I’ve just returned from visiting Vietnam.
Something I like to do when I travel is to observe the way others live their lives. I’d like to share with you my observations and why I think they could be useful to us in living our everyday lives, both physically and emotionally.
Vietnam is an interesting place. I got to travel through a number of diverse areas and observed many a community and differing ways and paces of life and the way one person’s behaviour may affect another’s, not to mention the differences in postures and movements to the Western world.
For those of you who have experienced the pace of Asian cities, you will know how frenetic they can be. Crossing roads was an art; the more you practise, the better you get at it. Before moving out to the remoteness of the jungle-filled, coast lined, and mountainous areas of Vietnam, I spent some time in a few cities and through the hustle and bustle it gradually became clear to me how much of a peaceful nation the Vietnamese are.
I’m more of a country girl myself but as I stood in the middle of the road, surrounded by hundreds of motorbikes, scooters and bicycles beeping and ringing bells, travelling in every direction with no apparent order at all… I was astounded by how safe I felt. All control was out of my hands and my trust was put into those around me. Every toot, hoot and ding was the sound of presence and a friendly warning, no one voiced themselves unless they were conversing with their passengers and everyone’s faces looked relatively calm and content.
As I walked, traffic swerved gracefully around me and what at first shook me, started to calm me. It soon became clear that the only rule of the road was to ‘look out for the one in front!’ The more I became aware, the clearer it got. No one looked back – everyone looks forward, and with that everyone is living selflessly in the present…
There were a couple of occasions through my travels when I might have been a bit hasty, and made a passing comment, or made a typical tut if someone did something that I may not have agreed with, or cut me up on my bicycle. In the UK, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed my behaviour quite so much, but in Vietnam my reaction felt selfish and unnecessary and it made me feel embarrassed. So the next time this happened, I paused and reflected for a second. The feeling this gave me as a result was very different. Accepting the situation instantly gave me a mental clarity, a balance in hormonal activity and with that my body and my muscles physically relaxed.
Why do I think this experience and observation was important?
Because in the Western world, I believe many of us get carried away with the stress, the pressure and our bitterness towards life and look for blame in everyone else but ourselves. This then causes unnecessary pressure on our mental and physical state thus creating conflict, fuelling yet another link to the negativity chain… passing it on to yet another person.
I’m not saying that we should all walk in the road and wait for others to move around us, and I’m not asking us to all stop speaking out about the things that matter, I’m just suggesting that we think a little more about how we do so. Thinking before we react to a situation will not only have a positive effect on ourselves but others interpretation of that moment and our behaviour too.
Such a simple practice, yet it says so much.