By Ora Nadrich
Mindfulness is a practice that we can take with us wherever we go. It’s the “practice of being present,” and that practice doesn’t have to end when we get off a meditation pillow or yoga mat. In fact, the practice of Mindfulness strengthens when we bring it with us and apply to whatever we’re doing in our daily lives.
Some people bring items with them when they travel to help them feel more comfortable. Whether it’s a pillow, blanket, incense, yoga mat, Buddha figurine or another valued object, having the things we take comfort in around us can make our space away from home more familiar, or create an atmosphere that feels more soothing or spiritual. Mindfulness doesn’t need to be packed in a suitcase. And, even when we bring different objects from home that we prefer traveling with, Mindfulness can always be there with us, adding to the travel experience.
Mindfulness holds us in what’s called “present moment awareness,” which heightens our focus and attention. By doing so, we experience much more of our new surroundings and in a deeper way. We can find ourselves enjoying much richer experiences when we travel.
Instead of rushing, which often happens because of travel schedules or wanting to cover as much ground as possible, Mindfulness slows us down and helps us be more present and observant with what we’re taking in. Instead of worrying about not having enough time, it makes us more grateful for the time we do have. It keeps us present in a moment, and we can get so lost in it, that it feels like it’s actually lasting much longer.
I remember how time completely stood still for me while staring at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris. If I’d been concerned with how much time I had allotted myself to seeing her, I’d have missed out on the beautiful out-of-time experience.
Mindfulness reminds us not to stress over the sites or experiences that we can’t fit in during our trip. Instead, it helps us fully appreciate what we’re able to see and experience. Why rob ourselves of the specialness of a moment by lamenting that we don’t have enough time while we’re in it? We do have time, and even if a trip is shorter than we’d like, we can be mindful of how present and aware we are in the moments that we do have. We’ll find ourselves feeling that our trip was completely fulfilling and satisfying, no matter how long or short the time we were there because never once did we spoil it by thinking about time limitations.
Whenever you embark on a journey, use these tips to optimize the benefits of Mindfulness:
1. Put down your devices. Turn off notifications and put your phone away as often as possible. You’ll find that present awareness to your surroundings is much more beautiful in its realness than anything you can find from scrolling on your phone or gazing at your screen.
2. Practice “life gazing.” Life gazing is an eyes-open meditation where you consciously observe everything you see with acceptance and non-judgment. You don’t realize how much you miss as you move through your day or when you’re being a “future chaser.” Take the time to become more aware and perceptive of the many layers, details and nuances of everyday living in your new surroundings. Through life gazing, open up to the individual moments in your travels and allow yourself a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship with the unfamiliar setting in which you’ve arrived.
3. Realize that we’re all connected. Mindfulness teaches you that you’re part of a “collective consciousness,” which means you share ideas, beliefs and moral attitudes with humanity as a whole. It helps you understand that how you live your life affects others. It shows why you must assume some responsibility for becoming aware and awake, so that the ripple effect will be wide and far and have a positive impact on humanity as a whole.
Mindfulness is the perfect travel companion. It allows you to fully enjoy your time when you travel by taking your concern off of how much time you do or don’t have and keeping you engaged in your surroundings through present moment awareness. When you’re in that state, time stands still.
Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity. A certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, she specializes in transformational thinking, self-discovery, and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers. Contact her at theiftt.org.