Goiás countryside, beautiful landscapes of untouched savannah, parks, nature reserves, trails, waterfalls and the company of a great friend. These were the elements present on a vacation for which I prepared myself diligently:
- I outlined an itinerary;
- hired a guide;
- packed lightly;
- took adequate food;
- resumed my physical activity to have a better disposition to walk.
I wanted this journey to be a great opportunity to exercise my mind with different activities.
On the first day, as expected, the sun was extremely hot and only bathing in the waterfalls refreshed us. Then, on the second half of the path, my friend began to complain about not feeling well and about the conditions we were facing. Months earlier, she had a serious health problem and the adverse weather was now causing the return of some of the symptoms that had affected her.
I was very concerned about her physical status, but at each break we took she assured me that she would be able to proceed. After walking a few more hours, we returned to the hostel, talked, and she once more assured me that she was fine and that it would be possible to go on outings in the following days, provided that we did it at a slower pace, given her physical limitations.
The words “slower pace”, added to the constant complaints about the weather throughout the path, formed a cascade of negative thoughts on my mind that night: “And now, will I not be able to follow the planned itinerary?” ; “It would have been better if I came alone”; “What an awkward situation!”; “She is right, this heat is also ruining my disposition”.
The following day, due to the new circumstances, the number of rest stops increased, we had to revise the itinerary, and my friend kept complaining about the heat. After a few hours of walking and seeing waterfalls, I became impatient, irritated and discouraged by the situation, and impulsively asked that we end the trip.
From there, we returned to Brasília to check out its architectural attractions, and then we went back to Belo Horizonte. The trip did not go as planned and, even worse, our friendship was shaken.
This could have been the end result of my trip if, at that time, I had not yet been in contact with a series of teachings that enabled me to learn a new concept about thoughts. I knew, for example, that they could be autonomous, that is, they acted and could make me act according to their will.
I also understood that they could be: my own, other people’s thoughts, positive and negative.
And, more importantly, I realized that it was possible to defend myself against low-level thoughts. I had tried, for some time, to be attentive and to consciously observe everything that happened in my internal world, in response to the events of the external world.
Thus, I was able to check the thoughts that were acting or trying to enter my mind in face of the unexpected events during my trip, and prevent other people’s thoughts and negative ones from causing me to act against my will.
When we had to stop for my friend to rest and recover, I was thinking about how I could help her and not selfishly thinking that it was better to have traveled alone, and defended myself from the thoughts of impatience with those of intelligent patience. Instead of becoming irritated and intolerant with the complaints about the heat and difficulties encountered along the way, I was attentive to my temperament and tolerance; instead of complaining about having to adapt the itinerary and visiting a smaller number of attractions, I saw an excellent opportunity to observe more details about that beautiful place.
The light of knowledge
Egoism, impatience, irritability and inadaptability are behaviors or deficiencies that everyone has, to a greater or lesser degree, and that are often considered as characteristics or personality traits of each person.
However, I feel that when I illuminate my internal world with the light of knowledge that allows me to identify how these deficient thoughts act, and I am attentive when they act, I manage to govern my own life, because I expand my self-knowledge and am aware that I act according to my own will and not according to what other people’s thoughts impose.
Studying and applying these teachings in my life is a constant challenge, and thanks to the little contact I had with them at the time of this trip, I was able to improve my conduct as a human being and live great moments with a person for whom I have enormous affection.
Just as a river flows, from waterfall to waterfall, towards the sea, I feel that I was able to evolve towards my goal of being a better person, for myself and for those around me, because I managed to transform this cascade of thoughts into a calm stream.