I spent 27 days in Nepal. No matter how pathetic it sounds, these 27 days literally changed my life. I realised and discovered a lot about myself, about my values, my goals, about people and about nature.
So let me tell you the 11 most important things that Nepal taught me.
1. Stop having prejudices
Well, it is easy to say – don’t have prejudices – especially if you travel to a country like Nepal where is everything total opposite of your life. My journey to Nepal started exactly how I didn’t plan. The first experience was a landing in India instead of Kathmandu. Trust me this you really “want” after 18 hours of flying and after waiting in Dubai in Terminal 2 which I personally call Terminal for the poor. After four hours spent locked in the plane without any water or food (thank you Flydubai I really appreciate your service) I finally landed in Kathmandu in the middle of the night. Alone in Kathmandu in the middle of the night. It sounds like a dream, right? No worries, the “drama” continuing.
The taxi driver who I paid at the airport should have taken me to the hostel in Thamel (one of the busiest/craziest parts of Kathmandu probably). Unfortunately, he stopped in the middle of the way because there was a hole in the ground and said goodbye to me without any effort. By myself and attracting attention (very white and very tall) with a huge backpack in the middle of the night in Thamel with hundreds of people around…?
And here is the first example of my prejudice. I created a million thoughts in my head before I came to the hostel and by the way, it was only a 5 minutes walk. I created thoughts about who will kill me, rape me, kidnap me or take me to the church as the fifth woman of his grateful life and I will bake everyday chapatti in our poor house with kids and goats. Yeah, sometimes I am very dramatic and paranoid. Anyway, guess what did happen? I am not someone’s fifth wife (which is not even possible in Nepal), I don’t have kids and I don’t know how to bake chapatti which is actually a shame because I love it. Nothing bad happened to me that night, and after a few days, I realised that Nepalis are very nice indeed. Of course, they love your money, but they are not vicious.
2. Stop putting all people to the same bin
Lots of us answer: “Come on, I don’t do it.” Put your hand on your heart and be honest with yourself. The luckier of us didn’t grow up in families where racism to other nations was a daily topic. However, everybody has some bad experience with somebody and this is the main problem. If the bad experiences are very strong and get they stuck inside of us, we usually start to reflect it towards other people. To people who remain us the person who hurt us, cheated us or just made us angry. And this anger starts to fester and we start to have very strong negative feelings and start to behave disdainfully to similar people, to that concrete nationalities.
Well maybe it is magic or just a coincidence but I met in Nepal people from the nation which I had bad experiences in past. We talked a lot, some of them help me, some of them were a very nice company. But primarily all of them showed me what I need to see. And now? I don’t feel anything negative toward their culture. I don’t wanna say be naive and think that every person in this world is amazing and will help you, and will like you. Of course not. Nevertheless, don’t be silly and don’t think that everybody is bad. You need your personal experience with everybody because everybody is different.
Everybody has a different life story. Sometimes you can meet a nice person but they might be in a bad mood, in a bad life situation or just in bad timing. Sometimes you can meet a mean person but remember you don’t know their life’s story. Important is to realise that people are not born mean and bad. This is how they were raised. How society raised them. The mean things which somebody does to you actually have no connection with your person.
The main reason is that the mean person feels strong sadness inside of themselves and their mean behaviour is the only expression of their self-protection, satisfaction, fear or learned behaviour. It costs lots of time and lots of self-control but we shouldn’t take anything of this personally. Instead of fighting and seeking revenge, wish these people to find happiness and forgiveness. Because everybody, every human being on this earth deserves forgiveness. And yes, sometimes it can be very hard.
3. When you think that you can’t, you can still a lot
In Nepal, there were many situations when I felt that I can’t keep going anymore. Like for example when l got lost in Thamel with 20kg on my back. It is very easy because everywhere looks the same and the streets don’t have signs. It was very hot weather, I was sweating, I was hungry, I felt dirty, I wanted to pee, I wanted a shower and the most I wanted to lie down on the ground and rest – in the middle of dust and trash. I was sure that I can’t keep walking because everything hurt me and the bag was very heavy. I felt completely destroyed.
A similar situation happened in next 10 days when I was going down from Langtang Trek. After 8 days of walking, 9 hours per day with 15 kg on my back,most of the time in the middle of the ground were yaks with huge horns, when it was still changing a few situations like – up and down, up and down, slippery path, cold, hot, shaking legs, crazy monkeys around, small road, changing pressure. I was thinking again that I can’t do anymore. Well maybe in both situations would be some another solution. Maybe I would still be sitting/lying there till now. But I decided differently. I just told to myself, come on Jája, don’t be lazy, you have to, you can do it, take the last energy and go, keep continuing, finish it, you lazy crazy girl,…and guess what? I finished it. I finished it because I had to.
So the next time when you feel that you can’t, just realise that everything is only in your head. Realise, that you are stronger than you think. And also, not everything is for free and the best things usually take a lot of your energy and effort. Nevertheless, only then you will appreciate it and especially you will be proud of yourself.
4. Meditation is great
Meditation is great and very powerful. You can read this everywhere. I am very sure you have probably met someone who told you this already. And what can I say? Well, it is true. We are living in the 21st century when every day we get thousands of pieces of information. Most of us are under stress every day. For sure everybody has experienced the feeling that your head will literally explode. In this situation, the best choice is to switch off your brain and just stop thinking.
I will never forget for the time in Kopan monastery where I spent very interesting 10 days, trying to meditate 4 times per day. To be honest, doing controlled mediation in a monastery with 100 people and monks is easier than doing meditation back at home by yourself. However, you can try it every single day, just a few minutes.
Stop thinking. The best start is to imagine something, for example, a simple tree with lots of detail; leaves, trunk, and colours. Try to imagine it in your favorite colours, in your favourite area, with nice sounds around. Then send all of your attention to this tree and all details and what the tree sends to you. If you will start to practice this every single day, a few minutes, after one week you will see big changes. It doesn’t mean that you have to be Buddhist, some nature weirdo – if you don’t like a Buddhism and natural thing.
Just look sometimes at kids. They are not Buddhist, they don’t know anything about meditation and in spite of that they practice it. Every single day. They play a lot, they put all of their energy to the game, to one thing, to one activity. To dancing, to do one move, to spin around, again and again. They smile, they are happy, they don’t think. They just enjoy being in the moment of freedom. Many teachers, many people say that we have to teach kids. This is true. However, they don’t see there are also many things which we should learn from kids.
5. Spend time only with people who you really like
When I was 15 years old I had many friends, many people around me. When I was 25 years old, I started to realise that someone of them just used me. A some of them took much of my energy however they didn’t give it back to me. I cut these relationships. When I came from Nepal I felt similar feelings and I didn’t know why. Therefore I started to think about every single person in my actual life. And I asked myself how I feel with this concrete person. What we usually talk about? If there is the right connection, if the person teaches me anything if I can say that the time with the person is valuable. It doesn’t have to be necessarily something deep. The value can be simple; your joy, your smile, a feeling that your heart is warming.
Well, and of course I found some relationships were wasting my time, wasting time the concrete person. There is a reason why it is said that you are represented by five of the closest people to you. No matter how harsh it sounds, this is a reality. You should accept that some of your friends grow up into people with whom you don’t have a lot of common anymore. Some of them have very different opinions or visions of life than you. With some of them, you feel that you lost your energy for nothing.
I believe that every person who came and will come to our lives is here for a reason. Teach us something, give us lessons, inspire us, give us the most important which we need at that time. And it is only our choice if we will listen to them and follow their advice or not. After this, they must go. However, I also believe that there are a few people who are in your life forever. They really understand you. They motivate you. They listen. These people never will leave. It doesn’t matter if they live 20 minutes from you or 15.000 km. But they are here and the connection is so strong that the time with them doesn’t exist. So, choose your friends very carefully and sometimes do selections. And never forget to cultivate and take relationship with the real one.
6. If you don’t like something just say it
I am hearing how my boyfriend is laughing now. Maybe some of you don’t have a problem with this. Well, for me, it was s very hard. In the past, I rather suffered than say that I don’t like something.
Not because I didn’t have my own opinion. I just wanted to satisfy everybody but I didn’t understand that I hurt myself a lot. Adding to that, I looked like a total idiot, crazy, weirdo, sheep without own opinion and so on. There were many situations in Nepal when it would be easier to say “OK, no worries”. In many situations I actually said it. But when it started to behind lines, then something was awakened inside of me. The power or maybe the strong woman who I was looking for…
And I said nicely but assertively “Sorry, but I don’t like this.” Thanks to this simple sentence, my life started to be easier. I finally realised my values, my feelings and I finally started to be a little bit selfish. Healthy selfish. To be honest I am still not that amazing in every situation but thanks to my BF I am definitely better. And thanks to his patient and special observation skills I keep continuing. So, stop suffering and express yourself, nicely but assertively. When you are with the right people they will understand and they will try to find an acceptable compromise for both sides. And if not? Then find a new one 🙂
7. Listen, listen, listen
It is not that hard for me to listen more than speak. But there are differences between listening, listening and listening. The first listening is very familiar. I call it pretentious listening. It is the situation that you are a fool of your own thoughts that you don’t listen properly but you want to be nice and polity. So you decide to pretend to listen which is one of the worst behaviors which you can do to another person. So don’t do this. Cancel the meeting, say that you have some thoughts in head and can’t focus. Say you are tired, you have many things to do but never pretend.
The second type of listening is conscious listening. This is classical which many people do during chatting, meeting, calling. It is nice, you give your attention to another person, which usually the person appreciates. You can hear new information, new stories, but you can’t hear the real reason and the subtext of the talk.
The third listening is special. I call it empathic listening. Unfortunately, not everybody is able to practice it. If you don’t have strong empathic feelings if you are not able to understand interpersonal relationships probably you are not able to do the emotional listening. However, I think that many people have this potential. It is a question of the measure of selfishness, ego and empathy skills.
Why is this listening so important?
Well, only with this listening you can know how your partner or your friends are – and what their needs are. You can see and mainly feel many things. You can feel the fear, joy, old injuries, worries, sadness, gratitude. Of course, that people should tell it but many of them are not able. Many of them are not good at talking or expressing their feelings and this is the way how you can make their life easier. Thanks to empathic listening you can also feel if the person is right for you which can save your time and the time of the person.
8. Do what you love or try to find it
I think that this is one of the hardest things in life. Do what we love or try to find it. During my meditation, I was thinking many times about this topic. What should I do to be happier? What is the meaning of my life? What is my mission? Well, I didn’t find it. I still don’t know what my life mission is. And to be honest I don’t care. We are changing during our lives. All the time. We grow up with each next experience. For some people you can be a good teacher, for another good listener, for 10 years you can be a great manager and other 15 years you can be a great baker. What I want to say is that your mission is not only one and it changes with every important moment during your life.
However, what is more important, is to live present. So, if you want to be happy, be just happy. Don’t wait for a special something, for a special moment. Don’t wait for when and until. Be happy now, be happy with what you have now.
For me, it also means stop to do things which I don’t like. We were raised that we must always do something. We were raised to believe that we have to be successful and we were raised that in life are many things which we will hate but we have to do. Fuck this. Excuse my language but this is the biggest lie which parents/teachers say to kids. I don’t see any reason why we should do something which we don’t like. If you don’t like your job you should stop and change it. If you don’t like your studies, you should stop studying it. But don’t misunderstand, I don’t mean laziness.
Sit and think. Am I happy in this job in general? What did I want to do when I was a kid? What makes me happy? Everybody has something in which they are great and satisfied. You need to just believe in yourself and now that it is never too late for changes. It is only about your fear and courage. And if you can’t change something, change your attitude.
9. Be grateful
Everybody says “be grateful” for your life. You can read it everywhere. However, I think you can’t believe it without your own experience. I started to understand these words when I worked in an infant house with kids without parents or with parents who didn’t want them. But the main and strongest awareness came definitely in Nepal.
When you see how people are able to live or survive. When you have a hot shower only three times in one month and the rest you have to have a very cold one. When you see people living in the middle of garbage, people rotting in the middle of the street in 35 degrees. When you see 10 people sleeping in one small room and they are still happy and grateful, then you realise how lucky you are. How stupid it is to be angry that someone parked in our favourite spot, that we missed the bus, that our politics are still full of empty promises.
Be grateful that you can be alive, you have a home, you have friends and you can make friendships. That you have water for drinking, you can have a hot shower, you have internet and you can read this. Because many people can’t.
10. Follow your heart, follow your intuition
Animals have very strong intuition. They can feel if some situation is dangerous for them. We as a human have this gift too. However, during years we stopped to follow it and we stopped listening to our intuition. Instead of following our heart we follow our brain and then we are surprised that we are not happy. Such irony. In Nepal, there were some situations when I literally had to listen to my heart, my intuition and start to think if I would do it or not. This way helped me a lot, and a few times it probably saved my life
After my return, I started to practice also in my life in the “western world”.
In reality, it means that when I am in a situation which I am not sure about, I stop to think and start to listen to my heart. I start to listen to my feelings, my intuition. It is not easy sometimes because every action, every big decision is followed by fear. But with practice, you are able to recognize what is fake fear and what is a warning sign.
Many of us see an easier way to ask somebody and put the responsibility to other people. Well, of course, it is easier, but it is not being an adult. We should be the one who is responsible for our life. Because only then we can be satisfied and proud. So, if you are in a situation when you try to find a solution, listen yourself. Ask yourself, imagine what you feel in that concrete situation, in that concrete solution. And act. And if it is still not helpful? Do a list of pros and cons. No matter what option you choose, you will definitely opt for what you feel like the best choice.
Try to more follow your heart, follow your intuition because only you know what is right for you.
11. Don’t be scared without reason
It is so easy to be scared of the whole world, of every foreign person, of every step out of your comfort zone. Social media is the best medium to create and support our fear. I have traveled to a few countries. A few of them weren’t a classic place for a holiday.
For example, in Nepal, I traveled for one month with public transport which was sometimes challenge and punk. I did a trek which finished at 4400 meters without any preparation. I got a tattoo in Pokhara, I did paragliding there when I had a fever. And out from Nepal… for all dreamers – I flew 15.000 km by myself to meet a person who I didn’t know properly – just because I had to follow my heart.
And look at me. I am still here, nothing bad happened to me. I don’t say travel to countries where there is war, do illegal things, do something where you can die. I am just saying don’t be scared without reason, just because somebody tries to put their fear to you. You don’t have to travel the whole world; some people don’t like it. But you should never say no to a challenge in front of you only because you have fear. And you definitely shouldn’t say no if you have to only leave your comfort zone. Because sometimes it is worth it to leave it.
I can say after my experiences that every “yes” brought me new experiences, new people in my life, new enjoyment, new opportunities, new stories, new memories and the also amazing person who I definitely wouldn’t have met if I was too scared.