True Nature, Part Two: Thoughts from Solo Travel

We can travel to new places, meet new people, and change the external conditions of our lives, but there still is, and will always be, the relationship we have to ourself. Cultivating an awareness for this relationship is not an easy thing to do.

In our current Western society, the idea of having a relationship with yourself is not common. And this idea is rarely a topic of conversation. But I believe certain experiences and questions can force us to look more deeply at this relationship. For me, one of those experiences was solo travel.

I’m currently back in the States. And on my way home from Thailand I stopped in Bali for 10 days of solo travel. Or maybe more accurately, for an experiment. Here are three questions I wanted to address:

  1. Waking up in a foreign country, without knowing anyone, or having anything I have to do. Is it possible to find a feeling of home?
  2. What is it like to spend a full day alone? And do I enjoy it?
  3. When I’m traveling by myself, how do I meet and connect with other people? And is it a reflection of how deeply I connect with myself?

Although I think the answers to these questions are different for everyone, I think it goes back to the belief that no matter where you go, you take yourself with you.

It wasn’t until I began meditating two years ago that I realized how much internal dialogue was constantly swirling through my mind; thoughts about papers I had to write, groceries I needed to buy, what I should do after graduation, conversations I had in the past, basically just a ton of mental clutter. It was a subconscious stream of thoughts that had a huge impact on how I felt throughout the day. And each time I latched onto one of those thoughts, it would immediately take me away from the present moment.

And the present moment is what traveling is all about. Learning to let go in order to enjoy the experiences you’re having in the moment and ideally, come home to a place within yourself.

During my solo travel in Bali, I learned a lot. I felt like every emotion I had there was amplified because of the nature of the experience. The connections I made with others were nourishing from the beginning because of the mutual understanding of the lifestyle amongst travelers. But on the flip side, my frustration was amplified when my moped ran out of gas in the middle of a busy intersection. Then it was a choice to be swept into the frustration or acknowledge it and choose to stay calm. After I did the latter, a very kind man helped me move it out of the road and find gas nearby to fill it back up.

So if I learned anything during my travels, it was that how people treated others was usually a reflection of how they felt about themselves. And it forced me to reflect on how my actions portray my relationship with myself. On a bad day, it’s probably not where I want it to be. Creating this awareness is progress, not perfection.

But if we can begin to cultivate a feeling a home within ourselves, we may find that an internal shift can change our perception of the external conditions. We may find that this feeling of home has always been there within us and when accessed, can create a new reality of empathy for the lives of those around us because we have empathy for ourselves.

That’s why no matter where you find yourself in the world, I challenge you to spend a full day by yourself. What did you learn? What is the relationship you have to yourself like? What is the topic of conversation in your internal dialogue? And how can you begin to let go of that in order to live in the present moment?

I’ll end with a new favorite quote…

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of this chaos and still be calm in your heart.” — Unknown

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