I spent six weeks in heaven… It was a bit on the cold side, dirty and poor, but such a wonderful place on many other levels! I’m talking about Nepal, where I just spent two weeks volunteering in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, one week visiting and three weeks trekking around the Everest region.
It’s hard for me to say which country I prefer out of the lot I’ve visited so far, but this one is certainly close to my heart… And here are four of the lessons it has taught me over the weeks:
1. Be selfless
This message came across so loudly for me when I attended the meditation class at the monastery and spoke about leadership with the visiting Lama Rinpoche. One of the reasons for my sabbatical is to help me ‘find my place in the world’ and see how I can contribute to a ‘better world’, so to speak. Prior to the meditation class, I was hoping to become a leader so that I could make a difference in a chosen area of interest. Now, I first want to focus on finding the issue I’m strongly attached to, to then selflessly focus my career on it and – hopefully – make a difference. It’s a slight change of order in my thinking, but I believe it is an important one.
2. I can’t save them all
I still have a lot of work to do on this life lesson… I just wish I could help everyone, make a life changing difference to thousands of people in need! But as I’ve heard again and again from monks and the Lama Rinpoche at the Pema Ts’al monastery where I volunteered, we can’t help everyone and it’s ok like this. We can only make our however small contribution to the world and hope that other people will too, thus making a bigger difference together. Again, this lesson hasn’t sunk in yet, but I’m working on it! 🙂
3. There’s a bit of good in everyone…
One of the volunteers I met at the Pema Ts’al monastery had an admirable habit I’d like to share as a life lesson. When someone said they didn’t like a person or commented negatively on them, he asked them to name three things they genuinely appreciated about that same ‘disliked’ person. It might be hard to do, but it’s a great way to remind us that there’s a bit (well, a lot, really!) of good in everyone…
4. Be determined
If the Himalayas have taught me something, it is to be determined. How else could I have climbed 5,545m altitude Kala Patthar with the glacial insane winds we had? But this lesson came even more so from one of my fellow trekkers – also the oldest in our group – who was sick for the hardest part of our trip (he probably had the equivalent of two small meals in five days… not much to source energy from). It was incredibly hard for him, but still he kept his smile on when he spoke to us and pushed through with all the determination he could find. And he conquered! It goes to show that when human beings put their mind to it, everything is possible!