How to be Mindful When Traveling
Travel can be thought of as a naturally occurring means of meditation. I would even go so far as to say that travel is mindfulness thrust upon yourself. This is because when you are not held down by the doldrums of your everyday life back home, travelling to new places offers you a vast and novel experience.
It is a time where you can fully immerse your senses, experience new cultures, sights, sounds and see how this thing called ‘YOU’ fits into it all. It is quite amazing to see the change that can occur people as they travel as they build new ways of viewing the world and of experiencing it.
So, then, how do you allow this travel mindfulness to arise when you do indulge your wanderlust?
It’s quite simple really. Soak everything in.
I am writing this after just having arrived in Oslo, Norway. I’m on the coach to the city at the moment, and I’m happily taking in all the beauty of the roadside nature. I have been here before and it is remarkable to see myself once again noticing the details I observed when I last came here.
I didn’t think I’d be able to remember some of the details that I have done, and that I can attribute to the naturally occurring mindful experience of travel.
Engaging with travel mindfully means that it is a lot easier to experience memorable moments, and to heighten the pleasure you experience with whatever you are doing. Beyond pleasure, though, it allows your brain to notice all the minute details you might have missed otherwise, and this in turn helps you to shape a view of the country you are travelling in. You can more readily observe the culture there, the people, the mental schema, the landscape, the feeling of being wherever you are in the world.
Put simply, you can understand your environment better.
No matter how mundane the activity you are doing whilst travelling, no matter how exciting the activity you’re doing – it is important that you stay aware of the details of the experience and your thoughts and emotions at that time. However, hold no judgment towards any of that. Whether you’re sipping pina coladas on a beach or being held by customs at the airport, react to each event the exact same way – with acceptance, grace and mindfulness.
This practice alone will heighten your experience of travel and make it that much more enjoyable.
It also helps to have a positive attitude to whatever country you are in, and it’s inhabitants. Usually, this arises naturally as our curiosity is piqued. However, as culture shock progresses through it’s stages of excitement to disillusionment, or as we get bored, we begin to lose sight of that.
Travel can often times be quite a testing thing, and it is full of confronting fear and facing challenges that we must overcome to move forward. With these ups and downs that can occur, it is easy for our mood to wane and for us to feel homesick.
Becoming a mindful traveller means that you will begin to see reasons to have a positive attitude towards new experiences, new people, new places. They will become apparent everywhere, and you will be that much more resilient against the bad things when they do happen.
This isn’t to say you are being ignorant of negativity or drawbacks during your travels, it means that you are mindful of and acknowledge them both, but you choose to stay positive anyway and choose to see the good in what you experience, where you go and who you meet.
This state of mind is crucial when travel begins to test your patience.
Be mindful of the various aspects of a country you may encounter on your travels, and train your mind to focus on the positive things, whilst not getting caught up in the negative. Like a positive feedback loop, you will notice more and more of the fascinating details throughout your trips. They may just blow your mind.
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