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How The Experience Of Living Abroad Makes You See The World Differently

How The Experience Of Living Abroad Makes You See The World Differently

I didn’t really start to travel abroad until my 20s when I decided to travel the world and see all the countries I had endlessly seen and read in magazines and TV programs. My time spent traveling gave me experiences I never even expected to have – I met new friends, skydived in New Zealand, traveled on the Trans-Siberian train through Russia, taught English in China and not to mention all the weird and wonderful sites, food and amazing sunsets and sunrises from all points of the world.

Then came an opportunity to move to Norway – the small, cold, beautiful Scandinavian country with a population of around 5 million people. Despite traveling to many different countries, up until this point, doing so was always temporary – a feeling of enjoying the present moment because at some point it will end and I’ll be home and back to normal life.

Moving abroad was a whole different experience and something that taught me, not only a huge amount about a different country, but a huge amount about myself.

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You Are Exposed To A New Lifestyle

Moving anywhere away from your home creates a mixture of excitement and fear. My past traveling experiences gave me some confidence about what to expect but I was surprised and challenged in ways I never even thought about.

When you live in the comfort of your home country, living around the people you’ve known all your life, you can sometimes be stuck and never really realize it. Moving away showed me just how stuck in life I was and opened my eyes to a bigger picture. Adapting to a new lifestyle showed me a different side to life. For example, Norwegian life revolves around the cold winters and it was nothing I had ever really experienced before. It took a while to get used to the -20 degree temperatures but experiencing extremes like that and making them part of my everyday life taught me to adapt to something outside of my comfort zone. I will never complain about the cold again – in fact I’ve learned to embrace and make the most of it!

You Get To Fully Embrace A New Culture

The culture can be very different from your own even if it doesn’t seem like it from the outside. The Norwegian culture is deep-rooted in nature, its language and its mindset. When I moved to this country full of beautiful fjords, mountains and lakes, with the opportunity to see the amazing Northern Lights whenever I stepped out of my front door, it wasn’t just the sheer natural wonder of the country but the way in which Norwegians embrace it and make it an intrinsic part of their lives.

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Taking in a new culture adds a different dimension to you, it allows you to be more open and accepting of how other people do things and it lets you see a different side to life. I spent more time in nature than I ever had before, I ate food I’d never heard of and I took on their customs, their manners and their language. It’s not until you live in a new country that your ideas, ways of doing things and perspectives can really change.

You Learn More About Yourself

I learned a lot about myself from traveling but when you take the step to move abroad, you develop fully your ability to adapt and embrace new things. Traveling is only temporary but your choice to stay put in a place far from home and developing your own way of living adds to your identity. It lets us see what we are capable of doing which can’t always be apparent when we live our normal daily lives, at home in our comfort zones.

When I first moved abroad, I was constantly being tested through overcoming challenges and solving problems like finding a home, a job, dealing with people who didn’t always speak my language or sorting out necessary paperwork – and each time I was tested, I was surprised at seeing my potential and just how amazing I could be – it allowed me to be the best version of myself.

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You Gain A Sense Of Accomplishment

There are lots of things we can do to get a sense of accomplishment but moving abroad and all that it entails was the biggest achievement of all for me. It took me so far out of my comfort zone with all the fears and ‘what ifs’ that come with it and I survived. It showed me I have the ability to control and change my circumstances – I can make life happen despite the challenges, the fears and the expectations. Challenges allow us to flourish and the challenge of moving abroad not only allows us to see a diversely different country, but it creates opportunities for accomplishments on all levels.

Every time we overcome obstacles we become a little bit stronger, a little bit more confident in our own abilities and we see the full extent of what we’re able to do. Learning a new language was a huge challenge for me and although I don’t speak it that well, I’m proud that I can understand and speak a completely different language at all.

It Helped You Develop A Positive Mindset

Many countries have different collective mindsets developed through their history, culture and way of life and it can sometimes be very different from your own. For me, the Norwegian mindset taught me a lot and lead me to question my own values and how I truly look at myself and live my life.

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Norway may be a rich country but the Norwegian culture has been carved out of a history of survival; living in difficult, isolated landscape and working hard to live in these extreme conditions with little money. In Norway, gender equality is high as well as societal equality. It’s no surprise that it’s been voted one of the best places to live in for the last decade.

There is also a huge emphasis on team work and a deep sense of community and togetherness in Norway – something that I realized was lacking in my own country. I took away much more from my experience of living abroad than I was expecting to, and I now find myself naturally applying what I learned and absorbed into my own life, moving forward to wherever I live, in a positive way.

Why Moving Abroad Is A Positive Step

Whichever country you choose to move to, I believe they will all have an aspect of their culture and their own perspectives that can teach you more about your way of living and thinking. Living in a different country infiltrates your thoughts, ideas and beliefs for the better and for me, it made me more confident, humble and accepting of the people around me – all with a sense of worldly openness.

If anyone is contemplating living abroad then I couldn’t recommend anything more. You will learn more about yourself than you ever have before and realize your potential and ability to adapt and embrace through your new environment. Living abroad may not be for everyone, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, but I believe the experience will create an insightful and wonderful part of you and I truly believe if we all spent a significant time immersed in a foreign culture the world would be a much better place.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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