It’s the travel time of year, when we plan vacations to experience new and exciting adventures. Expansive travel can unlock vast natural wonders that inspire awe, as well as open up a sense of connection to history, with jaunts into haunts that place you in vistas that are thrilling, yet foreign to you. However, world travel can quickly become “whirled travel” if you get caught up in the logistics, tourism, and flight delays that go along with it.
World travel offers you the kind of adventures that invite you into new landscapes which lure you away from your comfort zone and guarantee a transformational experience. But you’ve got to realize that travel as a knee deep, wide eyed, excursion into unfamiliar settings can also be an extraordinarily fulfilling spiritual practice.
It has been our experience that travel always adds to your spiritual resume. It takes you out of your routines and comfort zones. It demands traveling at the pace of your spiritual unfoldment. When you travel as a spiritual practice, the walls separating ‘you’ and ‘them,’ and ‘self’ and ‘other’ begin to crumble. Or perhaps they just dissipate because they were illusions in the first place. The thought will occur to you: How far do I really have to travel to discover the real me?
As much as we love to travel, domestically and internationally, for spiritual purposes as well as vacations, we are also fans of Carl Jung’s fantabulous observation: People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. They will practice yoga… observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts… all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls.”
His wisdom serves as a reminder that although travel can be a transformational experience, you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to ‘find’ your innate divinity. It’s just a thought, insight, affirmation, meditation, prayer, or mantra away. Still, there’s something about physical travel to distant places and environments that compels us to experience the unfamiliar so we can get in better touch with the familiar! And that ‘something’ is the deeper, more transcendent part of us that knows that the world, and the entire universe, for that matter, are simply parts of us that we haven’t fully explored.
Getting in touch with other geographies reminds us of our own geography. As John Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams remind us in their splendid book, The View From the Center of the Universe:
Each of us is an atomic pastiche: the iron atoms in our blood carrying oxygen at this moment to our cells came largely from exploding white dwarf stars, while the oxygen itself came mainly from exploding supernovas that ended the lives of massive stars, and most of the carbon in the carbon dioxide we exhale on every breath came from planetary nebulas, the death clouds of middle-sized stars a little bigger than our sun. We are made of material created and ejected into the Galaxy by the violence of earlier stars. Human beings are made of the rarest material in the universe: stardust. Except for hydrogen, which makes up about a tenth of our weight, the rest of our body is stardust. Our bodies literally has the entire history of the universe, witnessed and enacted by our atoms.
Your physical travel is an extension of the changes in your inner landscape. It is a journey that is an interior renovation, because you will come back a more updated version of your former self.
Here’s How This Spiritual Practice Works: Turn travel, even if it’s on a short leash (domestic travel), into a spiritual practice. Remind yourself you are taking sooooo much more than just your bags; you are leaving behind sooooo much more than just a home address; you are trading the ‘old’ you for the ‘new’ you; and you have the opportunity to journey sooooo much further than just the miles to your destination, because the real trip is an inner trek. It is an expansion in consciousness.
Here are several spiritual vacations you can take as you travel within:
- Find time to meditate everyday.
- Bless each meal with a prayer.
- Mentally connect with the essence of your experiences, appreciate the underlying satisfaction each one brings.
- Enjoy sunsets and starry nights.
- Read spiritual literature.
- Each night celebrate at least three things you are grateful for that you experienced that day.
- Purchase a spiritual memento.
- Mentally greet everyone you see with a silent “Namaste.”
- Add visits to spiritual places as sacred grounds during your trip.
- Build in time for mini spiritual retreats – include silent retreats.
- Practice random acts of kindness.
- Recite mantras.
- Make belly laughs a habit.
- Commune with nature.
- Take care of the environment.
- Make respect, compassion, and non-judgmentalness your decisions.
- Dine on spiritual hors d’ oeurves.
- Sing spiritual and inspirational songs you know out loud.
- Add a couple of other spiritual practices to the ones we’ve mentioned.
- Work all things together for good.
- Enjoy your trip … as you walk the spiritual path on practical feet!
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