“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” – Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Without a doubt the number one reason why I love to travel and live abroad is because it forces me to learn more about myself. Through traveling I gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world in general. Today I briefly want to describe how traveling can help you go through an inner transformation.
There comes a point in a long-term travelers’ journey where they begin to question many things, they may begin to feel as if they are losing themselves.
I want to try to point out that if you do find yourself in this position, to not be afraid. Being in this space is an opportunity for amazing growth. I will try to offer some guidance on what you can do to learn and expand from this experience.
How Does Traveling Help You Grow As a Person?
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher Hershey
Much of your experience depends on how different your environment is from what you’re used to. If I am American and move to London, sure, I am going to have a great time, but the transition will be fairly painless.
Moving to a completely different country in which your clearly out of your comfort zone is key. In This type of situation you will encounter many things for which you have no reference for. This automatically puts you in a different level of awareness, you’re forced to be alert, and you can’t rely on your old knowledge. This heightened sense of awareness will allow you to see things you never saw before, in yourself and the world.
Since everything is new and if you can’t speak the language you are automatically forced to try to make sense of it all. Typically our attention and energy is going out into the world. Now, if you stay watchful you will see your attention going inward.
Embarking on Your Inner Journey
For many of us we have never really looked inside ourselves. But now we have nowhere to hide, we need to look. This is the point where you will become really intimate with the ideas you have of yourself, of your ego. Things which you may have been really identified to and derived your sense of self from.
Your ego is essentially your self-image; it’s the mask you display to society. Your ego only survives by constantly seeking approval from that which it wants to identify with. This is the society you are raised in. Therefore all the unhappiness you experience comes from the constant battle of your ego seeking approval in the outside world.
What happens when your family, friends, and your typical environment is not there to reinforce the ideas you have of yourself? They become shaky; they start to lose their grip on you. Living in the unknown your ego falls apart and the real you begins to emerge.
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley
You will begin to challenge and question everything you have ever believed. If you don’t run away and use this as a way to grow, you will see that all your beliefs belong to society, they were never really yours. This can be extremely scary, liberating, nauseating, and a million other things all at once.
Now you may come to a point to where you feel completely lost, where everything you once knew is now seen as an illusion. But simultaneously you also get a tremendous feeling of freedom, freedom from all that was false. Now your journey really begins.
If you keep trucking along, losing and questioning many of your beliefs will lead you to develop trust in yourself. Trust is something society can’t give you; trust comes from your own experiences.
You may even feel a new quality or type of consciousness growing in you. Keep walking my friend; this is your opportunity to live a life of awareness, a life of authenticity.
You can only be authentic through your own understanding. Developing your trust will give you the courage to continually make the leap into the unknown.
The Key Skill That Traveling Can Instill is Observation
Traveling can help you to constantly be in state of observation, a watchful state. Learning to watch is the key in learning about oneself. You need to learn to be a passive observer of your mind, of your thought process. You learn that to control and suppress only leads to inner conflict. Just by constantly remaining in a state of watchful aloofness, you will see how the number of thoughts you have naturally comes down. You will be living in a meditative state; meditation is simply the art of learning to watch.
Learning to watch your mind you will come to know its positive and negative tendencies. Learn from them. You may even feel like you are turning on yourself. Expanding your consciousness will allow you to see your own faults; you bring them out into the light. Don’t feel bad, just by seeing them clearly they will begin to fall on their own. They where only existing because you where unconscious of them.
Developing a quiet mind will allow you to catch glimpses of really being in the here and now. For the typical tourist they may be under the Eiffel Tower but they are still thinking of things from back home, along with all the anxiety that that brings. Then when they are back at home, their experience of the Eiffel Tower is vague. It’s vague because they where not really present.
Continuing Your Growth
I would advise anyone to incorporate meditation daily into there lives. If you are new to meditation as a general guideline try to meditate one minute for every year of your age. If you are 26, meditate 26 minutes daily.
If you know nothing about meditating educate your self and find something that works for you. The easiest method is “Vipassana”, which is just learning to watch your outgoing and incoming breath. Like I said earlier, mediation is the art of learning to be a detached witness, yet being very alert, having a sensitive mind.
Incorporating daily mediation will help you become more even minded, and cultivate your ability to observe and be a witness to your daily life.
I am currently working on a small yet in depth guide on how to practically practice meditation in our lives, if you would like to know when its finished sign up for my newsletter.
In traveling and living abroad learn to be with your silence. When you are bored don’t escape into entertainment like TV and internet. Remember that you don’t know how long you will be in your host country – make the most of it. Go on a walk and get lost in your city, there is always something you can be doing and learning.
If you are thinking of traveling abroad, I hope that I inspired you to go on a quest of personal growth. Wishing you the best….God Speed my friend.
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