Originally Published on Chinmay Yoga
The tepid spring air sat heavy around us as if it had only just rained, but the sky was dry. I inhaled and drew the moisture within, feeling it nourish me from the inside out. The grass below my feet was soft and springy; the rock below that, solid and secure; the water below the cliff, active and churning. It was the early spring in the bay area of California and we had come to visit the beach and the cliffs that rose high above it. The sight of the ocean, stretching out in front of us as far as it could carry our gaze, had us all in a speculative silence. I wandered away from the others and sat on the cliff’s edge with my legs dangling in all that luxurious, free space.
Without warning, about half a mile off the coast, the ocean’s surface was disturbed by bubbles and then erupted in a heap of yawning, gaping mouths — a pod of humpback whales, here to breed in spring-warm waters. They feasted on sardines and I feasted upon the sight of them. They ate their fill in a whirlpool of roiling water and then disappeared under the opacity of the deep ocean, supposedly swimming off to their next feeding spot. I, an earthbound human, had to come to terms with the fact that I would never know. Then, more silence.
My eyes were open, unseeing. My ears were listening, unhearing. I let the potent energy flow in and through me, as easily as if I were the rock beneath me or the crashing waters in front of me. I was not separate from my environment, I was a part of it. At that moment, all the things that were bad suddenly seemed so minimal, almost funny in their smallness.
How To Harness Your Energy
Meditation does not need to take place in a buddhist temple in order to have positive effects on a person. It does not even need to happen in a quiet environment. Meditation can take place at any place, at any time, for any person — whenever the inclination strikes or whenever a person wants to feel more grounded and present. The same goes for yoga, mindfulness, or any other energetic practices that aim to connect mind to body, and body to soul, and soul to universe. For some, these practices are way more effective when done in the midst of life’s chaotic and ever-changing moments. That’s why we meditate, to be able to ride the waves of life and be unshakable in our zest for life, right?
The mental health benefits of working with the body on an energetic level is, in a word, renown — and it has been renown for more than 5,000 years. Chi, spirit, energy or life force; the lessons that yoga and meditation teach us ring as true for modern human as it did for humans at the dawn of time, and the participation in these practices connects us to many millennia of cumulative karma and wisdom. Even something as simple as touching the toes or taking a breathe can ease the nervous system, still the mind, and slow the heart. The bliss and oneness that we experience on the mat, or while in meditation, is as fulfilling as anything could possibly be… but we don’t practice yoga and connect with our spirit only for the hour or so that we dedicate to our practices. No, we find a connection on the mat, so that we can maintain this connection off the mat.
One of the best ways to take our energetic practices off the mat and into the realm of everyday life is through travel. What action is more challenging, more rewarding, more draining and more fulfilling than world travel? Travel, no matter near or far, can be fraught with inconveniences and frustrations that threaten to take away our enjoyment of the present moment. Who hasn’t sulked as they wait for a delayed train or unfulfilled food order, forgetting that they’re doing so in a wonderfully new and foreign place? It’s only human nature to react to these situations in an emotional manner, but just as frustration steals our everyday life of its joy, it also steals travel of its magic. To control our immediate reaction to these situations is to surrender our victimhood, and all the guilt and anxiety that comes with it — but it doesn’t just serve to diffuse tense situations. Being aware of our energy intertwines our moments with intention, and then we aren’t just simply existing. We are being, and tasting the essence of a place with our very soul.
The Benefits of Energy Work, Especially While Traveling
It may be triggering for some people to imagine themselves in line at the airport to deal with a canceled flight, or at the local police station to report a stolen wallet. Sometimes the fear or these situations keep curious people from traveling altogether and that’s understandable, however, yogic philosophy teaches us that we’re not truly in control of the random happenstances that occur — they’re all just part of our unique and independent path through this earthly existence, and wholly unavoidable by anything we can do on a human level. It’s the feeling that we should have done something we didn’t, or the regret a decision that we did or didn’t make, that defines a random act as something good or bad. When this happens, you can reconnect to our purpose, our intention, simply harness your breath.
It’s a more complicated version of the advice our mothers gave us when we were young: take several deep breaths before you react. In through the nose, out through the nose (or out through the mouth if that’s what feels good). This simple act is incredibly calming, even for situations that can induce panic, such as a fear of flying. Take a moment, close your eyes, breathe. This breath will help carry us through the rough times and deliver us the right to the good times, which often are just opposite sides of the exact same situation — and there’s a lesson in that, and you don’t even have to look hard to see it.
You can also breathe and meditate to enhance experiences, such as being in nature and appreciating the stillness and pull the most pleasure possible out of any given moment.
Meditation and other types of pranayama (breathing techniques) are wonderful skills to use whenever traveling throws a wrench in your plans, but there is something to be said for a consistent, daily energetic practice. Whether this is yoga, meditation, laughing, dancing or lesser known methods, such as color/crystal therapy, reiki and even aromatherapy, the benefit comes not only from the stabilization of your energetic currents, but also from the commitment and consistency of doing something every single day — even on the days you don’t want to, or the weeks where you feel like you have no time.
The time you need your practice the most is when-when you have no time for it, so know that there is always value in stopping to take a moment and honor yourself and your body, your home no matter where in the world you are.
Practicing While On The Move
Traveling does not need to be the detriment of your regular practice. In fact, you can draw strength from knowing that you have the fortitude and control over your impulses to truly live your best life. To sustain your yoga or meditation practice while on the move, it’s helpful to start your day with it, or set an alarm to seep you accountable. Keep your expectations and time commitment low, so you don’t miss out on the other opportunities that traveling provides — even a few seconds of mindful breathing can be enough if it has the desired effect. Bring you travel partners in on it, or if you are moving around solo, find a local studio, community or meet-up so that this time is more than just yoga. It becomes traveling itself.
Wellness Retreats are a natural solution to this problem. A wellness retreat is a preplanned vacation, professionally designed with a certain healthy objective in mind and offered to anyone who’s in alignment with the schedule, budget, and intention. Because of this, wellness retreats often brings together groups of people from far corners of the world, each seeking the same, or at least similar, goals. There are as many wellness retreats as there are healthy ways of being, so you’ll find retreats dedicated to working out, happiness, surf, yoga, reiki, dancing — if you can name your bliss, there is a retreat and destination to match. A great thing about retreats is that your energetic practices are all planned for you, so it takes a very little forethought and you are held accountable by your peers. You will balance your energy with a myriad of different techniques, some new to you; it is almost certain that the chef on the retreat will prepare healthful meals and that other energetic practices, like acupuncture and massage, will be made available.
Things To Try
- Go on a Wellness Retreat: Find a retreat, destination and focus that resonates with you, book the ticket, and let the retreat professionals work their magic. Retreats also scale in price and value, with some providing upscale boutique accommodations while others are more affordable, but cut what’s included.
- Try a Local Yoga Class: Rub elbows with the local yogis and learn about the culture by diving into a yoga class. You can ask around for classes with teachers who speak English, or challenge yourself by experiencing yoga in another language.
- Meditation: This can happen with a meditation group, or on your own. There are plenty of guided meditations on Youtube, or you can follow the most simple and thorough of meditations by following the path of your breath in and out of your body.
- Morning & Night Routines: To stabilize yourself in the morning or relax your energy at night, harness the power of crystals, essential oils and routine. Find scents and crystals that you love (it’s not random, I promise) and in the morning, put on your essential oils and stow a crystal safely on your person. At night, do the same and place your crystal under your pillow. Every month, recharge your crystal under the full moon.
- Mantra Repetition: When you’re on the move, it’s often useful to keep a phrase in mind that can calm and center you. Write in on a piece of paper to keep in your pocket, or maybe even write it on your hand. Whenever you feel yourself become unraveled, or you need a calm moment, look at your mantra and repeat it verbally.
- Intuitive Nature Walking: First described in Rise Sister Rise, intuitive nature walking is the act of going into nature and following your whims, with no goal in mind. Listen to the push and pull of nature, and go towards whatever calls you. If you want to hug the tree, hug the tree. If you want to lay on the ground, lay on the ground. If you want to walk for hours in one direction, do it (but be safe). You’ll find yourself much more in tune with the energy of the earth, and at peace with yourself.
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