One thing we as ladies must cherish and nurture abroad (as well as at home) is our powerful spirits!
Let’s be real here: traveling is energizing and totally depleting simultaneously. One minute you are riding the high of that Costa Rican surf stoke the next you are battling the backpacker blues. Getting your Zen on during a trip should be considered just as important as wearing sandals in the hostel shower (well, maybe second most important).
Finding a state of calm and centeredness is essential for keeping you present to your trip and in a state of receptivity. Here are some cool and off-beat ways to get in touch with that spiritual nomad inside of you.
Rooftop Morning Meditations
When I traveled to Central America I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of hostels that offered rooftop terraces. I found them to be invaluable in the morning hours; I would grab my complimentary cup of coffee, bask in the morning sun, and silently lay the tracks for a day rooted in soul.
Yoga Ashrams, or retreat center, are very common these days especially in exotic locations that most of us girls like to travel to (i.e. Italy, Hawaii, Argentina, etc). You can usually find one online and book your stay in advance. Sometimes you can sign up for a set of yoga classes for a fee or you can opt to work barter your way into the studio and perhaps even a complimentary bunk. Whatever the case, I would suggest finding a place which offers some breath work yoga. Called Pranayama, this type of yoga focuses on different types of breathing and really allows you to clear your mind and literally get more air—a perfect course after you have been in a noisy city.
I don’t know about you but nature is a huge place of solace for me; when I travel I always make sure to visit the local green space during a sunny afternoon to quiet my mind and gently remember I am giving myself the gift of travel. So, feel free to pack a day bag and take to the nearest hiking route; I’d suggest the middle point be a lake or an interesting stop off on the trail. Enjoy a brown bagged picnic lunch and then breathe in the fresh air as you make your way back to civilization.
While over landing in Argentina, I had hours upon hours of gorgeous Patagonia to gaze out onto. I took this time to put on some of my favorite calm songs and really reflect on my journey at that point. I would call to mind mental images, see what reactions they evoked, and then move onto other memories as they came up. Listening to music is a great relaxer, stress reducer, and a wonderful way to bring you to center.
New religious experience
Were you raised Roman Catholic? Why not hit up the Jewish temple’s service of the town that you are visiting? I have done this on my trips and have made it into a synagogue, Hare Krishna chanting circles, Episcopalian mass, and an Appalachian revival. Each of these religious experiences were deeply moving and just downright interesting to attend! I was welcomed in by each group, and learned more about my own worship style.
We girls tend to be a bit hard on ourselves and therefore it is easy to get caught up in the details of a trip, or even take silly foreign interactions personally. I suggest keeping a daily gratitude journal to remind you of what travel is all about: the gems of simple amazingness.
Maybe you spent all day fretting about how to route your next flight, but had a kind street vendor help you read the city map during lunchtime. By taking time to write down things you are grateful for, you are reminded of these little things which add up to a whole lot. This also serves to reinforce why you are actually out on the road in the first place.
Intentional communal living
This option has the potential for huge ROI on your travel Zen. Communal living is offered at most spirituality/retreat centers that you will come across. Unlike hostel communal living, where the focus is simply on having a killer time and constant extroverted fun, intentional community goes deeper. If you have the opportunity to do this in your travels do so! Chances are you will get to know your travel mates at a very deep level and they might ask your questions to help you better know yourself.
Overall there is no “one-size fits all” way to get your Zen on during a trip. The key is to take independent time for you; relish in the gift of silence, journal over an espresso, or meditate at the end of a power yoga class. Once you have found an outlet that works for you pretty well, seek out like minded-women and transmute the experience together.
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