Experience · Fear · Freedom · Philosophy · Travel

The Great Walls We Build

Think of a time in your life when you came across a physical wall and could not climb over without support. Now for most of us, a door might have been available which opened that took us across to the other side. For some, a rope or a ladder might have accompanied the wall, which in turn might have helped us jump or climb over. Depending on the width and length of that wall, some of us might have also been able to take a huge leap and found ourselves in the protected area that wall was built around. It is probably in most of our experiences though, that without the necessary support or assistance, we never really would have made it to the other side. On the contrary, wall climbing is something that does not really come up constantly in our lives.


2700 years ago, the Ancient people of China started building a strong fortification or what most of us know as the Great Wall, which lays across the historical northern borders of China gloriously. The defensive work was meant to serve as a protection from the northern Mongolian tribes from attack. It was a matter of life and death for them, which frankly could not have been left to risk. Historically, many nations and tribes have done the same.


Security, fear, protection and life are all outstanding reasons for setting up barriers. On my trip to Beijing, when I frequented the Great Wall at Jinshaling, the marvelous structure, of which I only saw a fractional percent of, I remember telling myself “that I have seen it all and if I were to die today, I would be content”. I take that back today. There is so much more out there for discovery and even though this was one of the most enriching experience of my life, I doubt that it’s fair to claim that it was most climactic.


Going back to our walls, I want you to take that wall in the metaphorical sense now. Visualize the walls that WE build, which serve to reinforce a false sense of security, meanwhile cultivating already existent fears and establishing new ones, which only serves to perpetuate a downward cycle of insecurities. During our lifetime, we meet different human beings who we decide what level of support we want to offer so they may climb the walls that we have around us. At times, we have the door open for wide entrance, while in other instances, depending on recent or previous experiences neither a rope nor ladder is offered. We are all guilty of setting up layers of walls acting defensively from imminent attack, if you asked me the emotional and mental ones, being the most frightening. It is not my position to judge whether or not these protective measures are necessary or not, right or wrong. However, it has been something I have been reflecting upon as I try to break down some of my dysfunctional walls, replacing them entirely or building healthier and sturdier ones.


Throughout these reflective weeks in yoga teacher training and just life in general, the thoughts that are rising have been somewhat pessimistic. It has made me question the barriers I’ve created and has me questioning the following:

Is it entirely possible to let go of those walls, fears and insecurities?

We might claim that we are fearless and secure, but with enough introspection, one can start pinpointing those things which actually make us tremble. Once those fears and insecurities are identified, we are one step closer to surrendering to experiences such as love, a new career, a new leap that might bring us joy and contentment. Why do we then build walls that act detrimentally towards our own happiness?

During my last few weeks of yoga training, I’ve been working on identifying some of my own walls, thick and thin, tall and short that are holding me back. Important lessons are presenting themselves especially as they arise in my human relationships. I make an active effort (which is challenging) to accept people at the exact point they are in their life. If at any point, the people I associate with decide to put up a wall against me, I actively work to detach my ego from that experience, which helps by not being upset or hurt by those actions, but just understand that that person is where they need to be at that exact moment and that wall is what needs to be constructed at that exact moment. This only permits me to cultivate a culture of tolerance and love, for myself and said person, instead of creating a repelling, hurtful and hateful energy that is most often the case. On this end of the wall, I wish I could claim “walllessness”, but there is a journey longer than the Great Wall, one that I cannot quite visualize, at least presently.

My friend Maura (my travel buddy) and I, three years in a row on one of our Model United Nations(MUN) adventures around the globe.

3 thoughts on “The Great Walls We Build

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