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Exam & Career Success Coaching  πŸ”ΉKam Taj πŸŽ“ Cambridge University πŸ”₯ Coach for Students & Young Professionals πŸ“•Author: 8 Principles of Exam Domination πŸ‘‡πŸ½ Video: Results Day Anxiety! ⬇️

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vil3oWjFd18

KNOW YOUR ATTACHMENTS. One of the things I discovered during 10 days of silent meditation was how quickly I created 'new' attachments in the absence of my old ones!
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This is natural - when we're far out of our comfort zone without any distraction me, we create new dependencies on the small things that can bring us joy.
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These can be big or small - in my case, my new attachments included my 6pm cup of hot chocolate, practising tai chi and sitting in my favourite spot by the pond.
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It seems harmless, but all of these can be needless causes of suffering if we suddenly 'lose' our attachment. For example, if there was no hot chocolate, or if someone else sat in 'my' spot by the pond.
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The good news is we don't need to renounce these attachments - simply by being mindful and aware of where our attachments lie, we can prepare ourselves mentally for the possibility of losing them, saving us from anguish if they do get taken away from us.
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So ask yourself where your attachments lie. Enjoy them while you have them, by all means - just prepare yourself mentally for a situation where you no longer have them, so that their absence won't cause you any extra suffering! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

CLEANING TOILETS. That's right. For 10 days straight, my 'chore' at our silent meditation retreat was to clean all the toilets in our dormitory...and it wasn't glamorous! But here's why I embraced it...
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The Buddhists believe that true fulfilment comes from a life of being PEACEFUL within ourselves and USEFUL to others.
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They say that you cannot have one without the other. You can search for peace within yourself, but always feel unfulfilled as you're not contributing to the wellbeing of others. You can also try to give too much without reconciling your own demons - you can't fill from an empty cup!
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The two go hand in hand. By cleaning toilets and being USEFUL, I actually felt like I was honouring my duty and contributing to our silent community. This helped me to feel that sense of fulfilment I was looking for, allowing me to feel even more PEACEFUL within myself.
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Let's all ask ourselves what small things we can do to be more useful and add value to the lives of those around us, and use that to help us in our own journey to feel peaceful and fulfilled. (You don't necessarily need to clean toilets though!) πŸ˜‰πŸ™πŸ½

ONLY SPEAK IF WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN SILENCE. One of the easiest parts of 10 days of silent meditation for me, surprisingly, was the silence!
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The silence helped me to realise just how many comments I make and opinions I share that don't really need to be spoken! Sometimes they don't add value, sometimes they actually cause harm - either way, they're not needed! And it can all be prevented by THINKING before I speak...
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Our ego likes being heard, which is why we say these things without thinking. But ego gives more thought to being heard than it does to what is actually being said. This leads to words that bring harm and conflict to our lives and those of others around us, instead of bringing joy and value.
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So let's all be mindful of the comments and opinions we contribute, and try our best to speak only if what we have to say is more beautiful and valuable than silence.πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

10 days of silent meditation done! It was one of the most intense and challenging things I've ever done in my life, and I almost quit after day 1! But I stuck with it, and I'd love to share some insights with you that I hope are valuable...
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Let's start with COMPLAINING. During these 10 days, there was a lot I wanted to complain about! Concrete slab beds, wooden pillows, biting ants, mosquitos, 4am starts...
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But when you're silent, you can't voice your complaint to anybody! It just stays in the mind...and to my surprise, it dissipates quickly!
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It's as if the ego wants to complain to someone, but without a voice to complain with, it can't get the satisfaction it seeks. It loses its power and the complaint dissolves away as it sees no purpose to holding on to it! The complaint never becomes real, and it fades away.
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I'm going to try hard to bring this back home with me. Complaining isn't a pleasant habit, and is I've learnt, silence is a great cure for it! So next time you feel like complaining, don't give it the power to become real through your voice! Be mindful and keep it within the mind! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

10 DAYS OF SILENT MEDITATION. A real test of getting out of my comfort zone starts for me tomorrow as I begin a silent meditation retreat that finishes on 11th August. I'm going to Wat Suan Mokkh in Surat Thani, the same temple where my mother did 14 days of silent mediation 30 years ago!
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During these 10 days, I won't be allowed to talk. I'll be sleeping on a wooden floor with a wooden pillow. I'll be showering with a bucket of cold water. I'll be being bitten alive by mosquitos but not permitted to harm any of them.
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I also won't have any access to electrical devices - which means that for the next 10 days, I'll be out of reach! If any of you message during this time, I'll get back to you as soon as I'm done.
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I have no idea what to expect from these 10 days, but I'm grateful for the chance to experience it. I look forward to sharing my insights with you soon! Keep growing. Keep striving. Keep shining! β˜€οΈπŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

NEVER MAKE BIG DECISIONS WHEN YOU'RE TIRED! Something I've encountered often during these travels, but even more so in everyday life!
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When we're tired, our mind puts a negative spin on everything going on around us, as it takes energy (that we don't have when we're tired) to frame things positively.
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So when confronted with making a decision, we're more likely to see the situation negatively. This may lead us to act in a way that we might regret.
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When you recognise that fatigue is warping your world view, STOP! Slow down! Go for a walk, take a nap, do whatever it takes to replenish your energy and put you in a more peaceful, positive state of mind.
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Travelling is all about decision making and weighing up the benefits against the costs of taking an action. I was lucky enough last night to recognise that my tiredness was causing me to see my situation negatively. I put the decision on hold, slept, and made a much better decision today!
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So next time you find yourself weighing up decisions when you're tired, remember this video! Fatigue is one of our greatest enemies, so do whatever it takes to rest, replenish and return to your best! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½
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(Travel update: resting and replenishing on the beautiful Koh Phi Phi)

FEAR OF MISSING OUT. We all encounter this idea of 'FOMO' throughout our lives. It's the idea that we're missing out on something that others are doing, and so we spend more time thinking of what we're missing out on instead of enjoying what we're doing!
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I've especially noticed this when I travel. There's only so much time to stay in one place, and it's impossible to do everything! I meet people who are obsessed with seeing everything as quickly as possible. I also meet the opposite - people who believe you need to spend a long time in one place to get a 'feel' for the location.
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What I've come to realise is that neither of these is right or wrong. You just need to find the path you're comfortable with! Because the more you focus on what you're missing, the less you enjoy what you're actually doing!
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Remember - at the end of the day, whether in life or travels, we reminisce and talk about the adventures we had, not the ones that we didn't! Don't let FOMO stop you from appreciating what you're doing. Every experience is special if you're present enough to enjoy it! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½
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(Travel update: Currently in Ao Nang, Krabi - about to leave for the Phi Phi Islands!)

DON'T MISTAKE FEAR FOR DANGER. I was invited to go on a trip with two friends I made at the hostel I was staying at. The two day trip included many things I love - white water rafting, swimming in waterfalls, hiking through jungles, climbing hills...
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But it also involved something that made me uncomfortable - even afraid! - spending a night in a house made of bamboo, in a village with no electricity, in an area notorious for its dangerous snakes.
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It sounds ridiculous, but I have an attachment to safety. Like many others, I avoid things that put me in danger. But I'm trying to learn the difference between what my mind tells me CAN be dangerous (i.e. what I should fear), and what is ACTUALLY dangerous.
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I realised that my mind was trying to create danger where there was none. It was trying to make me take the easy path away from fear - and I wasn't going to let it!
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As I started the day, I was full of apprehension. But as I immersed in the activities, it went away. My focus shifted to the present. And even when that moment involved 'unpleasant' things - taking a shower using a bucket of cold water outside, sleeping on a hard mat, seeing a GIGANTIC spider in our room etc. - I just kept telling myself that fear and discomfort are only mental projections; I am not actually in danger!
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My reward: waking up to the most beautiful view I've seen in my life. I'm immensely grateful for these last two days.
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Whatever you're doing in life, what is your fear stopping you from doing? Are you actually in danger from it? Or is your mind trying to create danger where there is none? By all means avoid danger - but be ready to embrace and conquer fear! You'll be surprised at the amazing opportunities you open yourself up to when you stop mistaking fear for danger. πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

THE CLIMB, NOT THE PEAK! There's a beautiful temple called Doi Suthep looking over Chiang Mai. They organise day trips to visit it. Taxi takes you up the mountain, you enjoy the temple, and then taxi takes you back down...
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In the past, this would have been tempting. A famous temple, a recommended trip - it has all the makings of a great day. But as I've learnt over and over, true beauty and adventure lies in the journey to the peak, not the peak itself.
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The hostel lady told me I was crazy to try to walk up the mountain from our hostel. Said it was at least 4/5 hours, that the climb would be too steep and slippery, that it would rain...all very valid points.
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But she didn't understand what I wanted. She thought I wanted to see Doi Suthep, whereas I just wanted to CLIMB Doi Suthep. It didn't matter if I made it to the top or not! I wanted to experience the JOURNEY!
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I took this stunning photo at a temple called Wat Pha Lat, 2.5 hours from when I first left the hostel. The temple lies on the path up to Doi Suthep, surrounded by lush forests and with waterfalls passing through the middle of the temple itself. I was dripping with sweat from the climb, my clothes were muddy, and I'd lost count of the number of times I'd slipped!
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I stayed there for longer than I 'should have' if I wanted to make it to the peak before the rain. But I stayed anyway. The view was captivating.
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40 minutes later, I made it to Doi Suthep. And as I stood at its peak, admiring the sight of the city below, the first raindrop fell on my head πŸ˜‚
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The peak was beautiful. But the journey was sublime, and it only made reaching the peak even more satisfying. Whatever you're doing, don't focus so intensely on reaching the peak that you forget to enjoy the journey - no matter how tough it might get and how many times you slip! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

DEALING WITH CHALLENGES. Earlier today, I survived my 14-hour overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I had terrible experiences with overnight trains in China, so naturally I was feeling anxious and uncomfortable with the thought of doing this...
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I knew it would be really important to manage my mindset to make sure that I had a smooth journey. I began by anticipating all of my 'worst-case scenarios' and managing them one-by-one. For example, what if I couldn't sleep, what if I fell ill, what if it was too humid, what if a cockroach crawled into bed with me...
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Just by consciously becoming aware of these, their weight became less on my mind. I then worked on managing my expectations - mainly by lowering them! For example, I expected not to sleep at all - so when I slept from 1am until 5am, I was pleasantly surprised. And the humidity was high...but I expected it to be, so I didn't let it phase me.
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And when weird things did come up, I was able to handle them! For example, rain pouring in through my open window at midnight and waking me up! And then a gap in my window creating a vacuum, which sucked up all nearby flying insects and turned my bed into a mosquito graveyard...
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Dead insect corpses in bed are never fun, but I didn't get flustered. My mind was well-managed, and I was able to brush them aside (literally!) and continue on with a pleasant journey.
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So if you have something coming up that is making you feel anxious, uncomfortable or challenged, ask yourself what you can do in advance to manage your mind effectively and ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.
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And even if they don't, you'll still learn what didn't work, and what further steps you need to take to manage your mindset in the future! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

We can't rely on others to bring our energy levels up when we feel down. I decided to catch a 1.5 hour train this morning to visit a city called Ayatthuya to explore its temples, and when I arrived, I realised that my energy was low...
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I asked myself why, and realised that there were lots of small reasons for this. For example, I'd only arrived yesterday so was jet-lagged and tired, medicine exploded in my bag causing a smelly mess, it was rainy and overcast etc. More than anything, I'm out of my comfort zone, which in itself can be tiring!
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In general, our energy is very often influenced by the people around us - both positively and negatively! I remembered how in my past travels, it was my travelling partner who would pick me up and raise my energy levels when I felt low - and I would do the same for them.
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But alone, my energy was my own responsibility. I realised that I had a choice - either I can keep my negative energy going, or I can do whatever is in my power to get my positive energy flowing.
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So I made a choice to raise my energy levels. I rented a bike and cycled around the city, I climbed rocks at the temples, I listened to uplifting music...and it worked.
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Let's all become more aware of the energy that we're carrying with us, and let's stop being dependent on others to raise our energy if we're down. It's OUR energy - let's take control and manage our own state! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

The number of times I've heard people say things like this in the last few hours! Meeting backpackers at hostels is always an interesting experience, and travelling alone is a great way of persuading ourselves to interact with them!
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So as many of you go on your summer breaks, think about this quote and try to identify the things that you want to do at this stage of your lives.
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Don't be disheartened if you feel that there's no way to do them at the moment. The more we become aware of the things that we want, the better we become at knowing when the right time to act is.
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So step out of your comfort zone. Go on adventures. Create memories. Learn from mistakes. Make these moments count! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ½

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