My tension Intention

Naked and exposed I plug in my headphones and turn on the beautiful bliss that is Ludovico Einaudi. His brilliant compositions allowing me to tune out the world and tune into myself.

When beginning situations, meditations, experimentation with drugs, or really anything in life with intentions it allows the possibility of completely changing the whole experience. So I decide to set an intention for my massage, to make it into a meditation and create a space that would allow unconscious aspects of myself to surface.

I focus on my breath, but I also make my mind into a sort of screen, allowing observation of each ephemeral thought as it passes through my mind, and I give in.

“Erm, excuse me miss… miss… can you flip over?” says the masseuse. I open my eyes and blink. Hard. I had forgotten where I was for a second. It takes me a minute, but I realize that I am still at the spa. I flip over and place my hands over my eyes, firmly pressing down on them in order to bring myself back to the present moment. My meditation took me to another place, another level of consciousness that I have never experienced before. I focus back on my breath to calm myself down, the massage continues, and the resonances of Ludovico take me back again. To where that was, I am still somewhat unsure.

Tension defined the 60 minutes of my massage, and the distinct memory of it has continually replayed in my mind ever since. As the masseuse kneaded her hands into my back I could feel the presence of tightness more than ever. Her hands felt like they had the weight of the world in them and my back was the strongest and most impenetrable force pushing back. No matter how hard she pushed, my muscles would not release.

This tension is almost always present in my neck, back and shoulders. I usually chalk it off to not exercising or stretching enough. A stiffness that’s caused by my shitty posture and my large, and extremely inconvenient rack. However, the images moving across the screen (my mind) conveyed to me that the physical feeling that was manifesting as a stiffness in my back, neck and shoulders was merely a secondary aspect of what was going on.

The mind is a powerful tool, and as humans I think we give it too much credit. We allow it to constantly be at work, to analyze, define and dictate our lives. I am a huge culprit of this. This causes us to always be thinking of the past or the future, thus forgetting the most important thing for us to be aware of, the present.

Some deep and introspective reflection after my massage, has helped me to realize that I must relax. Slow down, and not think too deeply into things. Everything will happen the way it’s supposed to, and worrying about the future or the past will not make things any different. I must remain present.

Alan Watts transcribes this idea perfectly in his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity :

“The power of memories and expectations is such that for most human beings the past and the future are not as real, but more real than the present. The present cannot be lived happily unless the past has been “cleared up” and the future is bright with promise. There can be no doubt that the power to remember and predict, to make an ordered sequence out of the helter skelter chaos of disconnected moments is a wonderful development of sensitivity. In a way it is the achievement of the human brain, giving man the most extraordinary powers of survival and adaptation to life. But the way in which we generally use this power is apt to destroy all it’s advantages. For it is of little use to us to be able to remember and predict if it makes us unable to live fully in the present.”

I am still not completely aware of what my meditation was trying to reveal to me, however I think I am getting closer and closer to what I must know. For now, I am happy with the realization that I must be present. Everyone has, and could tell me this a million times. However, I needed to realize it for myself, to experience the overwhelming weight associated with not doing so in order to fully understand how truly important being present really is.

Noodle weight

Things I find myself thinking while living with a daily view of Ha Long Bay, one of the wonders of the world. Working a 22 hours week, but still making at least 3X as much as the average person in Vietnam who works 12 hour days with one day off per month:

This tablet is a piece of shit, I need my mac to adequately update my blog and surf the web. It barley connects to the internet, and using it takes an extra 2-5 minutes to do anything.

My iphone isn’t capturing pictures the way I want it to, I need a better camera.

I’m sick of being 10-15 pounds heavier than I normally am, the food here is making me fat. Everything involves rice and noodles, and even the vegetables are saturated in oil. I can’t even work out to keep off the noodle weight, the yoga here is so different, it’s only stretching, that won’t do anything for me. And the gym, the only one in the city, it’s a piece of shit. There’s no way I can have an adequate work out there..

Thoughts, feelings… Judgments? These things all feel so real, so important, but as I type them on my piece of shit tablet I feel… Silly. Entitled. Spoiled. Egocentric. These thoughts are so….American.

I left home for a reason. I wanted to do more than take a tiny step outside of my comfort zone, I wanted to immerse myself in the unknown. And now, that I’m here all I can think about is what I miss about home.

Why do we travel to these far off places only to crave the familiar? If I were in a place where I could eat 100% organic, have chipotle and shop at whole foods. Where I could go to yoga that was designed for weight loss, and to have the “perfect body” as defined by American standards. Where I could drive my Saab, widows down, blasting STS9 on my way to Starbucks where they would understand what coffee with fresh milk means and not give me condensed milk. Well, If I had all of this then I would be in America. But I’m not, and I must learn to accept that. To stay present, and to dive in.

So I joined a yoga class that’s only stretching and involves more gossip between the Vietnamese women than relaxation and inward reflection. I ride my bike there, without headphones, listening to the random words in Vietnamese people shout at me, but also to the sound of the water from the sea. When I’m finished getting twisted into positions that I’m pretty sure the human body is entirely incapable of, I ride my bike to my favorite coffee shop. To this day they still don’t understand that I want fresh milk, not sweet milk, but I love what they give me anyway. I make my way to the second floor and sit on pillows by the wall sized window that looks out on Ha Long Bay. I read, or take out my shitty tablet or a journal to write for an hour or so while sipping on my Vietnamese drip coffee with sweet milk until I decide that it’s time to go home and shower the body that barley worked up a sweat during an hour and a half of yoga.

This plus a few hours of work mostly defines my day-to-day life. So simple, yet I make it so complicated by craving the familiar.

I have always known, however some deep reflection and meditation has helped me to realize how truly blessed to live this crazy dream life, so I make a promise to myself to fully commit to the experience. I will no longer compare what I have here to what I have at home. It will be hard, because acomparisons are how human beings make sense of the world, however I must try to eliminate them in order to stay entirely present. I chose to come here for a reason, so after 3 months of being in Vietnam I make the commitment to whole-heartedly embrace it along with my weight, because god damnit, rice noodles and sweet milk are delicious.

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Oh, hey old friend

I haven’t written in a while… Since I boarded the plane for Asia, actually.

Recently I’ve started a new adventure within my already large adventure. I moved to Ha Long city from Ho Chi Minh city. Ho Chi Minh is a city of 10 million in the South of Vietnam, and Ha Long is a city of 1,000 people in the North. I have chosen to make this change as a start to looking more inwardly at myself and my life. I wanted to remove the external distractions I was experiencing in such a big city so that I could focus more intensely on reading, writing, yoga and self reflection.

Because of this I’ve decided to change my blog around, to make it more of a canvas for thoughts and my travel experience. 

The beginning:

As I sit in the airport, eating my overpriced, extra oily bowl of pho I am beginning to get anxious. Its such a familiar, but rare feeling. But while the stomach pains, dizziness and dry mouth are not ideal, I know that they will end. My body is filled with excitement, but my mind tries to paralyze it with overthinking and “what if’s”. These feelings aren’t easy, they make it easy to give way to negativity, to throw in the towel, because “fuck it, I can go home and dive right back into predictability and comfort.” But I don’t. I can’t. I know there is something out there for me, something more. So I try to greet these anxious feelings like an old friend who I don’t always see eye to eye with. I politely acknowledge their opinion, and the possibility of it holding some truth and then I  move on.

It saddens me to know that peoples anticipation of this anxiety stops them from new experiences, unfamiliarity, and travel. To me, anything worthwhile is scary. It is easy and comfortable to remain in the known, to stay where we grew up, or where we know people. However, one simply cannot grow from remaining in the same routine.

 

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Vitamins.

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Vitamins. Taste shitty, but benefit you in the end.

Some quick food for thought for you on this beautiful Thursday afternoon.

As I was rushing out of my apartment today my vitamins caught my eye. I hadn’t taken them in a few days so I decided to pop a few in my mouth.

As I swallowed fish oil and Echinacea I thought to myself “the vitamins are right there, you just have to take them.”
It seems so simple, yet I take my vitamins only a couple times a week.
I think that is true about life as well. Except in life, the vitamins represent opportunity and experience.

I skip my vitamins because I am “so busy and forgot”, and lets be honest, they taste like shit. In life, I have skipped opportunities because I “didn’t have time”, because it “doesn’t seem worth it”, or because I “didn’t feel like it”.

In reality, how hard is it for me to stop for one second in the morning to open my jar of vitamins and take a few out?

Vitamins, but more importantly opportunities present themselves to us each day. We must slow down and make time to take our vitamins. To accept opportunities, in turn allowing ourselves to make the most of life.

Ask yourself. How hard is it to take one day, or even an hour out of our whole lives to swallow our vitamins, to take a chance, and to accept opportunity into our lives?

Pensive of Eternity

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Pensive of Eternity

A malicious sanctuary,
enslaving perpetual reruns
that long for evanescence.

A Pensive to store and ponder the unwanted,
eternally holding unsought agony.
To reminisce the past,
yet simultaneously amass the future.

Each one incarcerating difference,
derived from separate withholders.

Preserving what its subordinates see,
imprisoning each occurrence without verdict.

Sustain sanity, for-
eyes will never turn off,
the mind will never shut down,
and callous memories will never be forgotten.

“The sun sets each day, putting the past to rest. Look forward to the sunrise, for living in the present is the only way to true happiness.” I try to live by this quote each day, to look past the imperfections in my life and focus on the abundant beauty that greatly overpowers the negativity. As I sit here today, I remember my journey, and the struggles I overcame to acquire such a positive mentality.

I am writing this blog not only to express myself, but also to share my experiences, life lessons and healthy mentality. It is my hope that through my stories, poems and photography that I can connect with and empower others to not only love the life they live, but more importantly, to love themselves.

Spread love.