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What I learned from Nepal

With a goal of challenging ourselves both physically and spiritually, my childhood friend James and I decided that an off the grid trip to Nepal could not have come at a better time. Personally, I was looking forward to connecting with the locals and diving deeper in the Hindu and Buddhist faiths there. Despite growing up in a household with a specific faith (Judaism) I wasn’t completely connected to it. I think of myself as more spiritual than religious, where I take bits and pieces of each faith/religion to shape it into my own beliefs. I am a believer in signs that occur throughout life and I received many of them during this trip.

One of those signs came when we ran into this mountain dog at one of the teahouses. He was one of the many dogs we came across throughout our trek, yet this older dog decided to follow us two hours down the mountain. To me – I felt like the dog was a spiritual sign from above, making sure we got to our next destination safe and sound. Other moments like this occurred throughout the trek, giving me an extra boost of energy when I was struggling during certain parts of the hike.

The trek took about nine days to complete and rather than hiking Mt. Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna Circuit, we decided to choose the Khopra trail since it wasn’t as touristy. James and I decided to go through an agency where it was just the two of us and our tour guide.

The trek consisted of staying at teahouses with people from around the world, meeting locals from a village, eating Yak soup and Dal bhat (go-to food in Nepal), hiking to the hidden lake and Khayer lake, and reaching elevations of over 16,000 feet. It was definitely challenging, especially acclimating to the higher elevations, but I absolutely loved the cultural experience.

Here are a few of my takeaways from my trip to Nepal.

  1. Self- reflecting is something I am trying to fit into my everyday routine because it has helped me write out my thoughts while giving me time for myself and own self-care. One thing I decided to do (thanks to James) was to disconnect completely from my phone throughout the whole trek. This was my only opportunity to truly reflect on life, while taking everything in. Instead of having my phone, I journaled each day about what each day entailed, where I want to go in life, my fears, and what drives me each day to be my very best. This helped me release some of those anxious thoughts about the future thoughts we all tend to overthink.
  2. Reframe your negative thoughts into positivity or learning experiences. The local Nepalis live such a simple life, without complaining about the little things. Imagine living in a small room with no closet, taking bucket showers, and having an out-house as a bathroom? It made me dive deeper into my own life and how mad I would get at myself if something negative/bad happened in my life. I tend to hold myself to such high expectations resulting in high stress levels during these tougher times.  Ask yourself: “what did I learn about this experience and how can I use it to continue moving forward in life?”   I am always finding ways to improve this, but I realized that we can either dwell on our negative experiences while living life with regret OR learn from them to better understand what we can improve for the next experience.
  3. Don’t assume or judge someone before getting to know them. One day when we were at a teahouse, James and I were having a conversation with a few others. Suddenly, I noticed one person doing yoga mid-conversation, while others were stretching (downward dog) while chatting. It sounds little, but I learned that it is simply okay to be yourself and not feel like you have to act a certain way to fit into society. Sometimes I am afraid that people will view me a certain way depending on how I act rather than being myself and not worrying about what others may think.
  4. Listening is just as powerful as talking in a conversation. I felt a bit disconnected during one of the conversations with several others at the teahouse because we were talking about a topic I wasn’t quite familiar with. I felt like an outsider looking in which is never a great feeling. When I told James this, he told me that you don’t need to talk to be part of a conversation. Listening to others and asking questions when not understanding certain things is a valuable skill to have.

A lot of ups and downs in 2019 where I was challenged by my peers and society on how I truly live my life in the moment. Whether it was jumping too fast into a relationship, jumping to conclusions prior to processing the situation, or learning the importance of self-care prior to trying to help other people, I look forward to what 2020 holds. Namaste.