BECOME A MINDFUL TRAVELER
It’s Time to Destress A Bit
5 Tips for becoming a Mindful Traveler
Mindfulness, a concept borrowed from Buddhist teachings, has become a very trendy topic in the mental health literature as well as general publications. In it’s most simple terms, mindfulness means living in the moment – not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Being mindful allows a person to more fully experience and savor what is in front of them, what they are doing, at that very moment. Mindfulness allows a person to avoid stress, be more “present” and conduct themselves in a more wise manner. As a traveler, mindfulness can also be a helpful skill to develop. As a mindful traveler you will get much more meaning and pleasure out of your trip. It can help you enjoy and value each moment of your journey.
How can you be a more mindful traveler? Here are some simple yet effective ideas which you might find helpful.
1) Spend some time alone. When you travel with others, in a group or with a special friend, the needs and demands of the social interactions and relationships tend to take precedence. Communicating with others, planning, or just being around another can grab your attention. Nothing wrong with that of course. But if you are always attending to, or responding to others, you can easily get preoccupied and neglect being mindful.
Try taking a break, or maybe two, each day of your travels. Spend a few minutes alone, just with yourself. Remind yourself of the value of being mindful and aware of the joys of the journey. Refocus on the wonders of your experience and savor the journey.
2) Stop moving. Traveling can be an awesome experience and frequently as travelers we want to see and do as much as possible. Frequently our travel time is limited and we want to maximize our travel experience. This can lead to a “go-go-go” approach to traveling which can truly be a bit exhausting. Group tours frequently pack lots of activities into a day, starting atbreakfast and running non-stop into the evening. Even non-group or solo travelers can fall prey to the “got to do it all” mentality when in a new location. It’s hard, if not impossible, to be mindful when you are always on the move. Try to take a bit of control of your schedule. Take a break. Sit down at a coffee shop and relax. Watch the people, listen to the sounds, take in the smells of this place you have journeyed to. I sometimes think of this as “being there” rather than “visiting there.” Don’t just visit your destination, be there for awhile. Live the moment and soak it in.
Stop – Put Your Feet up – Kick Back – Take In The Moment
(North Rim Grand Canyon)
3) Use a “mindful reminder.” Let’s face it , you can get very busy when you are traveling. It’s only understandable that you will forget to be mindful during your day. Because of this it helps if you set up or establish something or some plan to remind you to be mindful. I liken this to having someone periodically tap you on the shoulder and whisper in your ear, reminding you to be mindful. Of course you can’t have a real person do this – so what can you use as a substitute? Be creative. Come up with something that works for you. I have a friend that sets an alarm on his smart phone to go off each hour. When it does, it is his “cue” or reminder to check himself and remember to be mindful. Personally I frequently wear a simple color plastic band on my right wrist when traveling. Each time it comes into my view it is a reminder to me – a reminder to ask myself if I have been trying to be aware and present and mindful. I also admit that, depending on where I am traveling, it can also serve as a reminder of other things such as “don’t drink the water here!” Set up some “cue” to remind yourself periodically during the day to be a more mindful traveler. It helps.
4) Put the camera down. Many travelers (and this certainly includes me I confess) are very fond of photography. It can be very easy to spend most of your time seeing your travel destination through the viewfinder on your camera! But that doesn’t really lend itself to truly seeing and experiencing the journey. As difficult as it may be, try putting the camera down from time to time. Take in the experience with your own senses. It’s hard to be mindful when playing the part of the photographer.
5) Journal. Journalling can serve a variety of purposes. And it can work in multiple ways to assist you, as a traveler, to be more mindful. First of all, journalling is a private activity so you will be alone (point # 1 above) – at least with your thoughts – while writing. Journalling also requires that you stop (point #2 above) and take the time to do it. And finally, journalling encourages you to reflect on your experiences and the impact they have had on you. As a result the process helps you focus on being a more mindful traveler.
Be A Mindful Traveler …………….. And Enjoy the Journey.
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