How a Recent business Trip to Southeast Asia Inspired Me
In November 2018 I took a trip to Thailand to attend the BNI Global Convention. In need of some time to recharge after a jam-packed year in business, I tacked on an extra two weeks to my trip and it might be the best decision I made all year. While I travel often for business, I’m usually in and out pretty quick. Slowing down and taking some well deserved time to explore, connect, and soul search in one of my favorite areas of the world – Southeast Asia – was incredibly beneficial personally and professionally.
I want to take a few to share some of my moments from this amazing trip.
1 Million Temples, 1 Million Prayers
Throughout the course of my trip, I visited so many temples in Thailand and Cambodia, not just leaving my prayers but also feeling and watching the many prayers of those around me. I wanted to soak in the history and energy of each place as much as possible. From bowing on my knees in front of a deity, handwriting my hopes and dreams on gold prayer leaves, to being in a trance-like state as I walked through the crowded streets, my prayers were sprinkled around with meaning and purpose. I was struck by the ritual, ceremony, and spiritual energy that was overflowing from practically every corner.
I can best describe my experience as a stripping down of myself. I felt more clear, clean and in touch with my core being after visiting these sacred spaces and performing acts of devotion and prayer. I felt inspired to bring this back home with me and incorporate this into my workspace. How can I make setting goals and intentions have more ritual and reverence? How can I create a more magical space at home or work that re-energizes me and re-inspires me when I’m feeling low or burnt out? These are important questions that the trip brought forward for me.
Stumbling Upon My Childhood Voice
In one of my first blog posts, The ECC Behind Your Business , I wrote about overcoming childhood abuse and entering a group home boarding school, Mooseheart. While in Thailand, a business connection put me in touch with the non-profit organization Friends of Thai Daughters which provides education, housing, and most importantly, the opportunity to be a kid to young girls in need who might otherwise end up in sex trafficking. I was invited to visit the house to meet them, and watch their joy and connection amongst each other. The love that filled that house was immense!
A week later they girls were in Chiang Mai for Thanksgiving. Instead of being alone in a foreign country during this holiday, I was able to meet them for a traditional Thai BBQ feast. We laughed, ate, and told stories. It was amazing. At one point, I heard my inner child speak to me, telling me that I am coming full circle to something I used to say to myself as a child “Other kids have it so much worse than us.” It was one of the ways I stayed grounded and out of victim mode as a child. Hearing my eight year old self say this, as I sat and watched how much love and joy filled these girls hearts despite where they came from brought me close to tears. It was so inspiring to sit with these girls and see their gratitude, ambition and positive attitude despite some very difficult circumstances. It was a powerful reminder of the why behind my work – helping and empowering others so they can share their gifts with the world. This was an incredibly healing moment, not just for me but for that eight year old girl who lives inside of me.
Practicing what I Preach
Whenever I go on trips like this, I usually have one or two spiritual awarenesses that I will consciously practice while there, especially when I am in a country so full of ritual and where the “religion” is a way of life. On this trip I chose the practice of being present, truly present. Even though this is already a practice for me, I wanted to dig deeper. Throughout the trip, I slowed down and listened to everything around me, internally and externally with almost supersonic hearing. I allowed the thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow to fall away and really just be in the moment. Colors became more vibrant and alive, almost like in the Wizard of Oz when it switches from black and white to color. My senses were heightened and I could feel the energy of life all around me. As I spoke with others in that state, the connection and the way we saw and interacted each other was on a cosmic level. It was magical.
Chiang Mai Lantern Festivals
I extended my trip to stay five extra days and celebrate the lantern festival in Chiang Mai, or Loy Krathong and Yi Peng. It has been on my bucket list for a while to participate in a ceremony like this and watch the night sky light up with lanterns and prayers. I had no idea how powerful it would be. Following a year of huge life changes from my kids leaving Hawaii, to some concerning health issues, to changes happening in my businesses, this ritual was needed in my life.
On the first day the city of Chiang Mai was illuminated with candles, lining the walls, perched in doorsteps, and lighting up the temple grounds as Monks chanted the evening away. The next evening was the night to release the lanterns. As I pushed my way through the crowds to get to the bridge, I spoke silently to my loved ones, and gave myself permission to release what no longer served me. It was an opportunity to let go of what was or what could be and just be here, in the moment. It was an amazing experience feeling the magnitude of emotions that surrounded me and hearing the beauty of all the prayers being released into the sky.
When it was time to release the lantern I panicked. Flaming lantern in hand, I was concerned for not only the tens of thousands of people around me, but on a deeper level I questioned whether I was really ready and able to let go. At that moment I heard a voice, telling me it was okay, it will all be okay.
Then I let go.
What do you need to let go of? Also, how has travel inspired and influenced your life in business and outside of your work? I’d love to hear your story.