Travel broadens our physical horizons, opening our eyes to new sights, sounds, smells and ways of being and doing. A spiritual journey enhances the travel experience. It is an intentional journey of heart and soul opening, allowing us to more fully and deeply connect our inner and outer selves. India is always my first choice for a spiritual journey, although it is not as much the destination as the way in which we travel that matters. As Henry Miller said,
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Below are nine reasons to embark on your own spiritual journey…
- Take a break from the everyday routine and drop the “should dos” – Many of us hurry through our days, one appointment flowing into the next, each movement rushed, and every breath jagged and incomplete. We don’t allow ourselves time to relax often if ever, our personal needs at the bottom of a long list of to-dos that focus on our obligations, the things we “should do”. Committing to a retreat, and especially one that allows you to focus on your spiritual health, is an excellent way to take care of yourself. Retreating from our list of “should dos” is a positive step toward writing a new life list focused on healthy boundaries and positive actions.
- Renew or enhance spiritual practices – Taking a break from our everyday lives opens space for something new. Releasing everyday concerns allows us to initiate or renew spiritual practices. Away from all that is familiar, it is easier to explore parts of ourselves we may not have had time for, or shied away from at home.
- Develop new spiritual practices – Each teacher you meet will have something unique to offer. Perhaps an old idea will take on a new meaning. A suggestion you might have resisted before might become a new way of being as a result of your journey. Perhaps you will decide to journal every morning, discover the beauty and peace of a daily meditation practice, or perhaps a regular yoga practice will become a part of your life.
- Become part of a spiritual community – Group travel can be uncomfortable, especially if we don’t know all the other participants. A spiritual retreat, however, can be seen as a way to practice trust and build community with like-minded persons. The spiritual traveler will likely find many commonalities with the other members of the journey. Facing the unknown together allows the group to grow and expand as members forge new friendships and provide support for one another.
- Discover the origins of the practice – The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and The Ramayana, Ayurveda, the Yoga Sutras, the practice of Yoga. All of these hail from India and if you are a fervent practitioner of yoga and all things yogic, or even if you are not but you’re a curious about what the practice of yoga is all about, what better place to learn than the where it all started?
- See new places and experience new cultures – India cannot be more disparate from the United States and that is a great thing. Not only will you have the opportunity to see a unique land, meet interesting people and try new foods, you will also get to see how another culture lives. It is an invaluable experience, and one that opens our eyes to the reality that our way of life is not the only way to live.
- Release the need for control – We all have so much to control. Schedules have to fit together perfectly for everything to get done. But on retreat it is time to drop control and let life flow. On a retreat, you have a chance to devote yourself to yourself and your growth, trusting that your needs will be met. A guided retreat provides an opportunity to flow through your days and allow yourself time to simply “be” knowing that all is well.
- Be open to the new and embrace the changes in you – Even if the changes don’t happen in one day, five days or two weeks, know that you have planted the seeds of change simply through your willingness to take a leap of faith into unknown territory. Continuing your spiritual practices when you return home will bring about the changes that you intend.
- Trust in the process of the journey – A retreat gives each traveler the opportunity to practice trust in the guide, the teachers, the fellow travelers and him or herself.
Wherever your sojourn takes you, may your spiritual journey be a blessing.