Summer without internet and with a lot more life!

B and I have moved from East to South London for less than a month but we both feel like we have lived here a lot longer than that. The reason is that we literally live more here since we do not have internet! Though we could share the bill and use the housemate’s internet, it has been a great decision not to have it. I used the internet so much that without the internet, it feels like I have freed myself from a trap after almost eight years since I first had internet at home.

The room we rent is quite small but the house has a big garden with a small river crossing by at the back. We wake up to the sounds of birds singing most of the time, if not the cats during the night sometimes – you know what I mean. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner outside in the sun (welcome to British summer time!), look at the spacious sky, big trees dancing in the wind – instead of watching something as we tried not to but still did sometimes when we ate in door. After breakfast, I practise yoga at the end of the garden when B practises classical guitar. Squirrels chase one after another from this to that branch above us like it is their Olympic time – I still hope they would never fall! There are two cats from the landlord upstairs and three others from the area who often come around. The other day when we were finishing dinner, a big fox was running after one of the cats, B ran out to rescue – the cat was shivering under the neighbour kids’ plastic slider. With the sky getting dark and the grand trees around, it was such a scene!

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the garden where we stayed in Norbury, London

Without the internet, I finally read the books I wanted to. I finished ‘Chinese-English dictionary for lovers’ by Xiaolu Guo in less than three days, finished ‘True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart’ by Thich Nhat Hanh that I started a long while ago. Now I am half way through ‘Europe 101 Art & History for the traveller’ by Rick Steves & Gene Openshaw. It is a fun read of more than 500 pages full of interesting facts and figures as preparation before my coming EU inter-rail trip this summer. I also draw and start painting, using watercolour and acrylic paint so far. I could not stop playing with the colours after five hours the other day, despite of bug bite and the weather getting colder at night. Leaving the bites area in the sun and in warm salt-water ease the swollen and itchy areas.

We do check emails sometimes with limited data on my phone and go to the local library for internet only when needed. The library blocks a few social media sites, which helps to focus on the important things only. Without the internet, B and I have more time to enjoy the nature and each other. I get to do more reading, writing and B still practises guitar a lot as usual but definitely more. I feel more in control of my life without the internet – more relaxed, calm and happy. I highly recommend cutting off the internet at home if you have not tried. You save some money, a lot of time and get to do much more breathing & playing!

P.S. I am typing this with Word and will post it at the local library later.

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Friends who inspire me to practise meditation & yoga

In my  post ‘How I started doing meditation and yoga everyday’, I have not mentioned friends and other sources who have inspired me to have a healthier life. My close friend since twelve – Ly is the one who got me started with practising yoga since high school time in early 2000s. She has been doing meditation and yoga every day for a long time now. You can read her experiences on her blog here.

B’s friend – Joel has been going to bed at 10 pm and waking up at 6 am every morning and practise meditation and yoga with his girlfriend for a long time that really inspires me.

B has practised yoga a few times with me before but he prefers running and cycling. I do believe meditation and yoga would be helpful for his breathing, being calm and focus but I cannot persuade him (yet). People come to yoga when they really need it and they will stay with it if it is right for them. It took me about ten years to take yoga in daily routine anyway. I let go the want of doing couple yoga and practise meditation and yoga while my boyfriend practises classical guitar in the same room we share. However, if you have been to a classical concert, especially a solo one, you can see the pianist or guitarist close their eyes and stay still for a while before playing the first notes – they meditate before playing, with or without knowing it! Playing an instrument, especially in classical music, requires total concentration and it seems like a form of meditation when musicians dedicate themselves to playing a piece of music.

I had not been an early riser during the first year of university because classes start later than when I was in schools before. B, however, always wake up at 8 am every morning to the call of his guitar as he often says ‘My guitar is calling me.’ when he wants to stop playing around and start practising or playing his guitar. Thanks to his healthy and hardworking habit, I have been waking up at the same time since I started my yoga and meditation habit and we can enjoy our breakfast together.

There are articles about yoga, meditation, nutrition and natural health care on Mind Body Green by certified and experienced trainers that can be a source of inspirations. However, I must say that the way the website number all the points in most articles encourages me to not read them carefully but run through many articles instead because of appealing titles around; and not read the article without numbers there properly as well.

P.S. You can listen to some of B’s classical guitar playing here.

How I Started Practising Yoga and Meditation Everyday

Last April, after wandering around the host’s farm house in Fribourg surrounded by beautiful green fields, hills and mountains, me and the Dutch friend, who was also volunteering for Dalai Lama visit in Switzerland, got back in our shared room. She put on her earphones, sat straight and told me she was going to meditate. I started straightening my back and meditate on my bed as well. We were talking earlier about how you can feel the tense muscles soothing when you sit straight and meditate and yes I did feel so. She showed me how you can spare even just a few minutes to meditate any time, anywhere!

Two months after that I was lying on the grass in front of Belfast castle, looking down to the hill, looking up to the sky, the chronic pain in my back was not there for those moments. I realised how tense my muscles were normally when I’m in a crowded, busy and fast city like London. Later on, one night before sleeping during my travel in California, I received a post from Zen Habits about choosing a ‘trigger’ when creating a new habit. The author of the blog also shares in other posts about doing the most important things in the morning after waking up. Thanks to him, I also get to know about Coach.me –  an app that helps you to create and keep new habits going with a healthy and positive community. I started practising meditation and light exercise/ yoga on bed while travelling.

Last year, I tried several meditation apps, did sitting meditation and yoga from time to time but not often enough. I was still suffering from the pins and needles in my left side of body and back pain. I did go to the GP and doctors in London for almost two years, did several tests and tried massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, herbal medicine – scattered appointments depending on outsiders’ touch did not help with the root of the problems. I gradually learn that the discomforts are results of stress and sitting too much, too often without frequent exercises for years.

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A few travels overseas refreshed my mind and recharged my energy. I felt in love with nature in Fribourg, enjoyed walking along the gorgeous Aare river in Bern, hiking up Land’s End in San Francisco. Switzerland and the Bay Area inspired me with people jogging around, energetic start-up people on trains, health-concious stores. Coming back, London’s weather was at its best – the sun was shining into the bedroom – I started doing meditation and yoga the first morning after travelling, until now! I decided to meditate and practise yoga after breakfast everyday – before anything else. I was living in a single room in a student house and practised meditation and yoga in bed. It was not the best condition but it was time to take actions and work on my health. After each yoga and meditation session, my body is well-stretched, energy fully charged and my mind balanced; my face brightens up, the skin looks better as well.

In the beginning, it was not easy for me to sit still for even just a few minutes. I started by counting from one to nine and increase the time gradually. Starting small and counting along your in-breath and out-breath helped. I started with 9 seconds for each yoga position as well. Now I do up to two hours of meditation, yoga, added with aerobic workout every day. I normally shut down my computer – my biggest distraction together with the internet, put it in a closed drawer unless I practise along a video online or a DVD.

For me, meditation is yoga for the mind and yoga is meditation for the body. They have become my close friends now – whenever I feel unwell during the day, I pause what I do or think at that moment to sit down, meditate, do my favourite yoga positions to lift myself up mentally, physically – which then will make me feel better emotionally as well. I highly recommend using ‘EyeLeo’ for the computer – I set 7 minutes break every 30 minutes I use the computer when I stand up, clean a few things, go to the toilet, do some stretches, yoga positions or meditation.

Links:

Zen Habits post on habits

Coach.me

EyeLeo