Meditation is all about being grounded, which is why it might seem weird that I bring my meditation practice with me all over the world. But I’ve found that it’s not only possible to meditate while traveling, but it’s so, so necessary to me.
Let’s face it: traveling can be stressful. Tight connection times in airports, culture shock, jet lag, loneliness… all of it can lead me to feel stressed out, even when I’m on vacation. When those feelings start to creep up, I know exactly what to do now. I make myself comfortable and meditate while traveling just like I would at home.
To make it easier for you to follow in my mindful footsteps, here are six of the steps I take to successfully meditate while traveling, no matter where I am.
The first and most important step you have to take to meditate while traveling? Committing to the practice, no matter where you are. It might be difficult at first, especially when you look out of your hotel room window and see all of the sparkling, colorful, new things that await you downstairs. But you promised yourself you would maintain your meditation no matter where you went, so stick to that.
I already mentioned how travel can be stressful, but it’s also one of the most amazing experiences that life has to offer. By bringing your meditation and resulting mindfulness with you, you’re more in-tune with the world at present instead of with any lingering thoughts about the past or future. As such, you really, truly experience your trip, which is another incentive I give myself for sticking to the practice wherever I go.
The middle of Times Square, the main thoroughfare of Disney’s Magic Kingdom or a beach on the Fourth of July are probably not places you’ll be able to travel and meditate at the same time. That’s because the vibe there is the exact opposite of what you need while you meditate. Instead, you need something quiet, soothing and all your own, which may seem like a tough task when you’re staying places that are miles away from where you actually live.
As such, I like to pack a few things with me in order to create a mobile meditation studio — depending on the amount of room in your suitcase, you can add or subtract a few items of your own choosing. For me, noise-cancelling headphones are a must, and I press “play” on some soothing music. I try and tote a candle along, too, to give even the plainest hotel room a bit more ambiance. If I have room, I bring along a floor mat as well. Ohmmmm.
The majority of travel experiences will leave you a bit of time to do this type of in-room meditation in a cozy, albeit makeshift, meditation corner. I have, however, found myself sans corner on some trips where I’m go, go, going for hours on end.
In that case, I go about my day but still take time to put a few mantras on repeat in my head. You can come up with affirming mantras of your own, or choose some written by others on just about any topic — there are even travel-centric mantras that’ll get you in the right spirit for the rest of your trip. In short, no matter how you’re feeling, there’s a mantra out there that will help lift your spirits and inspire you.
Okay, I know that sleep is not equivalent to meditation. But a solid sleep schedule helps me feel more rested and centered which, in turn, improves my meditation practice. This is especially true when I’m on the road because travel, believe it or not, is exhausting. A good night of shut-eye leads me to an energized, cheerful morning, during which I’m way more inspired to meditate.
It may not be a meditation corner or studio, but, wow: nature is just about as soothing and serene as it gets. Sometimes, I let nature guide my meditation while I’m out of town. All I do is open my senses to all that a natural scene has to offer. I stop talking and look around. I consider every color, every scent, every temperature drop and every gust of wind. With that, I’m once again in tune with my senses and feeling mindful.
Honestly, these are only six of the many ways that you can incorporate a meditation session into your travels. Whether you’re gone for business or pleasure, whether you have a full itinerary or a pretty open one, you will be able to find a moment where you, too, are able to experience the benefits of meditation on the road and beyond.