Last year for the letter ‘M’, I wrote about Mindful Travel and now that I have started my own mindfulness business and am offering courses in Mindful Travel, I wanted to see if there would be any difference in what I wrote. I haven’t read the previous one yet as i wanted to post this one first.
Why and how is mindfulness important in travel? There are many ways and I’m going to share a few thoughts with you. These thoughts come from experience gained through travel over the years. There is no particular order.
1) Where we decide to go:
This is a mindful choice if we consider where we want to spend our money, which economies we wish to support & also how we can get there. Will we increase our carbon footprint? Are there human rights issues in the country? Can we travel safely there depending on our gender, sexuality, race & any extra needs we may have?
2) Check out important aspects about the place you’re visiting before you go:
This can cover many aspects. Check out any dress codes for the places you will visit. I always take smarter clothes if I know I’ll be going into religious places. That applies to all religions as there are churches, mosques & Buddhist monasteries with acceptable dress codes. Surely you wouldn’t go into any with your shoulders or your backs showing, men surely you would not go without a top & also be mindful of what is acceptable for legs showing or not. This will save you being turned away at the door or being embarrassed.
Be aware of festivals going on as this may affect transport, shops or museums etc being open. A lot of European places close on a Monday as they are open on Sunday so plan your travel around that. Transport will stop at prayer times in Muslim places as they pull over to the side of the road and passengers get off to prayer.
None of this takes away from your rights as a traveller but it will help you show respect for the country you are visiting.
3) Be mindful of your speech & social media posts:
We now have the ability to share our thoughts & impressions of a place or country immediately & with a wider audience. This comes with responsibility & applies to our replies as much as to our own posts.
It pays to ask yourself some questions before sending out messages which could simply be irresponsible.
Have you allowed a breath & some reflection before posting?
Is this your impression due to how you’re feeling?
Have you taken everything into account?
Will your message do harm to yourself, the country/ place or other travellers?
Is your reply considered, appropriate or necessary? Do you know the person you are replying to? Do you know their situation? Were you there?
Is your response helpful? Is it respectful? Are you simply replying because you believe you know better than the person posting & need to see your name attached to a response?
A big part of being mindful is considering your actions or reactions. So when you post or reply to something consider all aspects of this & consider every word you use. Often when we take a journey & get excited by our learnings we can be misguided in thinking we know better than everyone else, however the person involved will always know more about their own situation than you will. Be Mindful
4) Be mindful about what you buy as souvenirs when you travel.
As well as considering what you want to bring back into your home, there are other aspects to this. Consider how you wish to support the place and it’s people, how is this item made, what does it stand for, will it be of use to you or are you bringing more clutter into your home and through buying it what are you encouraging to be made in the future.
Consider more sustainable ways of supporting a country. When I have lived and worked abroad I have tried to encourage people to make a donation to a local charity rather than offering me gifts when I leave. When I travel I take back memories with me rather than physical possessions as much as I can.
5) Notice & be aware of all your surroundings. Take it all in, the sounds, the smells & the sights & experience fully for as much as you can.
Engage with your environment before taking photos & be mindful of the ones you take in that moment, really connect with all you can, the people around you, who you are in that moment & how you are connected with it all.
Look up, look down, look left & look right & in that moment return to your breath so you can fully feel : experience that moment. You are more likely to remember this later without needing the prompt of your photos.
** This is taken from years of experience as I have been engaging fully in my environment/ surroundings for at least the last 20 years thanks to my Buddhist practice. Through travel, I have seen many benefits to this in terms of all 5 parts I’ve shared in my Mindful travel tips this week. All of this goes in my travel courses which are available for booking through www.beingthebestyoucanbe.org
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