Meditation is a big topic these days. The press has been busy talking about the power of meditation and whether this speculation is fueled by the ‘meditation industry’ or if it’s just honest discourse about something wonderful – we’ll never know.
It’s probably safe to say that meditation is good for you (brain patterns can apparently be improved!). In the age of constant information overload and a globally connected screen in every direction you look, being in the moment becomes a lot more important.
I don’t personally look at meditation as a tool for greater productivity which also happens to be the primary reason that mega corps in the US are encouraging their employees to take up the practice. For me, meditation is about mindfulness, it’s about being in the moment, appreciating the now.
I grew up with the internet. I got an internet connection at the age of 12. For years my father thought I was addicted and needed to see a psychiatrist. I’d say the old man was right. I am addicted. But now the problem is worse. We all are.
Everyone has the right to live however they want to, but I don’t think watching a live concert through your phone screen while you’re actually there is the best way to watch a live concert. I have a hunch. The idea is that being everywhere else except where we are in the moment is bad for us. I haven’t had the opportunity to test this theory because we haven’t had this kind of behavior for decades yet. However, I’ve felt the effects personally, so even though this may be anecdotal, I feel the urge to disconnect more than ever!
On my own, I have practiced, faltered, and returned to meditation several times over the past few years. There is a great emphasis on sitting, breathing, focusing, and just being. However, there is an even greater emphasis on being in the moment. Carry your practice into your day. For people who do not meditate, what this means is that you should experience every moment by being in it. Like, while writing this piece, I should be feeling the keys that I type on. Making sure I am in the moment as well as with my thoughts. I should be aware of the pitter patter of the rain outside – oh what a peaceful sound! I should be aware of my weight and how it is distributed between my two feet (I’m leaning to the left a little right now..). This, for some, results in greater focus, and also a greater sense of calm. It certainly works for me. Mostly because I stop worrying about things outside my current context. Isn’t that what gnaws at our souls most of the time in today’s super connected world?
I wrote a few years ago about travel causing time dilation. It makes us experience each moment differently. We have bigger, more vivid memories. Try it! You may remember what you ate on the 2nd day of your last vacation but do you remember what you ate for lunch just 2 days ago? That’s what routine does to you. It makes you forget the details. Mindfulness may not help you live longer, but it will certainly make it feel like that.
But being in the moment is HARD! It’s extremely hard when you’re just going about a routine of some sort on auto-pilot. It’s very hard to be mindful in the morning when you get dressed for work, or to be mindful during your daily commute. That’s where the magic of travel comes in!
Mindfulness is easy when you’re surrounded by newness. Every time you’re in a new place, you notice things around you. It’s so simple to give in to that curiosity! The same curiosity you feel while watching an engaging movie, a curiosity so powerful that it forces you to enjoy the current moment and forget about everything else. Like a cup of coffee in a new coffee shop! That’s what happens to me when I arrive at a new city or walk around a new area of town. There’s so much to notice and so much to absorb! You don’t have to travel around the world to experience this. You could do this in your own city or town. Just go to an area you’ve never been to before or try a restaurant that you’ve never tried before. Get out of your context and into the moment!
We’ve been traveling for almost 4 years now. There have been times that we have stayed in places for up to 3 months and have felt our days melt into one another. Then, we get on the road and suddenly every day is new. Afternoons are long and go on forever. We look back at the end of the day and think, “Wow, we did so much!“.
There are times when I crave comfort and familiarity. You can’t keep doing this forever. Sometimes you want to know that you can rely on a good mattress, a nice cup of coffee, and other things that might be dear to you. But every time I notice some ennui, I know it’s time to get on the road again. I know that it’s time to meditate.
Have you felt more mindful on the road? Or do you prefer the comfort of a routine?
Let us know in the comments!