I’ve just returned from a whirlwind week in London with my parents and it was fantastic. I love traveling, even just for short spurts. One of the reasons is that it always gives you a fresh perspective on your own life. Just taking a little distance between yourself and your usual world allows you to see things in a fresh way. I always return from a trip (even a short one) feeling reinvigorated and inspired.
There are several reasons for this but here are three of the most common ones:
Traveling forces us to become really present in our day, which is actually a great thing. (That’s also why days feel so long while we’re on vacation.) It forces us to go off the auto-pilot way of living that we all fall into, where our brains and bodies can seemingly let go and relax. It forces us to really think about what we’re doing in every moment, to figure out schedules, transit and food. It forces us to process every little thing around us instead of just the important things. None of this a bad thing! But being fully present is not how we’re accustomed to living, which is exactly why it’s so damn exhausting.
The disruption to our regular routine is another reason. Last week not only did I skip my regular meditation practice but I found myself consuming way more beer and pub food than I ever thought possible. Part of any trip is the loosening of our normal routine. It’s fun and even healthy to play hooky from our normal behavior. But it doesn’t take long to begin to feel completely out of balance and ultimately more susceptible to stress, irritability, poor sleep and even illness.
And, finally, where we sleep always has a big impact on us. Hotels, as lovely as they can be, are just never as good as the comfort of our own bed. From an energetic perspective, this makes absolute sense. Everyone carries an energetic imprint where ever we go. And the place where we leave the most of that imprint behind is the bed. Beds are soft and absorbent to this energy. Plus we spend hours of time (our most intimate and unguarded moments) in them at night. Beds accumulate energy incredibly quickly. So of course, hotel beds are always full of the energetic gunk left behind by other people. And of course, that’s not very relaxing!
So as amazing as travel is, it’s definitely not without its hurdles! Identifying the issues is only the first step; after that, it becomes much easier to learn how to cope and make the whole traveling process more relaxing and enjoyable. And fortunately, there are loads of ways to increase ease and make traveling a more spiritual practice.
A Quick & Easy Guide To Spiritual Travel
1. Bed Thwacking
Bed thwacking is something I’ve learned about from the queen of space clearing, Karen Kingston. Karen recommends bed thwacking regularly, whether you’re living on your own or not. But it’s especially important to do at the end (or beginning) of a new relationship. (Who wants to invite the energy of the previous relationship into the new one?) It’s also important for hotel rooms because of just how many people spend time in the space.
So before you climb into your hotel bed, it’s time to give it a good thwacking! This one’s super fun to do though! All we’re really doing is dispersing the accumulated foreign energy out of the bed and into the air where it’s much easier to get rid of. Ideally, this is done with something like a baseball bat but we’ll have to improvise since we’re on the road. Just hit the bed with your fists, making sure to get every little bit. Thwacking will let you sleep more soundly and calmly – as well as help to remove any leftover travel tensions!
2. Space Clearing
Space clearing is my all time favorite for fixing the energy of a space, therefore allowing yourself to truly relax. And again, the hotel room is one place where this is really needed.
I’ve written lots about space clearing over here so go check up on it. The process is easily adaptable for hotel rooms but you’ll have to take a few extra precautions. Sage is super-effective for space clearing but also very smoky. So for hotel rooms (where you really don’t want to set off a fire alarm) I recommend opting for a small piece of palo santo. As a bonus, it’s very easy to pack!
3. Bring A Travel Altar
Traveling is often about saving space and moving around with as little as possible. But I always save a little room for something special. A travel altar is a great way to center yourself in your space and remind you to indulge in your regular routine. Just as an altar is a highly personal thing, your travel altar can be composed of anything that’s important for you.
I almost always have a crystal (pink quartz FTW) with me, but you can bring a photo, mala beads or tiny figurine. I don’t recommend using a real candle in a hotel room but a battery-operated one is a great substitute. Set them up somewhere you’ll see them (like on a dresser or nightstand). Then throughout your visit, take a moment to stop and take some deep breaths whenever you see it. (Read more about creating personal altars right here.)
4. Mini Feng Shui
Take a look around your hotel room for any obvious Feng Shui no-no’s. There are often quick switches you can do yourself to improve the room’s Chi. If there’s a mirror facing your bed or aggressive images on the wall, try to cover it up with a scarf. Remove any pointy objects that are directed to the bed. Open the windows and let in some fresh air if you can (another great way to help dispel any lingering energy). Keep your bathroom door closed to avoid flushing away any positive energy. Try to avoid beds that face the door or beds that back onto windows. If there are things you can’t change or if things don’t feel right, go ahead and ask for another room.
Then unpack your things as soon as possible and try to keep your room neat and organized. Clutter is problematic even in a temporary space!
5. Create Mental Space
Travel is a whirlwind of activity and noise so making time to sit down and process it all is key! Journalling is a quick and easy way to let your mind start to process. There’s no real trick to this: just open up a blank page and go. I love to use my computer but some people prefer to do it by hand. Either one works. It’s the process of letting your brain go unfiltered that’s the magic part; the tools are just a matter of personal preference.
If journalling isn’t your thing, think of another way in which you can slow down and process the contents of your day. Going for a walk (without an agenda or phone to distract you) is another favorite way to do this. Simply allowing your mind to go off unfettered is amazingly for reducing stress!
Meditation is the best way to become centered and present in your body and mind. The process of meditating isn’t about beating your mind into submission; it’s simply about creating some distance between you and your incessant thoughts. There are multiple ways you can try to meditate; for beginners I suggest going for a mantra or doing a guided meditation. There are loads for free on YouTube! I recently tried this meditation from Jessica Snow and I highly recommend it.
I hope this helps you in your spring & summer travel plans! Let me know how it all goes.