I wonder if we are more open to experiencing the world around us when we travel because it's new or because we're relaxed and free on holiday? Probably a bit of both. but either way I believe the state of travelling — fully noticing and experiencing the world around you — is one of the most expansive and alive things you can do.
On a recent trip to France I met a lovely couple (via their Labrador) who loved my home town Fremantle. We jostled for a while declaring our love for each other's home town. Seen through our holiday eyes, the other's home town was far more interesting.
I've been wondering how I can bring the travelling way of being to my day-to-day and avoid having the daily grind squash it out of me. Because as my yoga teacher once told me, it's about creating a life that you don't need to escape.
After returning from said trip recently, my elation from my experience rapidly descended into post holiday blues with the inevitable back-to-work slap and I wondered why. While I do have a demanding job, I work with fabulous humans to get it done, in an office with a gorgeous view, that happens to be by the beach with the world's best coffee downstairs. I live in my dream house (1920s cottage surrounded by trees) with my darling old black lab and husband (he's a darling too) and our son is a budding rocket scientist (true story). I have an amazing life! So why am I obsessed with planning holidays when my day-to-day is pretty fantastic?
One triple s word. Stress.
In stress we are less
Let me stress how much stress can play a role in dampening one's life experience. We all know how it feels, by the end of a working day your shoulders can be up near your ears, your breath shallow – fight or flight response fully switched on. It contracts us, makes us smaller. So much so that by the end of the week, after 5 days of this, it's not unusual to lose your ability to form full sentences leaving you in a state where you're not making any sense at all and you find yourself nose diving into a wine bottle on a Friday afternoon. Sound familiar?
It's not our body's fault, our system is simply doing it's job – trying to survive being under pressure, to have the energy to get through a situation that feels too much. Some people say they thrive under pressure, personally I'm accustomed to working under pressure (occupational hazard) but I perform better without it – I'm able to give and be more of me without it. But like it or not it's a reality of most working lives that we have to deal with.
How to see your world anew in a high pressure storm
When we're faced with the full force of a pressure front, there's one simple thing that can help to clear the skies of your view – remembering to breathe. Luckily our bodies just breathe all by themselves without us even noticing, so if you forget you'll be ok.
When I do notice and appreciate my breath – my life force – it lifts my energy and I feel more spacious. And the best thing is I can do it without anyone realising. When I'm bored in an unproductive meeting or waiting in traffic, or about the dive into the relentless inbox of need, I take a moment to just breathe. There's no pressure, I just breathe – inhale deep into my belly and exhale through the nose. Really exhale and with this I find space, my experience expands beyond the monkey mind screeches – a momentary reprieve from the pressure mindset.
If you are after some more head space, there are plenty of breathing techniques out there you can try. My favourites are ocean breath and alternate nostril breathing (I don't recommend doing this one in public though as people may mistake you for picking your nose). They tell me these techniques are great for soothing the nervous system. I find it great for clearing the high pressure systems that cloud my view and for reawakening my travelling eyes.
May connecting with your breath be the ticket for experiencing the trip of your life.
Here are some beautiful sensory introduction to the calming affects of your breath by one of my yoga heroes: