by Karson McGinley: Humans are creatures of habit who crave routine…
Anytime your routine is disrupted, you may feel off center—an illness, injury, or a switch in jobs are just some life experiences that cause a disruption from life as you know it.
When interrupting your regularly scheduled program for a vacation, however, your routine is disrupted in favor of an ability to step outside your habits and see everything with fresh eyes— and, hopefully, that state of being is an enjoyable one. That positive experience is likely layered though, as most things are, since while on vacation your habits are additionally interrupted due to staying up late, eating at odd times of day, consuming too much caffeine/alcohol/sugar, etc. This can leave you feeling slightly hollow.
When preparing to travel, have you ever asked yourself which habits stay and which ones go? Or do you throw all caution to the wind and do whatever you want, whenever you want?
- If you are a vegetarian, do you continue to be vegetarian if you’re traveling abroad?
- If you know your body can’t handle more than one glass of wine without feeling sick the next day, do you stick to that number when you’re in the spirit of relaxation and escape?
- If you always wear a seatbelt in a car (which hopefully you do), do you continue to wear your seatbelt when you’re in a new city?
- And if you meditate for 20 minutes every day before work, will you still do so when you are in the Bahamas?
The range of questions and answers is vast, but a worthwhile inquiry for a mindful and meaningful experience on your trips. If you abandon every routine you have, you’ll likely feel unsettled, overindulged, and, perhaps worst of all, guilty for “losing yourself” during a time that was intended for rejuvenation. Beyond continuing your commitment to wearing your seatbelt and brushing your teeth while you travel, consider re-affirming your spiritual practice on your journey; you will see that it may be one habit that nourishes you deeply by setting you up for a fuller experience of your days in the sun.
Here are five ways to continue your sadhana while traveling.
1. Create Your Intention
The first thing is to have the desire to maintain your practice while traveling. This sounds like an obvious or unnecessary step, but in fact it’s truly the most important one.
Be honest with yourself. If you are going to break away from your formal practice while traveling, do yourself a favor and just admit it upfront. When you are honest with yourself from the beginning, you can eliminate the unnecessary experience of guilt. There is certainly value in taking an intentional break here and there; however, if it is important for you to maintain your ritual, then you must make it your intention to do so.
Once you’ve decided to stick to your spiritual habits, tell your travel partner(s). Set up the expectations from the get-go.
2. Scope Out the Scene and Make Your Plan
When you arrive at your destination, locate the space in which you will do your practice. It might be as lush as the base of a tree overlooking a lake, or as simple as the desk chair in your hotel room. Wherever you choose, scope out the space as you unpack and settle in so that when the time comes for your practice, you don’t have to waste time thinking about it.
Finding the space to meditate, journal, or practice yoga can be a really profound way of exploring your surroundings in unfamiliar territory, and can give you a richer experience of your destination on every level.
3. Set Yourself Up for Success
If you have a morning sadhana, set yourself up for success the night before. Lay out what you need so the space is ready for you when you wake up. If you like to use a candle, an oracle deck, or your yoga mat, set up the space and the supplies before you go to bed. The less you have to do to set up in the morning, the more likely you will be to follow through and get the most out of it.
If you have kids and are used to waking up before the rest of the family, set your alarm so you can honor that special time for yourself. Remember, if you want to sleep in, sleep in. Just decide to do so ahead of time. If you want to wake up with the sun to start your days of vacation in reflection and contemplation, take the necessary actions to ensure that it happens for you.
4. Be Willing to Scrap the Plan
Set your intention, set up your plan, and then be willing to scrap it all in honor of spontaneity and adventure. It’s important not to be too rigid about scheduling when you’re traveling. Be okay with releasing the plan for something better.
For example, say you wake up and hear the birds chirping, and you want to linger in bed for a while longer to soak it all in. Do it. Maybe it ends up raining, and so rather than sitting in front of the window to meditate, you choose to go out into the rain and dance around like a child and feel the aliveness that comes with play. If you shut yourself off to the magic that comes with travel and vacations, you might miss some of your best memories.
5. Open Yourself Up to Seeing God Everywhere
Create space in your day to experience spirit anywhere and everywhere. You never know where you might encounter a breathtaking view that is just begging for a few minutes of open-eyed meditation.
For example, maybe you encounter some gorgeous architecture or a sacred historical site while sightseeing, and you have the opportunity to whip out your journal and write about what you experience. Or, have you ever done Mountain Pose on the top of an actual mountain?
When you open yourself up to experience divinity everywhere, the universe delivers you countless occasions to experience a state of presence, oneness, and awe.
By maintaining your spiritual practice during travel, you can stay in the spirit of open-hearted awareness during your trip. When you more acutely aware of your inner and outer experiences, you’ll appreciate everything a whole lot more—from the awe of a natural wonder, to the simplicity of a cup of tea at sunrise. By getting clear with your intention to not disrupt your personal practice, just alter it a little, you will be able to anchor yourself no matter where you are on the planet. You’ll always be home.