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Six habits of a mindful life in Turkey

Turkish carpets.

© aNadventures

It has almost been four years since I returned to Berlin after having lived in Izmir for eighteen months. Even though I love my city very much, life in Izmir was so different and somehow light-hearted.

As I’ve recently been paying close attention to the concept of Mindfulness, I’ve been finding more and more parallels between this state of awareness of the present moment and the level of well-being I experienced when in Turkey.

Let me introduce you to six habits that made my life in Turkey particularly mindful:


Tea and coffee while sitting.

© aNadventures

  1. Sitting

Before living in Turkey I’d never considered sitting a real activity. When you ask people in Germany what they’re doing, they’ll most probably say they’re working, running some errands, cleaning, doing sports etc. In Turkey though, sitting is a very common activity that includes drinking tea / coffee / both, spending time with family / friends / colleagues, chatting away or simply being. It means sitting in the present moment.


© aNadventures

  1. Doing one thing at a time

I still vividly remember a scene that took place after going to the weekly pazar with my flat mate. We had just entered the door and put down our many bags filled with fruits and vegetables on the floor next to the kitchen. Before even taking off my coat, I automatically started arranging our purchases in the fridge. My flat mate, however, undressed and changed into her cozy home outfit. She snuggled up on the couch and started listening to some music as she shouted out to me: “Ana, what are you doing? Just relax!” I only then noticed my automated behaviour. I hadn’t even been conscious of what I had been doing because I was already thinking about what I needed to do next throughout the day. My flat mate’s comment caught my attention and I paused, took some time to breathe and relax next to her before continuing my sequence of activities. In general, I very often had the impression that my days in Turkey where just about half as packed as my days are in Germany. This helped me to slow down my pace of life and experience what I was doing more intensively instead of thinking about the next items on my to do list.


Manisa kebabi.

© aNadventures

  1. Enjoying delicious food

Food plays an important role in Turkish everyday life. You rarely eat by yourself. Eating is a social experience that includes all of your senses. You see the many ranges of traditional dishes with varieties of textures, sauces and colours. You smell and taste the spices. You hear the crunchiness as you take a bite. You feel the softness of the food as it dissolves in your mouth. You are absorbed in the experience and immersed in the present moment. Eating in Turkey is more than just a way to get your body fed so you can perform your everyday activities. Eating in Turkey is a crucial part of those daily activities. People take time to cook, to enjoy the food, to sit and share a meal with others.


Experiencing Turkey.

© aNadventures

  1. Accepting NOW

Life in Turkey is not necessarily easier than elsewhere. Of course there are challenges. People get ill, people lose their jobs, people’s hearts get broken. But still, there is an interesting way of dealing with hardships. People in Turkey tend to accept the current situation as kısmet, as destiny. So instead of dwelling on the situation that is bothering them, they find a way to continue their lives despite the hardships. They find joy in the little things and accept the situation as it is if they can’t change anything about it.


What are you feeling?

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  1. Paying attention to your feelings

I’ve previously mentioned the verb dertleşmek in another post related to what I’ve learnt from living in Turkey. It means sitting with others telling one’s troubles to one another. Paying attention to your feelings and sharing them with others instead of ignoring them or locking them away in some dark corner of your heart can feel like a comforting act of deliberation. You will instantly feel better and regular sessions of dertleşmek may help increase your overall well-being and health.


My purple suitcase.

© aNadventures

  1. Less is more

One of the many aspects I love about travelling is that I only take with me what is absolutely necessary. Focusing on less makes me feel particularly free. When I moved to Turkey, I packed a 15 kg suitcase full of clothes as well as a rucksack containing my laptop. When I moved in with two amazing girls and a little dog, I only got myself a bed and a little table with a chair to fit my Turkish room. Everything else was already taken care of by my flat mates. I enjoyed this minimalist way of life: Less stuff to carry around, less to clean, more time to focus on other things unrelated to personal belongings.  I have noticed that, to some degree, this holds also true for expectations: The less of them you have, the more you enjoy the way life unfolds.


How about YOU? Have you ever lived in a particularly mindful way? What habits do you include in your everyday life that boost your happiness and well-being? I’d love to read your comments and ideas on this topic.


From → Turkey

  1. As I was born and raised in İzmir, I definitely agree with everything you wrote. Sometimes what locals and foreigners feel about a place is really different, but for İzmir I share the same sentiments. People usually live in the moment, live slowly. My husband, who’s from Ankara, says İzmir’s keyword is relaxed as opposed to Ankara’s, stressed. I guess it’s true for most cities on the Aegean cost. People eat well, live well, walk an awful lot, and don’t worry too much.

    • Merhaba Pelin, çok memnun oldum! It’s nice to meet another İzmirli around here. 😉 Yours is a very unique city and I’m so thankful for the chance I had to experience life there. I think that eating well, living well, walking a lot and not worrying too much, as you put it, is the secret to a happy life. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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