Daring to Be

By Javhlan Amgalanbaatar

Mind Full or Mindful?

In front of you is a stunning view of a huge forest, up to a mountain top, and you are listening to the sound of birds chirping, with sunshine warmly touching your face, and fresh air coming in through your lungs. Breathing in, you take in this moment fully, and breathing out, you cherish the peace this moment offers you from the chaos of your life.

Moments in nature, similar to what you have hopefully just experienced in your mind, sparked my interest in mindfulness several years ago. During a summer countryside trip back in Mongolia, looking at a sunset beside a small lake, I could not help but notice how my thoughts disappeared and how I was simply aware of all my surroundings and sensations: the orange, pink, and red colors of the sky and the fresh smell after rain. It was freeing and peaceful not to think for a time and simply observe my surroundings.

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6195 Miles Away

Imagine looking at an eternal blue sky, open steppe with sheep and goats grazing on the grass, a few yurts scattered over an enormous land, and horses roaming freely. Then imagine a busy city with a monastery amongst a few modern skyscrapers, many historical buildings, and suffocating air pollution in the winter, caused by the burning of coal.

Both images come to me when I think of home. The breathtaking nature of the Mongolian countryside and the vibrant city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The summer before coming to Harvard, I tried to fill my head with as many images of my city and countryside as possible, relishing the warmest comfort I find in the place I grew up in. When the time came to board a plane to fly 6195 miles and say goodbye to everything I associate with home, I could not help but cry and dread the homesickness that would surely hit me once I left. But little did I know that this very homesickness could deter me from growing for the better when taken too far. Although the change was drastic and it was totally fine to take time to figure things out, I got too caught up in missing my previous home but not actually forming a new home at Harvard.

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