For me traveling is one of the easiest activities to carry out with heightened sense of mindfulness. Going to an unknown place forces us to step aside from our daily routines and worries, while providing us with the opportunity to breathe in something new. It is difficult to obsess about your unpaid bills or broken dishwasher while you march around an ancient temple or float in bath-warm seawater. It would not be far from truth saying that it is easier for me to achieve mindfulness during traveling than during regular half-autopilot daily life. However, my ultimate goal is to become more mindful in my normal routines since these are the ones that dominate my days. Here are some ideas about mindful travel largely based on my own travels and experience, see if you have felt or done the same..
4 Reasons Why It Might Be Easier to Be Mindful During Travel
- Never before in human experience it has been so easy to be distracted from one’s presence. As if the traditional distractions, our thoughts and worries about past and present were not enough. Internet with all its richness is brought to us via various devices and 24/7. Our smartphones accompany us everywhere, most of us have no sacred no-phone zone in our daily life. We can check email, news and social media at any chosen time (or nonstop) and surely most of us are (almost) addicted to this constant flow of info. As soon as we have a moment of calm, our fingers start itching and moving in the direction of our smartphone. We are almost afraid of simple presence and step out of it immediately with a new e-mail or friend’s lunch image. Isn’t it comfy to have non stop food (junk food!) for our thought. Said all that, I consider traveling as a perfect time for detox from being connected (e-mails, news, social media). Fortunately data roaming is not cheap and there is no free full WiFi coverage in the world, which almost forces you to slow down with this naturally.
- Although there are many supporters of multitasking and it surely works with the right combination of tasks, it has been proven that a person can only focus on one thing at a time. Newness related to travel somehow obliges us to be present. Experimenting new cuisine, walking in a busy market, throwing a young butterfly from your hand to her first flight (and so on) are all activities that help to be in the present moment.
- Being on a holiday also enables us to distance ourselves from our daily worries that are often on auto-pilot in our heads. In this context applies well (for me) the principle “out of sight, out of mind”. It is good to pause these daily concerns and focus on the ongoing events.
- In case the first three reasons make sense (and work for you), a natural by-product will emerge. With calmer mind more clarity arises. You might see your life from different perspective, find unexpected solutions or inspiration.
Some Tips For More Mindful Travel
- Focus on the current circumstances – focus thoroughly on your trip -what you are doing (now and next) seeing, feeling.
- As important as it is to take photos, it is occasionally good to put down the camera and just look around. I like to take mental images that I can carry with me. If I find a perfect moment/view I focus on it and tell to myself “I want to remember this”. And I will.
- Savor the food, the smells, the warm temperature.. engage with locals.
- Keep journal or take notes to reflect about your experience and your gratitude for the opportunity to travel.
- And last but not least, manage your expectations – focus on the positive aspects and “small things” and do not forget that your own thoughts label things to good or bad!
This year we have decided to travel to Bali. Why Bali? Firstly, we have developed a special weakness for Asia. Thus we have already been to Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. And secondly, since I have a habit of keeping organic bucket list of things in my head, few years ago I fixed Bali as my dream destination. To be honest, I am not quite sure why.. Elizabeth Gilberts’ “Eat, Pray, Love” together with some paradise-like google images can be partly to blame. The rest I can’t remember now. Due to my vivid imagination, I have the tendency to create in my head expectations of things/ places/ people. And of course, expectations lead often to disappointments. (E.g. there was this one time when I thought that coconuts tasted like Piña Colada cocktails until I tried one..)
Find out how did it go with Bali vs expectations.. Also find out more about traveling to Bali with kids.