Sometimes when we travel, our mindfulness practice seems to be the one thing we forget to pack. Here are some tips for staying connected to your practice while traveling:
1) Try to practice for at least a few minutes in the morning before you get caught up. Once you're up and out the door and in the swing of things, it's so much more challenging to remember to practice. Even just touching in briefly and setting an intention for the day ahead can be extremely grounding.
2) Build in moments of mindfulness throughout the day. Set a timer to ring on your phone at the same time every day, and let this be a moment to pause, breathe, and connect to your body, emotions, and thoughts. If you're leaving your gadgets behind and going off the grid, choose a specific moment every day as a mindfulness bell (every time you hear a bird call, the first bite of any food you eat, every time the car stops at a red light, the first five steps on your way somewhere, etc) to remind you to pause, breathe, and check in.
3) Remember that stress on vacation is normal. Rather than seeing these moments as interruptions, try meeting them with kindness, as moments of bringing the practice to life.
4) Notice what expectations you might be carrying with you. It's supposed to be like this. It's going to be like this. It was like this for that other person, it should be like that for me. You don't have to erase these expectations, but it can be helpful to be aware that that's what they are--expectations, thoughts, ideas--and try to hold them with some spaciousness, and maybe even some humor.
5) Consider keeping a journal of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings. You might give yourself an assignment: write down 5 significant sensations every day. Record snippets of overheard conversations. Devote a page to writing down anything you notice that is the color orange. Journaling can help you to stay alert and curious about what's happening.
6) Practice lovingkindness. In moments of overwhelm, or boredom, or mind wandering, or whatever, try offering phrases of kindness in your mind towards the people around you. (Not sure how? Check out this video by Sharon Salzberg.)
7) Finally, see if it's possible to be present for pleasant moments, to really allow yourself to be in them while they're happening, with all the sensations in the body, the emotions, with the mind...and to allow them to pass.
(Got any other travel-practice tips to share? I'd love to hear them!)
If you're traveling this summer, may you have a safe, nourishing, and easeful journey!