Adventures Of The Mind – The Mental Descent

 

Adventures of the mind - The mental descent Adventures of the mind – a  mental dive –

In my previous article I talked about the challenging mental roads, which lead us to the highest peaks. Reaching these peaks makes us feel great, because we completed a challenge. On the top we are rewarded with the clear views of vision, success and understanding. The road ahead is the road to the top. However, when we travel there is another path that we will have to take.

That path often provides an unclear view. It is the road with the shadows. The one that shows us what we left behind. The previous road led us to the mountaintops .
 
 
This one will lead us through dark and old forests, or large and deep oceans. It is another, different challenge that we have to deal with.

An ocean full of mental creatures 

While travelling, we sometimes plunge into deep mental oceans full of interesting creatures. They have familiar yet uncomfortable names like homesickness, love, freedom and regret. We where once connected with these creatures, before they decided to dive deeper into the depths of our minds. They got out of reach, and we did not have the capacity or courage to pull them back to the surface.

The mental creatures carry along memories of a long since forgotten past. Memories which, like their carriers, have sunken to the depths of our mind. Now that we are descending, we are able to catch them again. The deepest part of our mind is a magical world. One from which we can not easily escape, once we dive into it.

No clear direction

Will we stay in these depths forever, swimming around without a clear direction? On the top of the mountain we had a choice. We could see our next goal on the horizon, and we could only take the path down to get there. But here, in this dark and deep ocean, we can’t see clear. We can go in any direction, without knowing which is the right one.

What are we going to do with the creatures that we are chasing? Do we let freedom run wild, embrace home-sickness or call for forgiveness? We can let them escape again, but then they might flee to even deeper parts of our brain. Maybe it is better if we hold on to the creatures, so that we can study them. Only then will we be able to fully understand what they are.

Nasty creatures 

However, maybe these creatures are supposed to be free, so that they can choose their own course in the inner pool of our thoughts. Sometimes it is a relief to to let them go. The nasty ones bite, scratch and crawl. But then again, maybe those are the ones that we have to treasure the most. They make us feel uncomfortable, but we need that feeling in order to grow mentally.

Which mental creatures are you chasing or discovering in the depths of your brain? Do you know what to do with them once they are captured? Are you on an ascending path, or are you in the process of descending to the deepest and unknown parts of your brain? What is your view on these adventures of the mind?

Useful links

  • Mental Travel Adventures: An article about mental adventures that lead us to the highest peaks instead of the deepest oceans. Going up and going doing are equally important challenges when we want to experience mental growth.
  • The Inner Travel Guide: This is a book from Andrena Woodhams. Are you struggling to find a calm place in all the chaos? This travel guide takes the reader to a place where it is always safe and peaceful. Actually, this destination is already connected to us. We carry it with us like the home of a snail. We only need to learn where we can crawl inside. Andrena will guide us with this book.
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Mental Travel Adventures – The Ascent

 

We not only climb mountains in nature but also during a mental travel challengeOf the beaten path – mental travel adventures –

Travelers are always looking for something. We wander off in search for a beach, the sun or a vibrant city. However, many long journeys tend to reveal more then just the end destination. By travelling, we might discover different things then we initially expected or wished for. We do not only find these discoveries in the physical world, but also in our mental world. Some of them will change us forever.

Experienced travelers are aware of the strong mental process that occurs during long journeys. While planning their next journey, they might not embark on a search for beaches and palm trees. Their explorations become more ambitious, and they start to search for important life changing experiences. Travel becomes their cure whenever they experience negative thoughts like narrow-mindedness or prejudice. They also become social doctors when they inspire other people with similar negative thoughts.

Travel transforms us into different human beings, and how different are we already when narrow-mindedness and other negative thoughts leave our mind. Their is simply no place for them, and we realize that once we start traveling. Changes in the way we think, can occur quickly when we are detached from our safe habitat.

The mental ascent

The more I travel in the physical world, the more I begin to understand that the real important transformation lies is the journey of the mind. And when it comes to that, we all travel. However, it depends on our willingness to step out of our comfort zone, if our mental path becomes a dull flat ride or an adventurous and challenging climb to the top of a high mountain.

We need to step out of our comfort zones and climb those mental mountains. It is at the tops of those mountains that we will have the best view about our lives. The top also provides a view at other climbable peaks. Then we most likely want to climb them as well. We become addicted to the challenge. It will become our mental fuel. It is at those moments that we become the journey.

Travel has become an addiction. We take the first step and then there will be a next one and a next one. But the road does not always goes up. After we reach the top, we eventually have to come down again. New challenges arise. Our paths can become increasingly difficult, once we embark on a serious mental journey.

Mental travel journeys. Climbing your inner mountain.

What comes up must go..

Simple and flat physical roads, which have led us to tropical beaches and beautiful sunsets, now transform into much more challenging mental paths. They become curving and crawling roads, complicated intermingled knots, which not only lead us to the highest tops but also to the inner depths of our minds. And it is at those depths that we will discover a whole lot of other important aspects about our minds.

Are you climbing a mental mountain at the moment? What kind of mental discoveries are you experiencing during your climb? Did you already reach the top? What became clear when you reached that mental peak? Maybe you are already on your way down? I would also love to hear what your experiences are regarding to that mental process.

Useful Links

  • Annette Birkmann: I got really inspired when reading about the adventures of this brave lady. That is why I started reading her blog. She often writes about the mental challenges that we all face during our lives and during our travels. I definitely recommend her blog and website to everyone.
  • Why adventure travel is good for your mind: When doing research about the subject of mental changes during travel, I found this nice slide from an adventure company. It describes 10 reasons why adventure travel is good for your mental health. I especially like number 10, which describes how an adventurous trip can effectively change negative habits.
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300 Days Of Personal Growth

 

300 days abroad. One of those days I traveled with a Thai train 300 days abroad – Accounts of the inner journey 

It is time to make up the balance after being abroad for more then 300 days. However, in this article I want to reflect on the inner journey instead of the actual trip. Where there any spiritual or mental changes during these 300 days? Can I speak of inner growth? Was it a good idea to exchange the safe harbor for an unpredictable sea? Am I happier when I travel or when I stay home?

It is important to reserve some time for reflection during long journeys. At such moments, I advice you to write an overview of your thoughts and experiences. What are the benefits of your current lifestyle, and what are the problems that you encounter? What better way is there then to write it all down. Here are some personal growth lessons, which I gained during my 300 days abroad.

Patience

A traveler needs to learn to be patient. The challenge to be patient provides itself in many forms. For example, traveling often means waiting. At airports, at bus stations, at border crossings, during flights etc. The real challenge starts when you finally arrive at your new destination. Already on boiling point, you often have to deal with all kinds of people that want or need something from you. They can greatly increase the patience challenge.

I did my fair share of waiting and dealing with annoying people (who, at their turn, can be very patient in slow cooking your remaining sanity). I can still be impatient but long term travelling numbs that feeling. You start to accept that it is part of the deal. I say this to myself every time I am about to lose my mind. Sometimes it works, sometimes I end up in a police cell..

More respect for the “smaller” things in life

A roof above your head. A bed under your body. Healthy and rich food on the table. Friends and family members who care about you. A place you can call home. The longer I travel the more I start to realize how important these things are in a person’s life. I might not give them much thoughts when they are present, but I think about them a lot when they are out of reach.

Happiness

I often say it to myself with a slight feeling of disbelief, am I really doing it? Yes, I am really doing it! I am following my dream of traveling around the world and living abroad. It puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. Now I feel really lucky and blessed that I have the opportunity to live this kind of life. I truly appreciate this amazing gift.Me being happy

Appreciation

Trips to less developed and poorer countries always make me appreciate what I have. I am able to travel the world. I have a lot of free time, and I can use that time to do fun things. Not everybody receives those opportunities. I often realize how blessed I am when I see people who have to work for pennies everyday of the week, or really poor beggars who have to live on the street.

I used to nag a lot back home, but really, I have nothing to complain about. I am living an amazing live. However, I try not to brag about it to much. During my travels, I am often confronted with the hardships of less fortunate people. Seeing them suffer made me decide to create charity projects in the countries that I visit. I also try to become a more humble person.

Humbleness

I thought we had to work hard in the Netherlands. That our lives where tough and that we did not earn enough money. I used to open my mouth about those “problems”, and out of my mouth came complaints. In Thailand, I got a much needed lesson in humbleness. Life in the Netherlands was not so bad after all. I learned to listen instead of to talk. To give instead of to take.

Make that inner journey

As you might have noticed, a lot of my inner reflections are focused on confrontations with poverty and the hardships of other people. I guess coming from a “rich” and western country, it can sometimes be a shock and an eye opener to learn about the daily reality on the other side of the world.

Personal growth will emerge from that knowledge. You learn to be humble and appreciate what you have. You learn to care for others and to be more patient. Combine these positive changes with feelings of freedom and you know why you have to make that inner journey. That is why I encourage people to travel and why I will continue to write about it.
 

How did you mentally change while traveling? Which great insights, skills and abilities did you gain during your trip?
 

Useful links

  • Mythic stories and inner growth: A great article from Jonathan Young. How adventure stories and mythic tales show us the important challenges of the journey. During our journey we change and gain knowledge. We leave, learn and eventually return as a wiser person.
  • My charity project: I made it my goal to start a charity project in every country that visit for a longer period. On this page you can read about my current charity efforts in Thailand.
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How To Improve Creative Writing

 

Pen and paper - How to improve creative writing6 tips on how to improve creative writing 

I create one sentence and then struggle to write down the next one. However, the paper stays hopelessly empty. There are no ideas popping up. After a while I start to fill the paper in a different way. I am so tired that my only sentence starts to float all over the paper. Then the individual letters start to wander of from the sentence, to do their own dance on the paper.

I slap my face and try to focus. But the tank is empty due to a lack of sleep. The hot temperature in the room makes it even worse. A drop of sweat from my forehead suddenly enters the dance on the paper. I slap myself again but I am to far gone. My creativity can not be shaken awake anymore. If only I had followed my creative six step diet..

1. Have enough sleep

Of course you know but I will say it again. Make sure you sleep at least seven hours per night. Lack of sleep will kill your motivation, productivity and creativity. Do not sleep less but also avoid sleeping to long. Both of those habits can make you lazy or tired.

2. Consume a proper diet

Another point I probably do not need to tell you. But actually doing it is not always easy. Do you live from your creativity? Then you need to take extra efforts to eat healthy and drink enough water. Healthy food and water are your thinking fuel. A healthy brain means less struggles on the paper, because you will be rewarded with more creativity. Think about that.

3. Work in a cool environment

At the moment I live in a hot environment and I have been struggling with my creativity and productivity ever since. The brain functions less when exposed to hot temperatures. As a result you will become more lazy and thus less productive. It is best that you work in a cool room, if you want to have the energy and creativity to finish a story.

4. Avoid distractions

Make sure you do not get distracted during the writing process. Once your imagination runs wild you do not want to return to the real world. Find a quiet writing space. Writing in the early morning or late in the evening can also help. At those moments you will less likely be distracted.

5. Take walks and power naps

Do you often feel dull and sleepy during your writing sessions? Are you suffering from a lack of creativity? Try to refresh your brain with a walk or a power nap. Some fresh air and a short sleep can give you new energy and inspiration. Recharge when you feel unproductive.

6. Avoid stressful thoughts 

Stressful thoughts will cause a distraction during the writing process. Empty your brain before you start writing. Then you will have the space to fill your mind with creative thoughts for your story. One way to make your brain empty is by doing a short mediation session before you start writing. Physical exercise such as cycling or walking can also help to empty your head.
 
Do you have any other tips on how to improve creative writing?
 
Useful links

 

Visa Run Preparations For Expats

Passport visa run stamps How to have a fun visa run

Schedule:

– Wake up at 5:30 AM

– Enter the minivan at 6:30 AM

– Drive for five hours to the Cambodian border crossing

– Cross the Cambodian border at Ban Pakkad

– Write, sign, copy, stamp, smile

– Cross the border into Thailand

– Drive back home for five hours

Back home you are a stamp richer and a day poorer. Sounds like a lot of fun…? Probably not, but why not make the best of your trip. In this article I give some advice about how you can make your trip as comfortable as possible. In the article I focus mainly on expats/travelers in Thailand who need to to make an organised trip across the border.

Alone or organised 

Once, when I was still a visa run rookie, I thought that it would be fun and cheap to do a visa run on my own. So off I went to the Cambodian border crossing at Poi Pet. Boy did I have it wrong. The adventure started with a long and uncomfortable train journey and ended with a nasty scam. Eventually, I returned home a lot of frustrations richer and a lot of baht poorer.

Do you want to experience a comfortable visa run? Then choose to travel with an agency. You might pay a little bit extra but your journey will be fully organised, and you only have to follow the agency staff from one place to another. Very convenient, and maybe you are able to make some new friends among your fellow travelers.

Choose an agency

So which agency should you choose. Do some research and start by checking to which border crossing they bring you. Some destinations can be a real hassle. Poi Pet, for example, is a chaotic and miserable place full of scammers. However, it is a popular spot to cross the border, which means long queues at immigration. I recommend you book a trip to Ban Pakkad with Meesuk Travel. A very quick and convenient visa run.

When doing research it is also wise to check the departure/arrival point and time of the transport vans from the agency. Early departures from a good location are beneficial because the driver is able to leave the city quickly. You will most likely be back before the darkness and the start of Bangkok’s notorious rush hours. Good for your time and for your safety.

Rules and requirements

Make sure to ask the agency about the current visa regulations when you contact them to make a reservation. The Thai visa rules change often. Avoid unwanted surprises. Do not leave your house without at least three passport pictures (make sure they apply to the latest photo requirements) and bring some xerox copies of your passport.

Often you can make copies at embassies or border crossings but avoid the extra hassles of looking for a copy machine and standing in line. Also make sure you book a trip at least a few days before your visa is expired. Then you will have some spare days if something goes wrong. Unnecessary overstay charges are expensive.

Entertainment

Your going to be on the road for a full day so find some ways to entertain yourself, and make sure that you stay entertained for the whole trip. For example, bring a book or music player. I personally like to bring my laptop so that I can work or watch a movie. I also make sure that my phone has a portable Wi-Fi connection so that i will have a hotspot during the trip.

Your phone battery will not last long, when you use it as a portable hotspot, so I advice you to buy and bring a power bank. This very useful gadget can be used to charge your phones battery. Another option is to bring a USB stick and charge your phone with the power of your laptop. I also advice to bring a soft pillow for the best entertainment of all.
Use a power bank to recharge your phone

Snacks and drinks

A certain amount of food and drinks will be included in the price of your trip. However, do not only depend on the agency for your nutrition intakes. I advice that you also pack some snacks and drinks. Especially if you are, like me, picky about what you want to consume.

Ready to go

Now you are ready for a hassle free trip to the border. Remember to smile to the customs officers, drink enough water and talk to your fellow travelers. Don’t forget to take a look out of the window during the trip. Enjoy the scenery. The beautiful countryside of Thailand deserves an observation.
Did you ever participated in an organized visa run? Which company did you choose and how was your experience?
Useful links

  • Meesuk Travel: This is the website of the visa company that I usually use. They have good connections and they offer a decent visa run service. Expect to make a lot of Filipino friends as those are the people who mainly travel with this company.
  • Ultimate Thai VISA Guide: Looking for some original ideas for visa runs? Read this excellent guide from bloggers Allan Wilson and Fanfan Narach. On their blog, Live Less Ordinary, they provide a list of the best countries and cities for visa runs, along with other useful travel information.
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