Sometimes an actual geographic journey turns into a wellness journey. It recently happened to me: after two weeks of hiking in Bhutan, where the air is as clean and pure as the chants that rise from the Buddhist monasteries that seem to dot every hillside, I realized that the rest of the world, including my own personal world, needed less Human Doing and more Human Being.
Here’s what I mean, with some “high-five” wellness tips for achieving it.
Bhutan has zero-to-negative carbon emissions. Because the air was so pure, I felt really healthy and happy. I wanted to bottle the air and bring it home. Because the scenery was astounding, I wished the hiking would never end. Since praying is a way of life in Bhutan, spending time meditating with monks was truly an uplifting experience. Throughout my magical kingdom visit, I was greeted with kindness. So as soon as my plane hit the tarmac back in the States, I thought, “How do I ‘bottle’ this entire experience? How do I keep this Bhutan bliss with me now that I am home? Can I maintain this type of physical and spiritual ‘high’ of happiness and wellness in my over-busy world?”
Here are the tips that I came up with:
1. Remember to breathe. Breath is life. How are you breathing? Use belly breathing or dan tian (the area below your navel) breathing to infuse oxygen throughout your body and mind. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and clear your mind. Yes, it’s probably the simplest meditation exercise, but a very important one. Take a minute. Breathe. Do less and be more.
2. Move your body. Walking is a wonderful way to keep oxygen flowing throughout your body and move qi (also known as prana) from head to toe. In this context, any properly done aerobic exercise is good exercise.
3. Be grateful for your life. Count your own blessings, and then expand your gratitude and pray for all people and peace on the planet we share. Work the prayer into your breath meditations. And while you’re at it, the planet itself can probably really use a few of your blessings right now. As even the youngest child in Bhutan knows, gratitude and praying/meditation are essential bottling elements for achieving bliss.
4. Spend time in nature. Go to the beach or the mountains or the desert. Make a sandcastle, hug a tree, or check out the cactus blooms. If you can’t get outside, watch a National Geographic or nature-focused show.
5. Stay hydrated — don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Drink water or sip herbal tea throughout your day for consistent hydration. It is no accident that so many religions consider water sacramental. In his book The Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner tells a story in which the sudden appearance of garden springwater foretells the birth of a Bhutanese holy man.
These wellness tips are easy to do. They are also easily forgotten in the chaos of to-do lists, job and family emergencies, missed meals, missed deadlines, and missed connections of all sorts, especially with ourselves and each other.
Are you ready for more calm and happiness even with a busy lifestyle? Make no mistake, even these simple, easy-to-do, “high-five” tips will still take discipline and effort. But what journey worth taking, whether geographic or personal, did not pose a least a few daunting challenges?
Follow these five tips, and begin to carve your own path to an emotionally and spiritually enriched life. I think you’ll find that increased physical well-being naturally follows. You don’t have to undergo the rigors of an actual journey to Bhutan to enjoy the benefits of the life lessons to be learned there. Try to do less and be more, and you’ll be well on your way to Bottling Bhutan Bliss.
To learn more about Bhutan, check out this link: www.bhutan.travel