Meditating on the road can be challenging if you’re feeling tired and overloaded. However, there are some guiding principles and practical strategies to help you remain consistent with your practice while you travel.
- Add variety to your routine. If being in an unfamiliar place makes it harder to settle down into your habitual activities, turn the circumstances around to your advantage. This is a chance to experiment with new techniques.
- Be flexible. Work with whatever you have on hand. Borrow a pillow from your bed to use as a cushion if your Zafu is too fluffy to fit into your carry-on bag. If you usually burn incense, apply a scented lotion along your shoulders and neck for a light touch of fragrance.
- Focus on quality over quantity. If you’re suffering from a lack of sleep or your daily agenda is jam packed, go easy on yourself. Even 5 minutes of meditation can help relax and restore you. Pushing yourself too hard can backfire and leave you feeling tenser.
- Make obstacles part of your practice. The more you travel, the more you come to expect that things will sometimes turn out differently than planned. If you have an unexpected layover, take a few minutes to relax so you’ll feel calmer as you revise your plans.
- Let go of expectations. Traveling can be a valuable lesson if you use it to remind yourself that external conditions are beyond your control. Even so, you can still protect your peace of mind. Practice remaining neutral when flights get delayed or luggage gets lost.
- Maintain healthy habits. The mind and body are closely connected, so it’s easier to concentrate when you take care of your physical health. Stick to nutritious foods, daily exercise and adequate rest.
- Bring a familiar object along with you. You’ll feel more at home if you pack a small item that reminds you to practice. It’s easy to bring a small bell that you can ring to call your mind to attention.
- Mask background noises. Noise can be a distraction if you have a hotel room next to the elevator. Keep a pink noise recording loaded on your iPhone or MP3 player. It will sound like soft rain in the background.
- Wear eyeshades. Meditation is hard to spot from the outside. If you wear eyeshades, flight attendants and seatmates will assume you’re asleep and they’ll be less likely to start talking to you.
- Schedule a meditation session for whenever you wake up. The most disruptive thing about travel may be getting off your regular schedule, especially if you’re crossing into new time zones. By meditating whenever you wake up, you’ll stay on track.
- Find a local meditation center. Having some company around may motivate you to meditate. Search online for local mediation centers at your destination. They’re everywhere – from yoga studios to community centers.
- Meditate outdoors. Travel is much more stimulating if you get out of your hotel room. Go down to the beach or ask the staff at the front desk if there’s a park or public garden nearby.
- Try walking meditation. If the last thing you want to do is sit down again after a long flight, walk around while you meditate. Just focus on your breath or positive thoughts while you adopt a steady and gentle pace.
Traveling enriches your life with new experiences and opportunities. By working some meditation time into your schedule, you’ll have more energy to enjoy all the wonderful things around you wherever you go.