Ever tried meditation?

Quite some year’s ago I started trying out meditation in different settings. I’ve done group meditations, listened to guided meditations alone, led meditation in yoga classes, sat down first thing in the morning on my own and completely skipped it for months and months.

Picture: Urbanwired.com

Picture: Urbanwired.com

The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the “me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.

Alice G. Walton, Forbes

Recently I started trying out a free trial of 10 minute meditations for 10 days from Headspace, and I really like it. It’s easy to use, either on a computer or as an app on a phone or tablet, it’s a short time commitment and for me it’s been a great way of unwinding at the end of the day.

Headspace

Headspace

So, if you want to try it out, just click on the link or download the app Headspace and see how it feels for you. Maybe you’ve been longing for a few moments of stillness in your day and just didn’t know how to create it?

// Wivan

House sit, recovery and sunshine

Now it’s begun. Our house- and dog sit outside of Negombo on the Western coast of Sri Lanka. The owner will be gone for about a week, and usually we don’t take on assignments that are shorter than two weeks, but since we had already decided to go to Sri Lanka we thought that this would be a good exception.

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Daisy and Jazzie

And the timing is perfect! We’ve both caught a cold, Anders has a wound on his foot, I have some sensations of an ear infection and my voice is almost gone – it’s simply time for us to rest and recover a bit. To be able do that in a comfortable, very big house with a nice kitchen, comfortable bed, good living room and easy-going dogs is perfect. We’re a bit away from the hustle of touristy Negombo, which we of course like; a more quiet life with a genuine local community suits us better than the cities and towns adjusted to suit tourists.

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"Our house" the coming week

This is a bit of a flash-back to our time in Bali last November, when we too were “forced” to slow down and integrate all the experiences and insights, happenings and outings into our beings.

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Three cups of ayurvedic Samahan a day

We’re becoming more and more cool about this ‘nothing much is happening-state’ of being. Anders have always been ok with it and I have started to enjoy it too! And as long as the tourists or “world travelers” with huge plans stay away from us with their guide books and stop telling what things we just HAVE to go see it’s perfectly quiet and calm around us with locals smiling and noticing we’re not the regular Tourist People. (Usually other people have a lot of opinions on what we should see and do, whereas we’re doing our nomadic life/traveling a bit different than most).

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Inside the mosquito net tent

So, let’s chill out, enjoy whatever sensations come and be at ease with the knowledge that everything changes.

Happy Friday folks!
// Wivan

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Painting in the house

“You happy?”

When walking around in the villages in Weligama on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka in the past couple of weeks, it often struck us how open the hearts and smiles seem to be of locals we’ve met. Even if we come from a different environment, climate and social rules, we’ve been invited to come inside people’s houses and share a moment together. Often we had a cup of tea or were served a meal.

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Out walking, met by smiles

For most people living here in Sri Lanka, leading simple lives and earning money from one day to another, it’s hard to understand the concept of long-time travels and the time and money the two of us have decided to “spend” traveling rather than saving for later. And we, Anders and Wivan, certainly have a hard time to explain our situation, sometimes because of language difficulties and sometimes just because our way of living is so very different from most people’s.

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Happy fishermen

Often we are surprised by the Sri Lankan’s loving and happy spirit no matter what their living conditions are, and some locals seem a bit confused of how on earth we can go traveling without having a job that gives money day to day. So we, both sides, have some sort of unspoken agreement on not understanding each other’s situations fully and just be friends anyways, accepting our different situations, lifestyles and the not-understanding part.

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Tea time

That “agreement” is a lovely thing. At times we just shorten our story a bit, making it all about being in Sri Lanka for a month or three and telling people how much we love this beautiful country, the people, food and the weather. Other times, when language and time to talk is not a problem, we try and explain a bit more, part of it being a way to say that it’s possible to dream big and make things happen if we dare to step into the void every now and then.

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Adventures together with Mona

Now after arriving at our next house sit, staying in a very big and nice house, it’s again hard to explain when our Sri Lankan “brother” Mona calls to check how we are after the trip here. Yeah, we get to stay for free in a huge house, taking care of two dogs while their owner travels abroad…
Mona is a lovely guy though, and simply ask his regular question:

You happy?

And when we say ‘yes, we’re very happy’, he goes on:

You happy, me happy.

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This lovely guy, Mona, always caring

See, it doesn’t have to be more difficult than that. We’re friends and “family”, and if the other is happy, so are we.

With love and gratitude,
Anders and Wivan

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Train station in Weligama

Bumpy train ride from Weligama to Negombo

Today we took off to Colombo and then to Negombo for a house sit that starts on Thursday/Friday.
After two weeks in Weligama, last night was party night at “our” Sri Lankan family’s house!

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Dancing!

They had prepared many different things for us; coconut torches on the front side, music for dancing, lovely bbq fish, drinks, a big dinner and ice cream (!) with jelly.

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The guys off to buy arrak

I danced for hours, or that’s what it felt like, with kids from the village. The grown-ups didn’t dance until it was dark.

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Some of the kids and parents

People stood out on the street to watch us, and some of them were clapping along with the music. Again, it was a sight to see the “tall” Swedish Sri Lankan girl dancing!

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Kids all excited about us dancing together

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Coconut torches in the making

So, after sharing this lovely time together, we spent a last night in the small hotel by the beach.

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Breakfast with a view

About six hours on trains today, costing around €2,50 for the both of us. Hot, bumpy, beautiful and another very Sri Lankan experience.

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We got seats today!

An hour of waiting in Colombo passed quickly in the company of a Chinese woman.

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Colombo Fort railway station

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Lots of people at the station

Finally we arrived at the place we’ll stay at and care for two shy dogs, and tonight we sort of got a cultural shock when hanging out with expats and westerners after several weeks with mostly locals.

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Train from Colombo to Kochchikade

Anders won a bottle of white wine at the quiz and bingo night we attended in Negombo, so that was very nice!
Tomorrow we’ll probably just rest, get some fresh fruits to the house and get settled with everything around here.

Until then!
//Wivan

Full moon ceremony

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Walking to the temple

Yesterday was full moon day, and the Buddhists here in Sri Lanka celebrate that day with a special ceremony.
We’ve now learned that you’re not supposed to eat eggs on a full moon day, and it’s very good to go to the temple and make offerings – especially at around 6 pm.

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Full moon, looks almost like the sun

The family had invited us to come, and told us that it was good to wear white. So we did.
And by Anders wearing a sarong, and I having a white shirt with batik patterns, people were commenting on how Sri Lankan we looked ;-).

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Not everyone wore white

After walking to the village temple we were given flowers to put on the stands in front of the pictures of different gods. Then we walked to a monastary where we got a place in a long line of people, where everybody was supposed to touch and carry the many baskets and trays of offerings before they were handed into the temple.

Above our heads, huge bats started to fly off into the sky when it turned dark. Close to the temple site was a cobra nest (!), and we had to walk quickly between all the statues and holy places to keep up with the others… Oil lamps, incense sticks and flowers – we did it all.

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"Small dinner" after the ceremony

Afterwards we were invited to have what Malika, the amma (mother) of the family calls a small dinner… It’s always lots of food! On a full moon, milk-rice and sambal is good to eat, and we also got coconut roti (bread), fish curry and shrimp. Fresh pinapple and bananas for dessert.

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First time the family ate with us!

This dinner was very special, since for the first time almost all members of the family ate together with us! The men took turns at sitting by the table, and the women sat on chairs beside or behind us. Usually we as guests eat separately, and the family comes in to talk a little, put on more food on our plates and then eat after we have left. Now that has changed, and it feels good!

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"Take away coconuts"

When leaving the dinner we got two coconuts to bring to the hotel, to drink today. And when finally getting through, they were very good!

Happy Sunday!
// Wivan and Anders

Talkative tuktuk drivers

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Tuktuk ride to town

Imagine sitting in a slightly windy spot where traffic is all around and a big bus passes right next to you. Honking horns, people waving and in the middle of this: someone, with his back turned towards you, talking in broken English. He’s asking questions about what country you are from, where you stay, how long you’re staying in Sri Lanka and all of a sudden an odd question about going to a snake farm.

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Shopping from the bread tuktuk

This is what a lot of tuktuk rides are like. A kind of game, where you try to guess what question you’re supposed to answer, or asking three times over what he asked last…
It’s really bad if it’s a “disco tuktuk” with large speakers playing loud music, and a driver who’s about to hit every moving object on the road.

A taxi ride in Europe will be like a quiet walk in the park after these months in Asia!

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Anders so wanting to buy a tuktuk!

Culture changes

Many people go overseas expecting to have an “authentic” experience, which really means they want to confirm some stereotype they have in their mind of happy people living in huts and villages. They are often disappointed to find urban people with technology. Visiting a different place doesn’t mean visiting a different time. It’s the 21st Century, and most people live in it. They are as likely to wear traditional clothes as Americans are to wear stove top hats like Abraham Lincoln. Cultures have always changed as new ideas, religions, technologies sprang up and different cultures mingled and traded with each other. Today is no different.

#11 in Gary Arndt’s list of 20 things he has learned from traveling the world for three years

Thanks Pernilla for sharing this list with us. Many things are similar to our experiences over the past 14 months and it’s funny to read it’s not only us expecting this or that, being surprised by what we meet in other countries and places.

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Full moon tonight