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Well, of course, you can’t.
Yet, I did and many people have—through one simple and powerful action: leaving the country.
Expats may “escape,” consciously or unwittingly, from their day-to-day geography; however, life is life and there is no actual escape.
Nevertheless, escaping geographically is amazing. It has been for me, anyway, for going on 10 years. Compared to myself 10 years ago, at age 29, living in Austin, Texas, driving a car around, going to gigantic stores, and being a stressed-out elementary school teacher five days a week, these days I am so much happier. Of course, I still get stressed out, just a lot less often.
I have simplified my lifestyle: living abroad, in Latin America, where the whole culture’s pace is slow compared to our North American hustle. I live in a small cabin in the woods, off-the-grid, with no car, no insurance, and no credit cards. I’m enjoying a flourishing freelance writing and consulting career, and teaching yoga overlooking the lake and volcanoes a few mornings a week. Instead of just me and my dog, my family now includes me, my daughter, husband, three cats, and a different dog.
So, you can escape geographically but patterns, issues, and problems will follow you unless you escape mentally, i.e. change your mind.
Changing our minds leads to changing our words, actions, behaviors, habits, and patterns. It actually all starts with changing the heart.
Our hearts are amazing organs. The heart center is the center of our being, the middle energy point, the connection of east, south, west, and north; fire, water, earth, and wind. Grandfather sky, grandmother earth. Father sun, mother moon. The four directions, above and below, all culminate at the heart.
Ways to work with the heart energy include: writing, journaling, poetry, nature, pranayama/yogic breathing techniques, connecting with air/oxygen, green color therapy, chanting the long “A” and “yam,” metta/lovingkindness meditation, listening to calming instrumental music, and floral essential oils including lavender, rose, and ylang-ylang.
By opening our hearts, we learn to let our emotions flow rather than denying, avoiding, or repressing them. By opening our minds, we learn to do this with the thoughts passing through the mind, allowing them to come and go naturally without getting involved in any particular train of thought.
Here’s a simple mindfulness visualization technique from Jeffrey Davis:
Regard the mind like an aquarium in which all kinds of fish float by. Then imagine you have an inner amused observer, an awareness that can watch all of those fish—the stray thoughts, sensations, feelings, worries, regrets—float by without getting attached to any of them.
Heed the goldfish. Every once in a while an insight goldfish might float by. Note it.
That’s it. Watch your inner aquarium for five minutes. No big deal.
Meditation and mindfulness practice are excellent ways to hone the mind—they help to develop concentration, awareness, and attention. Visualization, too. It’s not a new age or law of attraction thing so much as a natural method of the human brain to imagine.
Imagine what you want. Imagine your needs being met. Imagine how you can serve and benefit others. Use your mental power to inspire your action in the world, your ways, big and small, of being more present, grateful, compassionate, kind, and beneficial.
Could it really be that simple?
Change your heart, change your mind, change your actions, change your life.
Life is flowing all the time; we can choose to float on the river or fight to swim upstream.
Life is the intersection of mind, body, heart, and spirit with no boundaries.
Life is work, play, and everything else.
Enough with the compartmentalizing. There is no “real life” versus “vacation.” It’s all our real life. Every day, we live in the real world, not a reality show.