Leave the Worry Behind and TAKE ACTION!

I’ve had a lot of worries in my days, most of which have never happened.  Mark Twain

Do you ever find your mind drifting away, either projecting out into the far future or dwelling on some thought or experience from the past? 

It’s so easy to get caught up in our minds and spend the majority of our time focusing on everywhere except for where we are right now. The past and future can be amazing places to visit and excellent references in order to feel more inspired and motivated, but for most people, this is not the case.

Let’s think about the future for a moment…

If you look towards the future in a positive light, you can easily feel excited about your future possibilities, dreams, and all the amazing things that might come to pass one day. While thinking to the future can be helpful in order to get more inspired, it can equally be a place of extreme fear, uncertainty, and doubt, especially if you are not clear on what you want in life, or your dreams seem so big that you are overwhelmed with the question of “HOW am I ever going to reach my big end goal?” 

The future is often associated with feelings of stress and anxiety, given its nature of uncertainty.

Our minds are programmed to dwell and stress about future scenarios, related to health/safety of our family, national, financial and job security, disease, retirement, pandemics, and even afterlife.

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Given this truth, it is key to do everything you can to center yourself in the NOW and not allow your mind to create a multitude of mental images of all the things that could possibly go wrong in the future. 

Now, let’s take a minute to explore the past…

The past can be an excellent place to look towards in order to feel a sense of gratification for all that you have lived until this very moment. As with the case of the future, it can equally be a dark and lonely place, full of shame and guilt for all the things that you did not do or could´ve done differently.

The present moment is truly the only moment that exists in time and we must plant ourselves there.  

In 2015, I decided to say my goodbyes to Spain and set off on my next adventure. I had already lived two amazing years there, reached my goal of fluently learning Spanish, and suddenly felt deep within my heart that it was time to move on to something bigger and better.

During that time of transition, I reflected on a lot of different ideas for my future, all of which would require me to step drastically out of my comfort zone into the world of the unknown. When it came down to making a final decision, I decided to do something that I had never tried in my life and travel full time during a 6-month time frame, completely alone.

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I can remember the sleepless nights building up to my first big trip like it was yesterday. While I tried to keep a peaceful state of mind, I could not resist the negativity and fear that came upon me on some days.

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I had clear mental images of all the things that could possibly go wrong and found myself always programmed to think to the worst-case scenarios of what could happen to a solo female traveler, which never had a happy ending. I imagined thoughts of getting robbed, kidnapped, or lost in the night and as much as I tried to avoid the thoughts, they just came. This went on for weeks before leaving, to the point that I almost called it quits.

These fears restlessly filled my mind until I reached a breaking point, to where I literally screamed at the top of my lungs:

“Enough is ENOUGH! I am finished with letting my mind take control and lead me into a negative future! I choose today to take action and follow my dreams, despite the intense fear that I have.”

It was on that very day that I decided to walk out the door and start my extensive world trip, which was originally supposed to be only 6 months. One door after another opened as I followed my dreams and this small trip turned into one that has taken me alone to more than 120 + countries across the world, to some of the most dangerous and untraveled areas on Earth.

Was I afraid when I started? More than I can possibly express (keep in mind that I had NEVER traveled a day in my life before Spain, not did I have a passport). 

Do I still feel scared while on the road? Absolutely!

Our goal in this life is not to try and eliminate and avoid fear.
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This experience taught me the importance of not allowing fear to paralyze and hold you back from what you desire to do.  The best remedy for dealing with fear is centering your life and thoughts in the now taking action towards the unknown path. 

 

Do not let fear hold you back another day from your dream life.

Leave the worry behind and take action today!

 

 

Don’t forget to also read: 

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

5 POSITIVE ACTIONS TO TAKE DURING QUARANTINE

WAYS TO SAVE ON ACCOMMODATION WHILE TRAVELING

 

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comLeave the Worry Behind and TAKE ACTION!
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5 Important Things I Have Learned During Self Quarantine

Life lessons come in many shapes and sizes and often in times in which we least expect it. On my own personal journey across the world, I am constantly faced with new lessons (some harder than others).

As I am traveling, my mind is constantly being exposed to new ideas and beliefs, which is why traveling is so addicting for me.

I have had many realizations throughout my travels, but what I have realized is that the BIGGEST and most transformational lessons that I have had until this moment have been when I consciously took time to “disconnect” a bit from the world and connect deeper within.

When I say “disconnect,” I refer to just a slight change in pattern from my normal digital nomadic life, where my computer and phone are always in hand, and my mind is constantly in motion, thinking of new ways to earn money while on the road so that I can continue to live my dreams of traveling the world.

As a digital nomad, the amount of time you spend connected to your computer, creating content and pitching ideas to companies, highly depends on the amount that you will make (or not make) at the end of the month.

Just a disclaimer: I would NOT trade my nomadic lifestyle for the world. Everything in life has its pros and cons.

I do admit, however, that a little disconnection from time to time is not only healthy but absolutely necessary.

Since 2015, I have traveled extensively across the world, trying to experience as much as humanly possible while I have no significant other or family to answer to.  Traveling is not a vacation for me, but rather a lifestyle. It has become my norm so much that even the thought of “settling down” or staying in one place for a short amount of time makes me feel a bit claustrophobic.

SO far from the normal right?

Most people my age, especially from where I am from in the USA, are looking for stability, a promising job, a good husband, and eager to start a family.

And me….

Well, I am an oddball and definitely the black sheep of the family, BUT that’s okay. We all have to live our own dreams, although it might be off the wall, right?

My life as a traveler is everything but isolated and quiet. However, in the midst of the world COVID crisis I am forced into solitude. All my travel and life plans have been completely turned upside down and we are all left to wait and see just what happens next.

In this article, I wanted to share 5 lessons that I have learned (or better said, just realized to a greater scale) during this isolated time in self-quarantine.

1. IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTION TO SELF

 

We are meant to connect and share with other human beings. For many people, these human physical/emotional connections are everything and without them, they feel completely empty and alone.

In a time of strict isolation, it is normal to feel disconnected, and even a slight feeling of loneliness. 

I think we have all felt it at some point or another, no?

Sure, we live in a technology age and in just a click of a button we can connect with our family and friends all the way across the globe, although it’s just not as good as human to human contact (in my opinion).  The crazy part is that many people say that this global crisis has actually caused them to connect more than they ever have in their lives with others.

I have to admit, this has not been my case.

You would think with a person that is constantly on the go and meeting and talking to new people every day, like myself, would be going a bit crazy and reaching out to as many people as possible.

But no…..

It has been very strange for me.

I am an extroverted person, but this quarantine has caused me to walk in the shoes of an introvert. I have spent hours a day reading books, going on long silent walks/runs, and just keeping to myself. I have been trying to fully engage myself in my own personal growth and development journey and just simply living in the moment.

While it is great to have a community and connect with others, it is even more important to first be truly connected with yourself, on a deep and unconditional level.

This sort of deep connection to self (where the mind is not at work) is hard to reach in the midst of chaos, noise, and constant motion. This is the still, calm part of us, that has no connection to time. Some people call it God, others call it pure energy or self.

But why try and put a label on something so deep and beyond our understanding?

Once you tap into this space, it does not matter if you are in complete isolation and quarantine, or you are in the worst moment of your life, you are still able to enter into this timeless space and find the infinite joy, peace and love that is there and accessible to everyone.

The easy thing to do is fill that quiet space with noise and the emptiness in your heart with excessive materialistic possessions, fancy houses, cars, and relationships, with the hope to find some sort of fulfillment in those things.

Unfortunately, those things will never truly satisfy you in the long run. 

Connecting with yourself in a deeper way and feeling a sense of peace and satisfaction with being alone is not something that comes overnight, but rather a journey that you can choose to take that will absolutely transform your life forever.

2. IMPORTANCE OF MAKING YOUR HEALTH AN ABSOLUTE PRIORITY

 

During quarantine, it is SO easy to fall into a love relationship with the couch or comfy bed. They are both so warm, cozy, and welcoming.

To be honest, it can be very hard to not say NO.

It brings great comfort to be all wrapped in your favorite blanket, watching Netflix, with some Oreos, brownies, and/or your favorite bag of potato chips and popcorn.

Sounds pretty magical no?

Now don’t get me wrong: I am absolutely a firm believer that it is absolutely necessary and healthy to set aside certain days to just splurge, chill out, and not take yourself too seriously.

However, some people turn those “occasional days” into a very frequent encounter, especially during a time in which they are stuck inside, with no set schedule.

During the first days of being trapped indoors in a small apartment in Ecuador, (where I was originally quarantined) I was totally relaxed. I just chilled in my pajamas, ate when I wanted, and allowed my schedule to be all over the place.

However, as soon as I realized how bad the crisis was becoming and fully grasped in my head that the quarantine would not be only a week or two long thing, I decided to get serious about taking control of my time and life.

It doesn’t matter if it is only 20 minutes, prioritizing your health is KEY, not only for your physical health but to your mental and spiritual.

 

Ideas for getting a jump start on your physical health:

  • A quick 20-minute exercise Youtube video (cardio, abs or strength training)
  • Guided yoga video
  • Simply putting on your favorite jam and moving your body in a hidden place (if you are a bad dancer, like me)
  • Jumping (with our without a jump rope)
  • Running in place
  • Strength exercises with a gallon of milk or some heavy product in your house.

There are millions of free resources online that you can use. If you do not take advantage of that, then you are making excuses.

Do not sacrifice your health during this time and allow yourself to come out of quarantine undisciplined, more out of shape and heavier than ever.

This is your chance to take control of your health. If you have not made good choices until now, it is never too late to start!

 

3. IMPORTANCE OF ONLINE JOBS AND STRIVING TO CONTINUALLY BECOME MORE DIGITAL & SELF RELIANT

 

While it seems like this is the polar opposite of what I mentioned in #1 about the importance of disconnection, it is really not.

There have been a tremendous amount of jobs lost during this COVID crisis, which has affected millions of people across the globe. While I feel empathy for everyone in an unfavorable situation, I feel equally a sense of gratification for having random online jobs during this time, which have not been affected by the crisis.

Sadly, most of the jobs that have been affected are the ones in which you physically have to go into an office, while many online businesses have skyrocketed.

This realization has helped me to see the importance of not putting all of my eggs into one basket, especially as a self-employed person. It is more important than ever to continue to explore the vast options that are available online, whether it be writing, teaching, translating, marketing, managing, coaching, or whatever it may be.

This also has wakened me up to see how much more I can do with my own client base with coaching, online courses, and projects. We are moving very quickly into a more digital world and the more onboard you are with that movement, the more you will be able to profit from this now and in the future.

 

4. POWER OF OPTIMISM

 

As a nation, now is the time to practice optimism. Not when things get better and the crisis passes.

No, NOW…

Everyone has their own story of how Corona has destroyed their plans and has left them to worry about how they will get by. Many have been forced to cancel their big travel plans, weddings, or even a honeymoon as well.

It is all VERY frustrating and disappointing.

If you would’ve asked me in January 2020, I would’ve told you that I was going to spend the whole 2020 year on the road traveling. In fact, I did get to spend from January-March in the Caribbean and South America, so I am thankful for that time that I did have.

All the big plans that I had for the rest of the year have been placed on hold, and no one knows what is going to happen in regards to future travel, especially international travel.

What kind of new restrictions will they have once the virus gets better?

When will we be able to travel again, without the high risk of getting sick?

As I mentioned, traveling is not just a vacation for me, like most people. It is my life and what I do year-round. Like everyone, I am not able to travel and at this moment I do not even have the option of going back to my home to Spain, where I have my residency and apartment.

With all of that said, it is so important that we do not sit around and focus on our own LOSS during this time.

If we dig deep enough, no matter how bad things may feel at this moment, we can all find something that we are grateful for and some way in which we can benefit from this extra time we have to stay home.

If you capable of shifting your focus and directing it towards what you ARE able to change, such as your health, keeping your inner peace, and strengthening your relationships, you can come out of this quarantine feeling more empowered than ever.

 

5. THE IMPORTANCE OF PRODUCTIVITY

 

I have woken up between 3:45 and 4:45 in the morning every single day of this quarantine.

Seems quite crazy right?

At this point, waking up early is such a normal habit that it does not even cross my mind. I love the sense of getting a head start on the day and finishing so many things before most people wake up. During this time of being forced to stay inside, I have realized just how many things you can do by waking up at an early hour and then going to bed around 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

That is a lot of hours of daylight, even if you do add a small nap in there.

Most of the successful notable people of today (and in history) all work with the same amount of hours as you and I do.

Your lack of productivity is not the fault of a lack of time, but rather how you structure and organize that time.

Do you hit the snooze button five times and then just roll out of bed?

What motivates (or discourages) you to start each day?

Do you wake up with a strong intention for the day?

What are the first thoughts that go through your mind when you wake up? Excitement, dread, fear, anxiety…..

How we start our mornings and the decisions we make first thing highly impact how the rest of our day will go.

Getting a head start on the day and setting strong intentions will energize and set you up to move closer to your goals, whether it be personally or professionally.

I have heard it more times than I can count…

But Sarah, I wake up, set good intentions, but shortly after something happens and I completely lose my motivation.

If I relied strictly on how motivated I am to get things done, I would probably never accomplish anything.

Emotions highly affect our motivation, which is why it’s key to set good habits and standards for yourself. This way you do not need to depend on your motivation in order to feel good enough to get moving and reach your goals. Your strong habits and standards will take over and dominate when you just don’t feel like doing what you know you need to do.

Other suggestions for productivity:

    • Write down any mental blocks and limited thoughts that stand in your way.
    • Take a shower and get dressed and pretty (even if you are at home in quarantine). This will make you feel much better and more productive!
    • Try setting aside blocks of undisruptive time (1-2 hours with small breaks) in order to take on a big task
    • Move your body and stretch first thing when you wake up (with a big glass of water).
    • Outsource any work that other people can do for less time. This will free you up for more creative things!

 

Don’t be a prisoner to time and let it take over your life.

Take advantage of this time that you have in quarantine to strengthen yourself: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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Don’t forget to also check out: 

5 POSITIVE ACTIONS TO TAKE DURING QUARANTINE

SURVIVING MALARIA COMPLETELY ALONE IN LIBERIA

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

 

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Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.com5 Important Things I Have Learned During Self Quarantine
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5 Positive Actions to Take During Quarantine

People are constantly complaining about being overworked and needing personal time for themselves.

In fact, if you ask the average person why they are not reaching their own life goals outside of work, you better bet that the excuse is a lack of time.

Why do you not exercise? Well, I have long work hours and I’m EXHAUSTED when I get home.

Why do you not learn another language, like you have always desired to do? I work 6 days a week and my mind is fried at the end of the day.

Why do you not spend time with your family? My boss asks me to stay late and I can’t say no….

We all have our excuses and reasons for not taking actions towards our dreams and goals.

However, at some point in our life, it is important to stop and take time to reflect on WHY we are not achieving the results that we desire.

In the case of many, it takes something life changing to get their attention and wake them up to the point that they take action. I am sure that you have met many people that are out of shape, consuming fast food on a daily basis and told they should change their habits, but they ignore the advice. This person might be told this over and over again, but the real action takes place when something more serious happens, like a heart attack, or news from the doctor that they have a serious case of diabetes or high blood pressure.

Many of us wait for something huge to happen before we take action, when we have the opportunity TODAY to be proactive and make changes in order to create the life we desire.

Right now, the whole world is in a state of panic with the Corona Virus. Thousands have lost their jobs and the price of this tragedy in our world is well over the billions. A large percentage of the world is being placed on strict home quarantine, unable to go to work, and with an unlimited amount of free time on their hands.

I want to first say that I am by no means trying to lighten the situation and tell everyone that all is okay and that we should all just be happy and positive during this time.

This crisis has been a been traumatic for many of us and getting motivated and proactive during this time is not exactly the highest on the priority list for lots of people. The easy thing is to lay in the bed, go deep under the covers and just give up..

I think many of us have felt that way at one point or another during this time, especially ones that have lost family/friends, have had a reduction in their income, have lost their company and simply have no idea how they are financially going to survive.

As much as we all hate it, there is nothing that we can do to change what is happening right now. We must all have patience and know that this will eventually pass. If we start to program our mind in a different way, we will actually be able to see this down time as an opportunity to pause and reflect on all the things that we want to accomplish in our lives, the goals and dreams we have in our hearts and our personal life vision.

Being as sensitive as possible to people in all walks of life, I wanted to to write this article to inspire you on 5 ways that you can raise your vibration and create positive changes in your time in quarantine, so that you are able to take advantage of this time and feel more accomplished in your own life.

MAKE A POSITIVE MORNING ROUTINE

It is easy to lose your normal routine and fall into some bad habits, especially the more free time that you have on your hands.  If you are in quarantine and see that you are not being intentional about your time and actions, I really want to intervene and challenge you to try something different.

A few months ago, I came across a book that truly shaped my life, called the “Morning Miracle” by Hal Erod. This book has been read by millions of people across the globe and the teachings in this book are used by many successful entrepreneurs and leaders.

This book talks about the importance of waking up early in the morning, setting positive intentions, which in return will give you a huge advantage on starting off your day and reaching your own personal and professional goals.

The book challenges readers to use the 6 SAVERS each morning to power their morning and get their mindset in the right place. How you wake up, the thoughts that you think and the actions you take will set the foundation of your day, so we must be intentional about making our first minutes count.

S — Silence (meditation)

A — Affirmations

V —- Visualization

E —- Exercise

R —- Reading

S — Scribing (journaling)

If you start your morning off by just doing just 10 minutes of each of the SAVERS, that is equal to just one hour of your whole entire day–that is NOTHING, especially if you are home all day.

After the quarantine, if you want to implement the SAVERS in your routine, but you do not feel like an hour is humanly possible, even one minute of each of these can be a game changer. Sometimes all it takes is just waking up with this intention, even if it’s only 6 minutes of your time. This will force you to break the “autopilot” mode and get you more conscious of what you are doing and feeling in the first part of your day.

GET INSPIRED

It is easy to get caught up in to the negative talk about what is happening in the world right now, the financial crisis, the falling economy and all the rising cases of Corona Virus all over the world.

While it is important to be up-to-date on what is happening around the world, it is actually more important to take care of your mental health and to create a positive space for yourself.

As I always say, your mind is like a computer. If you’re constantly downloading junk into your computer, it will run slow and contract viruses. Along the same line, if you’re always absorbing the negativity of the world, your performance and energy will be hindered.

During this time of being locked inside, it is absolutely fundamental to take care of your mental health and stay motivated. There are so many resources out there that can help get us inspired, whether it’s interesting self-help book or video on Youtube.

PRACTICE INTERMITTENT FASTING

There is no better time to practice intermittent fasting than during a time in quarantine, where you are stuck inside the house and less active. Some of the most common benefits of intermittent fasting include:

      1. Loss of body weight and belly fat.
      2. Reduction of the risk of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
      3. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels.
      4. Increase in energy (from my personal experience).

There are many different options for the ones that want to practice intermittent fasting.

The fast that I LOVE and recommend to everyone is 16:8 fast.

I use an application called Zero in order to check in on my phone when it is time for me to fast (and when my time is over). This makes it easier to remember when I can eat again so that I get my full 16 hours in. In addition, this application keeps track of all my past fasts in order to measure my progress, which is extremely motivating. It is absolutely free and I could not recommend it enough!

During the 16:8 fast, one practices withholding food during a 16 hour time frame and only chooses to eat during the 8 hour window. I have to admit, I am not strict about this 8 hour window, as long as I am getting a full 16 hour fast each day. I like to stop eating between 1930-2030 and start eating the next day around noon ish.

Other fasting options out there include:

      • 18:6 Intermittent: 18 hour fast, with a 6 hour feeding window.
      • 36 Hour Fast (aka: Monk Fast).
      • 20:4 Intermittent: 20 hour fast, with a 4 hour feeding window.
      • Custom Fast: creating a fast that suits your lifestyle and schedule. Get creative!

I absolutely SWEAR by intermittent fasting.

Without a doubt, the thing that I love the most about fasting is that fact it puts me in control of my health and habits, instead of giving full control over to my human desires and cravings.

When we are constantly eating throughout the day, without regards to the time of day, or what we are actually eating, we lose a sense of control. When you give yourself healthy restrictions and are more conscious about your eating habits, the life transformation can be HUGE (I am a witness to this statement).

Even if you do intermittent a couple of times a week, it is still better than nothing! If you do not feel like you could fast 16 hours a day, start with something small and then work up to more.

START TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE OR SKILL

If I could pick one lesson to share with others that I have learned traveling around the world and living all of my 20´s abroad, is the importance of taking time to learn a second language. I recommend this to all ages, but I LITERALLY cannot stress it enough for younger people.

We live in a world with so many free resources and online tools that can help give us a jumpstart to learning a new language from the comfort of our home. Being stuck in the house all day is a perfect opportunity to form a habit of dedicating time each day to learning the basics of a foreign language. Starting with the basics and memorizing some of the most common words and sentences is an excellent place to start.

I learned my first word of Spanish in 2013, so I know that feeling of learning a foreign language TOTALLY from scratch. I dedicated my 20´s to study Spanish each and every day and finally got to the point that I can comfortably speak on stage in front of thousands of people.

However, in order to get to that point, I had to start with the basics and create a consistent habit of studying Spanish each and every day.

The exciting part about learning a foreign language is that it is a life long process. I am fluent now, but I understand that there is so much more that I have to learn, even in my native language.

With that said, I still continue with the habit of sitting down each day to strictly read Spanish books, articles or listen to podcasts. I always have my phone on hand to write down words that I have never heard of before and different ways to structure my sentences.

Learning a language is SO much fun. Hands down, my Spanish learning time is one of my favorite times in the whole entire day!

MAKE A BUCKET LIST AND VISION BOARD

I am a huge fan of positive thinking and creating our own personal reality. There is no better time than being stuck inside for weeks on end to really sit down and think about your goals and take time to reevaluate your plans and the direction that you want to go in your life.

Do you have a written bucket list?

If not, this is a good place to start. Sit down in a quiet place and let your imagination run free about all the things that you would like to achieve in your future, both personally and professionally.

Do you want to travel the world?

Do you want to start your own company?

Do you want to create an inspiring blog?

A nonprofit organization?

Attend the university or a trade school in order to learn a new skill?

What exactly is it that you want to do?

Maybe you are like many people out there and simply have NO idea. That is totally find as well. In fact, the more you dive into your bucket list and become absorbed in your dreams and desires, the more likely you will find a path or dream that is right and inspirational for you.

Once you create your bucket list, then you can start using that information to create a vision board. I have a full vision board on the wall of my house in America from years back. However, now that I am traveling the world, I use a digital one in order to have a visual of the goals that I would like to achieve in my future.

Visualization of your dream life is very important as you are working and striving to make that goal become a reality.

 

Get creative with your bucket list and do not put any limits to your imagination

 

Take advantage of this time in quarantine do not forget that no one is alone. We are ALL in this together.

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Don’t forget to also check out:

SURVIVING MALARIA COMPLETELY ALONE IN LIBERIA

IS SOLO TRAVELING WEST AFRICA WORTH THE EXPERIENCE?

SUAN MOKKH: 10 DAY SILENT & MEDITATION RETREAT IN THAILAND

 

 

 

admin5 Positive Actions to Take During Quarantine
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Suan Mokkh: 10 Day Silent & Meditation Retreat in Thailand

When people think about traveling through South East Asia, the first thought that typically comes to mind is the idea of pristine beaches, wild parties, elephants, delicious exotic food, beautiful women, and unique temples. Many eager travelers from all across the world flock to Thailand each and every year to get a little taste of their paradise, at a price that will blow your mind!
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After an amazing month of traveling throughout Thailand, immersing myself in their culture, meeting all kinds of amazing people, exploring the islands, and even attending one of the craziest parties on Earth, the Full Moon Party, I started to feel a strong connection to the country and their easy-going way of life.
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My whole experience couldn’t have been more epic…

However, just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, life threw a huge curveball…..

On the morning of the Full Moon Party, I woke up extra early in order to explore the island of Ko Samui by motorcycle before making my way later in the evening to the next island, Ko Phangan. My perfect day of exploring the island turned tragic in the blink of any eye when my driver suddenly lost control of our bike and sent us both flying across the highway and crashing directly into the cement.
The intense impact caused both of our helmets to go flying and we both suffered serious injuries. We were taken 45 minutes away by ambulance to the closest hospital and from there all of our plans completely changed.
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This unfortunate situation truly opened my eyes and helped me to see how fragile life really is and how EVERYTHING can change in just a blink of an eye.

After my accident, I was told by the doctor that I would not be able to travel for a period of time, especially the way that I was used to traveling. I was only 2 weeks into my 5 months long trip through Asia and this news was a huge shock and disappointment to me.
Instead of losing hope, I decided to find the positive in the situation and explore the few options that I could do in Thailand with a collarbone that was broken in half. After the x-ray, the doctor told me that an operation was not necessary and informed me that if I take a couple of weeks off with no movement, I could later continue traveling (later I found out that was NOT true).
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It was in a moment of desperation that I found a 10-day silent/meditation retreat called Suan Mokkh just a few hours from I was located at that time. Most retreats require pre-registration, but this one was on a first-come, first-serve basis and was only a week away from starting.
I just KNEW that this unique experience was meant to be!
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I had previously done a 10-day retreat called Vipassana in India which absolutely changed my life, but Suan Mokkh was a whole different type of experience, combining different styles of meditation (sitting, walking, group) and yoga.
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The experience seemed suitable for me in my crippled state, so without a second thought, I packed my bags and headed to Suratthani Thailand to embark on an adventure that would continue to test my human limits and force me mentally to the next level.
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My mind was a crazy, uncontrolled disaster upon entering into Suan Mokkh.

I felt wild and untamable…..

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All of my thoughts were going in different directions. I spent hours a day worrying about my previous collarbone injury, wondering how I would manage to stay in Thailand with my situation, and not to forget to mention, the INTENSE pain I was experiencing because of this.
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As if that were not enough, I felt an additional overwhelming sense of stress related to work assignments, social media, and collaborations that I was completely behind on. As much as I was excited to take on a new challenge, I felt totally incapable of disconnected from the world and entering into a totally silent world, with no electronics for 10 whole days!  

WHAT IS SUAN MOKKH? 

 
Suan Mokkh is a monastery located far out in the middle of nature, where many monks live and study. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, which means “Servant of Buddha,” is the one that founded this magical place in 1989. Since then, thousands of people all over the world have been able to visit, live, and have a powerful spiritual experience.
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As a guest, I was able to live with the monks for 10 full days, in a stress free atmosphere, surrounded by nothing more than other international mediators, monks, and the calming sound of nature all around me.
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Suan Mokkh is a magical location, that attracts more than 1000 foreigners each and every year. The experience can be a very powerful and life-changing one, but it is not easy. In fact, many of the mediators never actually make it to the end to experience the sense of satisfaction you can feel from disconnecting with the world and reconnecting without yourself for 10 full days in silence.

RULES

  • No talking or nonverbal communication for 10 full days.
  • Zero Electronics (includes: cell phone, Ipods, cameras, computers, video games, radio, etc.)
  • No personal books (you may read books that they have assigned during break time after day three).
  • No sexual activity (including masturbation).
  • No alcohol, drugs, caffeine, or tobacco.
  • No snacks
  • No shared rooms (males and females in separate buildings).
  • No meals after noon time (2 vegetarian meals/day + 1 drink in the evening).
  • No shoes in meditation hall, rooms, or kitchen.

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NOTE: This retreat is not for the weak-minded.

I can tell you from personal experience that it can be a total shock to the body and could possibly cause you moments of severe anxiety, especially if you have any sort of addictions (caffeine, cigarettes, etc).

Keep in mind that all of the comforts that one tends to have on a normal day to day basis, such as eating 3-5 meals, sleeping in a comfortable bed, sleeping in until late, freedom to talk and interact with others, are COMPLETELY monitored and restricted.

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If you keep your mind open and embrace the changes around you, it can be a transformative experience.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

 

Registration is done in person on the last day of the previous month by 3 pm. The option is available to sleep there the night before registration (free of charge) in order to ensure your spot in the retreat.

Location: Suratthani, Thailand.

Cost: 2,000 baht (non refundable) = $65.00

Language: All Dhamma lessons are taught ONLY in English.

It is very important to have a good level of English if you want to get the most out of the daily lessons. In fact, it’s possible that they will refuse your application if you do not speak English, due to the importance of actively listening to the teachings given each day.

Arriving: The cheapest way to get there is by bus from Suratthani.  Mention that you want to get off at Wat Suan Mokkh and the driver will lead you there for around 50 Baht  ($1.45).

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WHAT TO TAKE

 

The retreat is located far out into the woods and mosquitos are a HUGE annoyance. Mosquito nets are provided on-site, but you should load up on repellent and take socks (even if it’s hot) to serve as extra protection against them.

It’s mandatory to wear loose-fitting, non-see-through clothing. Anything that draws attention to your body, such as open shoulder shirts or short shorts are prohibited and you will quickly be advised to change your clothes.

All bucket showers must be done modesty, with a sarong placed around you, which they will provide free of charge on day one.

They have a small store available in the cafeteria with everything that you might possibly need, such as sanitary products, first aid, toilet paper, repellent, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

The heat during the day can be quite intense, so it’s important to stay hydrated. There are many places on-site that you can fill up your water bottle with fresh water, so don’t forget to pack a big bottle to carry with you at all times.

Keep in mind that you will be required to walk in the night and early morning, so carrying a headlamp or flashlight can be helpful. If you do not have one, they will provide you with a lantern.

You will not be required your phone as a flashlight like you normally do!

 

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————-WHAT TO EXPECT—————

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REGISTRATION

After making your payment, they will do a short one on one interview with you and ask you questions regarding any past mediation experience you have had. They like to get this information because you will be asked to focus solely on the techniques you learn in Suan Mokkh. They also ask that you don’t openly combine other practices that you have learned in the past, which might be a distraction others around you.

After the interview, you will be asked to store all of your electronics away and prepare for our first group talk, which will clearly indicate the rules and expectations of the retreat.

CHORES

In the registration process, you will be required to choose a chore that you will be required to do on a daily basis during the full 10 days.  There are different options available, from sweeping the dorms, washing the tables after lunch, to cleaning the bathrooms. The earlier you arrive on registration day, the better your chances are of picking a chore that you enjoy.

I was assigned the task of sweeping outside the dorms multiple times a day and believe it or not, I actually enjoyed my time sweeping in silence. I turned my duty into a form of working meditation and found a lot of peace in the experience.

MEALS

Mealtime was hands down my favorite time of the day.

Before each meal, we listened to a small message from our instructor, followed by a short meditation that we were instructed to read out loud in order to ground and focus us before and during our mealtime.

All meals are 100% vegetarian and absolutely delicious! The food was very tasty and the serving sizes were quite large, normally allowing enough for seconds.

After about 1 pm, we were required to fast until 8:00 am the next day.

While this might seem impossible for most people, especially if you have never fasted a day in your life, you will most likely be surprised about how your hunger tends to diminish when your body gets used to skipping a few meals.

In the evening, a drink will be provided, which might include hot tea, hot chocolate, or coconut water.

SLEEPING

I entered the meditation retreat with a collarbone that was broken in half, so my sleeping situation was quite complicated.

You will be required to sleep on a concrete bed, with a hard, wooden pillow. It’s very uncomfortable for someone without a broken bone, so just imagine how it must’ve felt with a broken bone to lay on.

If you fear bugs and spiders, you will need to overcome that on day one.

While I didn’t see many creatures entering my room in the night, I know many others had awful problems with them. I heard many random screams in the night from other meditators due to spiders and large bugs entering into their bed.

As I mentioned before, mosquito nets are provided, so that does help to protect creatures from crawling inside.

 

DAILY SCHEDULE

 

0400- WAKE UP BY MONASTERY BELL

0430- MORNING READING

0445- SITTING IN SILENCE MEDITATION

0515 YOGA AND EXERCISE

0700- MEDITATION AND DHAMMA TALK

0800- BREAKFAST AND CHORES

1000- DHAMMA TALK

1100- WALKING OR STANDING MEDITATION

1145- SITTING MEDITATION

1230- LUNCH AND CHORES

1430: SITTING MEDITATION

1530: WALKING OR STANDING MEDITATION

1615: SITTING MEDITATION

1700: CHANTING & LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION

1800: TEA TIME & HOT SPRINGS (OPTIONAL)

1930: SITTING MEDITATION

2000: GROUP WALKING MEDITATION AROUND THE POND

2030: SITTING MEDITATION

2100: PREPARE FOR BED

2130: TIME FOR BED

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DID I REALLY ENJOY MY EXPERIENCE?

My experience at Suan Mokkh was unbelievable! I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to stay there and grow in the ways in which I did. It’s an experience that I will carry in my heart for as long as I live.

It was not easy at all for me, even having had previous experience with a similar 10 day retreat year back. However, I left the retreat feeling very grounded and truly shaped from the inside out. Personal growth and development is not an easy thing. This experience made me feel like I was going to pull my hair out at times, but I truly believe in the quote:

No pain, no gain. 

The sense of satisfaction I felt making it to the end was something that cannot be put into words. Many people in my retreat dropped out early on, but I worked through the pain and discomfort and finished what I started.

I still cannot believe that I have spent 20 full days of my life in total silence!

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PERSONAL PREFERENCE: SUAN MOKKH OR VIPASANNA?

 

Both meditation retreats are unique in their own special way, but if I had to choose one, it would be Suan Mokkh.

What I loved about my experience there was the variety of meditation styles and the opportunity to practice yoga each and every morning as the sun came up. It was magical!

I believe there is a strong connection between the mind and body movements.  Having the chance to meditate, while exercising and walking, opened my eyes up to a whole new aspect of meditation.

In Vipassana, we were expected to sit all day, incorporating absolutely no form of exercise.

I love to move my body and I find a better connection to the universe and myself with I implement yoga and walking into my meditation practice. One of the neatest experiences I had in Suan Mokkh was the nightly group waking mediation around the pond.

The sound of bugs filled the air as we circled barefoot around the pond in total silence. The peace I felt in those moments is something that can’t be put into words.

The sky was clear and filled with thousands of stars. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had.

MY MAIN LESSON LEARNED

There are so many lessons that I learned from spending another 20 full days of my life in complete silence. Slowing down my pace, disconnecting and reconnecting within my heart and soul allowed me to deeply reflect on my life, blessings, and relationships.

Being away from all materialistic possessions and distractions of the world allowed me to learn more about myself in a more intimate way and fall deeper in love with who I am.

Slowing down allowed me time to generate more love and respect for the others around me find more appreciation for nature.

I felt greatly connected with the present moment and free to release the barriers that were holding me back in the past and the fears that I had for the future. I learned, through practice, how to focus on the breath and meditate focusing strictly on that.

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HAPPY & SATISFIED GROUP AFTER 10 DAYS OF PURE SILENCE…..

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Don’t forget to also check out:

 

 

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10 Tricks Before Speaking on Stage

I can remember the sensation like it was yesterday as I prepared to give my first big speech in front of my junior high class. The intense pounding of my heart against my chest nearly knocked me to my feet. I chugged bottle after bottle of water, but still was unable to quench my thirst. I felt weak and nauseated and no matter how hard I tried to stop shaking, I could not seem to calm myself down.

I could not understand what was happening to me….

In school I was always an outgoing and friendly person and the fact that I had such stage fright was something that did not go in line with my personality. In small groups of people I came alive, but the moment I was I was asked to get in front of the class, where all eyes were on me, I completely froze, without being able to make out a single word.

I felt completely alone in my fear of public speaking, thinking that maybe there was just something wrong with me. However, I learned over the years that I couldn’t be further from the truth.

I was not alone. 

In fact, I have spoken to hundreds of people throughout the years about their fears and anxieties and more than half of them tend to mention public speaking as one of their main ones.

Believe it or not, even after years of getting on stage, I still continue to have the fear. However, I made a promise to myself to never let fear hold me back and to always take action steps daily to tackle and overcome this beast.

I went from having a panic attack just from the pure thought of getting on stage, to now speaking to audiences of 2000+ in both English in Spanish. I was invited to speak at the largest TEDx conference in Spain, in my second language, one that I did not even know 2 years before my talk.

I understand from experience the anxieties and fears that come along with public speaking. Given that it is so familiar to me and its something that I still have to confront before getting on stage until this day, I decided to write an article on 10 things you can do before getting on stage (right before your speaking engagement) to get your nerves under control so that you can give the best speech that you possibly can.

These are tips that I personally use and I believe can be helpful tools in preparing you for your next talk.

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1. EXERCISE

Movement is the drug that keeps me sane before a big speaking event. In my case, right before a speaking engagement, I have my mind filled different emotions: excitement, nerves and anxiety. It’s almost physically impossible for me to sit still the day of my speech, and especially minutes before getting on stage.

On event days, I always start the day off with some sort of cardio exercise in order to burn off some of that stored up energy that I have within, which sometimes can get out of control.

Even if it’s just 20 minutes, this helps my mind to get into a more peaceful and focused state, while helping me to keep my nerves and anxiety under control.

Minutes before my speech, I like to do some form of exercise, whether that is walking, jumping or stretching. When our nerves are at their peak, it’s important to not let our body tense up and become stiff.

Find a form of movement that works good with you and do it before getting on stage. Work to keep your body flexible and open even as you step in the spotlight. This relaxed posture will help you in coming across as a more confident speaker.

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2. STAY HYDRATED

Sometimes it seems like no matter how much water I drink before a speaking engagement I just can’t seem to feel hydrated enough. Staying hydrated before an event is key to reducing dry mouth and an itchy throat.

Keep in my mind that drinks, such as coffee, soda or alcohol can be dehydrating and interfere with your speech. If you deal with any sort of stage fright it’s especially important to limit your caffeine intake. Your nerves, mixed with caffeine, can cause more anxiety, restlessness, a pounding heart rate and excessive trembling.

It’s important to stay hydrated, but to not feel over hydrated. Too much liquids, mixed with the nerves might give you a constant sensation of needing to urinate.

Don’t be afraid to take a bottle of water with you on stage. If you feel like your mouth is notably dry and it’s interfering with your speech, take a breath, grab a sip of water and continue.

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3. DEEP BREATHING

Breathing seems like the most obvious piece of advice, but yet so many of us forget to breathe deeply before and during our speech. Short, shallow breaths tend to leave us feeling winded and exhausted, while deep, long breaths help us to find our balance and allows oxygen to get to our brain, which enables clear thinking.

Breathing allows you to regain your focus and slow you down, which is necessary, especially for fast speakers like myself. One exercise that I like to do before going on stage is a breathing in for 3 seconds, holding it in, and then releasing it (along with a small body stretch).

Training our body to breathe, slow down and to not panic is something that does not happen over night. This is something that can be practiced on and off the stag. Like anything, and the more you do it, the more second nature it becomes.

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4. VISUALIZATION

Visualization is one of my main secrets to overcoming anxiety and can be an excellent tool for anyone if used correctly. Having the opportunity to inspire others is a very gratifying experience, so before going on stage I like to feel the end gratification even before it happens.

I love to close my eyes and imagine the satisfying feeling that I will have after facing my fear and giving a great speech. I visualize the audience clapping, telling me good job and the lives that are going to be moved because of my story.

It’s so important to believe in your own story and feel in your heart that the message your are delivering to your audience is valuable and worth their time.

If you believe in your message with all of your heart then it will be easier to visualize a positive and gratifying ending.

However, I have spoken to people that say that visualizing puts pressure on them, causing them to visualize bad possible scenarios that could happen during the speech, such as going blank, saying something wrong etc. In the case for some people, the best idea is to just stay in the present moment and not visualize future outcomes.

What works for one person might not work for the next, so find what works best for you and practice that each time.

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5. VISIT THE STAGE

There is a huge difference in my anxiety level when I feel familiar with the area in which I am speaking beforehand, compared to an odd place that I have never seen before in my life. Any chance that I get to visit the stage where I will be speaking before my event,  I hop right on it. I love to get familiar with the stage, walk around and visualize myself there with an audience of people.

If I have some time I like to rehearse different parts of the speech, especially the opening and closing, while implementing my silences, breaks and body movements.

During my first TEDx conference I was unable to visit the event site the day before. However, I arrived early the day of the event and spent at least 30 minutes walking across the stage, getting a feel for it and imagining a successful talk.

It was my first time ever to do a talk in Spanish and I believe that this short time familiarizing myself on stage beforehand was a key tool in the success of my talk.

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6. SOCIALIZE

Every event is unique and runs on a different time table. Some allow for socializing beforehand, while some save that special time for the end. If the option in available, take time and socialize before it is your time to get on stage.

I have always found that walking around, introducing myself and connecting a bit with others beforehand always helps me to connect with my audience even more during my talk.

When you personally take time to meet and greet people that are attending the event, you get a more friendly feeling and sense of connectedness with them.

When I get on stage and look out into the audience and see familiar faces, I automatically feel more at ease and relaxed, as if I am talking to friends, and not just an audience of distant strangers.

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7. CREATE A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR YOURSELF

If you are organized, then your speaking day should not be stressful and chaotic. It’s important to create a positive space for yourself the night before and the morning of your speaking engagement.

Creating a stress free, positive environment for yourself might include

  • Waking up early in order to get some exercise and meditate.
  • Preparing everything the night before (outfit, electronics, cameras etc)
  • Arriving at least an hour before your event in order to avoid feeling rushed.

IMPORTANT: If possibly, delegate the responsibility of your PowerPoint  and technical issues to someone else.

As a speaker, you have enough on our hands as it is. Your focus should not be on technical issues, but but rather focusing and preparing for your speech and then presenting it.

In some cases it might be your responsibility to deal with setting up your powerpoint, etc. If you have this responsibility, it’s important to have everything prepared beforehand and to think ahead for things that could possibly go wrong and to have a quick solution to fix it.

Technical issues are very common and I have seen in multiple occasions, including in very organized and large events, problems where no matter what they did, the powerpoint just would not work. 

It’s important to prepare and to not depend solely on your powerpoint to get by. Feeling comfortable with your speech, just in case your powerpoint does fail, can help you to go on stage with ease, knowing that no matter what happens, you will know what to say and when to say it.

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8. TONGUE TWISTERS

Tongue twisters are excellent ways to warm up your voice and ease the tension you might be feeling before getting on stage. It helps to bring you into the present moment and focuses your mind on the task at hand, which is trying to say a difficult phrase.

It’s a small action that one can take that most might not even think of, but it really can work!

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9. KICK PERFECTIONISM TO THE CURB

Perfectionism is a huge barrier that stands between many people and their life long dreams. Being a perfectionist has the ability to delay you from getting on stage and can easily send you into a negative spiral, feeling a constant feeling dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

If you are constantly thinking about giving the perfect speech, with the perfect jokes and the perfect everything, you will set yourself up for failure and burn out.

Keep in mind that it’s OK to make mistakes. In fact, most people claim that they prefer a more authentic speaker, rather than one that seems flawless and perfect in everything.

Speak from the heart and don’t let your perfectionism get in the way of giving a heartfelt message

Keep your purpose and mission in mind before and during your talk and kick perfectionism to the curb. If you keep your focus in the center of your being, then you are more likely to capture the heart of your audience and succeed.

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10. SMILE

Smiling has been scientifically proven to have multiple positive health effects in our body, even if it’s forced.

Forcing a smile can help you to feel better by releasing endorphins and serotonin into your blood. Cultures from all over the world practice smiling meditation in order to generate happy feelings and emotions in our body.

So the next time you feel like your heart is about to jump out of your chest due to fear and nerves, try a simple smile and see what happens.

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And most importantly……

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RELAX AND ENJOY IT ALL!!

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One of the worst things that could happen in your career as a public speaker is to let stress get the best of you to where you don’t even enjoy the process of speaking and getting on stage.

Public speaking and having the opportunity to inspire and share your story is an opportunity of a lifetime. We must learn to enjoy the process, embrace the fear and realize that its all part of the experience.

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Don’t forget to also check out:

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