My Packing List for a Spiritual Journey
AS I SIT in lotus pose staring out at the vast Caribbean Sea, my mind repeats the mantra, peace, and my fingers move evenly over my string of mala beads until I achieve a steady rhythm. With enough concentration and patience, my mind becomes as empty as the sea in front of me.
When I travel, I seek out sacred, spiritual spots to reconnect with my spirit and center my thoughts. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I mediate. Sometimes I write. The location varies, from the Mayan Lubaantun ruins in Southern Belize to Ubud, Indonesia. But I’ve also had spiritual revelations in the shade of a blooming tree in a friend’s backyard. Regardless of where I am, I like to be prepared.
The tarot deck can be a peek into the subconscious mind and a fantastic tool for divination. What, exactly, am I trying to figure out? The tarot helps me center myself and focus on the question at hand. I’ve used the tarot to make decisions about graduate school and read for others with questions about jobs and relationships.
Sometimes called prayer beads, Mala beads are a string of 108 beads used to keep track of mantra repetitions. To use them, simply start with the first (lead) bead, clasping it with the thumb and middle finger of the right hand. Turn the bead, repeat your mantra, then move onto the next bead. Repeat your mantra, until you have rotated all 108 beads.
I find Mala beads especially helpful during highly stressful situations, when I need to focus my energy towards something positive. I went through a small phase where I was nervous about flying, and my Mala beads helped me focus on positive thoughts during take-off, instead of worst-case crash scenarios.
It’s difficult for me to tap into my psyche when I have a lot of energy or tight muscles. Yoga poses, especially relaxing ones like child’s pose or tree, help bring my mind and body together while clearing out my head before a meditation session. A mat is also helpful as a comfortable place to sit during a long meditation.
I travel with Women Who Run With The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a collection of archetypal feminine myths and stories. For more book suggestions, check out the 10 most influential spiritual books of the past 50 years.
Chanting music or guided meditation music
When I first started to meditate, I couldn’t control my mind for more than five seconds. I downloaded a free guided meditation on iTunes. Listening to the relaxed, calming voice of the instructor helped me work my way up to a half hour meditation.
Altars work for some people as a focal point for meditation. Since I like to meditate outside, an altar doesn’t really work for me. But I do have a pocket-sized statue of Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Unconditional Love. She was given to me as a gift from my mentor during a particularly turbulent time in my life. I send a silent prayer to Kwan Yin to open or close a meditation.
This is one of my favorite items on the list. Dream dictionaries vary in usefulness and leave a lot of room for interpretation, but for archaic, common dreams a dictionary can be really helpful. The classic examples of falling, test taking, teeth falling out, or dying all have universally regarded meanings.
It seems obvious, but when I have a profound thought, I think I’ll remember it forever. In reality, I forget in about a day. I’ve made it a habit to write out my thoughts in a journal. A journal is also a place to let my spiritual mind wander, jotting down mantras, dreams, gratitude lists, or drawings. What makes your spiritual packing list?