We go traveling so we can have new experiences. So we can see new places, experience
new tastes and be exposed to new smells and sights.
The greatness of traveling lies in the fact that it can stretch our concept of what is normal and regular and bring us the opportunity to be immersed in new environments.
However, if our traveling time gets spent thinking the same old thoughts and having our same ordinary everyday worries, we are really going to miss out on the potential that visiting new places has to offer us.
Sometimes when we are traveling the comparing, judging mind can be our worst companion. This is the mind that tells us, “Why did I even come here?” “This experience isn’t as good as last year’s” and “I wish I was somewhere else.”
These types of thoughts, which are so common and normal, are a real buzzkill. They take us out of the direct experience of being right where we are and lead us down a complaining path of thinking we should be somewhere else.
My favourite definition of suffering is wanting things to be different from what they are and it is very easy to enter this type of state when we are traveling.
When we are traveling sometimes we wish we were a little more comfortable, or we miss certain people or we doubt we have traveled to the right place.
But there is another choice and that is utilizing the technique of mindfulness.
Another way I like to think of mindfulness is noticing.
Noticing what is around us is a great way to break off our habitual relationship with our thoughts and really be more in the moment.
Traveling is the perfect opportunity for noticing because we are somewhere new, and since there is so many new things to notice while we are traveling there can be a freshness and aliveness to the experience we don’t find when we are at home.
This is such a great opportunity.
Noticing is different than judging, analyzing, studying or comparing.
When we are practicing mindfulness we choose to not decide if we like or dislike what we are noticing. We don’t have to associate what we are noticing with other things we have noticed in the past.
Instead we just notice and experience our surroundings. We shift our attention from thought to sight or from thought to smell or listening.
It is kind of like thoughts go to the back part of our awareness and the direct sensory experience of the moment comes into the front part of our awareness. This can take a little practice.
And traveling is such a great opportunity to practice being in the world in this way.
One of the great things about living in the Yukon is being in the company of so many terrific adventurers. I love that Yukoners get up and go all the time. It might just be camping down the road, but for many Yukoners it is traveling to the other side of the world.
All of these traveling experiences can easily be enhanced by a generous sprinkling of mindfulness practice. From the gate at the airport to the mountain the peak there are always things to notice, always things to experience, we just have to choose to shift our attention away from our thoughts and back to the sensory awareness of the present moment.