The following is an excerpt from the book “Mindful Travelling” By Sarah Samuel.
Mindfulness happens effortlessly when we travel. When we take time to step away from our daily routines to enter new surroundings, we naturally become more present. We open up to the exciting and the unknown, forced to pay attention as our senses respond to new stimuli – be it witnessing unusual landscapes, tasting exotic foods or watching local people. As we effortlessly respond to the now, we also open up to different aspects of ourselves, expanding our appreciation of not just the world around us, but the world within us, and the joy of being alive.
TRAVELING THE WORLD, FEELING ALIVE
We live in an awe-inspiring world. If I stop for a moment to ponder the myriad of landscapes, cities and cultures that I could potentially visit, I feel like a child in an Aladdin’s cave of wonders. It fills me with a sense of possibility, excitement and freedom.
Travelling is a feast for the senses, giving us the opportunity to explore and find something new and exciting every day. There is a plethora of possible destinations to choose from – palm-lined beaches with turquoise waters, jagged mountain ranges and plunging gorges, bustling cities with vibrant markets, tropical jungles and barren deserts. There are Buddhist temples, skyscrapers and medieval hilltop villages. There are people of different languages and cultures, and cuisines with an array of flavors and scents.
When we transport ourselves from one culture to another we naturally become observers, able to bring stillness into the hustle and bustle of the world around us. Our senses become heightened as we respond to new sounds, smells and sights.
The Perfect Trip
Now, more than ever before, people from all walks of life are taking the opportunity to travel. Modern media enables us to find out anything we want to know about most places in the world – how to get there, where to stay, what to do, where to eat. We can buy flights and book hotel rooms in an instant. Other travelers’ reviews verify these places so that we know what to expect and enable us to tailor-make our perfect trip.
Wonderful as these resources are, the perfect trip cannot be found in a guidebook, map or web page. The perfect trip is found in the ability to be open and present to all we experience, and it is often the unplanned experiences that delight us the most, from chance encounters with friendly local people to the hidden nooks we find when we get lost.
Connection with What Makes Us Feel Alive
Above all, traveling is really about connection. By taking ourselves out of our ordinary daily lives, to connect with loved ones, with the Earth or with ourselves, we gain perspective on our own life and what is important to us. In the awareness of each stage of traveling, be it the patience that is required to board a plane, or the appreciation of sinking our teeth into a ripe, sun-warmed fig, we shake up the mundaneness inside ourselves, so that our lives become broader and our knowledge of self deeper.
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
~ “Hasidism and Modern Man” by Martin Buber
A common misconception about mindfulness is that its purpose is to help us feel more relaxed and happy. This is only a half-truth. In our awareness of all that is, we disrupt the status quo, confronting aspects of ourselves and the world around us that we would otherwise prefer to avoid. Our world is both a beautiful, miraculous place and a hear t-wrenching, unjust place. We cannot shut ourselves off from one and feel only the other. Traveling with an open heart, we embrace both the pain and joy of the world and our lives.
About This Book
This book is not so much about where to travel to as it is about how and why to travel, so that traveling becomes a joyful and life-enhancing experience. It is about how to be open, curious and present as you step into the new and unknown, letting go of the need to plan and control. My intention is to inspire you to embrace the sense of freedom that goes with leaving your home behind to step onto the open road with a myriad of possibilities and exciting potential. You will be encouraged to step beyond your comfort zone to exciting experiences that allow you to feel your edges and as a consequence feel fully alive; to contemplate what it is that draws you to certain places and people; and to consider how, by traveling, you can learn more about yourself beyond your own culture and conditioned self. I suggest ways to confront the many challenges we may face when we travel, and how to embrace a world (and our own lives) that can be full of paradoxes. I explore what it means to embrace the richness and diversity of life, whilst at the same time feeling the unity of being human. And lastly, I give ideas about how to bring the experience of traveling back home with you – staying open, curious and present to all that is in your daily life.
Traveling with an open heart, we embrace both the pain and joy of our world and our lives.
Sarah Samuel is a mindful traveller who has explored many different spiritual traditions, practices and teachings. She has been on silent meditation retreats in Europe, walked pilgrimage routes in Japan, and experienced Buddhism in Northern India and Tibet. Sarah integrates mindfulness into her daily life through meditation, and the courses and workshops she runs through her business, Potent Creatives, potentcreatives.org. She lives in Brighton, UK and is the author of Mindful Crafting, 2018.