Mindfulness on the road

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Mindfulness on the road - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Recently I’ve found myself in the library in the mindfulness section. Call it the yoga addiction or the easy access to meditation and mindfulness gurus, but the mindfulness connection has taken off with me. What about you?

“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thought; it’s to stop letting them control you.” -Unknown

I can’t even tell you when the first time was that I heard the word, mindful. I imagine it’s been floated around for years, and perhaps, like so many other things, it begins to penetrate when you need it most. And as with everything in life – things change. When I began my yoga journey seven years ago, I was looking for something to feel good, not hurt my back and an exercise that my little asthmatic lungs could handle. I didn’t much enjoy the meditation portion or the yogic philosophy or listening to anyone talk about chakras, healing ways, aromatherapy or any sort of sutras. Today, I crave it. I miss my Wednesday yoga therapy classes with Kellie and Friday meditations with Sarah at the old studio. But, as with everything in life, I’m in search of something new – something more.

“Every one of us already has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Travel takes you away from the norm of the everyday. It puts you in a spot where everything is constantly changing, people are different, foods are new and information could change at any given moment. Mindfulness keeps you present. Setting an intention used to be annoying, now I completely see the point. What I once didn’t want to know about bandhas, locks and ujjayi breathing, today keeps me steady and focused on my mat. Early on I was bored in savasana (that last resting pose at the end of class) and thought it was a complete waste of time, today, it is a joy to reach. Who would have thought that the girl who dismissed the meditations all those years ago would go in search of them in order to bring that mindfulness along for the travel adventures? Being mindful matters.

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” -Eckhart Tolle

Some of my yoga instructors have hinted that they are guided by the works of their own teachers. Some use mediation apps to guide their own practice at home and abroad while others seek out centers and classes to keep themselves grounded. In each class they’ve hinted at letting go of thoughts, opening up to sound, focusing on following your breath and other healing tactics that do so much more than ground you to your mat. Would you believe I even stopped at a meditation center in Melbourne, Australia to check out their books and journals and find out more about how they run their space? I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Behind the belief and focus on mindfulness is scientific evidence. Today, if you search ways to lower blood pressure, deal with anxiety, handle difficult family matters, work through stress, remain present while traveling or create a healthy lifestyle, you find links to mindfulness, meditation and other forms of natural healing. There are tools out there within reach and ones that meet far less than the overhead baggage allowance. They’ll fit on your phone, in a workbook, in your pocket or be able to be reached while simply sitting still in one place. On our recent travels, we saw people meditating throughout all of the national parks. One woman picked a spot amidst the giant Sequoia trees and managed to find a way to commune with nature while accepting the noise of all the travelers in her midst. On our walk the other night, we saw another who took to the shores of the San Diego Bay and while skateboarders noisily rattled next to her and children ran by with their dripping frozen yogurt cups, she got what she needed before going back to her holiday retreat.

“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear” – Rumi

Do you practice mindfulness? Do you make the time to sit still and just breathe? Which tools do you use? How do you take your mindfulness practice on the road? I’d love to hear what works for you.

If those yearbooks could talk…

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I wonder what they'd say...thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Remember them? Remember the agony of choosing the appropriate quote to go under your senior photo in that high school yearbook? I recall hours of searching movie lines, lyrics and quotes to find one that I thought worked best. And then there was that question that would accompany your photo…’where do you see yourself in ten years’? Seriously? How on earth could I know that answer at seventeen years old and would there be any possibility it would be true in a decade? I certainly couldn’t foresee a teaching career and full on career change, a love of travel, life on two coasts, freelancing or a spouse from the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry

From all change…growth

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yoga studio - East Village, San Diego - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’ve now been in San Diego for 18 months. In all that time, I’ve been a member of a downtown yoga studio in the East Village. It’s changed names and ownership, but the community has remained constant, strong and vibrant. On Friday, my yoga studio is closing its doors. It’s a bit sad. Read the rest of this entry

Growth, travel and pizza

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I have a friend who is known in her circle of friends as the ‘Pizza Expert’. She leads tours of ‘the best pizza’ in Brooklyn, runs races where the prize is a slice, sports a pizza costume on Halloween and has now developed a ‘pizza crawl’ around New York City. I have a feeling she’d ditch me as a friend if I admitted to not absolutely loving traditional pizza – well, now it’s out there. I know, I know – how can I be from New York and not love pizza? For that, I don’t have an answer, but I can tell you I married a guy who feels the same. And yet, over our own homemade ‘pizza’ dinner the other night, somehow we wound up comparing pizza to travel. Some things rarely make sense.

Cheesy Flatbread from Food Network's® The Neeleys - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com Read the rest of this entry

Where are you heading?

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Where are you headed? - Wyoming, USA - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

I’m a huge fan of The West Wing. With quick-witted banter, social implications of governing and a nod to smart people, Josiah Bartlett and his team kept me interested season after season. I often felt his mantra, ‘what’s next’, was similar to my life. When one holiday/vacation finished, I asked, ‘what’s next’? When one school event was planned with another on the back burner, I asked, ‘what’s next?’ And more often than not, in my analytical brain, I would ask myself the very same question, ‘what’s next’? For me, it was more, where am I heading, what’s to come, where do I want to go or be or even what is it I wish to accomplish. Although the question was a constant, the fluid thought process yielded a constantly changing answer. Where was I heading? Read the rest of this entry

Yes I can. Yes I will.

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Glacier National Park - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Have you seen the new Under Armour® ads with the ‘I Will’ campaign? Have you heard of the ‘Say Yes More‘ events run by David Cornthwaite in England? Both approaches ignite positivity and encourage ‘doing’ through motivation and inspiration at every turn. These ideas can take even our own worlds by storm – that is, if we let them. Read the rest of this entry

No matter the age…live life!

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Trail sign at Big Bear Lake - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

“(Warren Doyle) This 60-plus hiker has walked the Appalachian Trail 17 times since 1972. Nine of these have been thru-hikes. ‘Your pack weight will be directly proportional to the sum of your fears,’ the minimalist hiker [has] been known to say. Doyle founded the Appalachian Trail Institute to provide AT crash courses to prospective thru-hikers. ” (Backpacker.com)

The other day I read an article from Backpacker.com®. Titled ‘8 Badass Older Hikers’, the words leapt off the screen as they depicted stories of lives lived to the fullest and interesting people enjoying an ever active life. Exuding positivity and purpose, the enthusiasm showcased certainly perpetuates the focus of living life ‘their way’. Some even seem bigger than life. Read the rest of this entry

Adventure planning

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the open road - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’re full steam ahead in the planning stages for our next adventure. No name for the trip or anything yet, but accommodations are booked, national parks have been chosen and the route has officially taken shape. We’re open to suggestions and hoping you’ll come along with us for the ride. Read the rest of this entry

Pastimes and Fans

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A few weekends ago, we spent a lot of hours in the car. San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona for Spring Training baseball and then onto Las Vegas, Nevada for the International Rugby Sevens competition. It was a three states in a day type of weekend complete with dust storms, trips to Subway and accents the world over. There was time to play and time to think. There were hours of throng-filled crowds and others of shared silence between a couple in a car. No matter the moment, there was far more than sport.

Spring Training Baseball 2016 - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Yes, there were hours of baseball and rugby, but the soft skills or colour commentary that played out amongst the spectators spoke far more than the chants for their home teams. It all told a story of something much bigger, much greater than a country’s pastime or a people’s favourite sport. Here, in these stadiums, life was being lived. Louder than chants or jeers, there was a spirit that filled the air. People, from all walks of life had driven, bussed, or flown to a spot to spend an afternoon or a few days to purposefully bring out their happy. There was so much unspoken wisdom in those stadium seats and bleachers, so many untold stories that played out on fields and screens – it was a pleasure to be a part of it all. Read the rest of this entry

Firsts and trails in a cross country visit

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San Diego's USS Midway - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

The USS Midway at San Diego’s Embarcadero

My dad came to visit for a long weekend at the end of February. It was the longest flight he’s taken in over a decade and he managed beautifully. If you didn’t already know, my dad is a pancreatic cancer survivor. Hopefully, his story of surviving and thriving will become a greater reality for more in the future instead of an anomaly. Read the rest of this entry