This definitely makes me want to travel more. Or just get out of the city and head somewhere local. I think a shift in scenery does bring a newness to the present moment. Thought this was a great post. After eight years of being a wandering gypsy, I’ve made a discovery… Travel is the new meditation. Travel breeds mindfulness, anchoring us in the ‘present moment’. Travel is good for the mind and soul, and this might just be why it feels so darn fantastic.
As hundreds of articles and zillions of Yoga classes are already teaching us, ‘the present moment’ is what it’s all about. Buddhists have spent centuries learning how to remain there, as have rishis and yogis, and now westerners have joined the party.
We are slowly becoming aware of how powerful this whole ‘being in the moment’ really is: the place of whole awareness, devoid of unnecessary thought. The present moment is the divine space where we become connected with what is right in front of us, and right within us, without any worries concerning the past, and without any future imaginings.
Personally, remaining present links directly to a clear and calm mind. In those rare, fleeting moments when I can actually find complete presence, without past worries or future anxieties, I am empowered by feelings of oneness, gratitude, boosted intuition, acceptance, peace, and best of all, I feel that I am actually in control of that crazy monkey mind, which often becomes a little too crazy and starts to take control of me.
The benefits are clear. But how does this link to travel? I began questioning why I felt so much more fulfilled, more energetic, more myself when I was travelling, yet not so much at home when working the daily grind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sad sack when I’m on my home turf. There’s beauty and gratitude and happiness scattered everywhere. However, despite those moments of happiness at home, for me there always seemed to be an overwhelming need to count down to the next trip.
Could this be because when I’m travelling I am more present? Do I feel more myself because this increased sense of presence connects me more to who I am? I vote yes.
Here’s why travel captures our presence, thus can be classed as our new form of meditation:
- WE MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT.
When we are travelling there is the sense that there is always an expiration date to what we are experiencing. This motivates us to take in every moment with a deeper sense of gratitude and mindfulness. We make the effort to see every sunrise or sunset. We taste our food, because alas, this may be the last mango we eat for months. Making the most of each moment, means that we are in the moment. Being in the moment makes it a meditation.
- WE ARE GUIDED INTO THE PRESENT BY OUR SENSES.
When we first visit a new place, we are often so amazed by everything that we see, that it’s difficult not to be in the present moment. Unlike home, where we do the same commute that leads our head so far out of the present that we can arrive home and we don’t even remember driving. When we are travelling, we are lured into noticing. The views, the sounds, the smells, they take our breath away and entice that curiosity within us. Curiosity in the people that we are meeting, the history that we are learning, or the new music or languages that we are hearing allow us to savour every moment, capturing our presence.
- THERE’S LESS PLUG IN TIME.
Although Internet connections are now accessible pretty much anywhere, I still find that travel leads you away from ‘plug in time’ a little more. Less TV, less phone calls, less accessible Internet connection 24/7. If meditation aims to connect us to ourselves, then our connection to technology is doing the opposite. Less plug in time, more ‘connect with self’ time.
- THERE’S NO TIME FOR DWELLING ON THE PAST.
If you are feeling sad, you’re living in the past. If you’re feeling anxious, you’re living in the future. This is one of the oldest explanations as to why mindfulness and meditating on the present is good for us. Luckily for us, travel kind of eradicates past and future because as we’ve mentioned, the present is just so amazing it’s hard to take our mind off it. Yes, there may be the odd long bus journey or transit time, but even these moments are sprinkled with that lovely feeling of excitement. The life of a traveller is an adventurous one, packed with activities, new people, new life lessons, glorious sites, and experiences that fill us with awe. Where in the busy life of a traveller do we have time to feel sad or regretful about anything that may have happened in our past? Present moment time = meditation time.
- WE CONNECT TO NATURE.
What is travel without sightseeing? And what is sightseeing without viewing natural phenomena? Travel connects us to nature and the world around us. As we wander around drinking in sights of rolling hills, of animals frolicking in the grass, of the sunrays catching the flower buds, or the perfect jungle pathway to break out our yoga pose, we are connecting, noticing, meditating. Yes, these meditations can be done at home, but how often do we break the daily grind to do them? Travel ignites a light in us that inspires us to truly see, and to truly connect.
So what are you waiting for? Make your next trip your meditation. Retreats are a great way to travel and to experience something out of the ordinary. You know, just in case you needed another excuse to go ahead and book that ticket. Do it. Your mind and soul will thank you.