Traveling is not just about seeing places. It is an overwhelming spiritual experience where one can learn to connect with the unknown, other than connecting to oneself. It is a journey beyond the comfort zone, to seek the greater knowledge of patience and perseverance, discover a profound sense of peace, joy, and appreciation. In one way or another, you will grow and learn, and that’s really what travel is all about.
While for some people, traveling might be a leisurely act, here are a few key methods which will enrich you and make traveling a spiritual journey.
Intention – To Look Deeper and Understand ‘Why’ This Journey Is Important
Every journey that we undertake should have a purpose and a deeper meaning to it. Without a purpose or intention, travel can become just a hollow pass time, a constant meaningless party, or just another thing to consume.
The journey is more like a seed we sow in the soil and it’s the intentions that’ll help us to grow and blossom, enriching the experiences beyond our imagination. Whether we choose to relax on a beach in Thailand, learn how to cook quesadilla while in Mexico or explore the ruins of Machu Picchu digging deeper into the history of the Incas – any intention is valid as long as it is adding something to our lives.
During my month-long journey in Bhutan (which is considered to be one of the happiest nations of the world), I constantly tried to feel the goodness of people and understand how could most of them go out of their way to help me. Their approach towards me changed my way to look at life and transformed me into a more patient traveler.
If you are setting out on a journey and aren’t able to find the purpose or not sure what exactly you are looking from this journey, then try and do the following, which might be of help.
Take a notebook and write down at least 5 things that you wish to learn from this trip.
Create a mantra for yourself and remember it throughout your trip. It may be as simple as trying out one new thing each day – something that you have never done before.
Lesson – Focusing on the intentions will not only help us to find a deeper meaning of the journey but also help us in life. We’ll understand better that everything happens for a reason and nothing occurs without a purpose.
Meditate – To Understand The Truth Of ‘Impermanence’
“To travel is to embrace impermanence”.
People lose their dear ones & things precious to them and often tend to grief over it for days. Travelers, on the other hand, know that everything will flow at its own pace, things will drift away, plans will fall apart and there will be friends whom we won’t ever meet again.
The truth of life is that nothing will remain forever. Only travelers, other than Buddhist monks, know and accept the value of impermanence. Through meditation, we can learn to face the storm like a pro and accept everything that comes our way, gracefully. It’s important to understand that ‘this too, shall pass’.
During your journey, it is essential to make some time out for meditation, maybe just 5 minutes in the morning when you wake up or at night before going to bed. It is a practice that’ll help in understanding that no matter what good or bad might be happening, it’s not going to linger for long. Meditating daily eventually will help us to keep the thoughts floating and flowing, rather than clinging to it.
Lesson – No matter how beautiful the journey is or how far it takes us, it’ll come to an end sometime. Live the moment because it’s never going to come back again.
Observe – Look Around And Connect With The Place
This is something that I repeatedly mention while talking about journeys – the power of observation. While most of the people (generally tourists) have the tendency to rush from one place to another, trying to see all that can be possible within a stipulated time, I would rather suggest you to slow down and observe. Maybe you will miss out seeing a lot of things, but all that you’ll see will help you to connect better with the place.
If you ask any serious nomad what they love most about travel, you’ll find that ‘watching people’ is often high on their list. Many a time, I would sit at a roadside cafe or at the park or the beach, and look at the people around me. Often, I concentrate more on the natives, trying to understand how their life would be like, what would be their daily struggles, what would make them happy etc.
When I was traveling in Singapore, I met an Uber driver and got to know that he was a farmer from China who moved with his family to provide better education to his children. He told me how he longed to go back to his village and spend his old age there. I realized that ‘home’ is such an important place for everyone, and even though he had his immediate family living with him, he wished to return back to the place where his ancestors lived.
Lesson – It is the journey that matters more than the destination. Only when we give ourselves the time to observe, will we get to know the beauty that lies in everything, and connect with the place as well the people whom we meet on the way.
Offerings – Think What & How Can You Give Back To The Place You’re Visiting
One way to make traveling more meaningful is by offering something back to the host country. And what can be better than volunteering for some good cause? In today’s world, there are several underprivileged people in different parts of the world, who are far away from the reach of development and still living a life without certain basic necessities like proper healthcare facilities or elementary education.
The best way to offer help is through volunteering for a cause that would directly engage you with those in need. No matter how small a step you take, know that you’ll eventually make an impact in someone’s life.
Another way would be to get engaged in some sort of conservation work. Maybe you can plant a few trees in the locality where you’re living, or pick up the waste you find on the streets. No one would come to acknowledge your deeds, but deep inside, you would know that you’ve contributed something.
Lesson – In order to make a deeper connection to the place we visit, we need to make an offering. It doesn’t have to be something big, but it definitely has to be meaningful.
Gratitude – Say ‘Thank You’ Everyday
Speaking from my own experiences, I know that it is very natural and easy to get exhausted while on the roads. There are hundreds of things that never work the way they should, a lot of things fall out of place, mishaps happen and situations get hard. But if we pause for a minute and think, we’ll understand that each of those situations adds something to your story and helps us grow. There’s always something to learn from every circumstance we face and every person we meet during the journey.
Rather than complaining – “Why this happened to me?”, be grateful and say – “Thank God this happened to me”. To quote a friend who recently gave me a beautiful piece of advice, “Smile and acknowledge the fact that this happened to you because the Universe knows you’re strong to deal with the situation.”
Pause for a moment and think that there are several other people across the world who would love to be in your place! You, of all, have the freedom to live the way you want, see places beyond borders, meet people who don’t speak your language, binge on the world cuisine and witness the myriad colors of sunsets in different countries – aren’t these reasons enough to be grateful?
Lesson – Traveling is a mindful practice like I said earlier, and it increases the sense of appreciation in our lives. Start practicing gratitude, and watch the world transform around you.
Above all, there needs to be a commitment towards your journey. Being a traveler myself, I have realized the fact that it is not as fancy as it might appear from outside, but what in life is actually smooth? My journeys have taught me lessons that no school books ever spoke about. I met the best people on the road and created bonds for life. I learned about the magical practice of ‘Vipassana’ meditation from a friend I met during one of the most memorable trips.
Before I conclude, I would like to say that no matter where you go, just sink in the place and give yourself enough time to experience the world around you.