How I survived my SQ in Siem Reap!

Some of you might understand SQ as “self-quarantine”. Here, it’s my own initials for “semi-quarantine”. Be cautious: I’m not writing this to encourage this kind of practice because it may expose you to COVID19 infection. What you’re going to read below simply describes my short stay away from my Siem Reap home. The main purpose was just to avoid unnecessary infection to my small family.

1- It’s Yesterday Once More!

If that headline reminds you of a classic song, it drew me back to my first living in Siem Reap. Back then, to save up, I had to stay in a rented (apartment) room, annexed to a landlady’s house. That was applied again, when I searched for a play to “lock me down” just for two weeks. Thanks to my filmmaking friend, Sopheak, I found one behind his house. The first night felt steaming hot to me. So I moved from upstairs to downstairs and coped with a slightly better comfort from then on.

2- Simple, yet Expensive Stay!

Despite my minimalistic attempt, boy, I had to stock up lots of foodstuff and buy more accessories. So the expenses doubled up, compared to when I lived in Phnom Penh during our latest lockdown! Other than that, life got so simple that instant noodles and canned sardines become my “temporary favorites” 🙂 Oh yeah, if I found a meal too big, I’d keep the leftover till a next one.

3- Physical and Natural Combo

Again, Sopheak was kind enough to loan me his sports bicycle. Well, that changed virtually everything about my routines. After my morning meditation, I went on to my physical exercise. Of course, to commute around, I cycled as if no one cared! I sometimes walked around for some neighbor services. That was what I meant by “semi-quarantine” as I limited my commutation to a one-kilometer diameter of my room! Therefore, even if I changed the cafes to sit and work, I could recall where I hung out. Of course, for those two weeks, I never missed a single day of my temperature checkup.

4- Expanded Relationships?

It felt surreal when you limited your sphere of contact. Even a random barista could remember my regular order. The last sweet experience was my cafe next doors, Library Coffee, turned out to host my latest meals! The ambiance felt more humanely home to me than in my solo room. And what caused this change: their authenticity and kindness. We treated each other almost like a family. I’m not sure if they remember me on my return. But, on my next trip there, I’ll remember to drop a textbook or two in their corners for their (younger) clients’ curiosity. And my Facebook update brought me this young daring photographer-documentary maker: Choulay!

5- Family Still Matters

I totally understand how concerned my wife is about her parents and family. So my “semi-quarantine” was probably the best compromise until I completed my shift. After all, she still found time to take me some necessities. My feeling got mixed when I saw my kids just from her car window. As the saying goes, “far is near; near is far”. It all depends on our spirit. I thought they could get used to living away from me. But looking ahead, they still need my “physical” touch. Until then, virtual communications between us have done us no harm!

To sum up, this experience has proved to me that relationships still matter, despite the current pandemic. Fear may cripple us at times. Yet, love will conquer all. If you’re now still scared, go out and live your life anyway, even for the few days you count. Need a living proof? You can call me one of them – if not the one!

How does meditation heal relationships?

A few weeks ago, our Mstermind Club conducted a mindful session on Clubhouse, with our guru, Kumar from RajaYoga. Despite its low turnout, I found it worth recalling and reading for you here. These steps will open up your mind and, possibly, help fix your relationship issues.

1- Eye Contact – Energy Contact

It is important for us to keep a positive eye contact. Through our eyes, energy is sent to other people and they absorb energy into ourselves. That is why some could tell what is happening inside a person’s mind, through their eyes. Therefore, we need to be mindful about who to look at, or how to look at each other! And can you guess what these eyes are about?

2- Relationship Problems

Most problems happen to relationships out of two main reasons: expectations and desires. When these are overrated, even the slightest mishap could affect our inner balance. That is why in meditation, “detachment” is always recommended to its practitioners.

3- Relationship Antidotes

Since every issue originates from our mid, so do all solutions. But how to reduce or even get rid of relationship problems? BK Kumar suggests the following antidotes:

3-1- Honesty

To some people, it remains a challenge to be honest to others. Why? Because they are not even honest with their true selves. The key to this understanding is to accept oneself and treat our fellows equally. This way, we neutralize our moods or even expectations. Then, we can be truthful about how we feel and the others can see us through.

3-2- Trust

It not surprising that this quality succeeds the former. As we start to accept others, it feels lighter to build trust in other people. So even if it is broken or breached, we can go back to being honest without feeling victimized with abusive treatment. Can we trust again? Of course, if you learn to love again, no matter what! This reminds me of the latest animation from Disney: Raya and the Last Dragon 😉

4- Clarity Matters

As we build ourselves around those qualities, everyone around us will see us as clear as water, accessible and approachable. Then, words start spreading about us, radiating our influence and cementing our relationship across different dimensions. That is how you sometimes feel warm and charmed with some artists or leaders!

In a nutshell, even though relationship has a lot to do with other people, the first step to take is to fix our own soul. Trust me, the process has never been easy. Yet, with regular mindful exercises and reminders, you can get over any relationship challenges with your honesty and trust.

Is Virtual Relationship a New Trend?

Just in case some of you have a hard time defining this “trend”, let us refer to its definition in Wikipedia. A “virtual relationship” or “Internet relationship“, refers to a relationship between people who have met online, and in many cases know each other only via the Internet.[1] Online relationships are similar in many ways to pen pal relationships. This relationship can be romantic, platonic, or even based on business affairs. On this ground, I’d like to review this kind of relationship as follows.

Photo by Jayden Sim on Unsplash

Virtual Romance

Have you happened to have a crush on someone when you meet her or him in real life? Then, you stay connected with her or him online. Or you find him or her online first and eventually interested in her or him. Of course, you may know (about) some distant couples who keep in touch this way. In most cases, this kind of relationship leads to separation, largely attributed to lack of physical touch (if not sexual!). As the saying goes, “far from sight, far from mind”! I admit that this situation can happen to many such couples. Yet, have they made enough efforts or commitments to stay in physical touch, from time to time? Of course, when they are apart, online chats should bridge their emotional gaps. Yet, once together, how much/quality time do they invest in each other? If the answer to this question is “little”. Then, no longer wonder why they become romantically separated. Trust me: I have gone through this experience myself. The greatest challenge that tried me was “doubt”. Yet, over time, with my close circle’s support, like Mastermind Club Cambodia, I have learned to embrace the reality. Then, I have not expected too much from my partner while away.

Virtual Friendship

Do I need to mention social media covers “virtually” all our online territories? In Cambodia, Telegram is following Facebook Messenger very close, when it comes to instant chats. Hangouts, appointments, or merely personal updates, have been widely communicated through myriads of such chat groups. Even I have been added to over 100 so far just to stay in touch with my friends from high school, university or even in the same sector. Yet, the problem here is, we are plugged to too many online groups to stay focused on closer or more intimate ones. This trade-off includes our own families. Luckily, we have been given the option to mute those group notifications we find annoying to us! My habit would be to ask my friends for occasional meetups, instead of relying on hiding my emotions behind the screen all the time.

Virtual Work

If you agree that technology helps you get more jobs done faster, then, welcome to the virtual work circle! Yet, what I find funny is, when you and your colleagues simply sit side by side and you text her about such and such tasks! Although I find it very efficient to work from distance, even without on-shoulder supervision, short commutation within the office premises would do us no harm. One, this helps you build more personal rapport with your colleagues. Second, it avoids miscommunication mostly covered in mere texts, although some emojis or stickers might relieve our online tensions! Third, your muscles need some exercise at daytime so your bones will not get numb sitting at your desk all day long.

In a nutshell, I am not opposing “virtual relationship”. Yet, I believe we should spare some time for “actual relationship” as to enhance each other’s understanding and feelings for common growth. Ultimately, what matters between these types of relationship remains “trust, empathy and compassion”, without which we would get emotionally lost in this fast-growing world!