I am back from my trip to Singapore, somewhat jet lagged, moderately tired, sad to have left, and unbelievable happy that I went. Words cannot describe how amazing Singapore is and how wonderful it was to see my best friend who currently lives there. So I will not attempt to write about Singapore per se – after all, I am not (yet) a travel blogger. But this trip (and the many other trips that I have been fortunate enough to take over the last few years) has taught me a lot about myself and my practice. Today I want to share it with all of you. And if you do want to have some insight into my trip, feel free to check out my personal Instagram page or simply enjoy the pictures in this blog post (all taken by me on an iPhone 7 with no filters or editing).
This blog post builds on a previous post that I wrote almost one year ago today, about how to maintain your mindfulness and meditation practice while travelling. Today’s post, however, takes a step outside of formal meditation and attempts to provide some tips for a more holistic mindfulness practice. As we already know, formal meditation is an important part of our practice, but it is not the only part. And mindfulness, after all, is so much more than “just” meditation.
Stay in the present moment
Let’s start off with an “easy” concept. OK, maybe not the easiest concept, but at the very least a familiar one. Whether you start each day with a formal meditation session or simply tune in to your mind and body several times throughout the day, staying present outside of these moments may be challenging. However, being able to travel is a wonderful thing and we should not only be grateful for this opportunity, but also learn to enjoy it fully.
So put down your phone and take it all in. Of course you can take pictures (I obviously do!), but try to see and experience things with your eyes first, not just through a screen. Remind yourself of how lucky you are to be here (wherever here is for you). If you can, disconnect from your work emails, try not to text your partner back home every chance you get, and just be where you are. Everything else can wait until you are back.
Look with beginner’s eyes
If you are lucky enough to travel often, you may fall into a “been there, done that” trap. Places and things can start looking alike from one country to another. But it is important not to take things for granted even if you have seen them before. Gratitude is everything.
Some people say that we should look at things as if it is the last time we will ever see them. I say that we should look at things as if it is the first time we are seeing them. Try to look at things with brand new eyes – “beginner’s eyes”. Discover things visually and then use your other senses to explore them further. Look at the things you have seen before and appreciate everything that connects us as people all over the world. And then look for the little things that make each country, city, and place unique – trust me, there are many!
Personally, I love palm trees. Palm trees in different countries, in different cities, in different places, under different light, at different times of day, and the differences between two palm trees standing right next to each other. So yes, I have seen them before. And I really hope that I will see them again. But I look at each one with the same awe and wonder as I did the first time and each one makes me happy. (Even if you happen to live in a country where palm trees are abundant, make this a special challenge just for you – try to look at them as if you are seeing them for the first time!)
Try new things
Another important way to develop your practice and yourself as a human being is to try new things. Trying something new can enhance your creativity, imagination and spirit, help you grow, and allow you to discover new things about yourself. So step out of your comfort zone and experience something different. Try different foods, go someplace new, try an activity you have never done before, and bring your mindfulness practice with you every time.
Connect with the locals
Trying something new also means talking to people outside of your social circle, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age group, and background. And you cannot truly experience a different country and its community without engaging with the locals. Singapore’s locals happen to be so international that blending in becomes easy. But it is so important to immerse yourself fully in someone else’s culture, not only to learn from it, but also to be able to truly appreciate it. And the importance of respecting other cultures is a given (although it seems that it needs to be repeated over and over).
Get in touch with nature
No matter where in the world you find yourself, this is definitely something you can do. And there is probably no better way to enhance your mindfulness practice than by disconnecting from technology and becoming one with nature.
Meditate in the park, feeling the grass beneath your feet. Listen to the sounds of the ocean, feeling the sand between your toes. Or simply breathe in the fresh air of the forest, listening to the sounds of nature all around you. Lose yourself in the peace and quiet and experience the real world – the natural world. Discover your connection to this natural world. Remember that we are dependent on it. (And stay tuned for a blog post on the ethics of mindfulness!)
Explore different spirituality practices
A great way to expand on your personal mindfulness and meditation practice is to explore its roots in religious and spiritual practices, such as Buddhism. But Buddhism is not the only religion that can help you go deeper in your practice. We are all connected and we can learn a lot more from people who are different from us than from those who are similar to us.
The same goes for religion and spirituality. I have realised how much about mindfulness (and even Buddhism) can be discovered from Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity, and Singapore with its side-by-side temples and harmonious practices of a wide range of religions is the perfect place to explore, learn new things, and take your practice further. Also, temples make for great meditation places!
Bring the excitement home
Most importantly, when you do leave, remember to bring your excitement, happiness, and gratitude with you home. It is so easy to feel down after a holiday or wish you were still there, but there are plenty of things to be grateful for and excited about at home.
Be where you are. Stay in each moment. Appreciate the little things in your everyday life. Take pictures of the things that you often take for granted. You only get one life, so make it count! And remember that the sun rises and sets over your own home, too.
Bonus: How to create a life you won’t want to get away from
In my previous blog post, I wrote about the NoBox Experience – designed to bring you out of the box, put you in a different environment and help you connect with others, with the ultimate goal of allowing you to create a life that you won’t want to get away from.
Find out more information about this fantastic experience on the NoBox website or in the My NoBox Experience brochure. Alternatively, comment on this blog post, contact me through the blog, or message me on my Instagram account and I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have!