‘Vietnamasté’ – On Why We All Need to Slow Down …

Why We All Need to Slow Down

Life today is so fast-paced and hurried that it’s easy to lose sight of yourself and what you really need in favour of what ‘seems right’ or what ‘everyone is doing’. If it means the next step from A to B will be easier, the majority of people will generally take the easy option and ensure the quickest escape and fix for what’s currently bothering them.

I’m not just talking from a backpackers’/travellers’ perspective, yet seeing as that’s the lifestyle I’m currently engaged with it makes sense to speak from this point of view at this present moment in time. This is another thing humans are guilty of – thinking that it’s not okay to change your lifestyle and habits to suit where you currently find yourself. Seeing as change is the one constant we seem to ever have in life, it makes no sense to cling to ‘the way you used to be’ or anything that ‘used to’ be a part of your life in general. Because of the familiarity, it’s often the easiest and most obvious thing to do to resort to it, yet we rarely stop to think actually, maybe this is not the most beneficial thing for me right now.

By practicing mindfulness, yoga, meditation, or even just taking a few minutes at the beginning of each day to reconsider, re-adjust, and observe your situation, it becomes easier to fully immerse yourself in the moment and your current state of being, instead of merely trying maintain something that worked in the past for the sake of convenience.

I regularly have to mentally remind myself to slow down, to not rush ahead to achieve things or arrive to places before it’s necessary. I’m a chronically early person, and this I feel reflects my tendency to anticipate and become apprehensive about things that don’t really matter all that much.

I feel a lot of what has been going on in the world recently reflects this exact inclination of humankind to rush ahead and try to solve issues without really taking any time to properly understand them or consider what options would most benefit them. Surely we are aware by now that violence only leads to further violence, the harshness and extremity of one groups’ actions generating a need and expectance almost for an equal reaction?? Why is it still happening that people are using violence to combat hate, hate as an excuse for lack of understanding, and premature movement and immediate responsiveness in a rush to solve issues that have taken time and many wrong turns to form into the catastrophic difficulties they have only now manifested as? Surely they will also take a similar amount of time to rectify?

While I don’t pretend to understand everything about the goings on of various political, paramilitary or otherwise groups who have been the subject of a lot of attention of late, I do understand that beneath all the violence, hate and unneccessary suffering there is an underlying confusion and general lack of understanding as to how this can all be allowed to happen. It’s easy to brush it off as something that doesn’t concern us when it’s not immediately phsyically affecting us, but the images, new stories, and panic of safety ‘check-in’ buttons being used online are enough to send even to most balanced and steady mind reeling and rushing ahead to assume the worst.

By slowing down and assessing the situation at hand and our own position to rectify or change anything about it, we remove the ‘panic’ element of things. It’s the same process I’ve employed since coming out travelling. If things have gone slightly wrong or awry in any way, which given the nomadic and changeable nature of just about everything in my life at the moment, I’d be stupid to not be prepared for, I now have comfort in the knowledge that I can deal with it, take a step back, and figure out another way around the issues that present themselves.

It’s a work in progress, and something that’s only ever going to be attainable by making a conscious decision to set a new and realistic pace for ourselves and our thoughts – one that doesn’t rush ahead, or assume too much, because in the end the only things we can ever actually know for sure are already here right now.

Mind Over Masters ..

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I graduated with a Masters’ degree yesterday. Congratulatory well-wishes, hugs and handshakes aside, even before the ceremony and in the days preceding it I really had been (and still am) feeling a lot of love coming from all angles around me.

A love for life; a love for choosing life and friends and family and to be happy and healthy; a love for enjoyment and appreciation of the good things that I have, instead of buying into and believing warped and twisted thoughts and behaviours that constantly present themselves as options in my head. For so long I was used to just letting the negative win and succumbing to the same old rotation of self-hatred and deprecating thoughts – it was easy to fall into the rut of familiarity and stay there. Once I decided to focus my attention on reversing through the negativity, instead of flailing around blindly within it because it was ‘comfortable’ (and to be honest I just didn’t have the energy to fight it), I began to see that we really and truly are the sum of all our actions and thoughts over time. This attention had formerly been sucked up by the happiness-draining effort it took to uselessly attempt to control my surroundings.

A friend of mine once described it as a drip of water being fed to a plant. One drip of poison is not going to kill it, but a steady, continued flow of poisonous feed and negative thought accompanying it will inevitably have longterm effects, and more than likely kill it. Similarly, one drop of clean water is not going to have an immediate positive effect. It takes the same sort of steady and consistent stream of care and good, natural nourishment before the plant can start to stand up tall again by itself.

Our bodies and minds are these plants. If we continually tell ourselves something, over and over again repeatedly believing something we have declared to be true – we become it. ‘You Are What You Eat’ has never rung so true as it does in this sense. A repeated diet of the same foods results in the same as repeated thoughts – we literally, physically become what we eat. We become what we believe. I’ve finally been practicing the positives and believing the good stuff long enough now for me to really start to see and feel the benefits of self-care, and baffle myself as to why I never made it a priority before. I’ve finally made the transition from being able to recognise the thoughts and behaviours for the damaging ghosts that they are, to being able to ward them off by myself, to use their power and strength against themselves and channel that energy into bettering myself. We are always going to be presented with the negative option. It’s how we get around it and harness the time that would have been spent worrying and fretting over it’s potential enormity to turn it on it’s head and ask how exactly can we look at it in a more positive way that’s important.

In graduating from the initial stages of recognising the negatives for what they are, to actually becoming capable of avoiding them completely and living a life without the constant self-doubt, racing thoughts and worry, there is a liberation and sense of achievement bigger than even receiving my MA yesterday could have captured. It’s a constant work in progress, but I know once I remain aware and consistently vigilant against the potential spoilers of thoughts that seem to just pop to the forefront of my consciousness every now and again, for once I know, and this is a big deal for me to say, because this time I really and truly believe it; this time,

I know for sure that everything is actually going to be okay.

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In Case of Emergency…

Flight Safety

We’re all familiar with the drill.

‘In case of emergency, your oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head…”

There’s a reason airlines tell you to ensure your own oxygen mask is safely secured before you assist anyone else with theirs. Even if you’re travelling with a small child or otherwise incapacitated passenger who would require assistance, still the safety procedure instructions are the same:

Save yourself first.

In times of difficulty, be it low mood and sense of self-worth, injury or a more physical situation, there is nothing more important than taking the initiative to enlist in habits of self-care and self-love to ensure your bad day does not turn into a worse week, month or lifetime of unnecessary suffering.

‘Take Care”

While support and reassurance is vital and often hugely effective in relieving mental distress, sometimes the best thing we can do for others is simply to start taking care of ourselves. This of course includes reaching out and taking the steps needed to begin solving the problem, yet also covers the less obvious areas such as eating right, exercising, and implementing change for ourselves where we think is fit. The difference here being that the initiative to do so has come from you this time around, and not someone telling you what to do.

In times of need, stress, and dealing with difficult emotions, there is often nothing we (and Irish people in general) do better than to ignore our own basic needs.
Being kind to ourselves is just not something we have been brought up to do or think is alright. It’s seen as full of it, pigheaded, or even worse, and sometimes even in true Irish tight-lipped and harsh terseness: up yourself.

Not only is this self-deprecating and damaging to our own self-esteem in every imaginable way, but it also in it’s essence as a negative behaviour serves absolutely nobody as a belief or assertion.

“Core Strength”

In dealing with mental and emotional issues, though support from others is required and encouraged to aid with recovery, and is often some of the most successful therapy available, there is a certain strength and independence that can only be obtained by taking the reigns and personally placing your own safety mask securely over your own nose and mouth; whether that mask be in the form of a friend to talk to, a notebook, a song, doctor, or some other outlet.

In my own experience, doing for myself what I had for so long relied on others to do for me gave me a sense of inner strength and a liberation stronger than any I’ve felt before.

While all support, love, and kindness is essential and hugely appreciated when it is given, the nature of many personal difficulties and struggles lies in a lack of control and ability to break out of negative thought cycles and habits – something which is unique to each individual, and so even more difficult for others to understand and help with in times of need.

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Because turbulence is a pretty much inevitable aspect of navigating the skies today, and you can be pretty much guaranteed to hit areas of both low and high pressure as you make your way through life to any new place. What may sound like a basic routine of self-care for some is for others an unexpected and difficult mountain of old and damaging habits which must be scaled in order to obtain the same results. In finally realising one’s own ability to deal with and cope with one’s own emotions, thoughts and difficulties, there is a particular freedom and sense of individuality which allows us to finally progress forwards, and begin to pave a way for ourselves instead of crawling sheepishly in the trail of those we’ve allowed go ahead of us.

While we may all be in the same plane, and as such ultimately powerless to a system failure or crash should it occur, the least we can do is protect ourselves as soon as possible from further harm, and put our own oxygen masks on first.

Flight Safety
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