Thursday, September 9, 2010

Preparing For A Journey

In less than a month I will be co-leading a group of travelers and friends to Italy, exploring several Tuscan towns.  I have been planning and preparing for this journey visually and literally for over a year.  As the days near for departure it is always an interesting introspective journey for myself, and a process that I would like to encourage anyone that is traveling to observe all the challenges of preparing for the leaving, as a gateway to something much larger and yet known about taking a journey.

I do not separate myself from anyone else who is preparing to leave on a journey. We all go through what I call separation anxiety. The leaving our homes, family, work, and mostly what is familiar. We all carry great expectations and anxiety with all the packing and making peace with what we need to lay down and promise to do when we return home.  It is important not to miss this symbolic piece of preparation.

Notice if what you think you need to complete or get done....are tasks that have always kept you from stepping into more joy and contentment.  Taking a journey can represent letting go....

Give yourself the gift of making peace with those things that are gathering too much of your attention. Do not allow the 'The Do List" to sacrifice your wish for how you want to arrive to your destination. A tired body is the natural process of unwinding. But if you can accomplish bringing even a shadow of a nourished spirit and mind the beginnings of your journey will unfold in an unforgettable way.  Imagine bringing an uncluttered mind and openness to new surroundings and new friends.

Many years ago when I took my first group trip to northern India I remember arriving in the dark of the night and offered the group a simple exercise upon arrival to New Dehli. I asked them to write down within the first minutes of arrival every smell, sense, sight, sound and emotion without thinking what they were experiencing.  It was a wonderful exercise and it was astounding to read back how much I was able to write down, just by being fully aware in the first moments of a new destination. To this day I have those writings to remind me of the quality I strive to bring to the beginning of a journey.

I have learned rather than focus on what you are taking... why not ask yourself, what am I bringing? Or what is the best aspect of myself I am bringing on the journey?  Here are a few questions to ponder as your prepare for the 'taking of a journey.

  • What place in me is leading me on this journey?
  • What quality of myself would I like to bring to the group I am traveling with?
  • What kind of gifts or acts of kindness would I like to leave with the countries' people I will be    meeting?
I wish for you to bring joy, laughter, openness, flexibility, wonder, surprise and expect everything different and the same.  May this journey open your invisible eyes to see the immense detail and color around you.

And in the words of St. Augustine - "The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."