I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness in the past few years, especially after my Tuscan yoga retreat last year (and another one with Mindful Fitness coming up in Provence this year!). I try to meditate every day, even for just a few minutes, and I try (try, I stress) to live in the moment.
But nothing makes me more mindful than travel. Here are a few of the ways I (and you) benefit in finding better mind/body balance when I’m on the road.
1. You Forget About Your Phone
It’s miraculous how when you have to pay a lot more to use data on your phone, it becomes a paperweight or fancy clock! At home, my phone is my trusty sidekick, and I’m constantly checking it for messages (from my many dating apps or a friend!). But without it as a crutch, I find myself spending more time looking around and enjoying where I am.
2. You Soak in Your Surroundings
When’s the last time you looked — I mean really looked — around you at home or in your city? I mean noticing tiny things, like a plant in your yard that just started to bloom, or a business that got a new sign. We don’t tend to see these things in our environments at home because they’re familiar. Our brains think we’ve memorized every detail, and so there’s no point in scanning anew.
But when you travel, everything is brand new and exciting. I couldn’t get enough of the Tuscan landscape. I wondered if locals really appreciated their area, or if they, like me back in San Diego, simply took it for granted.
3. You Have Time to Just Be
Okay, to be fair, most people don’t take this time when they’re traveling because they spend so much time go-go-going. But I believe, as you know, in slow travel. Sometimes there’s more benefit in sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee at a restaurant than rushing to see the next museum. Scratch that; there’s always more benefit in doing so! You also find out interesting things about yourself when you stop doing and start listening.
4. You Discover That Being Alone is Pretty Cool
Not everyone travels alone, but everyone should have the experience. It might seem scary at first, because you don’t get to fill the void of your thoughts with chatter and interacting with other humans. But something beautiful happens when you open up to being alone, and when you experience something as wonderful as exploring a new place with just yourself to share it with.
5. The Worries of Everyday Life Dissipate
On any given day at home, I have 18,000 thoughts running through my mind simultaneously. I need to pick up milk before Max gets home. Did this person respond to my email? I need to check on that friend to see if she’s okay.
When you travel, you get permission to leave all that behind. That’s the point of a vacation, isn’t it? To step out of the mundane daily life and really be in the world.
Here’s a secret: you can be mindful even when you don’t travel. It takes effort, but it makes everything in your life better. I promise.