Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Force of Habit

Like everybody's life, mine is full of habits. I walk to the train station taking the same path. Take up the same yoga mat in my favorite corner of the yoga room. Etc. I love my habits. I love it that I can count on them. They soothe me.
From time to time though I dare my brain to experience new stimuli.
I do stuff like re-organizing my kitchen. I put my drinking glasses in the cupboard where the soup plates were. The dinner plates go on top, the small plates in the back. Or vice versa. My forks are put in another drawer, and the rice in the cupboard where the glasses were. And so on.

Have you ever tried to do this? You should. It's hilarious!
The first couple of days in my what feels like a new kitchen (and even a couple of weeks later - depending on how tired I am), I, for example, open the cupboard in the morning looking for my coffee mug and stare at soup plates. I'd love to see my own face in that moment. When it says: what the f...??? Where are my mugs??? Until my brain catches up and I start to laugh.

Habits are not bad per se. As I am learning to play the flute, I make it a habit to practice every day. It only gets tricky when my habits take over. I might be doing something out of habit and if I were honest with myself, I'd have gotten rid of it some time ago. The challenge is to keep what I call "the conscious habits" and to get rid of the others! Easily said. Not so easy to implement.
But then that would imply that life is easy and we all know that it's not (at least not always).

Friday, May 26, 2017

Perfect Moment

Hiking (alone) is good for my brain. Usually, when I start walking, my brain waves work overtime. Hours later, having absorbed nature and its stillness and beauty, my brain is quieter! Works every time!

Friday, May 19, 2017

About Learning New Things

For some time now I have wanted to learn to play a music instrument. My reason though (oh sometimes I hate my brain!) kept telling me to ignore my heart's desire and to better put my time and money into learning. Learning Spanish made so much more sense (job-related and for my traveling).
My reason was not too wrong.
I had taken some Spanish lessons before visiting Mexico the first time (two years ago). Upon my return, I was convinced that soon I'd take some new lessons (I never did though!). During my second trip to Central America this year, I realized that I was actually pretty happy with my 20 active Spanish words (that's about all I could remember from my lessons hahaha). As I understand better than I speak (my French and Italian help in that matter), I got around pretty well with my few words (I swear, not more than 20. Okay maybe 21 hahaha).
Somewhere in Costa Rica (during one of my "oh I feel soooo good" kind of days), I realized that learning a 5th language no longer appealed to me. Not because I don't like Spanish. It's just that ... I felt tired of doing the same thing over and over.
4 languages that I speak and read and write fluently are sufficient, don't you think?
I realized another thing. Learning a new language is one thing (the most difficult obviously). Keeping it in tip top shape is another one altogether. In my opinion, if you want to be fluent in a foreign language you have to practice as much as possible. Reading, speaking, writing, listening. Otherwise, you'll forget everything pretty fast.

Anyway, let's cut this long story short. I came back from Central America and decided to ignore my reason (i.e. learning Spanish) and to listen to my heart (to play a music instrument).
Not any instrument. The flute. I wanted to play the flute. All I needed now was a teacher. And what did Buddha say about this matter?

Buddha was right. My teacher came in the shape of a friend of mine who is a primary school teacher. What I didn't know though was that she studied to be a music teacher as well.
She agreed to teach me how to play the flute if ... I'd taught her some English.

Deal done!

So now, every two or so weeks, she teaches me to play the flute and I help her to improve her English. It's what I call a wonderful win-win situation!

PS: I'll tell you more about my learning to play the flute in another post. Let's just say that it's ... hilarious! And that it's more difficult than I thought. And that I love it :-)

Monday, May 15, 2017

What's Sehnsucht?

A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine when at some point she said: I desperately need a new idea. I need an idea that will bring me and my life on a new track. An idea that'll stimulate me and will make me take a new path in life.
(You guessed right: she is going through some tough times).
As I rarely lack ideas, it was difficult for me to hand out advice on the quick. I suggested some techniques to get "your brain moving" (so to speak) and also proposed to listen to her yearnings.
Her yearnings? She was confused. Well, you know, I said, yearnings are these feelings that usually live deep down in your soul.

The German word for yearning actually describes it much better:
(Gotta  love the German language. You take two or more ideas, put them together and create a word!)
"Sehnsucht" consists of
the verb "sich sehnen" = to long for sth/so. or to wish for sth./so and
the noun "die Sucht" = addiction
I personally love the addiction part. Because yearning for sth. or so. can be kind of addictive (in my opinion). Your soul's wishes are addictive because they are pure. As pure as they never will be once they are converted into real life.
On Wikipedia I found this wonderful description of the word Sehnsucht:
Some psychologists use the word sehnsucht to represent thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes.

I absolutely love the idea of starting something new (or trying to change something I don't like) with "a yearning for ideal alternative experiences".
Why not start with perfection? Real life catches up pretty quick anyway and you'll have all the time to adapt. And there is always the possibility that the perfect point of origin will turn out to be the final destination. Why sabotage yourself before the journey even started?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Remembering: Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

My three days at Tortuguero National Park, on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, were the best days of my trip. It was the best place ever and even now, having been back for a month, I think back to this place and ... feel happy!
Tortuguero can't be reached by car. We got to the resort by boat (there is also a small airport). You can't wander around by yourself either within the National Park. Well, there is no wandering around the jungle anyway! It's way too dangerous. The jungle consists of marshland and the animals (pumas, caymans, etc.) are not harmless obviously!
So, no walking around.
We visited the place by boat. I found the below picture on Pinterest to show you what the place looks like from above (makes it easier to get a feeling of the place):

far left on picture: Caribbean Sea // in the middle the water ways and the jungle
Our resort was on the land between the Sea and the water/river (like most of the few resorts are). The rest consists of jungle. A pure jungle with one of the world's highest biodiversities (or so I was told).
So, here I was. Staying in a place with no cars, no AC, Wifi only in the reception area, no TV.
And not one second, I swear it, NOT ONE SECOND, I missed these things.
This place simply took me in. Completely. I felt at home. Whole. Zen. Happy.
I went to bed early and got up with the first light (the howls of the howler monkeys were my alarm clock haha). I felt complete. As if I had somehow arrived. Not that I want to move there. No (even though, one of the employees suggested it hihihihi). It was spiritual. As if its pure energy filled my soul. Oh my, let me stop talking about this place. I get all lyrical SMILE.
Fact is though that I left a piece of my heart there!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Remembering: Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Let's do some more remembering, shall we? Let me think back to Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
I had been warned. Manuel Antonio would be more touristy than the other places I'd visit. And they were right. The tourists though never got on my nerves. Well, okay, maybe by then I was so totally relaxed and feeling zen that not even hordes of tourists were able to get to me. Because, you know, by then I really was totally relaxed and happy (you could see my heart smiling)!
The tourists may not have gotten on my nerves also because most of them were at Manuel Antonio with one goal: to go to one of the two beaches (apparently the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica!). So, there were many people within the park but most of them were wearing flip-flops and weren't interested in nature and the animals (mutual ignoring while crossing on the paths hahaha).
I booked a guided tour and the guy was crazy  knowledgeable! We got to see some animals and I was happy!
The beaches are wonderful though, don't you think so?

I loved the three days I spent in Manuel Antonio. I took daily walks on this other beach...

... ate out in nice little restaurants (the food was just amazingly good and fresh!!). Drank liters of "agua de sand├Ča" (watermelon water - DELICIOUS!!). I worked on my tan at the swimming pool of my hotel, did some reading, listened to music. And then there were the sunsets. Oh my, I absolutely adored the sunsets. I sat down on the beach at around 5 pm, waiting for the sun to go down (by 6 it was dark!).