Joy in Simplicity

A few days ago I woke up and got an email and phone call that were not filled with much positive news. Some issues related to the family business that are not important getting into.

After deciding that I would deal with them when I actually need to deal with them, I did as I do most every morning: I walked down to the seaside and jumped in!

As soon as I touched the water, I got the regular but never-old feeling of joy I always get. Then I swam for some time, and during the swim I started thinking of the joy in simplicity.

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Nature Time With Ourselves

How can we live calmly in the hectic world we live in? How can our mind stay stable when it is being bombarded with all the stimulations coming from today’s world?

Whether we admit it or not, the fact is that city life, and the working life we live, is not natural to human beings, and we have not yet adapted to it (thankfully). We evolved in lush, natural areas, much less populated then today.

We all feel great after we spend even 15 minutes next to the ocean, or walking in the countryside. Our mind feels naturally calmer.

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An Audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama

Here in Dharamshala everything is done spontaneously. I was at a meditation center and we were told that the Dalai Lama would give foreigners an audience in 3-days time. We were asked to go register at the security office down in Mc Leod Ganj in the next few days and then turn up at the Main Temple on Monday morning with no phones, cameras or anything that looked like a gun.

 When we got there it seemed that all the foreigners staying in Mc Leod, Bhagsu & Dharamkot were there for this rare chance. After getting in and finding a seat, we were separated into continents, than countries. Our country, Malta, which was represented only by my friend Emily and me, was joined up with some people from Greece and Spain. The Dalai Lama then went round every group for group photos.

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Lessons from Nature – Change is Life

As I was sitting by a waterfall close to Dharamkot, Dharamshala, I got one of my recurring realizations: nature is always new, and it always amazes! It was only the second time I had been to this waterfall, once during a run and this time I walked here and brought food so my friend and I could spend some time there and enjoy it.

The quiet path to get there is amazing in itself, full of lush green trees and loads of different birds to stop me wondering in my tracks. Then the waterfall goes through some beautiful crystal clear pools that I would have swam in had it been a little sunnier. Just drinking some of the water gave us a brain freeze.

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I love being with people, surely I can’t say I’m a loner. As I grew though, I also learned to love my space too. For some time in my life I was addicted to being around people all the time, and I never understood where my feeling of suffocation was coming from.

These days, whenever I’m around people, or the same person, for a certain amount of time, I start feeling I need my space. This got me thinking about this need for space, and also for the need to be with someone and the balance of it all.

Many questions ran through my mind. How much space? Where does this need come from? Why does the feeling of suffocation come up?

Well, the answer to “how much space?” always depends on the moment and on what I’m going through at that time. It might be a five-minute timeout when I’m at work, an hour, a day or a month travelling to get away from it all and be with myself.

A lot more ideas, questions and answers sprang to mind.

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Lessons From Travelling – Patience and Trust

I’m halfway through an 8-hour trip, sitting in a bus station somewhere between Moni and Labuanbajo, on the island of Flores, Indonesia. A local guy who was with me in the van on the first part of the trip, who had took me to his house to meet his family and then helped me change money and find somewhere to eat after the first four hours of the trip, dropped me here and told me to wait for a mini-van to leave to Labuanbajo. As soon as I arrived someone took my backpack off my shoulders and put it in a van, to secure me as a customer.

At one point I saw the van leave. I thought whether my bag was safe, and went to ask a driver there. He told me “no problem”. They didn’t know any English there. Something inside me told me that it’s useless to panic, just sit and wait and it will probably be ok. And 5 minutes later the guy came back with the van. Seemed like he had gone to buy food or water. Soon after that, more locals arrived and as soon as the van filled up, we were off. I hoped they knew I wanted to get to Labuanbajo.

This was the first time I was travelling alone in an Asian country, and one of my lessons in patience and trust that travelling has been teaching me. I had to be patient while the van left, not really sure what time I’ll leave or get to where I wanted to go. I had to trust people I didn’t know, I wasn’t sure they new where I wanted to go and many other doubts going through my head.

Back home everything is under our control. We know how long it takes us to get somewhere, who to trust, how to complain if we’re not served well, and so on. When we are travelling, especially in non-western countries where things are done differently, without trust and patience we won’t last, we won’t enjoy the experience.

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5 Steps to Ease Into Lifestyle Changes

When we think about changing the way we live, it’s usually a change for the better we want to make. You don’t hear many people saying “I want to start eating junk food”, or “I want to become a drug addict”. It’s usually “I want to be more healthy”, or “I want to exercise more”, and the many other things that we want to start doing which we feel would give us a better way of living, basically make us happier and love ourselves more.

But most of us don’t know where to start most of the time. With all the get happy quick schemes out there and millions of different ways to become healthy and happy, we get overwhelmed. We end up staying stuck where we are!

In my experience I feel the best way to start is to follow some simple steps.

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Transylvania Trail Traverse – Lessons From Endurance

I’ve been attracted to running long distances since I heard that it’s possible. Last year I felt I wanted to start increasing my mileage, so I did, little by little, till I met a group of guys in Malta who loved running and loved nature and organized a couple of trail runs a week. In short this is what led me to Romania this September to try and run my first Ultra marathon.

The race was set in the Transylvanian mountains, the distance 52km and the elevation gain 4300m. Wow! Never dreamt I’d sign up for such a thing.  When I signed up for it I thought it will be around 8 hours of running and walking, and then I found out I was just a little off the mark!

Here we were, 5 guys from Malta, all with a passion for running and nature, two of us with previous ultra experience and 3 newbies. I had never even run an official marathon, never really felt attracted to it. But this, this looked awesome! My only fear was that I would not be able to do it because in training for it I overdid it a little and over trained and now I had a small repetitive strain injury near my knee. This was making it painful to run, and even just walk down stairs at times. But since I had already booked my flight and ticket I thought I’ll give it a try and if it gets too painful I’ll just stop.

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The Link – A conversation on stress reduction, good nutrition; all while eating organic food in Pai.

I continue to cultivate my belief that life takes me where I need to go, introduces me to the right people and teaches me the right lessons, only if I trust the process (see my article “How Travelling Helps Me to Let Go”).

This morning I went out for a ride on my bicycle, and after a few hours it was time to eat. On my second day here I had stopped to take a look at the menu of a restaurant that had caught my attention earlier. It was a simple restaurant with nothing fancy to pull me in. I had to meet some friends somewhere else that day so I couldn’t eat there, but seeing “Cashew Nut Cream” and “Sesame Seed Cream” on the dessert menu had me promise myself I will go back there. I tried after dinner but it was closed. Ah well, would have to be another time.

I then stopped another time and chatted with Ling, the owner, while just having the Cashew Nut Cream (which was really tasty). She was having dinner with her friend, which they let me taste. There was some kind if spicy tomato paste which looked like our Mediterranean bruschetta mix (but warm), raw fresh vegetables, which I found out are organic from her garden, and a good sweet and sour vegetable stir fry, and also some other things which I’m not sure what they where (and had meat in them). But all local and all good! She told me to come another day in the afternoon because on evenings she only opens if she has bookings or if she feels like it, if she feels like it!!

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Trail Run to Mae Yen Waterfall, Pai, Thailand

I just finished eating my post run breakfast, which consisted of a dragon fruit, 3 mangoes and a Papaya. And the run was the trail run to Mae Yen waterfall, the second time I made it there.

Soon after I arrived to Pai, I found out about the waterfall, which they told me is 7km away but takes 6 hours to go there and back. So I decided I will try to run there. I know that they always exaggerate the times and base it upon people who walk there and take it easy, stopping many times to drink, eat, rest and so on.

On one of my shorter runs I ended up running in a jungle, crossing a river a few times to remain on the trail. After some time I realized that I was on the Mae Yen trail but I wasn’t going to do it on that day cause I had already run quite a bit, and I always like to carry a banana or two when I’m doing a long run, just in case I need them. But a couple of days later I took my Go Pro, a couple of bananas (the really small tasty ones), and off I went.

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