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Part of life’s journey is to find balance & peace of mind, but being human also means screwing up here & there. Achieving balance all the time is next to impossible (unless your middle name is Buddha ;)

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Apart from cleaning the sh*t out of our bodies (see My Master Cleanse Challenge article from last week ;), we must also set aside time to clear the sh*t out of our minds. It takes constant work & practice, but studies show that meditation & mindfulness improves cognitive function, increases our ability to fight off illness, helps us recognize negative emotions & enhances our relationships w/ others.

For this reason, every summer I like to escape to a Vipassana center far, far away from the bustling city of Shanghai. It’s not exactly for the faint of heart as it requires 10 days of silence, no physical or eye contact, 4AM wake up calls, 10 hrs of daily meditation & a vegetarian diet. You can probably imagine it makes a city girl go stir crazy!

Daily stress can make it difficult to keep our thoughts, feelings & emotions in check. We’re conditioned to worry about the future by making sure to save enough for retirement or paying off the mortgage. While others get stuck in the past, wishing they could still fit into the same pair of jeans from college or obsessing over an old fling. In both cases, neither contributes to our happiness. All it does is cause pain & suffering.

Feelings are normal, but if we feed these feelings w/ negative thoughts, they become unhealthy emotions that often lead us into a downward spiral. Next time you experience any discomfort, try being still. Breath through it, transcend it; you will see as the moment passes, things really aren’t as bad as they seem. It’s why nurses tell us to take a deep breath right as they're sticking us w/ a needle!

The idea is to take everything as it comes, whether good or bad & not have any emotional or physical attachments. During the retreat, I learned on an experiential level that everything is impermanent. I had no choice but to look inwards to understand how my mind reacted in difficult situations. If we can become the masters of our minds, rather than have it control us, then we become untouchable.

Editor in Chief: Rui Cheng

Writer: Moira McNally

Photographer: Viktor Chan

Translator: Clive Lyn

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