Do you have an activity you love to do, that when you do it, you feel vibrant, invigorated, and alive? Perhaps, it’s dancing, Blues Festivals, photography, or woodworking? It’s an essential part of who you are; it’s in your bones. Without it life feels gray and dreary. For me, that thing is travel. Any sort of travel, whether it is exploring a small town only hours away from home, a road trip to Colorado, or a flight across an ocean, I adore it all.
I discovered this about myself after my divorce. A trip to Colombia with girlfriends unspooled that tightly wound spring inside. I relaxed into a part of myself I hadn’t realized needed expression; the part of me which craves new sights, sounds and interactions. Because exploring the wider world is so essential to whom I am I’ve come to see travel as one of my spiritual practices.
The beautiful purpose of a spiritual practice, like prayer, meditation, or yoga, is it brings us home to ourselves. This centering ultimately affords us the internal safety and clarity we need to expand our awareness outside of ourselves. Traveling does this in spades. It centers and grounds me.
Like Mindful Meditation, traveling gives me a fresh opportunity to slow down and to live completely in the present moment. With every inhale and exhale I soak in fresh vistas and symphonic hum and thrum composed of lives lived differently than my own: Oh! How the homes with their white-washed walls and orange clay tiles roofs nestle so cozily into a hillside. A purple haze of wisteria drapes prettily over a stone wall. Listen…the peepers sing a completely different song and chorus than ours do!
Exploring a new place or country lets me experience myself in a different context. What am I noticing, feeling, and thinking? Happily, I re-affirm the capable and resilient part of me. I connect, once again, to myself as one who is open, unafraid, and curious about the world. (I also notice fear, resistance, complaints.) Like other spiritual practices I engage in, yoga and running, my travels are filled with movement. My guy and I like to experience the world by hiking it, walking from the starting point of a trail over and down and around to the next town, covering the distance at our own pace. It is a special and profound experience to immerse myself in the landscape; I reach out to caress a flower, explore the texture of tree bark, or lacy moss covering a wall.
My guy and I just got back from a trip to Madeira, an island in the Atlantic ocean about 600 miles off the coast of Morocco, settled first by the Moors and finally by the Portuguese. It is lush and tropical and renowned for its hiking trails. The island is exceedingly mountainous. Everything built is radically terraced, and is largely done by hand since getting machinery up a steep hillside is not practical. The creative solution, so every available bit of tillable land can be used for growing food, is absolutely vertical gardens carefully terraced against washouts. The enormous rolling fields and large swaths of lawn of the Midwest are completely out of the question. Every time I travel, I come home reminded how easy we have it living where we do. I am humbled and grateful and swear on a stack of passports that I won’t ever complain again.
However, for whatever differences there are between Madeira and Wisconsin, similarities abound. Happily, one of our Saturday hikes took us along a set of trails that ran through a series of small towns ringing a valley. It turns out that Saturdays are laundry days; clothes flapped lazily on the lines strung across porches. There was the same quiet murmur I notice in my own neighborhood as people swept their patios, tinkered on vehicles, and otherwise called to each other from across the house to the gardens below. Children’s joyful laughter sparkled in the air. The day felt so homey and peaceful and utterly beautiful in its commonness.
My cup is full and I am refreshed.
What about you?
What activity enlivens you and is essential to your self-expression?
How can you bring more of that experience into your daily life?
If you would like to explore your answers to the above questions, then I would be happy to be your thought-partner.
Give yourself the gift of space and time to reflect with a thought-partner. You can, of course, do this on your own some rainy afternoon, sitting with your journal.
And, the reality is, we very rarely give ourselves this time and space.
Contact me today, your freedom to be YOU is waiting.
Let’s boost your sense of contentment and satisfaction with a FREE coaching session.
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Lysianne Unruh is a Happiness Strategist and owner of Time to Thrive Coaching. Her favorite clients are individuals facing a life transition like divorce, empty nest, career changes, or retirement – those times where you ask, “What do I do now?” Together we find the just-right strategies for thriving so you can focus forward, embrace change, create a plan, and live happy.