly on my path that looked pretty beaten down. At first I thought it was dead, but I saw that its wings had been wet from the rain and so it was stuck on the wet path and likely to be crushed by other hikers or eaten by a predator. So I found a twig and let this beautiful creature hop on before placing it in a safer and drier location.

img_0216.jpg

Later mother nature rewarded me by sending this beauty to hitch a lift on our umbrella!

IMG_4480

Weeks later, now on the east coast of the USA, I was driving on my way to Daytona beach when I saw this little guy crossing the road. I slammed my breaks (safely) when I saw the other side of the road did not seem to be slowing down, jumped out of the car and grabbed him! He had nearly been crushed by a big scary car. I returned him to his home in the sand dunes and warned him not to cross the road again.

 

The Challenge

rainbow butterfly

The challenge this month will be to not be so busy that I miss the little things, those special moments. To make time for myself to breathe and enjoy a slower pace of life, rather than being in a hurry to get where I’m going. It seems fitting that I write this as I am on a 9 hour bus journey to Glasgow which I chose in favour of the more convenient, faster methods of transportation in order to save a fair bit of money. Because, actually, time is not money.

Because this challenge is going to be too difficult to measure, I’m not going to set any targets or give money to charity based on my success (or lack of). Instead, I’m going to be supporting my friend, Naomi, as she starts an amazing journey of her own exploring her faith and growing both spiritually and within herself.

I would encourage you to read her story and consider supporting her here.

 

Part Two

13 Weeks of Wandering – Vientiane

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver


Where To? Laos
How long? 5 Days
Thoughts: When a monk asks to add you on facebook, you don’t say no!


13 WoW – Laos: Vientiane

IMG_1180
It was dark by the time I arrived, so spotting this fountain gave me a sense of  security.

It was all very different in Vientiane, I could tell it was the capital by how well developed it seemed to be.
I’d already decided on a hostel to go to; Sailomyen hostel, it seemed to be walking distance so I braved it with my front and back backpacks.

The Hostel

Although a little bit away from the centre and a dollar or two more expensive than other hostels in the area (around $8 a night), this hostel was far superior in decor, ambience, cleanliness and luxury to any other hostel I had stayed in.

Walking through the door was a very pleasant surprise and checking in was smooth, friendly and professional. I was lead to my four bed female-only dorm on the fourth floor, the bunks were so luxurious with curtains allowing for full privacy. It was like each bunk was your own little hotel pod. It was probably the most comfortable hostel in all of Laos, maybe even all of the countries I visited.

Breakfast at Sailomyen Hostel
Free Breakfast at the Hostel

After a very comfortable night’s rest, and a tasty breakfast in the morning, my only complaint was the same complaint I had for most hostels all over South East Asia; the Air Con! 

So I switched to a much cheaper hostel bang in the center where I shared a room with 7 men and had beds that felt so hard that I wondered if they were carved of rock. But thankfully, me and the boys agreed on no air con whilst we sleep!

 

“Wat” is there to see in Vientiane?

IMG_1282

Vientiane is a city full of surprises. It is a combination of traditional Buddhist temples with french colonial buildings and architecture, this is because of it’s history with the French making this one of their trading posts. Also for this reason, you will find some very good french restaurants, cafes and bars in this area.

Bordering Thailand with nothing but the Mekong river between the two countries, you can enjoy some amazing sunsets by the river whilst you overlook Thailand.

Here are some of the things you can’t miss!

Temples

IMG_1195
In case you didn’t get the pun in the heading, a temple is called a “wat” in Laos (and most parts of SE Asia). Probably because when you see the beautiful architecture you will be going “waaaat” in awe.

The most popular temples would be these three:

Wat Ho Phra Keo
One of the oldest Wats in the capital and former home to the emerald Buddha. This is now converted to a museum.

Wat Si Muang
The site of the lak meuang, or city pillar, which is home to the guardian spirit of Vientiane.

Wat Si Saket
Basically a temple with thousands of Buddha statues.

I have to admit that I didn’t visit any of those, but preferred to explore some of the other temples that I came across whilst I explored such as Wat That Phoun and Wat Mixai. This may or may not have lead to me befriending a monk on Facebook.

Make Friends with a Monk

Meet my friend ພູມລຳເນົາ ສາຍເຊໂດນ, don’t ask me how you pronounce it. Yes, he is a monk and yes, we are facebook friends! Let me tell you how this happened.

I was exploring Vientiane on Buddha day, not sure what I was looking for but as it was Buddha day, I thought there may be something going on about town. As I am walking, a stranger in his car approached me and started to talk to me, but in true British style, as I did not know this individual, I did like we do on the London underground and ignored him.

Ducking into Wat Mixai, I’m admiring the architecture when lo and behold, I am approached by the same man. “Hello!” He smiled widely at me, “Don’t just stand outside, come in! Come in!”
He said it with such confidence that I thought perhaps he worked at the temple, if that’s even a thing, and so I allowed myself to be ushered inside.

Monk Life

I realised too late that inside was a monk, sitting in front of a giant Buddha and my new Indian friend walked straight up to him, put some money on the gold tray and sat in front of him. He turned to beckon me as I contemplated my escape, “Ohh no, I’m good, this isn’t really my thing” I tried to tell him, but he would have none of it!

Before I knew it, we were both sat there listening to this monk telling us the history of the temple, about monk life, anything you wanted to know! It was all very interesting, but then out of the blue the monk asks me, do you have facebook? And I’m taken aback, I mean yes of course I have facebook but are monks even allowed facebook??? How do they log on? What do they post about?

Whatever the answer, I’m now friends with a monk on facebook.

Night Markets

IMG_1183

Take a walk along the Mekong Delta past 6pm to see the night markets set up trade by the riverside.

You will be spoilt for choice as you browse through each stall selling various styles of clothing, souvenirs, jewelery, accessories and more.

If you follow the river, you will also come across food markets nearby selling not only Laotian cuisine but varied dishes from neighbouring countries and beyond.

If you are feeling more like a sit-down meal, why not explore some of Vientiane’s restaurants and bars. I was delighted to come across this French restaurant playing live music.

Monuments

Patuxai

IMG_1255

Also known as the “Victory Monument”, this monument is dedicated to those who fought for their independence from France.

Found on the same road that leads to the Presidential palace, this monument sits in the centre of Vientiane standing out in this commercial district.

The stunning water fountain is a centrepiece to the symmetrical gardens which you will be able to see the best view of from the top of the monument.

Victory Monument

On each floor as you go up, expect to find market stalls selling everything from clothes and handbags, to shoes and books. And take a look out of each of the unique windows for a new perspective of Vientiane.

 

Pha That Luang

Monument

This is a large and very ancient stupa in the middle of Vientiane which is covered in gold! It is the most important national monument in all of Laos, both as a religious symbol and as a symbol of independence.

temple

It was amazing seeing monks flock to this monument, even taking selfies (yes I’m serious) with their monk buddies by the monument.

There is so much going on around here, with market stalls outside, monks inside and people selling small birds (poor things) to be released over the monument.

And if you keep exploring, you will find the giant sleeping Buddha, where you may be able to take a nap yourself (or was that just me?!).


 

So there you have it! Vientiane in a nutshell! Other than not really having anywhere to change money from Kip to Thai Baht (be prepared if you plan to go on to Thailand from here, I had to exchange with some random Australians I met in a bar – it was all very much a last minute panic), it was a very well built up city with plenty of things to do and places to explore. A definite must-visit when you go to Laos!

Follow me as I get the sleeping train back to Bangkok and then prepare to leave Asia altogether!

 

 

 


 

13 Weeks of Wandering – Luang Prabang

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver


Where To? Laos
How long? 5 Days
Thoughts: Breathtaking Beauty, Ancient Traditions & Bustling Atmosphere


13 WoW – Laos: Luang Prabang

luang prabang

I arrived in Luang Prabang immediately noticing the far from rural atmosphere of the busy bus station. Spotting shops opposite the bus station, I immediately knew what my next purchase would be; a sim card!

Relishing the luxury of having data on my unlocked HTC, I found a hostel close to the center and solicited a tuk-tuk, negotiating a fair price and using google maps to check my route.

It was a 15 minute ride and I was soon at the hostel of my choice, Lakang Thong, only to find that it was full! I was then re-directed to the “brother hostel”, Lakong Thong 2, where I shared a room with none other than the two Japanese guys I had met on the bus from Sa Pa and one girl I had also seen on the same bus.

Keen not to waste any time, I set out to explore Luang Prabang.

 

So, what is in Luang Prabang?

Luang Prabang topped it as my favourite city in SE Asia, and here’s a little snippet…



The Bamboo Bridge

bamboo bridge
A bridge built solely of bamboo and rubber which creates a connection to the other side of the Nam Khan river. A local family re-builds this bridge every year after the high levels of the river washes the bamboo away.


A small fee of 5,000kip will get you a ticket to use the bridge and cross to the other side where you will find a small village, a temple and a lovely little restaurant.



Mount Phou Si

phou si monks

Mt Phou Si meaning “sacred hill” is a mini mountain (100 – 150 meters high) in the center of Luang Prabang and is located between the Mekong delta and Nam Khan river.

There are amazing views of Luang Prabang, the surrounding mountains and the two rivers from the very top. On the way up you will see several religious shrines and statues, and there is a mini temple atop the hill where you will see monks doing their daily rituals.

phou si flip flop

Word of advice: Do not let a broken flip flop discourage you from climbing!

 



Temples & Tak Bat, the Almsgiving Ceremony

temple luang prabang

There are many beautiful temples in Luang Prabang which you will see nearly everywhere as you explore, in addition to this there are many monasteries where monks young and old reside and learn from one another. I met a monk who had been in the monastery for 5 years!

monk 5 yr

One ancient and sacred ceremony in Laos, and indeed Luang Prabang, is the Almsgiving ceremony.  This is a Buddhist tradition where monks leave their temples at dawn to collect alms from the faithful and devout Buddhists lined along the street, kneeling on their mats, with baskets full of sticky rice and other offerings.

IMG_0607[1]

A transfixing ceremony to witness, it is worth waking up early to see this. The ceremony normally starts at about 6am and you can spot the monks in their brightly coloured robes doing their procession along the main street, Sisavangvong.

IMG_0620[1]

The rise of tourism in Luang Prabang threatens to reduce this sacred tradition to another tourist attraction, so I’d urge you to be respectful of this and only join in if it means something to you.

 



Day & Night Markets

IMG_0591[1]

If you are a foodie, Luang Prabangs day and night markets are the perfect place for you to spend your time. With food as far as the eye can see, the day market usually sells ingredients and fresh produce, whereas the night market sells an array of aromatic, hot, Laotian delights.

Also in the night markets, you can get your fix of retail therapy with the trinkets, clothes and ornaments that the local market sellers have to offer.

IMG_0592[1]

Try mini coconut pancakes if you want a sweet, hot, freshly made treat, or have a smoothie made to refresh yourself as you wander through the market.

 



Pak Ou Caves

IMG_0700
A place of Buddhist worship for more than a thousand years and by far one of the most intriguing caves I have ever been to, the Pak Ou caves are worth a boat ride to visit. The tickets you purchase once you step off the dock will get you entry into two caves, one immediately up the stairs and embedded in the limestone cliff ahead of you, and the other a little higher up into a deeper and darker cave that you will need a torch to explore.

What makes these caves particularly unique, is the 4K+ Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes as far as the eye can see and on every surface you could possibly balance a Buddha on.



Whisky Village

IMG_0663[1]

Not far off the Pak Ou caves, and along the same river you will gain access to a unique village in Luang Prabang; the whisky village. This little village called Ban Xang Hai has made a name for themselves distilling and selling rice whisky to locals and tourists alike.

On arrival, you will be invited to taste any of their large selection of whiskies, some with snakes and scorpions preserved in the translucent orange-tinted alcohol. But if you explore further, you will also see silk weaving mills selling locally made silk scarves. Explore a little further again and you will see a beautiful temple just a little way into the village.



Kuang Si Waterfalls
IMG_0778

The only place I had to blink twice to make sure I hadn’t died and gone to heaven, I don’t need to say much but let the photos speak for themselves.
IMG_0793

It was a breathtaking moment where I thought, “this can’t be real” but it was!
IMG_0910

Kuang Si (or Kuang Xi) Waterfall is the biggest naturally formed waterfall in Luang Prabang. It drops down three tiers ending in a 50-metre drop into the most stunning turquoise pools and then continues to flow downstream. You can choose to swim in these exquisite paradise pools, or you can find one of the dirt tracks to climb all the way to the serene lagoon on the top where you can swing on the rope swing that sways inches above the refreshing water.

My only advice; don’t attempt to climb in flip flops!

IMG_0914


There is so much more that Luang Prabang has to offer for every type of traveller, an array of restaurants from the affordable to the fancy, multiple cafes to enjoy breakfast, lunch or even just an ethical hot beverage, and a selection of bars for those boozy nights!
If you are there for luxury, they have romantic sunset cruises on the river and pricey five star spas to indulge.

Beware of the elephant tours, many of them are not the well-respected elephant sanctuaries but instead are money-making tourist traps where the elephants are badly abused to break them down to submission for tourists to ride. Look into the tours before you book them, you don’t need to look far to see how mis-treated elephants are for the sake of tourists.

Luang Prabang was probably my favourite place in Asia, if not only for the incredible Kuang Si falls, then for the rich culture, deep-rooted traditions and historical features.

Next stop: Vang Vieng!

 

June Month 6: Meditation (Part Two)


Challenge: Meditate
Charity: Be Me Project
Total £ accrued: £20
Reflection: “Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.” – Yvonne Woon


The Sixth Challenge: To Meditate

 img_0250

What do you wake up for?

It’s been a challenging month, mixing the excitement of travelling with the serenity of meditation. But it really has had me thinking more and more about life and what it’s all about.

Earlier this month, I posted this on social media:

today i woke

The purpose for this was not to make us sad about where they are currently, but to make us think about the reason why we do what we do. A question as much to myself as to everyone else; why do we wake up every morning, what is our purpose and plan for our lives?

I have been so blessed to be able to travel around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, but one thing that I was made increasingly aware of, was the fact that so few of the people I met and saw in local communities would ever be able to afford to save, let alone travel. For many, the reason they wake up and do life is to feed themselves and their families for that day. If they have enough food that day and a little to spare the next day, they consider it a very good day.


So what are your reasons? There are no right answers, only, let’s make sure we know what we are waking up for each day.

 

Taking in the Beautiful


Nature has gifted us with so much that we take for granted. The earth is a giant gift that keeps giving as we enjoy it’s warmth or coolness, varied fruits and food, drink, fuel, medicines, clothes and so much more. Isn’t it funny to think that everything, absolutely everything that we have comes from this earth?

The other gift that is ours for free is the absolute beauty that is all around us, this in itself is taken for granted most. There is something about pure beauty that just heals the soul, nourishes the mind and swells up the heart. It’s as if you absorb beauty through your eyes and it fills your entie being.


I have been lucky enough to explore some of these places of immense beauty abroad, but if I’m honest, I really didn’t have to come this far for it. Surrey, especially where I live, is full of breathtaking views that just seem to melt away my problems when I stop to take it in.
Next time you see something beautiful, do take time to sit and absorb with your eyes (and not always with your lense). You might find you take more away with you than you expect.

The Conclusion


Success rate: 87% (5 days failed out of 30)
Cost per fail: £5
Money raised for charity: £25


Because you’re worth it!


Meditation has not been as easy as I thought as it is just as important to give quality time to it as it is to actually do it.

Being on tour at the beginning of the month meant early mornings and late nights with not much option for quality meditation time. This is where I lost the most days. But when I did get into meditation, I found the time went so fast and often I would be there for 10, 15 minutes without realising.

I took advantage of the opportunity I had to be in stunning locations, this made meditation easy and it came naturally to me. I have been able to meditate on beaches, at waterfalls, on boats, in temples, in the ocean and even in the deeply tragic killing fields that offered so much beauty yet had seen such horror.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I have really felt the benefit of this and will continue to do this daily, it is something that grows with time as you get spiritually, mentally and emotionally stronger.

Next: July’s Challenge – Water!