Transforming Thru Travel
Awhile back, a good friend of mine named Brittany started a travel blog, Transformed Thru Travel, as a vehicle for sharing how she uses her experiences traveling to heal and manage her symptoms of PTSD. If you are unfamiliar with PTSD, it is an anxiety-based disorder that causes people to re-live prior traumatic experiences. I won’t go into a full clinical definition here, but you can learn more on the Transformed Thru Travel website (or simply Google it).
As my friend continued on her journey, we occasionally began swapping info back-and-forth and striving to find the commonalities between our work – hers through traveling and blogging and mine through yoga & Mindfulness. I often tell my yoga students (and friends & family!) that yoga isn’t just about physical postures and breathing exercises, but in the way you conceptualize the world and move throughout our time “off the mat.” Therefore, I was convinced that Brittany’s method of healing was just as much yoga as my morning meditation. But how does one conceptualize this!?
Flash forward to this morning, where I sit in Austin, Texas. Alone. Brittany was kind enough to invite me on one of her travel trips and due to miscommunications I flew out here to Texas a day early. I have no family here. No friends. And no clue. Thus, I really wanted to use this opportunity to reflect on how my yoga and Mindfulness practice could shape my time here and take my meditation skills off my yoga mat and into my life.
Flying into a foreign city is anxiety-provoking. You don’t know the geography. You don’t know the people. You don’t know the culture. You don’t know where the good areas and bad areas are. Nor do you have any clue what to do for fun. As I think about coming into this city, alone and largely uninformed, I really try to channel the yoga practice of svadyaya, or self-study.
Through practicing yoga and Mindfulness, we learn to develop our Witness Consciousness and observe ourselves without judgment. Without my Witness, all of these experiences might overwhelm me, and I might choose to isolate myself in the little bed & breakfast where I am staying. (I imagine many engage in this same isolation when fear rises up within them). But through my yoga practice, I can observe and cherish that fear without judgment and allow it to inform me. For example: in observing my anxiety without judgment, I have come to realize how much I relish stability, structure, control, and how appreciative I am for my husband, my neighborhood, and my home! Through pushing my boundaries, allowing anxiety to rise within me, and taking this as an opportunity to study myself, I develop a greater appreciation for the life I have created. Plus, I learn that I can face my fears, take my life outside of the box, and open myself to new & exciting opportunities because of it. Already while in Austin I have had a to-die-for meal (sitting in a restaurant, on a date, by myself!), enjoyed an AMAZING cup of coffee, met someone who owns and loves her Italian Greyhound as much as I do, and discovered that an old college friend actually lives in the neighborhood where I am staying (and planned to meet up with her.)
So in summary: yes, travel can be yoga, when performed Mindfully. And Mindfulness can shape your life whether you practice it on-the-mat or off. Because yoga isn’t something we do for 15-to-90 minutes and then turn off. Yoga is a lifelong practice of personal growth and development that opens us up to really scary and really beautiful experiences.