I think this question bothers a bunch of us. How not to give a fuck but still be the best version of ourselves?
If I don’t care about what others say and only follow my own intuitions and desires I can easily find myself a loner. For self improvement we need to get feedback from the outside world and we need to use its resources to gather information and tools in order to be able to move forward on our personal journeys. Basically we just can’t ignore completely what’s around us.
The obvious downside of this is that we don’t want to be left behind, we want to be up-to-date and we care too much about how we are seen by others. Especially in today’s fast pacing life.
We need trendy clothes, we need to have an immaculate Instagram feed projecting a perfect life picture, we need a good network of „friends” whom we please each other in social media to climb up higher on each others’ backs and I haven’t yet mentioned that we need to follow the currently accepted social pattern: going to church, working in a well-payed job even though we only live for weekends and vacations, paying a house for the bank, buying a car to prove our worthiness, having kids to make our picture perfect life a whole, etc.
If you can’t tick the above list, you my friend, are a weirdo. All right, let me clear the air here. It’s OK to live a life what everybody else does but only if you are 100% aware and conscious about your choices. I’m happy if you’re happy. As long as it isn’t based on traditions, religions, politically or socially accepted models, as long as it is yours only and you haven’t just settled for less.
Fun fact: whose opinion scares the shit out of us the most? Our friends and families. Isn’t it crazy? The problem here is that from the moment you start working on pleasing others and for getting accepted, you are insecure. It matters to you what others will think or say.
But when you realize this you are lost, because there is a distance between your true self (if you still know who that is) and the picture you try projecting.
I figured that I have to have self-awareness. I have to know myself deeply. And I don’t. I started a journey leaving a comfy life in London behind to find myself happiness and true meaning. In the past months I got a little bit lost. That’s where my bucket list came in: I wanted to meditate with monks and learn about myself through buddhism.
Meditating in a buddhist monastery in Thailand
No, I am not a buddhist, I don’t follow any form of religions. But I am happy to benefit from the teachings. The practical buddhist philosophy is that I have the most in common. So, I took a few days off from jobhunting and from working on the Lust For Life passion project and travelled to the north of Thailand.
In the mountains the Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery welcomes anybody who wants to meditate, to learn and who is able to follow their lead for a few days. Beautiful place with lakes, quiet foresty surroundings and meditations throughout the day. The meditations are always aligned with practical teachings about everyday life, buddhism.
The experience is free with food twice a day, accomodation either in dorms or in private rooms (kuti), though donations are encouraged. The teachings come directly from the monks who can speak basic English and also use an interpreter for more specialized topics. They are suprisingly up-to-date and love having fun in the same simplest way as they live.
Even though everything was set for a peaceful few days it was hard for me to slow down and stop trying to impress others, in this case the monks. I just didn’t want to make any mistakes and was worrying too much about them, about how I would get home at the end of this, how I would manage to get my career back on track, etc.
Then it happened. On the second morning I finally only saw the beautiful sunrise and only heard of its voice in forms of singing birds, slow flopping steps of others and felt only the light wind on my face. I let it all go and found myself in the present. Like a meditation without meditating. But according to the teachings it turned out that whenever I am mindfully go along with my tasks and I am in the present moment, I am actually practicing meditation. It is just amazing. It is easier than we think.
Benefits of meditation, creating headspace
For me the biggest thing I can benefit from practicing meditation could be useful for you too is learning how not to give a fuck but still be the best version of ourselves. It just puts my mind at ease, creates some headspace and prepares me for each day ahead. Clears my head and overtime I started not only accepting myself more, but to handle stress without blinding myself with fear or anger. Ok, this is not perfect yet, but at least I freak out way less and I can let things go, I don’t stick with them anymore.
According to thousands of studies researchers found that there are so many things that I can get out of daily practicing: Good for my attention span and focus. Also makes me more creative with better memory. Brilliant. Reduces stress, helps emotional health, good for the immune system. Good health, positive attitude equal longer life, so I can save time + I can be more productive. It slows down aging. Amazing! Helps developing empathy and kindness. Loving kindness, helping and serving others good for your self improvement, for your personality.
These are just a few, but hey, look at these successful people who has the habit to meditate daily: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Paul McCartney. Also have a look at some famous buddhists: Orlando Bloom, Keanu Reeves, David Beckham, Oliver Stone, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs. I think Steve Jobs was doing walking meditation which is a very easy and very powerful one. I love it!
In the monastery we practiced mindfulness meditation through walking-, sitting-, lying practices. The point here is to be mindful. Not just during practice, but throughout the day whatever we’re doing, let’s try to be mindful. It means we have to focus on the actual experience we are having. While meditating it can be the rise and fall of the abdomen or our nose as we breathe. We only observing, watching what’s happening and don’t stick with the constantly coming and going thoughts or emotions. We just aknowledge them and let them go.
This way we can be present as we don’t think about the past or don’t plan or worry about the future and that’s my friend is key.
Why do we suffer? What is the solution?
Being mindful is key. We have to stay in the present, becasue that is when life is happening. Why do we suffer? What is the solution? We suffer, because we are crying over past things or worrying about the future. Think about it: How much time do you actually spend in the present moment? Yes you’re present when you have physical pain (like kicking the corner of the bed) or when you’re having sex. We miss the show. Also we want too much unnecessary stuff to impress others and live a life that is not even really ours.
That makes us worried and insecure while we’re not even in the present. We all have to learn how not to give a fuck and still be the best version of ourselves. It is not gonna happen overnight. We have to put the hard work in to it.
Be mindful, be aware of yourself, your desires, your emotions, your true self and follow your own way or even better: build your own path. Be consciuous about your decisions. Practice meditation! Take on smaller and bigger challenges and appreciate the smallest success, too. Don’t forget to appreciate and learn from failures, but don’t let them discourage you.
Have an open mind, embrace change and be eager to learn and explore. Watch yourself, examine yourself, self assess, work and improve yourself!
Just quite simply: „don’t sweat the small stuff, it is all small stuff” and don’t give a shit about what the world will think about you. Surround yourself with positive, supportive, like-minded people, where you can grow.
I’m not saying that a few days in a buddhist monastery changed me. No, not at all. But a few days with myself close to nature was very well needed. Some new things I learned but they are not worth a penny if I don’t put them in to practice. So, it’s all up to me now.
If you’d like to hear more about the monastery and my experience there and not just telling you how I think about things, then here are the actual vlogs about it. Enjoy!