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How To Journey Mindfully: Recommendation From A Tibetan Monk

I first met Khenpo Pema Wangdak in 1986, once I was in search of a instructor to assist me study Tibetan for a journey I took the next yr. 

Though I did study some primary phrases (together with “You’re fairly” and “I’m from the USA”), I found that Tibetan is an especially troublesome language to study, at the least for me. 

However I all the time loved visiting Khenpo Pema in New York, the place since 1989 he has been director of the Vikramasila Basis, a nonprofit charitable group devoted to bringing meditation and the knowledge of the Buddha to the West. 

Kathleen O’Donnell

Moreover educating dharma (the tenets of Buddhism) around the globe, Khenpo Pema has additionally established faculties for younger Tibetans in Nepal and India — on the Pema Ts’al Faculties and the Pema Ts’al Sakya Monastic Institute. He’s the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his worldwide humanitarian actions. 

A Buddhist monk for the reason that age of seven, Khenpo Pema and his household escaped from a small village in Tibet in 1959 and ultimately resettled in a refugee camp in South India. He enjoys journey, primarily as a result of he says that he’s all the time fascinated by new concepts and new prospects.

What Is Aware Journey?

As a lifelong traveler, I’m conscious that seeing the world generally is a mind-and-soul-expanding expertise — besides when it typically appears that adversity canines each step. I knew that Khenpo Pema would have some nice recommendation about learn how to overcome obstacles and to make journey a deeper alternative to develop and study. He’s continually fascinated by and curious concerning the world and the individuals in it, and his enthusiasm radiates. He additionally has the power to elucidate Buddhist ideas in easy and comprehensible phrases, and with a delicate humorousness. Following is a few recommendation for making the street smoother to your journeys.

Tibetan monks praying.
Vikramasila Basis

To Be Or Not To Be … A Vacationer

“I by no means remorse taking a look at impractical issues. I by no means see any data as nugatory.” Khenpo Pema says that he doesn’t really feel the must be a standard vacationer when he travels. The one time he visited Barcelona, he stated, “They picked me up on the airport and we went straight to an condo the place I taught for 3 days.” On the finish of the third day, he was returned to the airport. “I by no means noticed Barcelona,” he stated. However that was effective with him. 

Pema defined that if one thing does catch his curiosity — structure, for one — he can develop into the final word vacationer. “Once I go to a Buddhist temple in Taiwan,” he says, “I’m extra thinking about how they constructed their monastery. I’m all the time in search of new concepts, and I all the time discover them.” 

He has traveled to Sweden, the place previously he has visited the Volvo manufacturing unit and particularly loved a visit to a ball bearing firm. Of his expertise, he says, “Studying how issues work retains me entertained.”

Being aware of magnificence can be a part of journey. Certainly one of Khenpo Pema’s favourite journeys is to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. “It’s so peaceable; it is extremely tempting to think about dwelling there,” he says.

Retrain Your Thoughts

“Oh, it’s a must to wait six hours within the airport once they inform you that your flight is canceled? No downside.”

Thoughts coaching meditation, or lojong, as it’s known as in Tibetan, includes strategies for reworking the thoughts by cultivating helpful psychological habits. Khenpo Pema meditates every day in an effort to prepare his thoughts. 

With mindfulness, Khenpo Pema believes “you study to understand what is nice in the meanwhile. You additionally study to let go when it’s not good.”

He informed me, “To alter inside just isn’t straightforward. And altering your mindset doesn’t imply that you’ll all the time escape damaging feelings. You’re feeling what you are feeling. That’s okay, so long as you don’t observe these ideas or attempt to justify them. If you journey, all the time put together as a result of issues can go unsuitable. Then once they go unsuitable, you possibly can smile.” 

Khenpo Pema compares altering one’s mindset to programming an iPhone: “For those who set your thoughts, it turns into a part of your constructive mindset. I’ve no psychological or emotional issues in any respect wherever I’m. And I’m by no means bored. I’m like a child.”

Traveler in Tibet.
Barbara Winard

Follow Endurance

“One ought to by no means count on solely nice experiences while you journey.” 

Maybe you simply missed your flight or the airways misplaced your baggage — Khenpo Pema believes that this simply would possibly grow to be the very best a part of a visit as a result of misfortunes necessitate discovering inventive options. 

Khenpo Pema additionally believes that being confronted with obstacles in life is in the end helpful to at least one as an individual. One of many many advantages of journey is that it supplies alternatives to follow being affected person and nonjudgmental. 

Even when he encounters a impolite journey agent, Khenpo Pema retains his stability: “If I’m aware, I’ve no downside if individuals are impolite. With mindfulness you let it go. With meditation, that independence is there.” 

He acknowledges that “attending to the purpose the place delays and challenges don’t disrupt one’s life just isn’t straightforward.” Pema says that “If the whole lot goes properly, chances are you’ll develop into gentle. Errors that you simply study from make you higher in a position to face issues sooner or later.” In truth, he informed me, “If one thing doesn’t work, strive one thing else — and take a look at lots of of instances.” 

Studying learn how to settle for the tough patches and fixed change is usually a chance for development. The purpose, by means of meditation and research, is to domesticate a happiness that isn’t depending on exterior circumstances, whether or not you’re touring or at dwelling.

How To Expertise Expertise As A Religious Support

Fifteen years in the past, Khenpo jokingly informed me that when a buddy requested him how GPS labored, he informed him that “a little bit aircraft flies above the automobile and lets me know the place I’m and the place to go.”

Though many non secular individuals see expertise because the enemy of mindfulness, Pema believes that touring with expertise has each advantages and downsides.

Though he could have his iPhone or laptop computer alongside when he travels, Khenpo Pema thinks that overuse of expertise typically makes experiences lower than wondrous. “Now we’re so saturated with pictures,” he says, “that freshness and touching and seeing typically lower.” For him, fixed journey can take a toll. “I journey a lot,” he says, that “globalizing the thoughts typically dissipates emotional connections.”

Alternatively, expertise may also help when journey is delayed. Being caught someplace is a good alternative to learn, write, and make calls, Khenpo Pema informed me. He went on to share that being sidelined in an airport surrounded by new individuals helps make his thoughts “recent.”

Monks on a walk.
Barbara Winard

How To Discuss To A Tibetan Monk (Or Anybody Else) Whereas Touring

“If individuals wish to speak, I’m very . If they don’t, that’s good, too.” 

Khenpo Pema notes that individuals from completely different cultures could have alternative ways of speaking or performing, and he warns towards judging others solely from one’s personal expertise and data. He’s open to listening to what it’s a must to say if he finally ends up sitting subsequent to you on a aircraft — and he believes that the older era has a lot to share with the youthful.

Nonetheless, how individuals deal with Khenpo Pema just isn’t of main curiosity to him. As he explains, “Once I journey, typically individuals are so good. Subsequent time I’ll be someplace the place individuals is probably not so beneficiant, however I don’t really feel unhealthy. Individuals do what they will. One ought to by no means count on solely nice experiences while you journey.” He continued, “If I’m aware, I’ve no downside if somebody is impolite. With mindfulness you let it go. For those who meditate, the independence will probably be there.”

 Why Journey?

“That is It! That is valuable!” From Khenpo Pema’s perspective, journey supplies a relentless sequence of recent alternatives to expertise the world and to open one’s coronary heart to let love and compassion unfold.

“The Buddha,” stated Khenpo Pema, “teaches on each topic, particularly about thoughts. And one of many main teachings is on impermanence. All the pieces is so valuable since we’re not going to have this ceaselessly. That’s the reason appreciation grows. All the pieces that’s constructed dissolves. We study to understand issues: That is it!” 

Editor’s Be aware: Need extra aware journey inspiration? Think about What Is Sluggish Journey And seven Causes Why You Want To Attempt It, 9 Ideas For Holding A Memorable Journey Journal, and The Youngsters’s Ebook That Impressed This Author’s Love Of Journey.

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