6AM. Another day starts in my posh prison cell 🙂 Today I’m aware of breath. I have noticed that my breathing has been shallow, that I need to remind myself to take deep breaths, expand inward and outwards. Especially since travelling from Vancouver to Taipei, having to wear a face mask for hours on end in airports and planes. Let’s face it, face masks really don’t support deep breathing. Pandemics and thoughts about inhaling viruses also don’t support deep breathing. Catch 22. I’m not an expert, but I can tell that by just doing a simple breathing exercise many knots in this body have unravelled. It’s magic! Apparently, the Vagus nerve affects many systems in the body and can rapidly turn off the stress, hyper-arousal, and fight/flight via the relaxation response. Gosh, I knew about all this, how come I forgot?
The exercise Birgit taught me involves deep belly breaths, exhaling slowly through pursed lips while stroking my neck up in the back and down in the front. Not sure where it originates. Immediate results. Soothing. Relaxing. Online, I find other exercises and methods besides deep slow belly breathing; i.e. ‘OM’ Chanting; cold water face immersion after exercise; filling the mouth with saliva and submerging your tongue to trigger a hyper-relaxing vagal response; loud gargling with water; loud singing. Ha! Stacking the tool belt. I’ve used loud gargling with water to stop hiccups – works like a charm.
I’m enjoying this morning, am following the breadcrumbs left in my Inbox – listening to a short Gangaji podcast titled “Let Yourself Be Found.” She shares a lovely teaching story about what is discovered when we are willing to completely call off the search and simply let ourselves be. Deep exhale… Changing gears, listening to a Commune podcast with Jeff Krasno and Ash Ambirge, “Can Americans Like Each Other Again?” Really enjoyed following their conversation and learning from her first hand experience. Here’s the intro write up: A native of New Milford, Pennsylvania, author Ash Ambirge often serves as a translator, of sorts, between the languages of “rural America” and “coastal elite America.” In this conversation, Jeff and Ash discuss the hidden human needs behind voters’ embrace of Trump, and how mutual understanding can offer a path to a more productive conversation.
What else has landed in my inbox (besides your much appreciated comments)? Charles Eisenstein’s newsletter. He talks about a course with Orland Bishop, a peace worker in Watts who also happens to be a profound mystic trained in South African, West African, and European Hermetic wisdom traditions. I listen to a snippet on ‘Attention and the Sacred’ and am intrigued. “When I give attention, a reverse process happens in my attentiveness in which I become a witness that I’m giving. My sacred act is my attention. If I don’t take responsibility for my sacred activity of attentiveness, the world appears finished. And if the world appears finished, nothing is sacred.” The malaise of these times…
Charles is a change maker, a brilliant thinker, writer and speaker with a cornucopia of ideas and practices to improve life on this planet for all beings. So intelligent. His work covers a wide range of topics, including the history of human civilization, economics, spirituality, and the ecology movement. Key themes explore anti-consumerism, interdependence, and how myth and narrative influence culture. His essays are brilliant. And I have some catching up to do.
Vroom Vroom… starts early in the morning and picks up in intensity as the day progresses. Scooters! The gain and bane of getting around in Asia and many other crowded places on planet earth. The number for Taiwan supposedly is 15 Million. It’s probably more… Scooters last a very very long time! I really like riding scooters. Not necessarily in the big cities (Hanoi being the worst I’ve experienced so far), but certainly in rural areas or small towns. And scooters are easy to ride, not as noisy as big bikes (like the Harleys in Canada and the US), affordable, and electric versions are available now. They are easy to repair and super convenient to get around, and find parking. In comparison to other places in Asia I’ve been to, Taiwan’s traffic is tame. (Photos are a mix of Taiwan, Vietnam, Bali)
Believe it or not, I had my motorcycle license before a car license when I turned 18. Something I got into as a teen – weekend trips with boyfriends who had motorbikes. Once experienced, I was hooked. I loved the exhilarating feeling of speeding along with a motor humming underneath (yes, there is a sensual aspect, at least with big motorbikes), wind in my hair (there were times and days when you could actually ride without a helmet… not recommended), hugging the boyfriend, putting me in touch with all my senses. Later in life, I crossed the US west to east and Canada from Quebec east to west on a motorbike with my then husband Michel aka Abheeru. Learned to ride his big Honda V75 (aka V45) Sabre. Powerful machine, a bit too tall for my liking, but fun to drive. Reminiscing now, fun memories pop up of us riding in any condition i.e. wearing snowsuits in winter! The images are burnt into my memory. She was our only transportation for a while in rural Ontario where public transportation was lacking. Oh, there are many stories from those days…
In 1990, we crossed Canada to move to Vancouver. We took turns driving the bike and a Van, which was packed with our stuff and my friend Simone. We took two or three weeks and it was a memorable trip landing us in Vancouver in August. Abheeru would remember the dates – he has a knack for that. At some point down the road he sold the bike. For many years, the only two-wheeler I sat on is my bicycle – also very enjoyable. Then another boyfriend with a motorbike showed up… and four years ago on the Greek Island Kos was the first time I rode a scooter for a day – so much fun. (Photo above)
When I followed Kaya to Southeast Asia in 2018, she suggested to do the motorbike loop in Northern Vietnam together. She had bought a bike and spent several weeks making her way from Ho Chi Minh city to Hanoi (check her blog post). At first I said “no way, I can’t do that” – and then stopped and reconsidered. Why not?! Couldn’t find a convincing enough reason and said YES. And the loop ended up being the absolute highlight of my SE Asia travel! Something I would repeat in a second if given the chance. I’ll write a blog about our experiences sometime in the future, but meanwhile, here are a few photos taken along the northern loop to enjoy. I spent most of this afternoon absorbed by my Vietnam photo files… such a beautiful country and amazing people.
By the way, I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have a daughter to share the love of travel and adventure with, who keeps inspiring me to grow and go places. 🙂 xox