5 Questions To Ask Yourself The Next Time You Travel

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When you travel, your habits reveal themselves. You learn what triggers impatience, fear, anxiety, physical patterns of sitting, standing and where your body holds tension. The more that travel reveals, the less we can blame on our home circumstances. Being out of routine shows us where we habitually knee jerk our reactions instead of responding mindfully.

“I recommend travel for my clients, explains Michele Ritterman, a clinical psychologist and author in Berkeley, California. "Therapy is all about getting out of rigid mental states, leaving the same old, same old behind.  Travel stirs the pot. One feels and experiences something different in their body and le viola: The impossible becomes possible.”

Here some questions to ask yourself the next time you hit the road: 

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Interrupting patterns and being in new places is an opportunity to change those habits that don’t serve us.  For instance, if you travel by bus for 4 hours sitting in the same way (like I did recently in Costa Rica) you’ll learn the precise habit that causes you low back pain, and the way you can change your position to reduce that pain. 

If you're an omnivore, and are faced with a vegetarian diet, you have a chance to see how well that works for you or how much you benefit more from meat protein.  Either way, you learn a new perspective.
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Even our sleep patterns change when we travel. Being in a new time zone can open our eyes to new opportunities. For instance, if you are a night owl, but while traveling in areas of like Baja, Mexico where they refer to “Baja Midnight” as 9pm, you may learn a different way. Perhaps in a jungle environment, you will feel the naturalness of sleeping earlier to be in sync with your environment. And when you return home, any time difference might give you a new perspective on changing your home wake-up time to 6am instead of 8am. On the road you might have more natural light, and you automatically learn to synchronize your sleep with the cycle of sun and moon instead of using artificial light. 
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If you always drive to the gym or yoga studio at home, you might engage more foot powered movement or cycling while abroad. You will grow more aware of sedentary habits and how you can change those patterns. You often have no choice but to walk, talk and make bolder decisions. Whether it’s about a place of lodging or trying a new activity or even choosing which street to walk down.

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Travel even reveals your dressing habits. If you alternate between wearing a black suit or black luon at home, you may find parts of the world where that formality or the material makes you uncomfortable in the heat or humidity. If you are aware, you will automatically change what you’re wearing. Maybe you will incorporate more colors or different materials into your wardrobe. Maybe cuts will be looser and less structured or perhaps more stylish, depending where you’re traveling. 

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Even the way you wear your hair is a habit, and when you travel sometimes just the change in humidity forces you to discover new ways. Perhaps your eco-solar powered retreat center doesn’t quite power your hair dryer or flat iron. I once almost burned down a Tuscan Villa because my hair iron literally caught fire in the bathroom! If you are in and out of the ocean frequently, then wash and wear hair can easily become your new way. When you are somewhere new with new people, you have permission to experiment with your hairstyle a bit more.

Sri Swami Satchidananda writes, "Yoga believes in transforming the individual before transforming the world. Whatever change we want to happen outside should happen within.” Travel shows us where we are stale and stagnant. It demands that we be more audacious, while at the same time revealing our mental, physical and spiritual habits. We can use this as an opportunity to unlearn harmful or limiting habits and incorporate new patterns into our lives. As Osho writes, “Happy people are always changing.”


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