Having lived in many different cultures it gets easier. But it’s not a requirement to be able to enter a new culture and enjoy yourself.
Here’s what I learned along the way, and maybe there is something you can take with you on your next journey.
For a start, we’re all a mix of genes – mine, Dutch and Swiss, and consequently to the Swiss I was not Swiss enough, and to the Dutch, I was Swiss.
Grew up not fitting in however hard I tried – thinking I was wrong.
So I left Switzerland, spent a few years in India and ended up in Australia, living in communities with a rich mix of cultures along the way.
Over time it dawned on me: I am not wrong – just different.
Another insight was: There is a way of adapting to a different culture without loosing oneself.
A few years ago I experienced this very consciously when spending some time in a remote Aboriginal community.
I sat in the sand with the women, worked with them and ate with them.
Fitted in where possible and took a respectful distance when required.
However, being culturally inappropriate is unavoidable. There is no way you can learn the subtleties of their complex social system in such a short time.
To my surprise the faux pas were generously accepted, with someone at times gently showing the right way. On the second visit they even gave me a ‘skin name’.
This established a certain relationship to every person in their community. It’s their way of assigning a newcomer a place in their society.
So, what did I do – or not do – that made this journey into a totally different culture such a rewarding experience?
Being in the heart, and having an ability to ‘go with the flow’.
Now, this might sound strange to you. You might wonder how to ‘do’ this.
- Give your thoughts a break.
- Bring your focus to your body.
- Rest in it as if you would sink onto a comfortable sofa.
- Visualise the space in the centre of your chest opening to the world.
You will enter a kind of ‘no-mind’ space where you can be without judgment.
Tomorrow is the start of a ten day trip to China.
I have never been there. Don’t speak the language. Can’t read it, either. It’s a new adventure. No idea of what to expect.
Going into the unknown.
Focus on being in the heart, staying soft and open, dropping out of the mind into the body – and going with the flow.
Planning to ‘do’ just that.
Curious about what will happen and how I will fare? So am I.
I am also curious to find out how you’re doing with experimenting with this technique.