Mindfulness,  Travel,  Yleinen

Challenge Yourself – Traveling and Mindfulness

Are you ready to challenge yourself? Here, I give you some effective mindfulness based practices that you can start doing already today! All you need is an open mind and you’re good to go.

This time I want to write about how to combine traveling and mindfulness. During this month I have been traveling for work, and I made a commitment with myself not to forget my daily meditation routine even though I was traveling. This was a real challenge as my mind was fully focused on work-related topics. But I gave it a go. So how I did it? Keep reading if you want to know.

What is traveling in mindfulness?

What actually is mindful traveling? The answer might be even boring because it is nothing special. Traveling mindfully means you bring your awareness into your inner self and the present moment, wherever you are and despite what happens around you. Sounds simple, but why can it be difficult to reach a mindful state of being while traveling? Crowded airports with stressful people around you – maybe including yourself – , tight schedules, unclarity and the feeling of not knowing or losing control etc. are distractions that can make you forget mindfulness in a second. And that is understandable. However, it is not impossible to bring awareness and mindfulness into your travel days as well.

Why traveling mindfully?

First of all, traveling is exciting but also stressful. Even though the trip would be one of the highlights of the year, it does not mean it would be stress-free. Traveling requires planning and arrangements which itself already requires a lot of energy. Not to mention, everything doesn’t usually go as planned while traveling. There are a lot of emotions involved; excitement, frustration, disappointment, dealing with the unknown or feeling of losing control over things. People can react very differently once they step out of their familiar surroundings and explore something new. For those who tend to overthink or stress out of basically everything, I strongly encourage to start practice mindful traveling.

As it might makes sense, the importance of mindfulness increases once we explore the unknown via traveling. You are not at home where you have the “safe place” to be yourself and meditate. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter where you practice mindfulness. You are still the same person and you can connect with yourself wherever you want. In fact, being mindfully present in the moment for example on an airplane can increase the feeling of safety; finding peace within yourself despite what happens around you. For example, if you have a fear of flying, mindfulness is a great way to help dealing with the fear and can even help you overcome it.

How to combine traveling and mindfulness?

Are you ready to try this out? You can of course do this in whatever kind of a trip you have, but my example is related to a trip abroad via airplane. The first concrete action what you should do is to arrive at the airport well in advance. Eliminating the feeling of being in a hurry is the first and most important thing to remember. Once you arrive at the airport knowing that you have time to do all the necessary things before the take-off, you can release a lot of energy towards focusing on yourself.

At the airport, if there are long queues and people around you are veery frustrated, that is a great opportunity for you to practice mindfulness. If you start to feel those negative emotions, gently bring your attention to that emotion and acknowledge it. Notice it and breathe it out. The easiest way to help yourself during those hectic moments is to bring your awareness into the breath. Remind yourself that despite the surroundings might be stressful, you don’t need to become part of it.

What I noticed at the airport during my latest trip was that people were very stressed out, even aggressive in their behavior and communication style. At first, I started to feel stressed out myself, but after noticing it, I brought my attention back to my breath. I chose not to be impacted by any external factor, but simply to be in the present moment with myself. And it felt liberating.

Another place to be mindful during traveling is the airplane. Actually, the airplane is a great place to do a sitting meditation practice. You are sitting still anyway, so why not give part of the flight time to yourself. A 15minutes, even a 30minutes practice is very welcome during the flight. Letting go of all the expectations you might have towards your trip, forgetting your exciting plans for a while, and just focusing on yourself. It will do good to you, I promise.

Yet another suggestion is to end each day of your trip with a short mindful moment. It can be anything from brushing your teeth mindfully towards a mindful yoga practice. And my last tip is that whenever you feel like you are losing connection with yourself – i.e. your emotions of body sensations start to take control over yourself – gently bring your attention back to the breath.

Most importantly, remember to practice on your own terms. Deep down you know what is right for you. And that is all you need.

x Mari Susanna

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