“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
– Mary Anne Radmacher
Right now, take a moment to think back to the last time you returned home from a holiday. See if you remember that feeling you had: relaxed, refueled, alive, reset, and ready to dive back into daily life with a renewed sense of purpose, even joy. Or, perhaps you did not even go back to ‘life as you knew it’. Maybe you decided to make some significant changes in your life; create a new version of yourself.
What is it about getting away from it all that can be so good for you, so healing?
While a big part of feeling better after a holiday away is no doubt being able to sleep longer and simply being removed from a lot of your usual stressors – commutes, traffic, agitating people, deadlines, etc. But do you also notice that you may in fact actually have more energy than when you are at home? Your levels of excitement and joy are a little bit, or a lot higher, than usual.
The benefits of travel on this level come from the actual movement of taking your mind-body-spirit out of its known environment and seeing life through different lenses.
Let us look at three aspects of the travel experience: coming off of auto-pilot, gaining perspective and easing back in.
Coming off of Auto-Pilot
The first thing that happens when you wake up in a different bed than the one in your home is that you immediately come off of ‘auto-pilot’. Your day starts off differently, it has to, because everything is different. You actually have to think about things you don’t usually have to think about: where is the bathroom? where shall I meditate? what time is breakfast and where is it?
Having to engage your brain in this way pushes you off of auto-pilot and makes you realize you have choices where you may have forgotten you had them. And, if you chose well with hotel, lodge or place to stay, these new choices excite you, inspire you to try something different and notice how it feels. People often tell me they have amazing meditations and yoga practices while on holiday, discover new foods that not only taste wonderful, but make them feel very nourished, and they re-discover how good long walks feel, or swims, or cycling.
By switching off of auto-pilot you can both discover new things that work for you, and delete patterns that you realize are no longer serving you. Being in a place so different from your day-to-day fosters this aspect of growth and transformation.
Removing yourself from your familiar environs also helps you gain perspective on the ‘bigger picture’ of your life. Placing yourself in a new context allows real “soul questions” to pop up in your consciousness with the least amount of effort.
Who am I? What do I want? How can I serve? And what am I grateful for?
Reflection just seems to come more naturally when you are immersed in different scenes. Who am I? When I am not surrounded by familiar people and places. What do I really want? When I probably left a lot of what I have back at home. How can I serve? And what am I grateful for? When I gain some perspective by looking at my life at a distance.
Many people who have travelled with me tell me that while the images they have from their wildlife safari or stunning landscapes will stay with them forever, what truly inspired them most were the conversations they had with people either in their retreat group, one of their guides, or the locals they met at a café or school.
Meeting new people who are genuinely curious to meet you and have open hearts allows for deeply meaningful communication. You often get to answer those soul questions in the presence of another kind soul who really listens and may even offer supportive words to nudge along your own evolution. And by doing this with others, you feel good too, as you realize how nice it is to help affirm and heal each other in this world.
Easing Back In
Just like coming down off of a deep meditation, I generally recommend to people to give it a few moments after returning home from a big trip before making really big changes, like putting your house on the market, breaking a relationship or quitting a job.
As you re-start your routine, stay super conscious, as if looking at your life with new eyes, and check in with how you feel.
Activities that make you feel yucky immediately upon re-starting may indeed be a sign that something has to change.
Do find ways to integrate new good habits you may have begun on your holiday into your daily life back home. Perhaps you started a daily meditation practice while on holiday and keep that going when you return home.
Maybe you realized how good you felt eating some new, healthy foods at the same time every day because that is what was available at the breakfast or lunch buffet. Consider hunting down those foods in your home market and integrating them into your meals.
When people say at the end of a holiday “tomorrow it is back to reality” that does not necessarily have to mean “back to the grind” in a negative way. There are ways to take that little piece of Italy, Tanzania, Portugal or South Africa back with you.