As many of you know I will be leaving shortly for a few months of travel and teaching in Southeast Asia, and I’ve promised to do my best to update everyone with my blog. So, as I prepare for this trip, both physically and emotionally, I’m remembering what has helped me in this situation in the past.
Travel can be uprooting. The act of flying on an airplane involves hurling our bodies through space at 500 mph 30,000 feet above the Earth; and we wonder why we are left feeling a bit disconnected, ungrounded, and generally out of sorts…not to mention lack of sleep and jet lag. While being on the road brings excitement and novelty to each day, it can also throw us off. Rather than waking in our own beds with the familiar aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchen, we may wake to the smell and noise of a street vendor frying eggs and mystery meat on the street corner. This can feel jarring to our senses at first, new noises, smells and feelings meeting us at every turn.
Many of us acquire our sense of groundedness, at least in part, from our physical surroundings in our home environments. The feeling of the kitty nuzzling around our ankles, the scent of our own sheets, and the ability to call our loved ones with the push of a button. When we find ourselves in a completely new environment, without all of these familiar comforts, we can feel a little lost or uprooted.
Of course it’s perfectly fine and normal to feel this way; however, if we don’t feel grounded or steady, we may find it more challenging to handle difficult situations as they arise. Before we know it we might find ourselves getting knocked off-center by a situation that under normal circumstances might hardly faze us. A simple travel delay might raise anxiety, irritability, or even anger.
The physical yoga practice teaches us to hug in to our center when we are in a state of flux. By practicing poses that are challenging for us, and breathing as we stay connected to the midline in order to achieve balance, we teach ourselves valuable life lessons. This transfers into our lives off of the mat, and we learn to find the balance between being strong and steady and yet maintaining a softness and ability to “go with the flow.”
Imagine an old tree that has begun to dry, it’s trunk becomes hardened and brittle. When the wind blows, this hard tree can snap, while a tree that can easily bend and move will withstand the storm. In a similar way, we want our bodies and our minds to maintain the flexibility to flow with whatever circumstances life throws our way, while continuing to hold true to ourselves.
Tips for staying grounded when traveling:
- As soon as you arrive in a new location, take off your shoes, find some grass, dirt, or sand, and walk around in it.
- Do your best to keep items in your pack or suitcase organized; unpack necessary items when you arrive in a new place so you can find them easily.
- Dedicate a short period of time each day to sitting in silence and/or meditating. For me, the best time is usually first thing in the morning. It’s amazing what just 5 minutes can do.
- The Ayurvedic tradition recommends massaging yourself with oil each day while traveling, using sesame oil in cold climates and coconut oil in warm climates. (I recommend the latter! Smelling like coconut is a definite bonus.) This should be done in the morning or evening before showering.
- Place a soft and slightly heavy object on top of you when you sleep or do savasana such as a heavy blanket or bolster.
- Treat yourself to foot rubs, or better yet, get someone else to do it!
Thanks everyone for checking in with me! I’m on my way to Koh Phangan, Thailand where I will soak in some sun and teach a few drop-in classes and a 3 day Intensive. After that, visiting the magical temples of Angkor Wat. Stay connected to hear all about it. My love to all of you, Namaste.