It’s the first day of February, which means it’s time for an editor’s letter.
Normally I share some seasonal musings with you, reflecting on the season’s gifts and traits, but I’m currently writing to you from Kathmandu Nepal, so I feel a world away from the northern hemisphere and London, where I usually write to you from.
Life in here is so very different from at home, and it’s easy to look at Nepal - with its poverty and inequalities - as a lesser developed country than say, the UK or USA. While economically that is undeniable, and while poverty should never, ever, be romanticised, the more time I spend here, the more I am convinced that although Nepal may be economically poor, it is socially and spiritually wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.
There are certain ways of being in Nepal that I truly feel are missing from a lot of our lives in ‘developed countries’. Below are my favourite Nepal observations that can be integrated into your lives regardless of where you are in the world. They are very much in line with Balance Garden philosophy.
Social bonds remain strong in Nepal. Not a day goes by that some family member or neighbour doesn’t drop round to catch up over hot sweet tea and spicy snacks. People gather in communal spaces to play carrom or chess. Babies are passed around constantly, and young children spend a lot of time in the company of their extended community, easing the load on the parents but also providing an extensive support network for the child.
On public transport, complete strangers will unabashedly strike up conversations about everything from the current political situation to the price of spinach, asking about each other’s families and trying to find people they know in common. This is such a welcome change from London, where many of us don’t know the name of our neighbours and avoid making eye contact with our fellow passengers at all costs.
Apply the wisdom: Knock on your neighbours’ door, introduce yourself. It’s as easy as that to create a connection. Start smiling at each other on the street and lending each other the proverbial cup of sugar.
The phrase ‘Ke Garne’ (pronounced ‘Kay Gardnay’) translates literally as ‘what to do?’ but is used in situations that you have no control over/that there’s no point stressing about. The bus is late or full? Ke garne. The power has gone again? Ke garne. You got a parking ticket? Ke garne. Accompanied by a wry shrug of the shoulders, it’s the perfect way to express that you are accepting the things that you cannot change and moving on, rather than dwelling on them or being consumed by irritation or annoyance.
Apply the wisdom: When something irritating or frustrating happens, first work out if there is anything you can do about it, and if not, shrug it off and move on. Don’t let it dictate your mood for the rest of the day, or spiral into something bigger than it needs to be.
Going with the Flow
Time is a fluid concept in Nepal, often you’ll arrange to meet a Nepali friend at a certain time, and they won’t show up until hours later (literally); Family members will inconveniently drop by unannounced just as you’re on your way somewhere else; Shops have completely random opening hours and if a shopkeeper decides it’s too cold to open one morning, Ke garne, Come back tomorrow.
At first, this can be incredibly frustrating. However, once I learnt to step out of my slightly frantic, London informed thought patterns, I began to see the beauty in it. We are so tied to our timetables and commitments, trying to schedule socialising, self-care, and downtime around our working hours. We are often rushing from one thing to another in order to fit it all in. Here, things are more fluid and relaxed, people do what they feel like doing a lot more than what they think they should be doing.
Apply the wisdom: Take a look at all your commitments, do you leave space and time to just be, without a plan or a to do list? Is there flexibility in your life for you to do just as you please? If not, give yourself permission to try it and see what unfolds in those unstructured hours.
Ritual and Ceremony
Ritual continues to be an important and active part of everyday life in Nepal. Life’s milestones are marked officially with puja ceremonies involving special foods and customs. These ritual observances are an opportunity to pause and take stock at important moments, such as a baby’s first meal, marriages, and at coming of age moments. As our society becomes more and more secular, faith based rituals no longer feel relevant to many of us so we are missing out on the element of ritual in our lives, but marking an occasion with a small ceremony can help us feel more connected to, and in love with, our lives.
Apply the wisdom: Find ways to mark important events and milestones that resonate with you. Rituals are a sequence of actions performed in the same way each time. You might choose to go to a certain place/select certain meaningful objects/have a ritual candle that you light etc.
Here at Balance Garden much of our focus is on signposting you to ways that lead to more connection, less stress, more ke garne. I truly hope you continue to find the articles by our amazing writers useful and inspiring. Thanks as always for all the support!
If you didn’t snap them up last month, our free intention tiles are still on offer to download and serve as a little reminder on your phone or desktop of what you are calling in. Get them below.
‘Til next time,
Balance Garden Editor
P.S If you want to experience the magic of Nepal for yourself, hiking through the Himalayas and practicing yoga every day, witnessing this way of life, then send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am running a yoga and trekking retreat here in November. I’ll send you the brochure if you feel called to join us on an adventure never to forget!
Fancy a week of sun, sea and….yoga? Join Jasmine for a week of Yin and Yang yoga (May 21st - 28th 2019) in Corfu with Just Relax Yoga Holidays. (Mention her name when you book)
Most Recent on Balance Garden