Whybe a Traveler - See Yourself
Why be a traveler?
I believe that I travel so that I can enjoy access to seeing my thoughts and my experiences in a new light.
I notice, however, that when I travel, I tend to constantly fall into the trap of thinking “OK – I’ve seen and now I can mark that place off my list.” What list? There is no list! And yet, each time I travel, I experience a shift in my perspective. Traveling changes your location and in that, it changes perspective; it doesn’t change circumstances that we have no control over.
I have discovered that the way I experience travel is now different from how it used to be. I used to have a desire to travel that I now understand was a desire to run away from my present situation at the time – like trying to escape whatever unhappiness I was in at the time.
And now that I don’t have that urge
to escape some internal unhappiness, I can see that I travel so many other reasons.
The “trap” I used to fall in regarding travel (for reasons I mentioned above), checked the destination off my list, and went no deeper in the experience. Now I’m fully able to see the true meaning of why I love to travel: seeing myself – my thoughts and my response to new experiences – in a new light. No longer am I blinded by the bad things/reasons that held me bondage before.
Recently I went to California with Peter
and I felt a beautiful nostalgia stirring in my heart.
I grew up on the very southern tip of Japan until I was ten years old, and many of our activities revolved around hanging out at or in the Pacific Ocean. I have not been back since that age, and so, on this trip to California, I got a little taste of my childhood home, and felt that wonderful emotion: nostalgia. Despite not being able to see Japan on the other side with my own eyes, I felt comfort in knowing that just on the other side of that vast body of water, my family lives, my home exists. I felt, even just for the briefest of seconds, that the world isn’t swallowing me up, as I often feel. The world isn’t as overwhelming as I can sometimes make it out to be.
While in California, I woke up every morning at sunrise and ran to the beach to chase this feeling of childhood familiarity. I took a pause when I reached the water to let the experience sink in. I thought to myself, if I’m ever going to be able to meditate peacefully (because let’s be honest, I find that difficult every time I try), it’s here. Here, surrounded by the beautiful beach, sitting in the warm sand, listening to the calming waves of the ocean. After all, most recorded guided meditations have the calming sound of the ocean playing in the background, right? So I felt that if I was ever going to “meditate right,” it would be here in this setting.
And so, I tried it. I sat down in the sand and closed my eyes, absolutely still except for my breath moving my chest and belly up and down. I put my attention on smelling the salty air, and concentrated on the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore. After about four or five breath cycles, my brain started throwing all sorts of thoughts at me faster than I could comprehend. I was fidgeting in my seat, and anxious to move onto the next thing, just like I do when I’m sitting in meditation at home.
I chose to stay
despite all of that.
I put my attention on one breath at a time, and allowed my anxious thoughts to be there in the background, rather than try to ignore them and push them away. By acknowledging and hearing my thoughts as they were, rather than making myself wrong for thinking them, I began to understand that they were simply there, they were not controlling me. I realized that I can’t expect myself to be a certain way just because I’ve plopped myself down in a serene setting. And I accepted that.
In that acceptance, I discovered the wonders of meditation.
It was an “ah-ha!” moment
It’s ME that creates the reality in my head that the world is swallowing me up. It’s ME, who used to choose to play the victim to my circumstances.
In the past, I have resisted meditation because my anxieties would always come to the forefront of my mind -- those anxieties would be the only thing I would see, feel, and hear. Ah, but I stayed anyway. And in my staying, I saw my thoughts differently. There on the beach, my thoughts moved to the background. When I stayed through the resistance and the uncomfortable moments, I found that I could settle in and really see the peace, truth, and light inside of me. This beautiful essence of me rose through the normal junk.
All feeling are fleeting
The nostalgic and comforting feeling I got from standing at the water’s edge. The anxious feeling that rose up during meditation.
None of it is permanent.