New perspectives to finish out 2016

Asia reflections, lessons, and meditations

It’s been a week and a half since being back from my amazing trip to Hong Kong and Taipei. I can confidently say that this trip was the most well balanced trip out east to date. I attribute this great balance to management. I believe that travel success boils down to one’s ability to manage expectations and energy. Control your focus to control your physiology, and vice versa.

Hong Kong Cityscape from Victoria Peak

Hong Kong Cityscape from Victoria Peak

I made sure to do only one big thing a day and not cram. I maintained hydration at all times (water bottle on me 24/7). I ate delicious food throughout the day but made sure I had raw greens daily (in the form of salads, smoothies, or juices). I kept up with my health supplements (pre-packed from home - probiotic, tumeric, fish oil, holy basil, ashwagandha, primrose oil). I slept a minimum of 8 hours daily in a comfy bed (no compromise, but black out blinds were difficult to achieve). I exercised daily in the form of hiking, yoga, gym, running, or in-home core and calisthenics (here is where I worked on things that allowed me to be a better vacationer; mobility, flexibility, breathing, flow movements, and detoxifying movements like running and light plyometrics to stimulate enhanced circulation, immunity, lymphatic drainage, and waste removal). I remained consistent with my morning and evening rituals from home. I didn’t forfeit these daily rituals because I was on vacation (which I used to do).

New perspective: I wasn’t on vacation from my daily rituals, I was on vacation with them. I came to the realization that they are my life companions; they are a part of me, and I am very proud of them.

I clearly communicated these healthy habits with my hosts (brother, family members, and friends), and that opened up exciting conversations I always hoped of having with my loved ones abroad. You could say the only thing I didn’t expect was how much I took away from the trip!  

Twin Brother Nathan (right) and I (left)??? Story....I bought Nathan a matching Adidas hat for our birthday and wanted us to wear it together so that we could match (not often do we get to be identical), to my surprise (and maybe not so much), he and I ended up bringing along the same swim trunks! What a creepy and cute coincidence!

Twin Brother Nathan (right) and I (left)??? Story....I bought Nathan a matching Adidas hat for our birthday and wanted us to wear it together so that we could match (not often do we get to be identical), to my surprise (and maybe not so much), he and I ended up bringing along the same swim trunks! What a creepy and cute coincidence!

Traveling is a unique form of education that teaches life skills and abilities. Organizing, planning, and executing are skills that can make or break a travel experience. Flexibility, open-mindedness, and endurance are abilities that can make a trip a dream vacation or a nightmare. To truly reap the benefits and make traveling a life changing learning experience, it takes two to tango. I realized that the trip wasn’t going to teach me unless I was willing and proactive about learning. What you put in is what you get out...and then some.  

 

Below are a few more lessons I learned from this short but impactful trip.  

LESSON #1 - DON'T SET GOALS, SET INTENTIONS.  

Now that I'm back in the swing of things, I surprisingly haven't set any goals in the conventional sense. People first ask how my trip was, then they ask when's my next race, when's the date for the next 2.0 workshop, then comes OMG, YOU HAVE A TWIN!?!?!?, then what's in store for the rest of 2016? What are your goals?

Well, to answer that truthfully, I don't have any goals. Wait, I'm lying ... sorry...

My final goal for 2016 is ...

TO NOT SET ANY GOALS! No big races, no 2.0 events, no pursuits to conquer. I just intend on being present and appreciative.

Setting goals can sometimes lead to disappointment, anxiety, unnecessary pressure, competition over calling, and a shackling to a limiting world of black and white. Instead of setting goals, I'm setting intentions. We live in a colorful world filled with unlimited shades of possibilities. As of right now, I don’t feel like limiting myself to the road of goal attainment after goal attainment where there is no end in sight but another goal to attain. Instead, my mind is exploring for the sake of exploring. I’m on a mission to liberate my goal-oriented mind by setting intentions to fulfill my purpose, and live by the mantra of 'calling over competition'.

LESSON #2 - WE ARE NOT HUMAN DOINGS, WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

I'm starting to see a different side to my favourite Batman quote, "It's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you". Instead of being defined by my actions and accomplishments, perhaps more of who I am are the things that I don't do or haven’t done yet but want to do. The things I procrastinate on, the things I fear, the things I push aside, the things I deny, the things I am shameful of, and the things I hide. We all present a biased side of ourselves to mask our deepest and darkest secrets. In fact, we may be more like Two-Face than Batman. Perhaps leaving things to chance may help bring us a little more peace than trying to control every moment of life. Instead of living a life in pursuit of happiness, in pursuit of love, in pursuit of productivity, instead, living a life with no expectations, no set plans, no agenda, no pursuit other than living a life full of good will, might be how happiness and love ensue.

Another thought path along this idea is how we need to take more responsibility for our actions. Being aware of what we decide to share publicly and privately, what we decide not to share at all, these are choices that come with consequences whichever way you play it. It’s just a matter of how we play the cards we have not only been dealt, but the cards we have dealt ourselves. Let’s take responsibility on how we influence others, and by less ‘doing’, we allow ourselves time to clean up shop, reorganize, and rejuvenate by just ‘being’. We thus give ourselves time to explore better options and therefore make better decisions.

Don't do, just be. I have not stopped and given up, I am simply giving myself time to marinate in the year’s accomplishments. I am taking responsibility of all the things I neglected. And I am investing my energy for the in-season by being extremely present in the off-season.   

Being present. 

Being present. 

 

LESSON #3 - PRESENCE AND PRODUCTIVITY?

did my best to focus on practicing mindfulness on my trip so that I could be that much more immersed and engaged in my experiences. Tasting, feeling, smelling, hearing, seeing, and being are naturally elevated by the external stimulations of food, people, fragrances, sounds, sites, and ambiance. Overtime, we somehow become dependent on using and abusing these external stimuli to excite us, that we just sit back and relax, and outsource our means for living life to the fullest. We become lost and consumed by the things that happen to us. Instead, we should focus on the things that happen for us and by us. I’m talking about using ‘mindfulness’ as a tool to elevate our human experience. It is our intrinsic systems that need to step up and produce sincere and genuine means of excitement and joy. Presence is like a muscle that needs to be flexed, worked, conditioned, sharpened, and honed for maximum effectiveness.  

Maria Popova of Brainpickings says, presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living.”  I agree that productivity is also a muscle that requires conditioning too. It is a cult that our society knows all too well. Yes, it has its benefits and values that are undeniably rewarding, but perhaps we can further explore the cult of presence and discover its benefits and values not only as its own ‘religion’, but how we can benefit from being both present and productive. I believe we can have the best of both worlds. I believe when one practices presence through mindfulness, one can be extremely productive afterwards, and when one is productive, it lays the groundwork for a clear mind that can be stress-free, baggage-less, and confidently present.    

Victoria Peak Hidden Garden

Victoria Peak Hidden Garden

 

LESSON #4 - 'THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE'

Some have told me how cool it is that my trip has influenced my physical appearance in the form of my hair color and fashion change. As superficial and materialistic as that sounds, I don’t care, I am definitely one for expressing my inner self with my outer self. Change is self expression. Change is a choice. Change is growth. Change is a mindset. Change is an experience. I see change as a force of nature. I see it’s manifestation as a force of nurture. I am changing, therefore I am change, and because I am change, I am a force of life. Change is also a tool and can be/should be scaled relative to one’s priorities, context and circumstances. I am learning that the takeaway message is not what I am changing into, or what I hope to change into, but just the simple fact that I am embracing and embodying change. Don’t just talk the talk or walk the walk, be the talk and the walk.
Be the message you hope to share with the world.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my 4 lessons from my Asia trip reflections. I love sharing my mind’s eye and provoking thought with my writing. Please leave your comments on these lessons. Would love to hear from you.

With much love, life force, and laughter,

Sincerely,

Julian