A reflection on how travel has completely changed my life course and how travel can help you be more mindful. My friend sent me this Timehop a few days ago…which means that two years ago today I was embarking on the greatest adventure of my life – a trip to Thailand and Cambodia.This wasn’t just any ordinary vacation. Little did my friends and I know that this trip would change us forever.
Rewind a month prior to leaving for Thailand. I was laid off from a corporate job which very, very much defined me. And as sad as it was, without the title to stand behind, I wasn’t really sure who I was anymore.
The journey to Southeast Asia gave me new perspective and opened up my eyes to a totally different way of life. A much simpler, less materialistic, more content and satisfying way of life. I rode elephants, watched the sun rise and set over temples, snorkeled in Maya Bay, and hung out with monkeys. I witnessed the life of a village that was built on stilts over a river. Watched six years olds canoeing by themselves to get around. I cried. I laughed. My heart swelled more than it ever has before.
And while I was walking around Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the largest temple in the world, I had this intense moment of clarity. I wanted to get back in the holistic health space. I wasn’t sure how or what that would look like but it hit me like a ton of bricks, out of nowhere.Then I came back home just before Christmas and was thrown back into a fast-paced, materialistic environment, and I snapped back to old habits. It’s crazy how much I am a product of my environment and I’m sure this rings true for most of us. Being back in my fast-paced, success-driven environment, I couldn’t give myself the space to get in touch with my deep desires. Instead, I threw myself into a whirlwind of job applications and interviews because it made me feel like I was accomplishing something. Three months of that and one job offer later, I said I’m getting NOWHERE. I don’t even know what I want. Cue the next trip. This time I went on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica.
It was a week long retreat and I didn’t know anyone going, not even the teacher who was leading it. Plus, it was the first time I traveled somewhere by myself – something I’d wanted to do for a while because I thought it would be an empowering experience. Empowering it was. And so much more. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Space. I swore of social media for a whole week. I wouldn’t even touch it. And I lived in a wood eco-cottage, which was buried deep in the jungle with no air conditioning and one light for electricity, and a bunch of ants which greeted me upon my arrival. I was so nervous when I got there, thinking what the hell did I get myself into. But within a day, I was in paradise. And I ended up loving my bare bones wooden shack (let’s call it for what it really was). I realized that I didn’t need anything besides a bed with a mosquito net over it. I felt like I was totally one with nature and those howler monkeys that woke me up at 4:30am each morning.
It was during that retreat that I got even more clarity. Suddenly that random feeling I had in Thailand became clear – I wanted to build my own brand and business and become a yoga teacher. And if I hadn’t taken that time for myself to be alone, without the influence of social media and other people in my life, I’m not sure I would’ve gone for it. Taken the risk. Traveling helps me be mindful. And it can help you too.Here’s how travel helps you be more mindful:
- Perspective: Travel takes you out of your usual environment which can subconsciously condition you to certain ways of thinking. By experiencing a new place, people, and way of life, you might gain new insight you didn’t have before.
- Space: Sometimes we need space. Space away from the people that may influence us, space from the comparison trap that social media pushes on us, and space from our own doubts, fears, and worries. Travel can give you that space. That freedom to open up your mind to new possibilities.
- Recharge and rejuvenate: Life can be hard. Work can be exhausting. And in order to approach our work and life with a fresh mindset and positive energy, sometimes we need a break. By stepping away from the daily grind, travel can help you relax, recharge the batteries, and come back feeling rejuvenated.
I write this post today because not only am I reflecting back on two years ago today when I was in Thailand but I’m also reflecting on this past year as the year comes to an end. Starting my own business was the best thing I could’ve done for myself and I’ve had such an amazing first full year. And it’s crazy to think how the trips I took, the space I cultivated, the perspective I gained, and the batteries I recharged had such a profound impact on my personal and professional path.
If you don’t have the means to travel, find other ways to gain perspective, create space, and recharge the batteries. Maybe that means taking a staycation. Maybe that means going to a meditation class. Or, taking a day trip somewhere. There are plenty of ways to create space if you can’t travel right now.
As for me, my passion for travel is still fervent as ever. And I can’t wait for my next adventure, this time with Steve, as we head back to Southeast Asia, a place dear to my heart, for our honeymoon.
Tell me, have you ever had a life-changing trip? How do you cultivate space in your life?
Hey Kara! I’m taking the same trip this summer! Three weeks in Cambodia and Thailand with my sister and 12 year old son. I loved this post, your pictures, and your perspective! Wishing you lots more success, happiness, and inner peace in 2016!
AMAZING, Sam! You’re going to LOVE it there. If you need any recommendations, let me know! Hope your new year is off to a fantastic start!
Travel makes you so much more of a human being rather than just a person from a city state or country. It helps you understand that you are a human being on Earth. Once more people can see that the world will be a better place.
So happy for you that you have had the opportunities you did to travel to amazing places and get the perspective you needed to create your new brand. You have certainly had a successful year. May it continue into 2016! And enjoy all the travel before kids come along!!
Thanks so much, Jessica! Yes, that’s the plan to get all the travel out of our systems before the kiddos! 🙂
Kara, this post actually brought a tear to my eye! I’ve had so many similar experiences with travel. Reading this, I’ve realized just as travel has helped me be more mindful, building a mindfulness practice has helped me get more out of my travel.
Aweeee!! #travelingsoulsistas xoxo
Yes, love this post! Totally agree, travel opens your eyes and makes you see the world in a whole new light. Went on a volunteer trip to Costa Rica (our job was walking through the jungle counting monkeys) when I was in college that completely changed my life and made me realize there is way more to life than just working all the time and financial stability.
Amazing, Heather! New life goal: count monkeys in jungle. That sounds incredible.