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Home For a Rest

Rode this beast through the dunes at sunrise outside of Mui Ne

Rode this beast through the dunes at sunrise, so much exploration!

What an adventure that was! After an epic 5 month journey through South East Asia, followed by a 2 month trip through Europe, I was finally able to come home for a rest before heading out to India. It’s also given me time to reflect and look back at my year thus far, definitely the most memorable one of my life. In retrospect, each of these time blocks feels so unique in it’s own way, having offered exactly what I needed when it came around, and, I now realize, having left me ready for what followed.

This was definitely the most amazing day I've had so far in Asia. We trekked through two caves, the first very dark, narrow, and muddy. It ended with a mud pool so dense you could float cross legged and everyone in our group was playing and splashing around. After the first cave, only four of us wanted to proceed to the second and I'm so glad we did. By then, it was the end of the day and no one else was around. We had the whole cave to ourselves and the silence we experienced was palpable. It felt like it was going forever, deeper and deeper into the mountain. In front of a huge stalactite, we took a few moments, mediated, chanted and ohmed. The sounds and vibrations we were able to create and feel in there were indescribable and the echos divine, as if the mountain itself was answering and joining. #caves #explore #phongnha #meditate #ohm #echo #mountain #mud #mudpool #love #wanderlust #moment

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The trip in South East Asia was life changing. I could not imagine how differently I would end up seeing the world when I first set out, but it was that specifically this change that I was searching for. The culture, the people, the attitudes, the friends – old and new, and, of course, the incredible sights along the way, all combined to give me a more passive outlook on life. I realized the world is bigger than me, that there are things that I cannot control and, most importantly, that it’s for the best.

After so many wrong turns, change of plans and impromptu decisions (here is a good example), one of the biggest changes that Asia left me with was a calm admission to lettings things unfold as they do, and not labeling something as “going wrong” just because it wasn’t the way I had planned. This obviously made me calmer and less tense. The constant nagging wonder in my mind in every situation, thinking “where is this going?” or “where am I supposed to take this, what is my desired outcome?” slowly subsided. This gave me a more positive outlook and changed my mood, my actions, even my conversations with people.

Beautiful garden around Doi Phra That

It’s easy to meditate in temples surrounded by beautiful gardens and waterfalls, but it’s important to take that peace and keep doing it in your own living room.

I also realized that these new mentalities and attitudes are not granted forever, but have to be nurtured and maintained. The habits that I acquired in Asia were what brought about this calm acceptance, but I realized that it’s not here to stay without them. They came, for me, first and foremost with consistent meditation, which brought awareness, and which eventually brought that extra moment of contemplation before the natural human reaction to any event. Consciously looking inside and analysing myself from top to bottom, physically and emotionally, on a regular basis, enabled me to realize right away when something was different – a new emotion, a tiny clenched muscle, a little bit of angst or anger. As soon as a situation changed something within me, and brought forth something I didn’t need, I was aware and didn’t let it consume me.

Kids were ecstatic just to receive a pen.

The amount of gratitude and happiness I encountered was amazing. Kids were ecstatic just to receive a pen. The smile says it all!

This all came about from the cultures and individuals I mixed with in Asia that turned my head towards new ideas and practices. I started becoming very interested in reiki, vegetarianism, which I’m still working towards, and yoga. The interesting thing is that these weren’t all new concepts to me. They were always there, but this strengthened and evolved them. I was, for example, always trying to cut down my meat consumption, but I started doing this for more reasons than just my own health. It started being with consideration to what the actual animals and environment were being put though – trying to remember that my food is something that had once had a life, that moved and thought, something that is so often lost in the Western world. Similarly, I was always into yoga, but I now approached it with a significantly more mindful outlook. It used to just be a workout with some flexibility benefits, but I started approaching it more for the meditative aspect, where I was able to concentrate on calming my mind and letting go of my discomforts. For the first time, I started doing Hatha, a practice I always disregarded as not being rigorous enough and therefore unable to bring the physical benefits I was initially looking for.

Visiting the Dortmund stadium in Germany with my scuba buddy from Thailand!

Visiting the Dortmund stadium in Germany with my scuba buddy from Thailand!

These new mindsets I took to Europe, but I have to say that I don’t think that they really settled in me until I arrived home. Europe was, however, another valuable experience. It was fantastic to be able to catch up with so many of the people that I had met while backpacking in Asia and see them again in their homes and cities. They shared their culture, lifestyle, and friends with me and it was so amazing to see how strong of a bond we created while experiencing Asia together. These are all people that I hope to be able to run into many more times in my life and travels.

And finally, I arrived home, first to New York City where I caught up with some of my best friends, then to Washington DC, where I set some more groundwork for the business I was running while traveling and that was supporting all these adventures, and then finally to Vancouver and my family. I finally got my old bed back, my old room back and the comfort of my childhood home. I think it took about three days to fully feel like me again, to shift back into the Canadian lifestyle: a little more chill than NYC and a little more comfortable than backpacking. With that shift though, I had to be careful to not lose the habits that I emerged with from Asia. I realized how evident it was, at least internally in my own mind, when I didn’t practice yoga, meditate, or workout for a few days, because without them, I quickly lost that inner calm, that extra moment. I realized that each of those activities has an important role to play in keeping everything in sync.

Kayaking doesn't get much better than this. BC can be wild, beautiful, and serene!

Kayaking doesn’t get much better than this. BC can be wild, beautiful, and serene!

Living at home was amazing. My parents are the kind of people that will make sure you have everything you need at every moment. They also took me on a euphoric trip to Quadra Island, up to coast of British Columbia, on a hiking and kayaking adventure that showed me that, even when I eventually do move back, bliss and serenity are never far off.

The most interesting thing that happened at home though, was the spike in my appreciation for Vancouver. I loved spending time with those friends and my family, being in my home, and enjoying all of Vancouver’s unique outdoor and indoor amenities. It all made me feel rejuvenated but I also know I still have a long way to go. There’s a lot more awareness in my life, but awareness is just the beginning, and it’s very volatile. One of the goals of this next adventure is to strength it. I now consider myself a more experienced traveler, comfortable in unknown surroundings, open to new experiences and, most importantly, aware of how enlightening they can be.

I’m sitting here in the Vancouver airport, where this adventure started 9 months ago, so excited for the next step: one month in India, where I hope to volunteer among Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, explore the foothills of the Himalayas, and practice yoga and reiki, followed by some time in Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines!

Round 2 is now beginning!

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