Healing through travel: Cuba

”Your soul was not created to sit in a cubicle and make money, you came here to make memories that will surpass time and space”

Esmeralda Garcia.

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When I first started this blog, I really had no idea what direction my writing would take, I just knew I wanted to share my experiences and help others in their own path to emotional recovery and spirituality.  And to be honest, I doubted myself a lot, and I still do.  I want honesty to be a clear foundation between my readers and me, I am not in the search of blinded followers, my heart desires to build relationships with my readers.

The platform that I want to create is: using travel as a way to free my soul and heal the many wounds created along the way, all the way from the first breath to the present moment.  You often hear that time heals everything. Indeed this is real but add a beautiful vacation to a destination of your choosing, and there you have a match made in heaven.

Speaking of which, Time has taught me is that the healing process cannot be rushed, you truly have to sit with all your emotions as hard and challenging as they may be. It took patience and commitment, but there is no more rewarding thing than looking back and realizing how much knowledge you have attained or even how much you have healed, give yourself acknowledge your progress. Do not follow the voice of the inner critic, it will never give you the encouragement you need.

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Now, back to my trip to Cuba, this adventure came with a lot of fear, doubts, and challenges, flying on a plane triggers my anxiety, and it is tough to deal with even with the amount of knowledge I have picked up over the past year. You probably wouldn’t even guess this with the amount of travel  I have done this year alone, but this as well is part of my journey, overcoming this fear every time so I can get to my next destination.

I have realized that although I live in a big city which brings a lot of incredible opportunities, my heart is set on the countryside. I love the rain, the trees, and don’t even get me started on watching the stars on a clear, beautiful night and for my blessing, Cuba offered this and more.

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I think the best way for anyone to connect with themselves while being away is to disconnect from distractions and noise. I came here with the intention not to use my phone, and I have to admit it was an excellent way to remain present, not checking my phone every 5mins to check on social media updates.  In this millennial age we live, our phones have become a part of ourselves, and using it on a daily basis as the answer to everything is easy to forget how much we take for granted in the outside world.

In this beautiful country, one of the best assets I encountered were the people, the hosts at the house we stayed were so kind and genuine I honestly felt like I was visiting long time friends, this was a great sign for me to let my guard down and let them in. I never really encountered such feeling with my family but it always amazes me how strangers can make you feel so at home yet they don’t really know who you are. This restores my hope in this world becoming a better one for everyone.

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We stayed about 45 mins from the capital: la Habana, and it was truly the best decision we could have made, I love the feeling of being surrounded by nature everywhere you look and the peace of observing all these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.  Another perk that we had was: the beach, about 5 mins away from the house, how wonderful to be there with all the locals and see things through their eyes. Reading so much about the Cuban “situation” you’d expect to see a lot of sadness and catastrophe but what I witnessed was nothing but pure joy and happiness. There wasn’t really one moment while being in the country where I felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

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But, because nothing is ever perfect this trip did not come without any lessons not just for me but also for the rest of the group, I will share the most enlightening and powerful of our experience. We are so privileged, so damn lucky of the many opportunities we get every day, yet we are very ungrateful, and we take all this privilege for granted. I thought to myself, how lucky I am where I get to make a commitment to be a vegetarian, and although I have profound ethical and spiritual reasons to choose this when you can barely afford the basics, this becomes a sacrifice, not a choice as it is for me and many of us.

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On our last day in Cuba we visited ”el Barrio” this translates to: ”the hood”.  El Barrio located a block away from one of the main streets: Calle Obispo. Just walk one block, and you will see poverty and a lot of struggle, kids running around the streets with bikes I have never seen anyone here in NY riding. Sadly enough I have seen many beautiful toys in the trash those kids would kill for. But you know what else I saw: happiness, humility, open hearts and genuine smiles.

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My girlfriend asked me if we could take the kids to eat ice cream with us, I must admit she is more kindhearted than me, I thought to refuse, but her desire to make a difference genuinely inspires me, and boy was it inspiring. We took them to the same street where all the tourists walk around, I dare to assume this is not something they often do.  They were so happy, it brought me back to my own childhood, I was just like one of them, I did not have luxuries or even some basic needs, but I was so happy. Seeing them so excited and contempt makes you wonder why is it so hard for adults to be happy having it all while kids who have nothing feel on the top of the world over getting ice cream on a hot day in Habana.

I had one of the best experiences of my life, and the more I know myself, the more this brings me closer to those around me.I cannot wait to take you with me on my next adventure.

Cheers!

Anxiety is not the cause but the effect

IMG_3162‘There is beauty inside of you waiting to be discovered. Your perception of yourself has nothing to do with the outside world so if you cannot see it then it is time to go within.”

 

If you are currently reading this feeling lost, and in need of guidance, I certainly hope that I can at least set you on the right track of your personal search for answers. I want to share, and it is not a secret that I have been suffering from an anxiety disorder for years, if you are experiencing the same, please know that I feel your pain. I honestly feel for the panic attacks you have experienced and for the many times you have felt inadequate and defeated. And if you have not been told this yet, please trust me when I say: you are not crazy, not broken, and you will not spend the rest of your days like this.

When I first started my journey of recovery, at first I was looking for the quick fix, the magic pill, I wanted a quick exit out of it. I was looking for answers in books, websites, and Substances thinking that I would find the help I needed on the outside. Little did I know that I had all the answers with me and it would take a lot to uncover.

After a year of ups and downs and many sleepless nights, I can say that I have accomplished a new sense of peace and purpose and I want the same for you. My dear reader, I want you to be the best version of yourself starting today.

The first thing you need to know is that your anxiety as awful as it feels, it is not the cause but the effect. This means that all those panic attacks and sensations throwing you into dismay every time are just the symptoms of the real reason:  Emotional trauma. All your answers are in your memories, and once you start witnessing them, you will understand why, your own body was trying to keep you from having to go through it, again.

Now I want to clarify and bring light to what trauma is, although abuse comes in many forms, I know that when we hear the word, we think of the most horrible physical or sexual violence and although yes this is in fact and undeniably traumatic. We tend to overlook the different types of traumatic experiences anyone, but specifically, children go through.Just to name a few think: neglect, bullying, invalidation, abandonment, verbal attacks, physical or sexual violence.

In my childhood, I went through a lot of traumatic experiences, always feeling helpless to the circumstances.  I became so conditioned to feel like my opinion did not matter that I internalized everything and made it my own. I believed the different times I was made feel like I wasn’t enough and lived this truth every day for far too long. Every time you experience abuse, it creates a layer of false beliefs and insecurities and the longest it goes for, the more terrible and devastating your present anxiety will be.

When I first started digging into my past my defense mechanism was immediately triggered, I had stored so much pain for so long that any attempt to unlock it only increased my panic attacks, and this is just a warning sign. This is just an alarm going off inside of you. Your brain in every effort to protect you has locked away so many awful memories and keeps throwing all this distraction manifesting as panic attacks, blurry vision, a feeling of fainting, disconnection from reality and many other uncomfortable feelings.

I am not implying this is not horrible. It is! I am saying: this is just the surface of the reality right underneath and for you to be free from it.  You need to go down the darkest days of your life and get to the core of your false beliefs.

There are many  things I do to help my recovery from my emotional trauma, I want to share a few, you use the ones you feel most connected to or use them as a reference and starting point in your own search for love, peace, and happiness:

  • Seek a therapist: this will allow you to get guidance and also have a safe space for you to share whatever comes to the surface. Do not be afraid to share your secrets for fear of them sharing it, by law they cannot. Also, they will not be biased and will give you useful feedback and advice. If you do not know where to start Here is a link.
  • Do not expect miracle work, many of your first sessions will be around establishing trust and getting to know the basics of what you should expect. Also, know that your therapist cannot ”fix” you and you will be doing most of the work.
  • Do not put a time stamp on this process, this is a mistake I made, and it was hard to correct, getting to know yourself will take time, and you will progress at a very steady pace, but there’s no way of telling when you will feel done with it.
  • You will hit a lot of emotional lows, and at times it will feel as if you will never get passed this sad moment. Trust that nothing lasts forever and this stage is not the exception
  • Isolating yourself to be alone will become a necessity:  You could not do this work if you are surrounded by distractions, so keep in mind that, parties, alcohol, sex, food and drugs are tools you could use to cope with the emotional distress. Be strong and treat your cravings as a sign you are on the right track.
  • Be compassionate, and although sometimes you will not know how. Just be patient and know that this is how Self-love is created. One day at a time and treating yourself as a work in progress and not a lost case.
  • Distancing from those who hurt you will be ideal, they are a constant reminder of your pain, and you deserve better.
  • Your work is not about gaining validation from the same individuals who harmed you but loving yourself so much that now you validate yourself.
  • Expressing your emotions will be a most so allow the tears, the pain, the rage and anything else that comes up to flow naturally and unjudgementally. Now that being said, when it comes to anger I highly recommend to be mindful of your triggers and remember you are working on being a healthy and grounded individual so do not hurt anyone in your path, you will not create love in yourself by harming others.
  • Your job is to become the observer in the of your emotions and let them come and go as they please, see them as waves in the ocean.
  • Journaling your experience will be very beneficial, express your thoughts and feelings by writing, recording, posting, painting, singing or playing instruments, supporting your creativity will have significant healing effects.
  • Lastly, support yourself in any wholesome and healthy way you like, whether you choose to exercise, connect with nature, try new things, travel, practice yoga or meditate. Do what your heart asks for.

If you haven’t yet, I invite you to read my article about Self-love here, this is a continuation of my Self-development series. I wish you great success on this journey and ask you to be your own hero starting right now.

If there is anything you want to ask, feel free to drop your question below.