The Art of Spiritual Travel

by Cameron Karsten Dec 14, 2006

Spiritual travel column by Cameron Karsten

You’re at home. Priorities, concerns, handling of money and dealing with the collection of physical accoutrements are placed before you. You observe life, you fall into it, and then suddenly one day a choice presents itself.

You feel a desire to leave everything: your work, your friends, your life behind. It is the inevitable moment of choice: shall you choose the same rigorous routine, or a whole new dream, unknown and only imagined.

Which will you push aside?

There was the time in my life when the choice arose. I remember it specifically: I could have shrug my shoulders and assumed that playing the role of a “normal” life is what I had been selected to play; or I could instead drop everything and disregard the responsibilities that beckoned me into a deepening well of apathy.

I regarded the two choices (go with it or change it) with all my senses, and then I threw them aside. I decided to follow the choice presenting the illimitable possibilities within this world.

I listened to my heart and soul and disregarded the insignificant. I dreamed of travel. I yearned for the freedom of exploration. My heart and soul whispered of tales abroad among a new life of transformation.

It was simple.

I packed the few possessions I thought I needed and left with a flexible ticket to the Orient.

There, I realized I didn’t need anything I had first suspected, and so I emptied my sack of all the perceived necessities and placed myself in the hands of my new environment.

With my mind lightened and my worries about necessities eased, my awareness expanded away from the pack upon my shoulders to my surroundings. This observance immediately came full circle, returning me to an original recognition of the potential that rested within me.

Suddenly, traveling became an immersion into inner experience.

My lifestyle transformed from the ordinary railway line of dead-ahead tracks that began with my birth (ending with my inevitable death) — to that of something entirely different.

Prior to my traveling transition, I longed to see as far ahead into the future as possible. From as early as I can remember to as recent as the present day, society told me what to do, where to go and what to aspire towards.

I was assured through this dependence that the highest education and the most respected career would bring me happiness. The future was what I needed: that was where my happiness lied, and subsequently, would forever be. I sincerely believed it.

But then my lifestyle became an inner journey.

I no longer strained to peer into a remote future, but stopped far short and inhaled. I breathed in the present moment and realized that in this very slice of existence-right before me, existing nowhere else-happiness prevailed and awaited inside me.

Travel, and the immersion into an inner experience, begets more and more-and more-travel. It’s not an addiction. Nor is it a habit of escapism. It is a transformation of lifestyles. True travel is a place of opening yourself to the processes of inner journeying.

It is laying down the arms of ordinary life and undertaking a new style wholly involving oneself and the world abroad. It is a return to the recognition of who you are, where you came from and where you’re going within the mass of global evolution.

I was traveling and this was my dream. With this simple decision to follow my heart, I reclaimed my own destiny. Without it I was not myself, and with it I could do anything.

My life became a spiritual journey.

Cameron Karsten is the new spiritual travel editor for Brave New Traveler. Each week he will explore the emerging art and practices of spiritual travel.

Have you ever been faced with a similar choice in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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