Speaking to people about my trip always triggers all these wonderful associations with taking time off from regular routine at home. People seem to immediately imagine amazing time away, where you are free to do whatever you want to, have responsibilities, lean back, relax and enjoy yourself and all the things you usually don’t have time for, like travelling around the world, meeting friends, reflect on where you are in your life etc…at least definitely I have imagined a lot of that and was part of what made me go.
I had some of my toughest times the last months sometime feeling totally lost in “the everything is possible space”, where I could speak about going to Israel one week and then think of Mozambique the other. Where I could think of having proper beach holidays at some point, but at same time see myself in Dojo for a month, meditating and practicing martial arts, see friends or spend a considerable time by myself in the mountains. It’s great to be on this sort of daydream- excursion when one sits in the bus on the way to work but actually sitting in front of my laptop having to make decisions arranging my route, knowing that I now finally have the time and some financial resource, freedom can be a burden indeed. Questions have been in the back of my mind…What am I REALLY drawn to do and WHY? Out of the huge list of the things I love doing and feel I want to follow, where do I want to put my focus? How do I invest my little money wisely?
Laying the path as I walk – enjoying the Learning Journey
As the sabbatical proceeded, I learned to slow down and be increasingly present to my intentions even in smaller every day activities. I learned a great deal about what my real purpose of the trip is and how I am crafting this learning journey as I am taking one step after the other.
“Paying attention to what we are doing provides a spaciousness that allows
self-inquiry to take place.” (Richard Strozzi-Heckler)
I had to smile when I recently read the line above in a book, the first 2 months of my trip, every morning and evening I captured in much detail the activities and intentions of the day and reflections on those at the end of the day. This has helped a lot to shift my attention and awareness to be more sensitive to what enjoy in the moment. It's not a very forward looking energy, rather a very grounded in-the-moment-quality, most of the times pretty unconscious. I guess you know that feeling of when you least think about it you seem to have the best results or right decisions?. In retrospective it usually makes sense, I then ocassionally get some post-realisations like a “oh that’s why!” or “Yeah, all seemed to perfectly fit after all!”
Slowing down takes soo much time– after the first 3 months, basically 1st third of my trip, I can slowly feel at ease with the a more in-the-moment-focused attention and experience of living.
My legs are tingling to run but my sight is blurred – finding courage
The difficult part came when I needed to align or consolidate this approach to the actual material and commercial world of great deals or when getting involved with other people’s decision making processes that affected mine! How far ahead can I really plan while still make grounded decisions on future travel arrangements or any future plans?
It was a little disturbing to have wasted some money on good-deal-pre-booked train tickets within expensive Europe when then at that time my entire body really asked for something else than going French-Breton dancing in Moulins-sur-Allier (and I honestly was looking forward to go for months).
The urge or necessity to plan ahead in the world we live in, in the last couple of weeks increasingly turned out to be an incredibly uncomfortable place to be in especially after having experienced how much richer and aligned my life has become when not jumping ahead of myself too much. There were a couple of days when I was glued to the computer, researching flights and felt incredibly pressured to make decisions. I was still waiting to hear back from my contacts in India (a learning village I was going to visit) and in California (a ranch and great institute for Body work). I was very, very excited and felt quite special about visiting both places and from both I was still awaiting the final green light and ok about a last minute swops of dates from my side because “it felt right”.
At the same time a lovely and very patient travel agent, who by then has spent a lot of time checking flights, connections and deals and came down to ensuring me the final offer is an amazing deal which indeed it was. Travelling to all the remaining countries I wanted to go to (India, Brazil and to California) for only about 1000 bucks was hardly worth arguing about. Of course as life has it – it only lasted till end of day which was then about 4 hours remaining before the close of offices on a Friday afternoon and still had no reply from either India or California. Incredibly hectic! This whole felt marathon of arrangements, search for options and communication etc made me be stuck and numb for days – holding breath all this time and losing any capacity to make any grounded decision even though I so wanted to complete this, likethe last run of finalising a proposal or thesis. By Tuesday I finally had enough from sitting at my desk, I gave up went into the garden and started seeing the sky and breathing again. There was nothing I could nor even wanted to do anymore. I didn’t hear back from both places until coincidently both came back to me almost the same time, the Friday after only. By then of course the deal was gone but it didn’t bother me anymore. I felt absolutely content with the decision made to go for the swop of order, both confirmed they were fine with that too. Once all the clarity was in place, booking the remaining flights was really peanuts and probably done in less than 30 min.
I was really getting the complexity of not just aligning yourself but aligning yourself with your environment. More than anything else, I felt it is a lot about having the courage to go with something I was sensing is right to me but haven’t yet entirely comprehended or come to peace with in my mind to feel confident enough to run with it. Having the courage to change plans, go against my and other perceived rights and wrongs, my judgements, go with something that might be seen less popular, say no to friends, or to invest quite a lot of money into something which wasn’t part of the story or visible at the horizon in the first place but somehow quietly called me has been invaluable to me still feeling like I am on course, more strongly so than ever before.
Returning to the starting place – getting ready for the next 3 months
Being back in Budapest the place where my journey started 3 months ago, turns out to be a good move. Remembering how different my time and exploration has been then but also tapping back into the serene, nurturing and lively place that Budapest always is to me. I feel I have found a lot of treasures, a bit like puzzle pieces. The difficult part is not to isolate them and clearly define each piece but to put them together to a fitting, elegantly balancing colourful image, which makes up the life I want to live. It makes me think I shouldn’t zoom in too much to identify the details with much precision but keep maintaining a peripheral view as long as possible before working on the details – like an artist working on a picture over a period of time.
The treasures of my first three months in a nutshell
• Honour and maintain building relationships with important people in your life. It’s been invaluable to spend time with family and stay in touch with friends. Reconnecting and deepening the relationship– meaning actually getting to know them with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
• Staying in touch with home and everyday life to some extent to not run risk to disconnect too much from the normal world but rather strive for an embodied new experience and routine of living which I can easily bring back and integrate into my everyday life in London.
• Keep telling your story as it is unfolding to be present to it and to keep it alive for yourself and others, but also to see how it is developing, like a song and a melody that is written and maturing overtime.
• Tune in and keep being true to present moment energy. Am I really doing what I ought to be doing now? Just because I felt right about it yesterday or two hours ago doesn't mean it’s still right for me now. It is also important to keep paying attention to finding a balance between trusting and following your intuition while still knowing when to keep commitments, being grounded and down to earth when taking decisions.
• Find balance between spending time on your own and time with others.
• Turning criticism, fear and doubt – most of my own – into learning, a gate to overcome and grow. My shadows keep coming back and pulling me regardless where I go. It’s a bit like fighting the demons at a gate in a computer game where you gain extra powers once you manage to beat them and get to the next adventure. ]
• Be protective about daily balance between routine, practises and fun times. Time to lean back to relax and enjoy my trip as if there was no tomorrow – Checking-in regularly with myself e.g. through centring and other practices to increase body awareness have helped me a lot to also get a better sense of my present mood and emotions.
• Trust yourself like no other – following your intuitive pace and flow. Criticism and doubt from others can hurt. It can be spot on but also can be totally off the shore. Staying with my intent and energy, my pace and inner sense even , when I trust my friends and respect their judgement and plausible views about where I am at, - has helped me to stay in a grounded place, feeling right and content about the steps I am taking. Silence and paying close attention to how I feel about something is my secret union with my most trusted advisor.