Doors wide open

In the end, the only thing that I can change for certain is my self.  I need to begin with myself before I look outwards – a message repeated by many inspiring and accomplished speakers on the Niswarth trip.  I’m staring at the Man in the Mirror /  I’m asking him to change his ways / If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.  Since I spend a healthy chunk of time looking at the mirror, I hope I can dedicate an even larger chunk of time continuing to self reflect and explore change within my self.

Three weeks later.  Where am I at this moment?

I am awake; I am more aware and attuned to my surroundings and self.  As a traveller in India, I was encouraged to observe and to think consciously.  My senses are tender from vigorous use, but they are that much more sensitive and receptive.  Being conscious is a constant practice that I hope will become a lasting habit of mine with constant training.  The outcomes of living with a conscious mind will be difficult, painful, and confusing at times, but it will make me more of a person.  I can’t just go through the motions and act according to my short-term desires and pangs of emotion.  I need to train myself to stay awake and exercise a clear mind like that after a good cup of steaming green tea – and as needed, I will question what I see and feel.

I have reaffirmed the power of honesty and truthfulness in dialogue and speech.  Uttering BS and reactionary words can get you somewhere, but as individuals ultimately connected by our shared humanity, we are able to find meaningful connections through truthful conversation.  Such conversation will lead to a community tied not only on the surface, but much deeper within.

I have practiced gratitude towards those I love and have entered my life. It takes a change in habit and practice to get used to sharing and showing gratitude, especially coming from environments where expressing thanks is done way less than those feelings of thankfulness and delight are felt.

I bring home a desire to continue reflecting and a thirst to read, read away.  I’m moving from Seoul to Hong Kong this summer, to a house by the ocean, and I have already envisioned myself meditating, pondering, and reading by the beach in the cooler mornings and nights.  I want to declutter my thinking by avoiding shopping too often and indulging in vast amounts of delicious food too quickly (there are definitely countless opportunities for that in Hong Kong!) and by consciously choosing to live by praxis: the repetition of action, reflection, action, reflection that we observed during Niswarth.

I’ve learned that sometimes less is more.  Simplicity in design and language can be beautiful.  A simplistic lifestyle in terms of material goods can focus the spotlight on things of which value I sometimes neglect while immersed in the Andover and city life.  When you are not constantly encouraged to satisfy desires and to react swiftly and violently, you begin to notice people as individuals and can clearly hear your inner voice.  You become less hungry, calmer, and ultimately, happier.  I still love buying beautiful clothes and eating Indian food, and I love living a busy lifestyle full of ebullience.  But now I also know that simplicity largely devoid of sensory distractions can also do you good.

I have learned that spreading love and showing genuine care are not daunting tasks.  Small acts of kindness are important.  Expressing care for one’s wellbeing and great empathy move the heart of not only the person receiving that kind of genuine interest, but also your own heart.  You will feel the ripples of love, kindness, and satisfaction slowly but surely emanate from within and touch those around you.

Where do I go from here?

I need to digest, reflect, practice, and continue to absorb.  I have found some tools that will help me along the way; writing dedicated to self reflection, as well as the Niswarth faculty and greater Andover community, keeping a journal with me for continuous reflection and practice of awareness, meditating to think and to challenge myself into the works of self-research, and living by praxis.