Why Conscious Travel?

Emotional pain and discomfort are often catalysts for our personal growth because they force us do something differently. The pain comes along and we desperately want to stop it. So we make changes, physically, mentally, and even spiritually to make the pain go away. In the best case, we take time to integrate and learn from the experiences so that we may better navigate our lives. This gives us a feeling of satisfaction of have grown through the experience.  

Because of the complexity of our daily lives, we generally operate on auto-pilot, often sweeping whatever pain and discomfort that might be present under the rug. We operate in routines that help us stay reasonably focused, healthy, and get all that we need done. Unfortunately, these same routines that provide a sense of stability, security, and efficiency also limit our experience of the present, our whole selves, and access to transformative experiences.  

To experience personal growth, we need to wake up to a new level of awareness and create new patterns which better serve our whole selves. We need an opening where we can witness ourselves and our emotions, make changes, observe and integrate them as appropriate. Unfortunately, such openings are rare in our society.

Travel provides such an opening by enabling us to disengage from our daily routines. Everything is different – the places and homes we stay in, the people we meet, the foods we eat, the times we go to bed and wake up, how we spend our day…  

Given the all the changes required, it’s not surprising that, for many of us, one of the hardest things to do is go traveling. Traveling requires that we clear space in lives and allocate resources to pay for the experience.

And if travel is done consciously and intentionally, we can increase the likelihood that it will actually be a transformative retreat or a life changing vacation. Otherwise, more likely than not, even the best trips just end up being another set of photos on Facebook or a fleeting conversation at the water cooler.

Some call this process conscious travel.

There are three phases of conscious travel:

  • Pre-Trip – The foundational work for your transformative retreat or vacation begins before you leave. This is where you set intentions and visualize your transformation.
  • During the Trip – Travel is your opportunity to disengage from your daily life. Practice non-attachment on a daily basis. Remember that you have made a commitment  to transformation, which necessitates that you disconnect.
  • Post-Trip – You’re back. Engagement often occurs by default. While you were travelling, you were not on auto-pilot because everything was new and different; you can bring that back with you. Choose to re-engage on your own terms. Have some fun, integrate the experience, and practice being different in life.

As develop my own conscious travel process, I will share posts and update this note.  

Pre-Trip

The foundational work for your transformative retreat or vacation begins before you leave. This is where you set intentions and visualize your transformation.

  1. Commit to making this trip transformative in a way that makes it real to you
    1. This could be announcing it on Facebook, telling a friend, writing it down, making a sign, or whatever makes it real for you
    2. Be clear as to what you are committing to – are you going to practice daily? Are you going to do the Pre-Trip, During the Trip, and Post-Trip parts of the process?
  2. Meditate on or contemplate the following questions:
    1. What is my intention? Is there something specific I want to achieve or am I open?
    2. How prepared am I to implement changes when I come back?
  3. Set aside some time and journal on the following questions:
    1. What do I like about my life?  
    2. What don’t I like about my life?
    3. What feelings do I have around my life? Select from this list
    4. What needs do I have around my life? Select from this list
    5. What do I want to change?
    6. If I don’t get what I want, am I willing to continue as it is?
  4. Set Intentions
    1. Create a ritual space. This could be creating a comfortable space with pillows, music, scent (e.g., incense)   
    2. Title a blank page or sheet  
    3. Write down the top one or two areas/changes that you want to focus on, and your specific intentions
    4. Visualize success.
      • Imagine yourself during the trip or back home transformed – where are you? what do you sense? what do you see, smell, hear, taste, touch?
      • What is different with you?
      • How do you feel? Select from this list
      • Experience the gratitude for having achieved your intentions.
      • Imagine yourself in the future, experiencing the gratitude for having committed to transformation, and for having performed the ritual
  5. Commit to disconnecting. These days it is possible to be connected wherever you are, whether through satellite phones, cell phones and tablets, internet cafes, and the like. Make a commitment to disconnect. Set a maximum of the amount of time that you will connect to the network for engagement. The lower that maximum is, the greater the likelihood of transformation. Write down your commitment and strategies to make sure you truly disconnect.
  6. Make a plan for NOT jumping back into work right when you come back. Many people plan their vacations such that they are working the next day after they are back. Plan on some time for yourself to integrate the experience. Write down in your journal what time you are going to make for integration. Also, think about some fun things you can do when you get back. It is good to have some fun when you come back so that it does not seem like travel is the only way to have fun. We don’t want to fall into the trap that life is  better when travelling. Plan to have space to think about the trip and get the most out out it.
  7. (Optional) Story Sculpting is the process of “living the story you want to tell.” Start thinking about the story of the trip. Journal on the following
    1. How did you find out about the trip?
    2. What was your initial reflection?
    3. What were the obstacles to you going on the trip and how did you overcome them?
    4. What made you say yes?           
  8. (Optional) If you are doing the SoulCollage® workshop, gather 10-50 images that speak to you. Choose images that either do not have words or for which the words can be covered without reducing the impact of the image. Make sure you have some images that are suitable to be backgrounds. Tear or cut out the images from magazines or print them from the internet.  
  9. (Optional) Daily BePeace practice
    1. What feelings do I have around my current situation? Select from this list
    2. What needs do I have now? Select from this list
    3. Quick Coherence:
      Step 1: Focus your attention in the area of the heart. Imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. feel the beat of your heart. Breath in rhythm. Suggestion: Inhale 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds (or whatever rhythm is comfortable)Step 2: Make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Suggestion: Try to re-experience the feeling you have for someone you love, a pet, a special place, an accomplishment, etc. or focus on a feeling of calm or ease. Pick something that you will use regularly to create this feeling. Experience a feeling of deep gratitude as you breathe through your heart and notice your heartbeat.  
    4. Ask for guidance. You are now in a state of heart-brain coherence, and ready to tap into your best intelligence. Ask for what you need help with. This could be a prayer.

During the Trip

Travel is your opportunity to disengage from your daily life. Practice non-attachment on a daily basis. Remember that you have made a commitment  to transformation, which necessitates that you disconnect.

  1. At least once per day, record your thoughts. This could be journalling, audio, and/or video. Record your reflections. Record the stories that are occurring. No need speak to every detail, enough so that you will able to recall the key contours of the story later.  
  2. Be present to the ambient sounds around you. When you notice something soothing or distinct, record the ambient sound for later reflection.  
  3. Weather permitting – spend at least one evening stargazing. Contemplate your process. Record the ambient sounds. Journal on any important downloads.
  4. One the way home, take a moment to journal on whatever is coming through.
  5. (Optional) Story Sculpting. Journal on the key parts of story that you will want to tell people when telling the story of the trip  

Post-Trip

You’re back. Engagement often occurs by default. While you were travelling, you were not on auto-pilot because everything was new and different; you can bring that back with you.

Choose to re-engage on your own terms. Have some fun, integrate the experience, and practice being different in life.

  1. Use the space you set aside to integrate so that you can get the most out out of the trip.
  2. Have some fun at home as you planned or otherwise
  3. Activate yourself so that you are feeling as you were when travelling. Do things that put you back in the state of traveling — watch your videos, listen to your recordings, read your journal entries. Turn down the lights and listen the ambient sounds you recorded. Contemplate what it feels like to integrate the experience
  4. Journal about the experience? What has changed? What worked? What didn’t? What are your next steps?
  5. Closing Ritual
    1. Create a ritual space.   
    2. Meditate on your trip and your transformation
      • Where are you? what do you sense? what do you see, smell, hear, taste, touch?
      • What is different with you?
      • How do you feel? Select from this list
      • Experience the gratitude for having achieved your intentions.
      • Experience the gratitude for having committed to transformation, and for all the work you did to make it happen
  6. (Optional) Story Sculpting. As you finish the integration, now is to complete the story or at least this part of the story that you want to tell about this trip and journal and your transformation. Write down the outline of the story and start telling it.