Even though I’m a seasoned traveler I still get stressed before trips. It’s not big jitters, just a general anxiety about: 1) Did I pack everything? 2) Will my travel connections go smoothly? And 3) What about the unexpected? Movement brings agitation. Sitting in meditation is easiest for me for quieting the mind. But as I pack for transatlantic travel, I can’t sit on a cushion and be still. So I have to bring awareness into my movement, into packing, into setting alarms to go off at 3:45 a.m., and into laying out clothes to wear.
As I feel my mind stress with worry and “what ifs”, my muscles tighten up in response. Instead of spending the 24 hours before a trip totally stressed, now I’m learning to gently pay attention, to breathe, and to simply be aware of my body and where I’m holding stress. Often just being consciously aware of that my mind is leaping around between one side of the Atlantic and the other is enough bring my mind Home and shift me into a more expansive, comfortable place. It’s like a wiser part of me says, “Okay, I see there’s some stress. But it’s okay. Everything will be okay.”
The stressful thing about travel is that most of it is out of my control. I can’t pilot the plane or even drive the shuttle bus from my home city to the airport. I buy the ticket and then go along for the ride. In many ways life is like this too. We have a little bit of maneuvering room, but much of what happens around us is out of our control. It’s only possible (sometimes – and with effort) to acknowledge thoughts and feelings and allow them to pass on or change them.
But the idea of letting go and surrendering or accepting what happens while on a journey isn’t all bad. Once on a gondola in Venice I sat back and let myself by piloted around the lagoons and through the canals by a skilled gondolier. I had no idea where we were going, or what would happen, but in that moment of grace I simply let go and let myself float along merrily. A sense of joy overcame as I relaxed into the experience. Often I think back to this moment and wish I could accept life’s daily experiences with the same sense of ease and acceptance. Then I would live in a state of constant joy. It’s something to strive for. But I’m not there yet.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “r, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld