Where to begin writing a travel blog without having the means to travel?
This is the question that I sat with for a few moments before some clarity came. And then the opportunity opened up to share the inner journey with you all, which feels very fitting for the times we are in.
So, in a time of stillness and of being locked inside, it’s really a time where I am becoming very familiar and very intimate with myself. Much like what happens when I’m on the road. Whether we are at peace with this lockdown or not, or whether we agree with it or not, is not really the point. But rather how do we best make use of this time and of this opportunity to really be at one with ourselves?
My wish here is to share some of my story so hopefully you can share yours. In this way, for the reasons I love travelling so much and for what Go Travel & Talk provides for us, we can continue to share our journeys together and keep the connections strong.
Travel during COVID-19: If you can't go outside, go inside
I recently read an adaptation of the beautiful saying –
‘if you don’t go within, you go without.’ Which they reworded into - ‘if you can’t go outside, go inside.’
And it’s never felt more fitting to me to really see what lies within. To see what events have created who I am today, who has been with me on this journey and what it is I want to bring forward in this time to add to my life. To not let this time feel like a pause but more a change in direction with new possibilities and new opportunities.
So, what is an inner journey? And how can we experience who we really are?
For me, it all starts with curiosity and surrender. Curiosity to ask the old age questions of Who Am I? What is my purpose here? What is the purpose? And how do I fit into all of it? Then I fully surrender into the great unknowingness to open space for the truth that can sometimes be heard.
An inner journey comes in many different forms but in it’s purity, I feel it comes down to being present. I’m aware that ‘being present’ is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days but one that once fully understood, is the foundation to understanding what an inner journey is. And it can be anything.
Learn to remain present:
Some of the most profound spiritual moments I’ve ever had have come from washing the dishes! And I never expected that when I was piling the dishes up, but that’s what being present can create. So, that seemingly simple, monotonous task has often catapulted me into deep states of awareness, oneness and presence. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t have to come in any shape or any preconceived idea of what an inner journey should look like but rather connecting to each individual moment and letting that moment be met wherever you are able to meet it.
If it’s in meditation, yoga, breath work, dance, art, singing, chanting, silence, eating, drinking, dreaming, lovemaking, movie watching, walking, running, swimming or even washing the dishes, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how present we are with each task we are doing. This is the real joy of travelling and one that I feel most travellers feel. There’s a real sense of engagement, of being fully alive and ready to experience all that is on offer. But as the big adventures are put on hold for a while...
How can we keep that same excitement and enthusiasm for the smaller things in life?
I think we’ve all experienced, to some degree, what it feels like to be fully present at least once in our lives. It’s a timeless moment, one where tiredness and weariness is far from our thoughts, a time of contentment, joy or pure adrenaline. It’s a time where time doesn’t really exist, where nothing really exists except the moment we are in, being fully present with the people or the surroundings we are with. It’s a time where joy, happiness, peace and love shine through above all else, however brief it may last, and as we feel those emotions we know that that’s probably the deepest truth we can feel. It doesn’t have to last forever, for most that’s impossible, but once we know how to get there, we create a little road map for how to get back. We’ve written our own travel guide; we’ve drawn the road signs and travelled down them. But above all, we’ve experienced each and every moment.
And now we can experience each and every moment over and over again as we have our very own map to follow.
I like to practise breath work during times of uncertainty, which always brings me back into the deepest parts of myself. I don’t always sit down to each session as gracefully as I would like, quite often I grapple with the feelings of resistance, resentment and fear as I plot all of the ways to get me out of a session, in every conceivable way possible. But I find that even through those moments of doubt I’m reminded of the times I’ve felt most connected which always give me the encouragement to sit down, close my eyes and face whatever it is that’s waiting for me. And if all else fails and the noise is too much, I put some binaural beats on through the headphones and let that noise be the noise I hear instead. I use all the tools from my toolkit that I know of to feed the peaceful part of my being who seeks a deeper connection to truth.
How you can find support along your inner journey:
One of the trickiest things to navigate for me over my years of travelling has been where to turn to after going through a deeply transformational experience. It first started when I returned home from my travels and tried to speak about my experiences with friends and family who hadn’t been travelling before. Anyone that’s tried this I’m sure will feel empathy. Then that changed from trying to explain outward journeys like travelling the world to deeply transformational journeys within. This one for me was even harder as there are no photos or funny stories to tell and can quite often be heard to explain even to myself, let alone another. I would often ask myself, ‘does life just keep on moving? Do the bins really still need to be taken out? Do I still need to talk or can we all now tele-communicate?
And one of the hardest things around sharing an experience is that not many, if anyone at all, can understand what has happened, or to the extent it’s changed you, except you (and the Go Travel and Talk community of course).
So, where do you turn?
I’ve found that although no one really is going to understand the experience fully, we can at least walk hand in hand and learn about what the other has been through and share what it is that I’ve experienced. I don’t always need to hear ‘yeah, yeah, I understand, I had that exact same experience the other day!’ I prefer the opposite most of the time. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as when a friend stays so open and is so present to what I’m saying that the only thing that feels fitting after I’ve stopped speaking is silence. It’s the feeling of being truly heard and witnessed. And for me to witness being witnessed by someone I truly love. Most of the time, nothing else is needed.
But sometimes it is. And that’s where we can lean on so many beautiful friends, loved ones, teachers, mentors and guides to highlight some of the things that they’ve been through which can relate to our most recent experiences.
Teachers like Dr. Joe Dispenza, Tony Robbins, Russell Brand, Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God), Rumi and Hafiz are just some of the teachers I lean on as they share their experiences that they have walked. I surround myself with as many nourishing podcasts, books, poems, music, movies, documentaries and friends to keep me as close to that place inside that I hold so dear.
Travel during COVID:19: Closing Thoughts:
For all the travelling I’ve done over the past 10 years, I’ve realised that we’re all searching for the same things. We all want to feel love, to live peacefully and to be authentic. It doesn’t matter if that’s travelling the world or being in lockdown, with a group of new friends or in solitude. The rules stay the same. The questions remain. Do I feel love? Am I in peace? Am I being authentic?
So that’s the journey undertaken within. It’s a journey whether we’re aware of it or not. But it becomes so much richer when we get a glimpse of this journey. We can take ourselves to every corner of the Earth but which self are we taking? The inward journey can help us see.
This time is a beautiful time to connect to all the selves and see how they interact with each other. If you’re anything like me, you’ll hear many voices all talking to each other. Some are younger, shy and more nervous while others are old and wise, grounded. See which ones your friends with and which ones are waiting to be befriended.
Life is a journey and in the end it’s only with ourselves. How magical it would be to be the best friend you can be to yourself and walk hand in hand through this journey we call life.
This is the inner journey. To befriend myself.
To hold out my hand to all the selves who live within and walk together on this path, feeling the inner community shining together.