Explore / Green Living / Mental Health / Mindfulness

Mindful Travel (part 1)

Mindfulness_is_by_Kabat-ZinnMindfulness, a practice with roots in Buddhism but now being utilized in modern psychology, was introduced to me by my counselor as a method of dealing with anxiety, stress and anger.

Mindfulness is a practice of focusing on the current moment-to-moment experience, faithfully refocusing whenever the mind wanders.  The focus should be purposeful, in the present moment and non-judgmental.

The first component of mindfulness involves maintaining that focus on the present moment, self-regulating one’s attention with conscious awareness and intent.  The second component of mindfulness involves adopting an open and curious attitude looking at experiences with non-judgmental acceptance.

Mindfulness is practiced not just by calling to mind the present-moment but also self-analysis, retaining the information as one component in the cultivation of morality.
Mindfulness is the basis for conscious decisions to be a responsible and ecologically literate world citizen.

How does this relate to my upcoming roadtrip?

Since the practice of mindfulness has been helpful in my daily life I wondered if it would be helpful in achieving the most of my upcoming trip.  In searching the web I found a wealth of resources through a site called HimalayanConnections.  Though they are certainly geared towards international and developing-world travel, I still found the principles applicable.  I learned that mindfulness can certainly apply as both a philosophy and an approach to travel.  Mindful travel is a way to engage the world fully by cultivating an awareness of self then using that as a springboard for compassionate and caring exchange.

Developed from the concepts introduced above, Mindful Travel is:

  • Purposeful: paying attention to what we are engaged in while we travel, starting mindful of our own needs (physical, mental, emotional etc) then extending that attention to others.  If caught in emotional turmoil or personal dramas, all sorts of things go unnoticed or unexperienced while traveling.  Purposeful attention can be cultivated through mindful practice exercises focusing on breath, body sensations, emotions or reflections on kindness and compassion.
  • In the Moment: focusing on the daily needs/requirements of travels or on the actual purpose for one’s travels.  Developing a confidence that things will be okay allows one to let go of preconceived needs or plans and to relax, be flexible.  Spending travel time preoccupied with the future, what ifs, consequences or matters beyond anyone’s control leads to discomfort and stress.  Instead wander, explore, read, write or simply ‘do nothing’
  • Non-Judgemental: trying to embody warmth and acceptance, letting go of expectations for ourselves and others, trying not to be too attached to judgements, assessments or decisions.  Not letting personal opinion colour our experiences while traveling.  Letting go of anxieties and unsatisfied desires, letting go of how things ‘should be’.

Mindfulness is, however,  just one core component in a broader set of morals I try to practice while traveling.  Sure, it’s all buzzwords for overlapping paradigms … but with mindfulness as a foundation, these other concepts do help me articulate my observations and execute better decisions while traveling.

when judgments are relaxed, the capacity to make sound, wise,
& helpful decisions increases spontaneously and effortlessly [ref]


Ecotourism is a broadly debated term, but most definitions generally boil down to:

  • provisions for environmental conservation
  • meaningful community participation
  • profitable & self-sustaining

Sustainable tourism, according to a few overlapping definitions:

  • fulfills economic, social and aesthetic needs (economic vitality)
  • in ways that maintain cultural integrity and life support systems (healthy communities)
  • protects essential ecological processes and biological diversity (natural environment)

Responsible tourism, has similar goals to sustainable ecotourism but,

Conscious Traveler’s Goal:

To create an environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling travel economy that does not cost the earth.

Today I’ve explored the concepts and driving forces behind my decisions as a traveler, wanderer, explorer.  You can see that despite the buzzwords there are some strong, overlapping themes in this post. Tomorrow I will list quite a few resources for practical applications of these particular concepts, and some interesting tidbits about my upcoming trip 😉

p.s. click ALL the links, watch ALL the videos
– they’re not just the references for how I built this post, they could also be a chunk of great resources for YOU!


2 thoughts on “Mindful Travel (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Mindful Travel (part 2) | outlaw@home

  2. Pingback: Mindful Travel (part 2) | Highway 2

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