The only way to see where you are or where you are going is by stopping.

Map and Compass

Couple of years ago, I was going through a very confusing transition. I was trying to figure out what it is that I really wanted to do in the midst of my thoughts on what I thought I should be doing with my life. Everyone goes through a confusing period like this in life and instead of focusing on solving the problem by thinking it through, I kept myself occupied with a very busy schedule trying as many different things as possible hoping that down the road, something will pop up. Instead of getting answers, I just got even more frustrated and was on the verge of crashing, losing all motivation.

And then time stopped and I was given a chance to think. I had gone on a ten-day trip to Laos thinking I’d get a mini holiday sightseeing and exploring the country but I was wrong. Arriving in Vientiane, I was shocked at how calm and quiet the city was compared to any other cities I have been in. It was almost if time had slowed down in Laos. Initially I hated how bored I was but things changed after a couple of days.

My ten days in Laos consisted of not only walking around, reading books, sightseeing and sitting at a cafe observing my surroundings but more importantly, learning to appreciate doing nothing and in return having the chance to focus on me and only me.

I was able to stop, let go of everything and turn full attention to myself (having barely any internet connection helped me disconnect with the outside world as well). I was learning to be more attentive about my needs and desires, and to reflect on my past, present and future. And everything changed since that moment. I started seeing things in a different perspective which consequently made me happier and more grateful towards life. When others ask me how Laos is, I say it’s beautiful but boring – and that’s why it’s one of my favorite destinations. Laos teaches you how to do nothing but the most important thing everyone needs to learn how to do – stop and reflect.

The only way to figure out where you are going is to stop and look at your surroundings. Sometimes you need to stop, take a break and just focus on nothing else but you.

6 things yoga has taught me about life

yoga

As many of you know, practicing yoga is a big part of my life. It’s something I not only enjoy doing but also need in my life. Being on the road, yoga is not the easiest to practice. Sure, I can do yoga on my own and do some yoga moves (all I really need is an open space), but practicing yoga is beyond the physical movement. I’ve gained so much from yoga classes, beyond the physical and mental strength. The things that I’ve learned in yoga have made some things in life easier to understand. Being in one city for 2+ weeks now, I’ve had a chance to squeeze in a few classes and started thinking about how yoga classes have helped me change my attitude towards life. Here are top 6 things I’ve learned from my yoga practices so far:

1) If you let your ego get in the way and push yourself to impress others, you’ll just end up hurting yourself. If you are forcing your leg to stretch out further because you want to show off to the rest of the class how good you are, you are going to hurt yourself. If you are working hard and pushing yourself to show off to others and aren’t listening to your own needs, you’ll end up harming nobody else but you and your own happiness.

2) You cannot grow and be comfortable at the same time because growing requires you to get out of your comfort zone. Doing a yoga move, stretching out your hamstrings, holding your chaturanga; these are all really uncomfortable but you know it will make you stronger and more flexible. If you want to grow, you need to get out of your comfort zone. And if you keep pushing yourself a little by little, there’s nothing you can’t do.

3) Learn to appreciate the opportunity to do nothing. Sometimes, laying in shavasna can be uneasy and stressful. That’s because your mind is rushing and telling you all the things you have to do. It’s our fear of missing out, our constant need to achieve something. But, it’s ok to take a break once in a while and let yourself do nothing. And when you are given the opportunity to do nothing at all, take it and enjoy it. Everything will still be the same.

4) You might not be able to achieve it today, but you might tomorrow. It’s ok to not be able to do that hand stand today. It’s ok if crow pose isn’t working for you today. It’s ok if you didn’t get everything on your list done today. It’s ok… just try again tomorrow.

5) Each move has a purpose, don’t rush to get to the final pose. The reason I love vinyasa is because one move flows to the other and preps you to get to the final pose, just like how life comes in steps and you need to take it a step at a time. Enjoy the ride, don’t rush and you’ll perfect that final pose.

6) Don’t forget to breath. When you are doing a difficult move, you’ll realize you are holding your breath. I do that often until I remember to breathe. Not breathing is just making it harder for yourself. If you surrender to the pose and remember to do the most basic and fundamental thing, such as breathing, the pose becomes so much easier. When you are stressed, faced with challenges, and are frustrated, just breathe. It’s already happening, don’t make it harder on yourself.

The importance of living today

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As I received the news of one of my childhood friends who left her loved ones behind at such a young age, it made me realize, once again, how important it is to live life to the fullest. Although she was young, she was always out there ready to take on new challenges and anything that came her way – clearly touching many people’s lives. She was young but she was happy, enjoying the life she was living. 

We tend to forget how unexpected and short life can be. We are busy living for tomorrow that we forget to focus on what we have right now.  It took me a long time to realize the importance of living life to the fullest and I still struggle to maintain that attitude towards life but this week I got a big reminder. 

One of the many reasons I decided to embark on this journey was exactly that. Wanting to do what I believe is best for me right now. Also, living far away from loved ones (my parents), I had not seen them for more than 2 years. Was it really all worth it when to me, happiness in life was exploring new places, learning new things and being close to the ones that I loved? What if something happened to one of us, and I couldn’t express my love to them because I was miles and miles away? I wanted to be able to live a life where I can be there for the people I care. 

I want to take this time to say thank you, and I love you to everyone who have been and still are in my life – allowing me to have become the person I am today. This trip has been amazing – not only because I was learning so much on the road and really letting myself be, but because I got to connect with old friends; people who have had a huge impact on my life that I don’t get to see because we are all spread out around the world. I wish I had seen her one last time and connected with her through our childhood memories – but I didn’t get a chance to tell her how big of a part she had in allowing me to be who I am today; that her feisty, brave attitude towards life has taught me to do the same. It’s always too late when you realize all the things you want to say to the person. So I’m going to take the time to tell people how much I appreciate them before it’s too late.

Are you living your life to the fullest and can honestly say you have no regrets? Did you remember to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you?