Leaving India and arriving in Bhutan was the first time the entire trip I felt like my nervous system could relax. From the moment our guide told us there were no mosquitoes there and smelling the crisp clean air I knew it would be a place I would someday like to go back and explore. It is a remote country that prides themselves on keeping their surroundings clean. Their form of graffiti on the walls say, "Haste slowly" "Life is not a race" and "wonderful is life." Additionally on our hikes up mountains to visit monasteries there were boards with Buddhists sayings such as "If you want to know your past, look at who you are today. If you want to know the future look at your mind today." Built into their life is mindfulness. Work days are done by 4:00 pm and then people are outside playing darts or archery and when someone hits the bulls eye in darts they all stop and dance and sing for that person's triumph. What a concept to actually celebrate our fellow human beings accomplishments instead of competition. In the monasteries they burn candles in butter to avoid fires although that makes the whole room smell like butter and I wonder if that makes them hungry when they are praying for hours. Dogs roam around Bhutan as well but they seem healthy. The people of Bhutan actually gather all the animals up on the street vaccinate them and then let them out to roam again. It is interesting how well behaved all the animals are and I have a feeling being able to roam about outside and not be constricted indoors lets them listen to what they need, something we often aren't able to offer our pets. They also have their version of the black piece of the Taj Mahal. They actually put a wooden penis on the top of their front door entryways so that if someone looks at their house and says how beautiful their house is will then laugh when they see the penis and this will ward off negative energy from perhaps having too much good fortune in their life. I got the general sense that they understood the value of the earth they live on and will do whatever it takes to keep their surroundings clean. Our last day in Bhutan we hiked up a mountain called Tiger's Nest to a monastery built into the side of the mountain. I kept wondering how does one get there and then all of a sudden we were in it.
This trip helped me to get the perspective I had been needing in my life. I knew that I was caught up in a negative spin of thoughts in my head. Transitioning out of Graduate School has not been easy. But I finally feel like I have a sense of direction again and it is not what I expected or where I thought I would end up after Graduate School (I will write about this later when things develop more solidly). What I am taking away from this trip is trying to incorporate more of a sense of ease into my life. As nerve wracking as the trip may have been because of bugs and worried emotions about getting sick from food, I felt a general sense of calm being around my partner and his family. My partner's father kept reminding me not to worry about the things I can't control (you mean I don't have control over the mosquitoes to not bite me? ;)) I have now taken that lesson back with me. I can be a bit of an over worrier and over planner. And yet even just being back one day and having to go into work today, I feel different. It could be the jet lag talking but I feel a sense of comfort in my skin that has not been there for some time. There is a knowing that I could actually handle anything that comes my way and no matter what I will be ok. It is ironic that I went to a Buddhist inspired Graduate school and then dropped all of my practices. Now several months out of school I feel ready to move forward with my life and to slowly bring back pieces of mindfulness that once were there on a more consistent basis. We forget to remember. Its like how would we know we were smiling if we never frowned? I am appreciating my ability to forget because right now it feels so good to remember who I am and to embrace the small wonderful things that can happen from moment to moment.