The Benefits of Traveling Mindfully
At its very basic, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present and can make travel even more enjoyable.
Mindfulness can also be defined as the non-judgmental focus of a person’s attention on the thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. A Buddhist practice and tradition, mindfulness has gained recent acclaim for the variety of benefits it offers.
For teachers, trip leaders and students, practicing mindfulness while you travel can open your eyes and your senses to a whole new level of engagement and immersion. Here are a few of the benefits of traveling mindfully:
- Builds Compassion – Research has shown that mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others. Social and emotional skills are increasingly important for today’s youth and mindfulness could be an important first step to building those characteristics.
- Reduces Stress – Travel can be stressful and mindfulness has been shown to strengthen the immune system and the physiological responses to stress.
- Fosters Openness – Travel and cultural exchange activities can cause students to be shy and unwilling to engage. Mindfulness has been shown to increase openness to new experiences and unfamiliar situations.
- Makes You Unplug – The biggest barrier to being mindful is your smart phone. When students and travelers are checking their Facebook page every five minutes the chances of embracing the present moment are drastically diminished.
- Lifelong Skills – Mindfulness not only provides a more immersive travel experience, but it can also continue to help build valuable interpersonal skills. Studies have shown mindfulness can help foster optimism, healthy relationships, self-control, and much more.
To learn more about mindfulness and mindful meditation read Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn.