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Maybe some students can relate to my experience that I would like to share. I have been reflecting on the importance of living life, right here and now, to find balance which allows me to do what I do to my best ability. I love studying at RYI, I think it is one of the greatest opportunities to fully emerge myself in learning and practicing the Dharma – full time, 24hrs. But – yes, there is a ‘but’ – there are challenges.
Because I value my studies, there are times when I just survive to study. I endure what is happening around me, putting off life for some later time, and I ignore my needs for self-care and balance. So diligent, right? It might be, but it is not sustainable in the long run. When the batteries run low my studies will suffer however much I try to do well. Just living in Kathmandu bears lots of energy draining challenges for me, whether it’s the air pollution, the constant noise surrounding me, the bikes honking and nearly driving me over, the crowded streets with everyone pushing me in all directions, needing to be vigilant not to be cheated even when buying basic groceries and bargaining all the time, the unreliability of pretty much everyone especially with regard to time (yes, I’m German 😉 ), or are anything alike. I had to notice that in this kind of environment I‘m capable of mustering only a fragment of the concentration and energy that I could somewhere else in order to perform to my own satisfaction in my studies.
It feels awful to get stuck in this passive mode of survival. But, for as many big or small challenges there might be, there is an equally endless amount of ways to counter-balance them. The techniques for addressing our special needs with regards to self-care differ from person to person. Personally, I admire the thought of living in a minimalistic way, thriving on alternating between study and formal practice, when in actuality, my journey to achieve a lasting sense of balance has taken its own course.
For starters, there are the essentials: a home-base, exercise, nutritious food and access to life beyond the Boudha-bubble (having a motorbike goes a long way, literally!). For me there is nothing more rejuvenating than waking up in a mountain village on a crisp morning and being awed by the snow-glad Himalayas. In my day-to-day life, I enjoy quality time with friends, playing music, gardening until my balcony is a jungle-oasis, going to the movies, going to the Saturday market in Lazimpat, staying in regular connection with my family and friends back home, getting massages, treating myself to brunch at the Hyatt, etc. etc. The list could go on.
In the end, it comes down to finding the balance that works for each of us. My belief is that when we take the time to live in the present moment, we sow the seeds for joy in our long-term goals. The potential to sculpt our environment rests in our own hands; therefore, I hope you´ll take the opportunity to reflect on the importance of balanced living and its impact on your studies and practice.
~ Inka from Germany