It’s easy easier to practice mindfulness when you’re sitting on your yoga mat in the middle of an airconditioned room with meditation music playing in the background. When you’re in stop-and-go traffic, waiting for your delayed flight to board, or trying to find your way around a crowded tourist spot? It’s a little harder.
Between taking photos of just about everything and using downtime to scroll through Instagram, travel leaves us plenty of room to be mindless – which only means it also leaves us plenty of room to be mindful. Here are some easy tips and tricks to keep in mind that will help you be mindful the next time you travel –
Be still – There’s always a lot of pressure to “make the most” of every trip by seeing and doing (and eating?) as much as possible. We’re often rushing between one tour to the next, trying to check as many things off our lists as possible. This does a great job of letting us simply look at things, but not really of letting us see how things are, of letting us really experience and live in the places we wanted so much to visit. The next time you’re in a new place, why not sit down in the next spot you find and really take it in. Don’t think about where you’re going next. Just be still and enjoy being where you are. I promise that same place will get more and more interesting as time passes.
Look out the window – Running around is tiring. That’s probably why so many travelers end up dozing off every chance they get. A lot of the time, this is in cabs, busses, and trains (I’m guilty, too). Being still will give you some extra energy, so you won’t be snoozing in transit. What can you do? Look out the window! A common metaphor used in meditation is that of cars on a road. Sitting back and observing cars, people, and places move from your window might not seem like much, but it calms your mind the same way naps rest your body. This works in hotel rooms, too. Turn the TV off and look out the streets!
Trade your camera for a pen and paper – Yes, a picture speaks a thousand words…but when was the last time you wrote a paragraph? Taking out a pen and a piece of paper and writing down what you see forces you into paying more attention to your surroundings and watching your thoughts more slowly and carefully. Admittedly this is not as efficient as snapping a photo, but there’s a unique kind of satisfaction that comes with reliving a moment through your own words. Don’t know where to start? Just write down what you see, hear, smell, and feel! Here’s a compromise – snap a quick a photo then go to your notes app to get your observations and reflections down. Tip: these notes might make for great Instagram captions, too.
Go on a social media break – I know I just talked about Instagram captions but hear me out. Not worrying about how to make your posts and stories cute frees so much of your mind and energy to be fully in the moment. You can share real stories to your closest friends after the trip anyway. Another benefit of not posting on social media while you’re still on your trip is that you get to relive that trip when you get back home and start posting. It’s like you went on the trip twice! Last shot at convincing you – not seeing how other people are living their lives frees you from comparison, which is great especially when you’re already having a great time traveling.
If you can practice these tips and be mindful wherever your travels take you, then you can be mindful, well, anywhere.