Travelling the world, seeing new and exciting destinations each day. It’s a dream come true. However, it can all get a little overwhelming. There is so much to think about that you can forget to enjoy the moment you are in. It can sometimes become a challenge to be mindful during the hustle and bustle of travelling life.
This was so true for me when I was spending time on Easter Island. I was sat watching the sunset behind the Moai, a truly spectacular sight. But I found myself worrying whether we would have enough time for our connecting flight. This lead on to thinking about hotel bookings I had made and what transportation I was going to get. I literally had to snap myself out of it and take a long hard look at where I was. I was on Easter Island for crying out loud.
“Where ever you are, be there 100%’
It hit me then that I really had to learn how to be in the moment. I thought this was something I was quite good at anyway but I clearly needed a refresher course.
Tips for staying mindful
1. When your mind starts to wander slowly bring it back
Be aware of what you are thinking. Also, be aware of how you are feeling as the two are interlinked. If you are stood on top of the Empire State Building and you are thinking about work pilling up on your desk and you’re getting anxious, take note. Realise that your thoughts have drifted. You don’t need to be forceful with it. Accept that your mind has wandered but slowly bring it back to the present. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to do this, you will get better with practice.
Be mindful of where you are and who you are with. Try to keep your focus on what is happening around you in that particular moment. You don’t need to worry about what could happen in two weeks or what you did 2 years ago. For the moment really dwell on the present.
2. Use more than just sight, try and use all your senses
While taking in your surroundings make sure you use more than just your sense of sight:
- What can you smell? flowers, cut grass or your favourite food cooking.
- What can you hear? birds signing, waves crashing or leaves in the wind.
- What can you feel? the cut grass, warm sand or cool water between your toes.
Use your sense of sight but really focus in on colours, shapes, sizes or anything specific that stands out. I still remember the amazing shade of green I saw at Easter Island.
If you are using a travel journal take it with you and note down certain words that will trigger your memory. This way when you think back it wont all just be a blur.
3. Focus on your breathing
Sometimes if you feel like you are starting to zone out and your mind is beginning to wander a good technique is to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes for a moment and really concentrate on nice deep breathes. Inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Breathing exercises are used widely across yoga and meditation so you may have already honed this skill. Breathing exercises are great for mindfulness as they keep you centred and bring you back to the present.
4. You are in control of your thoughts and your reactions to them
Always remember that you are in control of what you are thinking. If you are feeling anxious and are worrying about work, you can simply shift what you are thinking about. I know this sounds too easy to be true and some thoughts are harder to shift than others. But you are ultimately in control. No one else has that power over your mind. I’m not saying it’s a good idea to bury your head in the sand. Important issues still need to be addressed. But it is not a good idea to let these thoughts run your life either. Sometimes you just need to allow yourself to be in the present. To allow your thoughts to purely be in the moment with you.
5. Be Grateful
One thing I have found that really helps me to stay in the moment is to stay grateful. If I am continuously thinking how thankful I am to be right here, right now, in this moment, it is hard for my mind to wander to more negative thoughts. Staying grateful has more emotional and wellbeing benefits other than just being mindful. You find your mood lifting, you have a shift in attitude, life just seems to get better and people find your company more appealing. Always be grateful.
6. You don’t always have to be busy
Most of us have become workaholics due to the fast paced 24-hour world that we live in. If we are not doing something with our time, then we start to get itchy feet. The ‘I should’s start to kick in and we feel like there are chores much more important than us taking time out to be mindful.
We need to know that it is ok NOT to be busy every now and then. In fact it is hugely beneficial. We can, without guilt, take time out to relax and wholeheartedly be in the moment. We deserve it.
I’m looking forward to becoming more mindful as I travel and taking in new and astounding sights on my way.