I hope you know – A letter to my younger self

 

I hope you know

how proud I am of you

the decisions you made

the way you held yourself together

 

I hope you know

things will get better

the career you are chasing

will cease to exist

instead you will make room for something much bigger

 

You will learn to love yourself,

more than you have ever loved anyone

 

I hope you know

your heart still aches for adventure

stay with it

let it guide you

not the thoughts and opinions of others

 

I hope you know

The only one capable of manifesting your dreams

Is you

a perspective changing realisation

you won’t understand it now

the mistakes you made were never setbacks

Yet a lesson to be learnt

once

twice

heck maybe a few

but you will eventually understand

the path it lead you to

 

The people that have such an importance in your life will leave

let them leave

 

I hope you know

how to cherish friendships and relationships while they last

don’t hold on longer than you need to

You will be hurt but unknowingly you will hurt others too

 

I hope you learn

to slow down

learning to love the process

no matter how difficult

 

I hope you realise,

each day

is like the single piece to a bigger puzzle

 

Equally as significant

Make it count

Mindfulness and Meditation

With the recent interest in the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, some of you will already be familiar with the terms. Mindfulness was first expressed in the teachings of the Buddha, who highlighted the significance of meditation (Dhyana) in our life. So what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation? The goal of meditation is to increase your level of consciousness. Hang on, what do I mean by consciousness? Consciousness in simple terms is just a state of increased awareness. Different techniques can be used to reach this level of consciousness, with mindfulness being one of them, while yoga (moving meditation) being another. Mindfulness focuses on the present moment, without worrying about the past or the future. This form of meditation focuses mainly on your breath, whereas, other techniques such as the body scan meditation focuses on physical sensations you can feel within your body.

I honestly can’t remember the exact moment I decided to start meditating. Looking back now I feel like I’ve experienced meditative like states before when I’ve been snowboarding, travelling or scuba diving. I understand now why I felt so free during these activities. It was because during those moments, I’m not worried about past or future events but I’m truly living in that moment. I mentioned about my spinal injury in my first blog post and how it motivated me to get into meditation. At the time, all my close friends were either in relationships or on a work placement in different countries. I’m going to be honest and say I was probably at my lowest point and didn’t tell many people about it. I couldn’t sit in lectures for long periods of time. I couldn’t train and go to the gym. I was on bed rest for a few months, and became so depressed I wanted to drop out of university. I just didn’t know what to do. I’m so glad I discovered meditation. When no one was there, I learnt to be there for myself. I overcame these challenges and got back up. I can’t express enough how powerful meditation is and how much it can help you in life.

When you first get into meditation you don’t need to sit there for hours on end. Most the time, I use 5-10 minutes ‘on the spot’ meditations when I can feel stress building up. On my recent trip to Prague, my flight was delayed on the way back. So instead of stressing out, I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing for 5 minutes. As soon as I opened my eyes, I was instantly more relaxed and calmer about the situation.

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One of the realisations, I had from practicing meditation was that, I am not my thoughts. If you think about it. Thoughts influence our emotions and vice versa. As a result, emotions influence our behaviour. You can choose how you respond to that thought, which then changes your response in that situation. I think this is why meditation and mindfulness are so helpful in anxiety sufferers. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I know the thought patterns of anxiety. Thoughts usually dwell on the mistakes you made in the past or the uncertainty of the future. Bringing your awareness to the present can help to ignore negative thoughts. When you realise it is only a thought, you learn not to react to it.

A great way to practice mindfulness every day for a couple of minutes is to pay attention to your senses. When you’re in the shower, feel the water on your skin, notice the buildup of heat in your bathroom. You can also become mindful while eating. Next time you eat by yourself, put your phone away and focus on the smell, flavour, and textures of the food. Truly enjoy a cup of tea, focusing on its warmth and taste. When I started paying attention to my food, everything started to taste 100x better. You are likely to drift into thoughts while doing these meditation exercises but the goal is to realise you have started to drift and to bring your awareness back.

 I think the best way to start meditating is to attend a local yoga studio or download the app ‘Headspace’. Meditation centers are so supportive and the teachers will be happy to answer any questions you may have. The headspace app is a 10-minute guided meditation session, which progresses you slowly through the stages. For anyone that is already experienced or wants to learn more, I honestly would recommend ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’ by Eckhart Tolle. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

There are so many benefits to practicing mindfulness and meditation on a regular basis. Studies have shown improved sleep quality, stronger immune system, lower blood pressure and increased concentration. Overall, you will start to think more positively and become more open to change and self-improvement in your life. So what are you waiting for?

 

The benefits of spending time alone

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A common question I get asked by people is why I travel solo most the time. Do you not get lonely? Firstly, let me clear up the fact that spending time alone is not the same as loneliness. Loneliness is how you feel when you are alone. Loneliness is an uncomfortable feeling and a desire to be around people all the time. So, when was the last time you went to a café alone for a coffee and enjoyed it without constantly being on your phone? Or have you never done that? The other day I put up a poll on Instagram, asking the same exact question. Trust me to be a proper geek and get statistics involved. Not to my surprise, the majority of people answered no to that question. Why is it that, it seems anti-social to take yourself out on a date? Maybe it’s because we think too much about what other people think of us.

A couple of years back when I was in New Zealand, I was struggling to sleep due to jetlag. So, I decided to take a walk down Queen Street in Auckland. At the time, Finding Dory had just been released. So I waited for the cinema to open at 8 am, bought a ticket and sat in an empty cinema with my popcorn waiting for the film to start. It was a strange experience at first. It felt awkward to go to the cinema alone, wondering what strangers are thinking, but I let it go. Most likely you will never see those people again so does it really matter what they are thinking about you. The experience taught me that if I wanted to do something I could do it and not wait for anyone else. So, just do it, go out and do something on your own.

Spending some quality time alone with allow you to become comfortable in your own skin and learn about yourself. You’ll start to enjoy your own company and start to understand your own emotions. I think it’s important to find the foundations within yourself and accept who you are.

We are constantly influenced by other people, how do we know that what we are actually thinking, is our own thoughts and not someone else’s. From time to time you should block out this external noise and truly listen to yourself. It’s nice, you are not distracted and other people’s opinion doesn’t have an influence on you anymore. One of my favorite things to do when I’m alone is meditation. I started meditating early last year and I must admit it has changed my life.

Tell me I’m not the only one that gets their best ideas when I’m in the shower. Ever wonder why? When you spend time alone, you get to listen to your thoughts and actually understand what’s going on. Ideas start popping into your head and you become more creative. Not just that but people are distracting, I struggle to get things done when I’m around others. I do my best work when I’m alone in the library or in a cute little café in town.

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There must have been a time when you wanted to go to a certain concert or event but your friends were busy or just weren’t interested. Most of the time when you want to do activities in a group, at least one compromise has to be made in order to find a solution. I think my favorite thing about having this independence is that I can do what I want, when I want to. I don’t have to wait for anyone. If I waited for people to come travelling with me, I’m 100% sure most of the countries on my bucket list would not have been ticked off. If we wait, who knows if that opportunity will ever come again.

The more you learn about yourself, the better decisions you can make on who you want in your life. Spending time alone with make you appreciate other people’s company when you are with them. This will make your relationships stronger with the people you do interact with. I’m not one to give advice on romantic relationships, as I’ve never been in one myself. But to all my friends out there that are currently single or just broke up from a relationship, this is my opinion; Stay single for a while. What I’m trying to say is that, how can you be in a relationship with someone else if you’re not in a good relationship with yourself? Be alone for a bit, figure out what you want, fully understand yourself and your thoughts. So when you do meet the right person. You’ll be sure of it.

 

 

 

 

Introvert turned Extrovert

Pretty much all my life I was that shy little girl who didn’t talk much and always had her head in books. I was an introvert. I find it hard to believe that I was naturally an introvert. When I was a child in primary school I remember being part of so many clubs, cycling around my hometown every evening with my brother after school and exploring. What happened? Secondary school happened. It was a new environment and at that time, I was a minority, I was different. Clearly, at that age, I was not strong enough to cope with comments about who I was or why I couldn’t cut my hair. I lost it, I lost all my confidence and I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. I tried whatever I could to fit in. Oh, I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that I was wrong. Why be the same and fit in when you can be different and stand out?

My story goes back to 2012 when I just decided I didn’t want this life for myself anymore. I had a strong feeling that I wanted to be out there in the world and exploring. That’s where I felt like I belonged. I decided I had to do something out of the ordinary to leave my comfort zone and regain my confidence. So I saved up every little penny and decided to book a solo trip to South America at the age of 16. Yes, I did freak out my parents when I told them I had booked a plane ticket to the other side of the world without telling them, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I admit, I was terrified. My first night away from home, I didn’t know anyone and I was in a country by myself where I could not speak the language.

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Every day I learnt more about myself and the world that no book could ever teach me. I grew. I learnt the value of travel and I was intrigued. I felt free. One trip leads to another and here I am today. At the age of twenty-one, I’ve visited over 20 countries in the last five years alone. So why am I starting a blog now instead of five years ago?

Just this year, I was on a snowboarding trip to Japan and I ended up fracturing my spine two days into the trip. At the time, I was like why me? I saved up all this money and it was meant to be the trip of a lifetime. But looking back now, I’m so glad it happened. Growth happens in the bad times, not the good times. You get to see that you are stronger than you could have ever imagined. Sometimes we don’t see the bigger picture or the purpose behind the bad things that happen to us.

As soon as I returned home, I had a new outlook on life. I started yoga, meditation, eating healthy and looking after myself. Letting go of past bad habits and embracing change has put me on a different road in life. That’s when I decided that I wanted to share this with the world. For most of my life, I’ve always been a very science orientated person, it wasn’t until I started writing essays and research papers while being at university that I realise now how much I actually enjoy writing and putting my ideas together. Deep down I’ve always had a creative side, hopefully, by starting this blog I can reconnect with it and enjoy the process along the way.