Having a healthy mind is just as important as having a healthy body. The same way we routinely exercise our bodies should be the same way we routinely practice some kind of mindfulness, that is, bringing ourselves back into the present moment, admiring it and appreciating it for all that it is. Often unbeknown to us, we spend so much time with our minds in the future or in the past, we miss the most beautiful moment of all, the present.
Meditation is one form of mindfulness, recognized widely for its ability to tackle the chaotic mind, bring about calmness, and help relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and even depression. In a world that demands so much of the conscious mind, tapping into the subconscious mind is like finding true refuge in the here and now, simply by closing your eyes and listening to your breath. It can really be that simple.
Here are five ways to practice daily meditation while traveling, which will help you relish and appreciate those extraordinary moments of adventure that truly make you feel alive.
1. Become an early riser.
The morning can be one of the most beautiful parts of the day. I know in Kathmandu, Nepal, the sun rises at 5:30 AM and it’s the perfect time to explore the silent streets, hidden temples, and ancient architecture before the daily chaos swarms upon the city and what was still is now turbulent. Waking up early not only provides an opportune advantage to explore a city in its stillness, but it also adds those few extra hours to your day, hours that you can use to start your day off with some mindfulness and meditation.
When you wake, sit up straight, take some deep breaths, and spend 10 or 20 minutes with your eyes closed, concentrating on the simple movement of your chest as it rises and falls with each breath. Watch thoughts come and go as if they were clouds, knowing that clouds always pass. Be grateful for the moment and the moments ahead, for the day is new and can be whatever you want it to be. You are the player in your own adventure.
2. Utilize meditation apps.
While meditation is simple, many of us have been so conditioned to occupy our mind with thoughts that it can be difficult to “switch off.” This is where guided meditation can help. The sound of a voice can be what switches the mind of the meditator from conscious activity to subconscious activity. Think about those times you were driving and ended up a few miles down the road with no recollection of that part of the drive. That’s because your subconscious mind took over. This is what happens during a guided meditation.
As meditation begins to play a larger role in Western civilization, numerous applications have been developed to help individuals reach that place of refuge. As a beginner, these meditation apps are a great way to start your practice and can be very useful while traveling. Apps such as Insight Timer, Calm, and Headspace offer a number of guided meditations and talks about meditation to get you started. They even have the option to set a meditation reminder so you don’t miss your daily dose of calm while traveling.
3. Join a local yoga class.
If creating a spot for meditation in your daily routine while traveling is proving difficult then there is always the option to join a local yoga class, and this will combine both the exercise you need for your body and the exercise you need for your mind.
At the end of every practice, participants enter savasana, literally translating to corpse pose, where you lie on your back and spend 10 to 15 minutes in complete relaxation. This is essentially a form of meditation as music plays and you drift off into the subconscious. The intensity of the practice acts as an aid to bring you into a restful state, leaving you calmer and more aware, ready to approach the day with a clearer mind.
4. Get out in nature.
There’s something about the sound of the waves or the smell of the rainforest that automatically brings you back to the present moment and sparks an appreciation for the natural beauty of our world. Have you ever wondered why crystals are so widely used in esoteric practices like meditation? Or why the root chakra is associated with grounding? It’s because both these aspects adhere to the idea of the earth playing a core role in our energy healing. We are alive because of the air we breathe and our bodies are 60 percent water. We are essentially the planet in human form.
Surrounding yourself with nature while traveling can be a form of meditation in itself. Try practicing some breathing meditation or guided meditation while you’re surrounded by nature. Or just stop, breathe, and be gracious for the views.
Getting out in nature, whether it’s a local park, the beach, forests, or the mountains, can be a form of meditation in itself. It’s a bonus if you feel like practicing some breathing meditation or guided meditation while you’re there — the aim is to be present, gracious, and happy.
5. Try alternative forms of meditation.
Meditation is not always about sitting cross-legged with your hands on your knees chanting “om.” The main aim of meditation is to be present. It’s a chance to go beyond thought, beyond worry and anticipation. It’s a practice to bring you right back into the moment, knowing it is really the only moment you have control over, and therefore should be cherished.
We can bring ourselves into the present moment through alternative forms of meditation, such as dancing, reading, listening to music, drawing, and even eating. A meditation teacher once told me he even practiced meditation through drinking tea. He stopped to observe the way the teacup felt in his hands, the aromas that emitted from the cup, the way it tasted, and the feeling as the warm water traveled from his throat into his stomach. Perhaps a tea meditation will be your meditation of choice for today, wherever you are in this wide world.
The more present we are the less we are inclined to worry about the future or dwell on the past. We can be here, enjoying the adventure we have created.