I was first introduced to the concept of mindfulness through the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Seventeen years old at the time I thought I knew it all. I foolishly believed this would be an easy achievable feat. Seventeen years later through my on & off meditation practice, I now realize that it is a difficult ongoing endeavour.
Personally, the hardest part of being mindful is when my mind is full of clutter. It is like trying to know where everything is in my house when it is a complete mess. And while it may not solely be my own doing, I am entirely responsible for its state of disorder. Nonetheless, it’s never too late to clean the house and make some changes. In my case a year ago, it meant resigning from my full-time job and simplifying my life to what truly mattered. I sold off most of my belongings and only left the basic furniture so I could rent out my condo furnished. Scary and freeing at the same time, it was the most therapeutic thing I ever did.
When I simplified my belongings to fit only into a small backpack & luggage and took off traveling the world, I realized that almost every material possessions I thought was necessary to make me happy before only added to the clutter of my life. Living with less subsequently made it easier for me to live more mindfully. Seeing how the rest of the world lives with so little reminds me to be more thankful for all that I have. Seeing how happy most of these people are with what they have reminds me that excessive material possessions are definitely not a prerequisite to happiness. Seeing how much I’ve changed as a result of my travels reminds me that I made the right choice.
Although I spend most of my time travelling, my life is not an endless vacation like some may think. It is more like an endless array of crammed train/metro/bus ride to get from one place to another only to share more cramped sleeping arrangements in hostels with other travellers. However, something another full-time traveller wrote to me in an email always stuck with me, “best of luck on your travels; enjoy every minute of it, even the ones that seem like misery at the time!” So as much as I enjoy moments like these ..
..I also try my best to enjoy every miserable moment in between by being mindful of how lucky I am to be able to do what I love.
The more fortunate I feel, the more mindful I am of how many others out there that are less fortunate than I am.
That is why I’m happy to participate in the Mindful In May campaign to bring a clear mind for me and clean water for others. This is my fundraising page if you would like to donate to this great cause.
By Hung Pham
For more meditative moments through the lens visit www.hungontheworld.com