The first 7 months of my trip pretty much consisted of “coming down” from my old 80 hour work week life. I hung out in hammocks, I watched sunsets and sunrises while digging my toes in the sand and counting the waves. I danced til dawn in bamboo shacks with others decked out in fisherman pants and bare feet. I ate fresh fish, an abundance of new fruits, drank veggie shakes and veggie meals. I practiced yoga, I hiked, I laughed, I slept, I read, I meditated, I balanced. I got massages every day, indulgent in the mind-body connection. I let go, I softened, and I loved…everyone and everything. I saw the lessons and the purpose of it all. I learned to live in the moment, and what glorious moments to wallow in. Nearing the end of my 7 months is SEA, I participated in a 10 day silent meditation retreat. In that deafening silence, I tamed my monkey mind. I learned to sit and be. That’s all. I didn’t realize until I was driving in Paris with my parents a month later that my mind had in fact, stopped. Blessed mental silence! How I’ve missed you!
One of the greatest things of taming the raucous thoughts is that it makes room for productive imaginings. The most amazing internal skill I cultivated in that space is the accuracy of my intuition. In my former life my intuition had no need to present itself to me. I had “information” that I based my belief system on. I had emails, lectures, conversations, science, statistics, break-downs, numbers, pie charts, interest projections, calendars and goals. I was systematic. I was organized. I knew how to get the information I needed to move forward and make the best decisions. Thus, my monkey mind was born with plenty of repetitive thought to help it propagate.
The nomadic life changed that. Now I had none of those tools. Nor could I blindly trust everyone I met. As necessity is the mother of invention, so I evolved. I paid attention to my body. If I was in the wrong place, my body would physically react in the most subtle ways. I have turned and ran away at the price of offending whomever it was I was talking to, just because my inner voice said “leave”. I have turned my travel plans upside down just because my inner voice said “this bus instead of that one” and in turn, exposed myself to inspiration. I join people because I believe they may have a lesson for me, and they always do. I’m open to all, and it’s changed my life.
Language is the shallowest form of communication and we put far too much weight on. I can understand full conversations without knowing a single word. I can be in a room full of conversation I don’t understand and respond on what I believe they are talking about. It stops the room every time. They look at each other, they look at me wide eyed and always say “do you now speak (insert language) ?” I shake my head with a bemused smile, thrilled with my new skill. Body language and vocal inflection is a universal characteristic of conversation. And it speaks volumes, more than the words say. This is a super handy travel ally. It’s the most important tool for my safety and creates the most amazing experiences.There was the time I HAD to get into a car with two strange men and drive into the Syrian countryside as I was in a village without taxi’s. I paused in the middle of the fare negotiations and asked myself how I felt about it. That day turned out to be full of excitement, kindness and fresh friendships. I experienced Arabic hospitality to its fullest. So far, so good, my gut has yet to steer me wrong. That’s mostly because the world is full of wonderful people. The other part is because I’m in tune with the subconscious indicators.
I’m grateful mostly for this tool because of the relationships that are opened up. I know I can trust, so I put myself in situations that might be considered risky by some. I meet amazing people, live with the locals, accept dinner invitations and sleep in their homes. I sit in the front seat in a taxi and learn about families, dreams and fears. I sit in the cafes usually reserved for men or drink cay with the shopkeepers. It’s the way I can see we are all the same in this world. We all want the same things, we all have the same fears. The random people in my days were quickly proven to be the best part of my travels. The people were the ones that taught me you can love quickly and easily, on the basis of a feeling and nothing more.