One of the ways to intensify your travel experience is to apply mindfulness. Melanie from Inside My Fashion Self shares with us her tips to help you make the most of your travels by being more mindful and grateful.
Over millions and millions of years of evolution, our brains have evolved to such a level of complexity that we have thoughts about thoughts (metacognitions), emotions about emotions (metaemotions), thoughts about emotions and emotions about thoughts. That’s a lot of time and energy spent in your head!! Believe it or not, this is designed to actually help us out and cope with our complicated day to day lives. But, sometimes, these can get in the way and become problematic when they take us away from what is happening in the here and now.
Mindfulness and non-judgmental observation of these processes can help to focus on the present, let go of troublesome ‘brain commentary’ and increase how ‘in the moment’ you feel.
When your brain goes haywire…
Let’s go through an example of what you might experience:
Sitting on the back of a camel in the Sahara Desert and I am juggling between my camera and my IPhone taking photos. My brain is going haywire with thoughts:
‘You need to upload these to Facebook because your bestie asked to see this. You miss your bestie don’t you? …Wonder what she’s doing now? …Why are you feeling sad? …You shouldn’t feel sad – this is the Sahara for God’s sake!! …Wait…what about work people?… They might want to see pics too because they would never think that you could ride a camel, so you’d better show them! …Yeah, the IPhone is definitely better in this case. Hold up, take a picture of that shadow on the sand because you might never see this again in your life. ..And another. And another. And another… But there is no wifi in the desert so you might need to wait a few days before you can even upload them. (feeling anxious)… Ok, don’t feel anxious… Let’s solve this issue – your camera has a better zoom so you take that out. Good. Now focus. Focus. Now – more pictures of the sand… And maybe you can ask the guide to take a photo of the whole group later because pictures with people in them are more interesting, so you might want to approach him at dinner time… But what if he says ‘no’? Hmm… I wonder what’s for dinner? I’m hungry….’
Phew! What a hard-working, overbearing and busy brain!! You might notice thoughts and judgements there about emotions, actions and lots, and lots of thinking about the past and future. And all of which totally detract from what is going on right now! It stops you from fully enjoying the moment of being on a camel in the Sahara.
…Implement those tips for being more mindful and grateful
1) Notice what your brain is doing and notice the accompanying body sensations you can feel. If you’re feeling tense, what does that mean? What is that anxiety feeling in your stomach trying to tell you? What are your thoughts telling you?
2) Be grateful and empathetic for what your brain is trying to do. In the above example, it is simply trying to assure you have some great memories and that you can share these with the people who are close to you. Thank your mind.
3) Make a choice – to either engage with the thoughts (thankyou – that’s a great tip) or not (thanks, but not right now).
4) Use all your senses to really connect with the present moment if thoughts are overwhelming you. Take a deep breath. Shift your focus to a few things you can touch / feel, things you can see, things you can smell, things you can hear, things you can taste. This is what’s going on right now – you have no control over the past or the future.
5) Make some room, and accept all emotions that come with that (The ‘Hey…It’s Ok approach, I call it). You’ve been planning this trip for a long time, looked forward to it, and spent a lot of money and effort to be here. Be kind to yourself.
Ready to enjoy the moment?
Melanie is the fabulous fashion guru & life analyst behind the blog Inside My Fashion Self. Check it out to get your dose of fun and optimism. Her appetite for life shines all over her stories about travel, fashion and the runway of her life!