"To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh..." -Pema Chodron, American Buddhist
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Denmark with my sister. Before we lost our mother we had been planning a trip with her. It was clear to both of us that we needed to make this trip happen; a means of holding space for that sacred time together, just the three of us.
For many, travel as an experience is a precious commodity, often guarded by time and budgetary constraints. It seems clear, then, that it is an activity to treasure and to savor to the best of one’s ability. This was absolutely the case for the two of us on this journey. But how might we look to do that; how might we look to enrich our time traveling in order to squeeze the most out of every second we have available? With so many potential obstacles, worries and distractions in our way, it boils down to one concept, mindfulness. In short, mindfulness involves being wholly in the present moment; not in past thoughts or future worries, but just the here and now, from one breath to the next. It allows us to objectively deal with our thoughts so that our full attention can be brought to the present moment, a trait very useful to those on their travels be they big or small, long or short.
We travel to learn, to broaden our perspectives, to engage and interact in cultures and customs so far-flung from our own; all the while hoping that the experience will rub off on us, altering and bettering our understanding of our world and of ourselves. What makes this all possible and so intriguing to us is the newness of it all. Being somewhere for the first time means that everything is new; the way people say hello, the humidity, the driving customs, the tastes… This newness is what gives somewhere that indescribable magical feeling, that sense of awe that hits us in the pits of our stomachs and makes us feel truly alive and connected. To get the most out of our experience it’s vital that this newness is given significant attention above all else. To let it pass us by whilst we distract ourselves is easy, but to start embracing and pro-actively participating in the now is the harder but ultimately more rewarding part. Cultivate your mindfulness practice to pick up on all that is different and new in foreign lands so that it stays with you forever. The last thing you want from your trip is a haze of indiscernible memories; let your memories of everything new be vivid, colorful, precise and full of life and movement.