Expanding my world (monastery) is essential for a life monk, and at the moment I am bundled up in Toronto, Canada.
While visiting a new place is usually all but meditative and introspective, amidst sticking to a hectic schedule and trying to see everything there’s a lot to be learned about oneself.
New places are like big gurus — they teach quickly and their lessons can often be blunt and painful, yet enlightening. Just like how a great teacher can make me question the most basic of my actions, travel forces me to re-learn the daily routine and I am humbled by experiencing a new way of life.
At home it’s easy to have the mind wander beyond the present experience. I get dressed, eat, and go about life, but my mind can often be elsewhere — usually in the past or future, thinking about the next thing rather than what’s in front of me.
Thrust into a new environment, I suddenly have a new focus on the present moment. Getting dressed just-right for 30 degree weather is a science for someone used to more tropical climates, and figuring out how to get into the city takes focus and planning. I will remember feeling a little lost and working with a different currency when I return home — it will make me more aware and empathetic to all the tourists.
I have been reminded how good receiving a smile and patient kindness can feel, as well as the effects of those who are quick and callous. In the blind routine of daily life it is easy to forget how far the smallest of things can go.
Exploring the beautiful city has of course been a great experience, but I believe it’s all the little things that educate me the most and stay with me the longest. Travel, just like life itself, can be utterly imperfect but that is when I learn the most about what affects me and those around me, and how I function out of my comfort zone.
Discomfort means I have just entered learning opportunity, how will I react?
I could make up excuses — I’m tired, I’m hungry, stressed, jet-lagged, cold… or I could grow some introspective spiritual balls and realize that this discomfort is the true test of one who loves and studies life.
Living with imperfection as artfully as possible… easier said while in the comfort of familiarity.
Traveling anywhere — to the next town over or around the world — is a wonderful test, brilliant teacher, and a life monk essential.
To be the change, I must seek to experience change…inside and out. Broadened horizons lead to bigger hearts and better minds.