Feeling the Difference: 40 days of meditation.

“Our emotions, moods, and bad character traits are just temporary and circumstantial elements of our nature” (Matthieu Ricard “The Art of Meditation”, p.13).

My story with Meditation

It took me quite a while to get my meditation practice going. When I did my yoga teacher training in 2016, we had meditation every day and I found it so challenging. Sometimes, I would leave early, I felt uncomfortable seated for so long, I was bored, etc. After the training, I was not motivated to maintain this practice and I left it aside for several months.

So then, in February, after organising my first yoga retreat (to read more about it, click here), one of the girls was using Headspace. Every day she took 20 minutes aside, she had brought her own meditation pillow, and would put her big headphones on. I admired her for being so determined and dedicated to her practice. She seemed so blissful and mentioned how she absolutely loves it.

Thinking back, I realised that meditation had been surrounding me for years. So I started to wonder: why haven’t I been able to really practice it?

My trip to Nepal and Bhutan was coming up, where I would learn more about Buddha and his teachings, visit monasteries and temples, and be surrounded by a culture completely different from my own. I used this as my excuse, or maybe my motivation, to really try meditating.

I re-downloaded Headspace (I had done it before, so I tried it again) and did the free 10-day trial. Although 10 days is a nice way to initiate yourself to meditation, I knew that having the membership would help keep me going. Having a tool like this one makes it easier to keep the practice constant, especially when it is not a habit yet.

Now, I can say that I am on my meditation journey, and every day I learn something new.

Small meditation facts

First of all, meditation is NOT trying to blank out your thoughts. Let’s face it, that is impossible.

As athletes train the body and muscles, every single one of us can train our brains. Meditation is a practice that teaches you how to “re-program and re-wire your mind”. It is scientifically proven that different parts of our brains (like the hippocampus, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex for instance) are al positively affected by a regular meditation practice. Repeated thoughts and actions create circuits in our brain that allow for the brain’s function and structure to change.

With only 20 minutes a day, you can feel benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, reduced tendency towards anger, and increased attention, emotional balance, and inner peace.

Differences I have noticed after 40 days of daily meditation

  • I am more relaxed, calm
  • I am not so easily affected by situations, people, or things around me.
  • Perspective
  • A more positive attitude towards everything.

If after only 40 days I can already observe these little changes…. what will it be like in another 40 days? or in a year? I will keep you posted!

Have you meditated before? Share your experiences in the comments below 🙂

Check out my instagram account @lacholaahabibii for a contest to win a 1 month voucher for Headspace.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

I usually don’t drink anything other than coffee, tea, and water. But once in a while I get these cravings for chocolate, or something sweet. Being the health nut that I am, I adapted a recipe I found online and made this healthy hot chocolate to warm up on this grey, Lima afternoon.

I several used Peruvian ingredients such as maca powder that has many health benefits like regulating hormones for example. The organic cocoa and the coconut oil are from the Amazon. Coconut oil is a natural lubricant for your body, especially joints and muscles, while cocoa powder is a great antioxidant.

Turmeric is originally from India and is a great detoxifier for the liver and anti inflammatory.

So there really is not reason to not have a cup of this delicious hot chocolate!

For one cup, you will need:

1 cup almond milk
1.5-2 tbsp organic cocoa powder
1tbsp maple syrup (to taste)
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp maca powder
A pinch of which ever you prefer (or all): ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg

Heat the milk, coconut oil and maple syrup (in a saucepan or in the microwave). Remove it from the heat before it starts to boil. Whisk the other ingredients in and enjoy!

Top with grated chocolate.

YUMMM ❤

Yoga and Travel

This is a hard one. I wish there was a secret formula I could share with you and then everyone could just practice anywhere and every day.

Even when I am back home, it can sometimes be tricky to maintain a constant, regular, daily yoga practice. Sometimes 2 hours go by so quickly, it feels like i have been practicing for only 20 minutes. Other days, those first 20 minutes feel like two hours. Having a daily yoga practice just has to become part of your day, like brushing your teeth. But that is always easier said than done.

When traveling, it can be even harder to maintain a constant yoga practice. There are many factors that can affect this: Early flights, late nights, jet lag, lack of a space (for example, super small hotel rooms, no outdoor spaces, too visible/public space).

During this trip, I tried to find tricks that would help me maintain a daily yoga practice. Here, I have decided to share the ones that helped me the most:

  • When you arrive at your hotel, ask where the common areas/terraces are. You can also just go explore and search for an area yourself that would be good for your practice. For instance, this space might have a view, or be free of people, it could also be indoors or outdoors. This all really depends on what you want.
  • Make a small daily objective. For this trip, this was mine: 5 sun salutations a day. That way, if I was short on time, it was very feasible. And some days, I would do a longer practice.
  • Choose a time of the day that you know will not be too occupied. Mornings are probably the best since you have the whole day to explore afterwards. But if you are taking a tour and know you will be back at your hotel around 4pm, this could also be a good time.

The idea here is to move your body, keep stretching and not letting that extra fascia set into your body. It is also great for your mind, and to keep the connection between both.

Since I travel so much, I need a yoga mat that I can fold up and carry along with me anywhere I go. Mine comes from Halfmoon Yoga, and it is thin, light and perfect to fit in a suitcase or backpack. I even hesitated to bring it on a few hikes, and regretted not having it when I got there. So really, there is NO reason to NOT bring this one along!

What are your yoga and travel tips? Please share any you may have!

24hs in Bhaktapur

One night and two days is the time we spent in Bhaktapur: approximately 24hs in the city, which is enough to enjoy everything and relax.

Since we were there for New Year’s Eve, there were many festivities happening and therefore, our experience may have been quite different than any other visit to the city.

However, the whole historical center is great to walk around in. Locals will offer you guided tours upon your arrival, but they are not necessary.

It was a little shocking the amount of visible damage that has been done to the city since the 2015 earthquake.

Squares to visit: 

  • Durban square
  • Taumadhi Tole
  • Potters’ square
  • Tachupal Tole

Eating 

  • King curd
  • Good coffee at: beans coffee shop
  • Shiva’s café corner

IMG_5657

The Bumdra Trek

I read about this trek in the Lonely Planet and it was in the “off the beaten track” suggestions. Since we love trekking, and we didn’t have time for a 5 day trek in Bhutan, I thought this was a great option since it was one night and two days. The second day ends at the Tiger’s Nest monastery, one of Bhutan’s highlights. 

I will break down each day and give you the amount of kilometres we walked. The amount of time you walk per day depends on how in shape you are! 

Day 1: You start your walk in the morning and walk through beautiful forests. Enjoy the flowers and trees. You take a break for lunch by a small monastery and continue upwards to the base camp (located at 3800m). The camp had amazing food, beds, and views. 

Total upward elevation gained: 1200m 

Total amount of kilometres walked: 8km 


View of the camp from the small temple

Day 2: After breakfast, leave early in order to walk down the mountain. You will see several monasteries on your way down. And then, you get a spectacular view of the Tiger’s Nest monastery. What is special about this trek is that you can see the monastery from above, what others do not get to see. You walk down to Tiger’s Nest, visit the monastery early with little crowds, and then walk all the way down to the main entrance. 

Total amount of kilometres walked: 10km. 

A bird eye view of Tiger’s Nest
Things to bring (you don’t need much since it’s one night and you get a comfy and warm bed to sleep in)  

  • Trekking clothes (1 pant, 1 or 2 tshirts, 2 pairs of socks, hat)
  • Comfortable shoes or trekking boots 
  • Warm clothes and a rain jacket 
  • Camera and something to do (book, playing cards etc). 

If you enjoy nature, camping, and trekking, I DEFINITELY suggest this trek!

For any travel information check out: http://www.jambayangtravel.com

Everest Base Camp: Day by day route

I decided to share the break down of each day during our trek. I have included where we went, stayed, acclimatized and the altitude of each one. In the brackets [] you will see the total amount of kilometres we walked each day. I think this will help you prepare (physically and mentally) for your Everest Base Camp experience.

I cannot stress enough the importance of physically preparing for this trek. We saw many people struggling during the first two days, which are the easiest because you walk less and you slowly go up in altitude.

If you have never been in altitude before, i would recommend trying to go to higher mountains (Andes, the Alps, or anything nearby that is higher than 2000m). However, keep in mind that the altitude is felt much more in the Himalayas.

Our route was 10 days in total, but we did one day less on the way down, so you can have shorter days if you need/prefer.

So my recommendation is, get on that treadmill, run up and down the stairs, train at the gym and get in shape as much as possible.

Our trekking route: 

Day 1: [8km] Lukla (2840m) to Phakding (2610m)

Day 2:  [10km] Phakding (2610m) to Namche Bazar (3440m)

Day 3: acclimatize in Namche Bazar (3440m)

Day 4:  [14km] Namche Bazar (3440m) to Pangboche (3930m)

Day 5: [8km] Pangboche (3930m) to Dingboche (4410m)

Day 6: acclimatize in Dingboche. You can also take short walks to help acclimatize. We went to Imja Tsho, a Laguna located at 5010m [total of 20km return]

Day 7:  [17km] Dingboche (4410m) to Gorakshep (5164m) + sunset at Kala Patthar (5545m)

Day 8: [21km] Gorakshep (5164m) to Everest Base Camp(5364) to Pangboche (3930m)

Day 9:  [14km] Pangboche (3930m) to Namche Bazar (3440m)

Day 10: [18km] Namche Bazar (3440m) to Lukla (2840m)

Best in Pokhara, Nepal

World Peace Pagoda: A beautiful white stupa that was build on the top of a hill to honor Buddha and most of all, world Peace. The best is to trek up since you get to walk trough villages and rice fields. When you finishing visiting, have a tea or juice before heading back down. To go back to Pokhara you have some options: go down the same way you came up (about 1.5h), walk down 20 minutes and take a bus back to town, or walk down 20minutes and take a boat across the lake. 


Phewa Lake: you can do many water activities on the lake: rent a boat, a kayak, or a paddle board and venture out. If it is a hot day, take a swim! 

We rented bikes and cycled around the lake. However, beware! The road is bumpy. 

Sarangkot is located about 10km away from Pokhara. It is a small village where you can stay at a guesthouse or lodge. We stayed at Bhanjyang village lodges. The best part of staying here, is being able to wake up, walk to the private viewpoint and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while admiring the sunrise and the mountains. 


And last but not least, pay yourself a treat! Hotel Glacier and Spa is right downtown by the lakeside. The rustic building has luxury rooms, a restaurant, a cafe, and sympathetic staff. It is the perfect place to treat yourself to comfort and relaxation before or after heading out on your trekking adventures. 

Travel and Lifestyle