Interviewed by Kate Cheng
'Travel is fun and exciting, and often full of adventures and new friends. But it can also be stressful - things don’t go as planned, and our patience can be tested.' So says Dina Kaplan, founder of The Path, a New York-based meditation community catered to Type A young professionals, helping them wind down and de-stress (at least for an hour!) in today's modern, hyper-switched-on environment. Sharing personal experiences of travel’s irks and quirks, Kaplan convinces us that we should take time to meditate when on the go for a calmer and more stable being. We can’t argue with that. Here are five reasons to meditate while you travel.
The Travel of Travel
Flights get delayed, boats get cancelled, and drivers don’t show up at the designated time. At home we can control our schedule, but when you travel it’s nearly impossible. I used to get frustrated when things didn’t go as planned. But then I realized - often the most maddening situations turn into the best moments. In Italy this summer, my flight from Venice to Sicily was delayed, and I missed the last boat to my destination, the island of Panarea. I was so upset! But I made a last minute decision to hop on a boat to Vulcano, an island I had never been to, and booked a hotel on the ride over. It turned out to be an incredible day! When you meditate, you’re more open. You’re less likely to get frustrated by things not going as planned. You end up having happier, calmer days. You’re more in the flow of life.
Getting Into The Travel Vibe
There’s a rhythm to the best days of a trip. It’s the plan of having no plan. It means you're open to meeting new people, stumbling into a restaurant you know nothing about, or exploring a new site or archeological dig. If you meditate when you travel, you’re more relaxed. You pay attention to what’s around you rather than focusing only on the destination. I went to Paris once and insisted we go only to restaurants I picked from a tour guide and sites I was determined to see. The trip wasn’t nearly as fun as it could have been, because I didn’t leave room to explore, to wander, and to find something great on our own. I wish I had been meditating back then!
When you meditate, you gain the tools to rise up from arguments and see the bigger picture. Travel can be trying on relationships. There are decisions to make all day, and everyone has their own agenda. It’s also easy to get tired walking around museums or ruins or exploring new areas. If an argument starts, and you don’t meditate, you’ll be more inclined to fight right back, down at the level you were brought to. When you meditate, you gain the space to say, 'Maybe we’re both tired right now, let’s go rest'. Or, you can decide to let the other person win the argument, whether they’re right or wrong. Meditation lets you choose to be happy rather than right, even if you need to subvert your ego a bit in the process!
When you travel you make decisions all day - where to go, when to eat, what to eat, whether to go out at night or relax. You’re also often choosing which destination to hit next. When you meditate, you gain insight. You get in touch with the truth, and you feel your intuition. I find that when I meditate, I make better decisions. And I end up doing the things on a trip I’m meant to do, and really want to do, rather than the things I think I “should” do.
The Power To Relax
There’s a lot of pressure on a trip, especially if you work a lot and have limited time for vacation. But sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. Meditation gives you the power to say: 'I’m good enough as I am. If I want to relax, I can honor that feeling and, for this moment, simply “be”, rather than “do.”' I always feel like I should do more and see more, meet more people and have more adventures. I remember one day on Gili Trawangan, a beautiful island off Bali, seeing a couple relaxing all day at a cool reggae bar and being jealous of them. They looked happy and relaxed, and I wished I could tap into that feeling that there’s nowhere to be and nothing to see that’s more important than feeling at peace with yourself and the world.
Let’s all exhale our way to powerful, zen states of mind, wherever we may be headed.