I have just returned from 3 weeks of slow travel in South East Asia. Although I visited 3 different countries during that time the journeying itself felt slow. And I am still being slow as I cannot quite bring myself to fully empty my suitcase, zip it up and put it away in a cupboard! After a week back ‘home’, I am also letting this transition back be something of a slow burn.
Over the last few years, I have made a conscious decision to ‘slow down’ how I spend my lifetime.There are no bucket lists, ‘should’ or ‘must do’ hanging around. What I recognise is that I have my life to live each and every day. It arises with dawn, and I aim to stay present until the sun sets and the day passes away. The degree to which I remain present varies. It varies because the extent to which I get caught up in ‘stuff’ during the course of my day varies. And the degree to which I am aware of getting caught up also varies.
So this was a trip I decided to take slowly. I knew where I would be staying each night and I had all my transport finalised before I left. All I had to do was take each day as it came. My itinerary was both fixed and flexible. I had enough in place and yet the days did not feel ‘full’.
I spent time staying with friends and their children, time with friends in cities for a couple of days, time travelling by myself and sharing space with others and also time spent alone. I noticed that when I felt ‘full’, it was okay to stop do ‘nothing’! I realised that if a particular experience resonated deeply within me, then it was fine to sit with that resonance and add nothing more to my experiences for a while. There really was no need to layer some other ‘must do’ experience on top of it. It was enough just as it was. The depth of a particular experience came from being with the qualities of that experience.
I stopped altogether for a couple of days and just noticed and reflected on what thoughts were coming up for me. I chose to take a gentle approach and to just notice the thoughts without attaching any story to them. If I felt like writing, I wrote. If I felt like sleeping, I slept. If I felt like dancing, I danced. If I wanted an early morning walk, I got up and walked. If I wanted to close all the curtains and hang out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign I did so without judgement. The time could just be whatever it was and what I felt it needed to be.
And so I loved the journeying. I am a joyful person when I travel. Travel is oxygen for me. I went this time, and I felt ‘at home’ in myself regardless of whether that was at times a comfortable or uncomfortable feeling… And at the same time, I recognised I was a guest in all the places I was visiting and among all the people I was with.
Whenever you travel you take ‘you’ with you. And I did come to some realisations while I was away… And I am also thankful that as human beings we have the capacity for change… I recognise the changes I want to effect and the way to do so. Those changes will take time and require practice and a commitment from me to practice. Travel allowed me to be in motion and still at the same time. It has allowed me space to breathe.
So over the next few posts, I will be sharing some of the experiences that I had while I was away and introducing you to some of the generous and kind people that I met….