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10 Lessons I've Learned From a Burmese Monk (and You Should Too) – by Maria Alves – Journey With Chloe

I’ve been travelling the world for over 2 years. Although, there have been times when I’ve felt exhausted and homesick. A while back, I decided to visit Myanmar without any expectations. On my last day there, I went to a monastery when a Burmese monk approached me.

He said that he had one hour to spare during the monks nap time. He wanted to improve his English with me rather than sleep. So we walked through the monastery together while having an in depth conversation.

One hour turned into a few hours because he had so much to teach me and I had so much to learn. The Burmese monk was only 23 years years old, but he spoke like he was 70! I couldn’t believe how much knowledge someone so young could have. He told me that he studies all day everyday, and that he has two goals in life: to speak English fluently and share his knowledge with the world.

1. Morality

Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat.

2. Serenity

Always have peace in your mind. If you want peace everyday in your life, don’t think bad thoughts or do bad actions. Don’t say a bad word.

3. Concentration

Meditation is the only way to live peacefully throughout daily life.

4. Silence

Music, Facebook and other distractions don’t allow your mind to simply be with itself. You need silence to work on yourself.

5. Karma

What goes around comes around. Don’t let any bad energy go out to the universe because it will come back to you. Even small things like saying something because you are angry. The hate you put in the air will find its way back to you. Keep your mouth shut until it goes away. What is inside your mind is your business only.

6. Beauty comes from within

He repeated this 1000 times, and since my self esteem has never been so low, it was a good point to work on. The way you look means nothing compared to the colour of your soul.

7. Mean what you say

The Burmese monk asked me what do I mean when I say “good morning”. I told him that sadly, it’s just a standard phrase. It’s automatic. It’s the same as “hello” during the morning.

He told me that the actual meaning of “have a good morning” is to remind people not to do anything bad. You can’t have a good time if you are being harmful to others. “Morning” actually means “I wish you will act in a way that’s good for yourself and the world, don’t forget it”.

8. Eat mindfully

We met after the Burmese monk had finished his lunch… At 10.30am. After that he won’t eat anything else until 5am the next day when it’s time for breakfast. Two meals a day. I told him I always have breakfast early, then lunch at about 12pm and dinner about 7pm, mostly with snacks between each meal.

“It’s too much”, he said. If your body is busy processing food, your mind doesn’t have the necessary energy for changes. Eat less and eat mindfully, just enough to keep you going. Also, monks don’t eat treats and sweets. Only soups, vegetables, salad… Healthy things don’t make you addicted to them and it will be easier for your body to stop craving more.

9. Conscious sex

It’s a distraction like everything else on this list. One partner is already enough trouble. More than one will keep you too busy to focus on what’s important.

10. Be kind

You never know what people are going through at the moment. If they are being hateful or mean, you have to be able to forgive because what you are doesn’t change based on their behaviour. Your kindness and empathy needs to be there, always. If it’s too much, leave, take your time, breathe… But never react to anger.

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This is a guest post written by Maria Alves, and all images are credited to Maria Alves.