Creation of authentic trip begins its expression from within. And in a context of soul therapy, a trip is an outer reflection of the inner experience. My trip to Nordic was serendipitous, pushing my soul to go and experience liberty, it was as strong a push that I let go off all the anxiety of a solo traveler before leaving for an unknown freezing natural wonder of the world.
Quite often we tend to focus on the exterior events that take place around us while we participate in adventure of travel. But what actually forms our perception of our journey is how we feel while we are experiencing a new city, country or an adventure through an amazing landscape. We can create an authentic trip by opening ourselves to be fully present to our inner experience. Allowing ourselves to be present by accepting ourselves as wholly as possible creates healing travel experience. It implies freedom itself — freedom from limiting beliefs and perceptions that cause unhappiness and resistance, and rob us of development into a full potential of our life’s expression.
As many of you know the spiritual side of me ensuring my yoga and Kriyas (Meditation) travel with me, on this trip I lived meditation and spiritualism everyday through my travel experiences. There were many instances that made me relish in the beauty of each moment and help me understand deeper, what it feels like to be free. These were my Aha moments! I was traveling by myself, intentionally, and was on a mission to practice self-discovery.
Cold winds rushed through the little gaps of my 5 layered clothes when I put my foot on the snowy land in Norway. In a country where temperatures can plummet to -40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and daylight sometimes never appears, I knew I had to find innovative ways to amuse myself during my days, but I thought to myself, it doesn’t mean staying indoors. For a moment I felt I was the only human on this planet as it took me good ten minutes of walk on this white snowy sheet of land to figure out another human being. As much as I was feeling lonely being a solo traveler, something truly magical happened as I let myself walk silent, and be in silence. I could hear the voice within guiding me, consoling me, and informing me of the truths of this existence. When I let myself just be in a space of external quiet, a strong yet gentle stillness became ME. Throughout my week long stay, this stillness became more readily accessible, even as the external world at times got louder. These are the moments that re-ignited my fire for life and adventure that had been dimmed from too many days in obligation to others.
Over my eleven years of predominantly solo travel, including backpacking Europe, cruising through the Aegean sea, Cycling along river Danube in eastern Europe, trekking across glaciers in Iceland and driving through the jungles in Africa, I’ve learned a few things about traveling alone. It’s an art, and one that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It takes a strong will, vulnerability, and absolute trust to really get it right. I also realize that solo traveling is kind of a step closer to spiritualism. One foundational idea that is present in many spiritual traditions is that we must not become too attached to things, especially material possessions. We are told to live in the moment, and just touch each moment lightly, as one passes to the next. Solo travel helps foster this teaching because as we are on the move, going from one place to the next, nothing is permanent. Travel offers to teach us to “live lightly” and relish experiences and relationships more than material things and every being we meet on our travels become part of the stories that are cherished long after the trips are over and they live in our memories for rest of our life.
My neighbor, Pauli, gasped and started clicking away on her camera. “Whoah”, said one of them. I gasped too because the sight I’d waited a lifetime and 11 cold midnights out in Northern Nordic was infront of me – the elusive northern lights had unveiled themselves. I have known disappointments in my life but nothing had disappointed me as much as returning every night without seeing the northern lights. To improve on the -13C cold, I had to wear 5-6 layers through out the night. “It’s not fun” I said to myself “but it’s got to be done “. It wasn’t that I expected the all-singing, all dancing Northern lights as soon as I landed in the Arctic Circle. I knew as everyone who’s planned a northern lights trip knows, that the Aurora Borealis is skittish and elusive. And yet here I was who had traveled across seven time zones to see the northern lights. “Turn around” barked my host, Mikolas from Slovakia, brandishing his camera. I didn’t want photos, but he didn’t care and positioned me wherever I could fit in. There I was, standing on the edge of the fjord with a plume of green waving in the background above my head. An emerald wind was dancing across the Arctic sky. The stars were winking at me from behind the curtain of lights. I was still, not wanting to breathe, for fear of frightening the lights away. I have experienced nothing as spiritual as gazing Aurora Borealis standing breathless that night. There is no more uplifting natural phenomenon than this in the world.
When I traveled through Scandinavian Countries, my focus shifted from my familiar life to unimagined potentials and this did not happen only when I was in a sacred site but a site that touched me deep within, mesmerizing views of Fjords, uplifting unveiling of Aurora Borealis, climbing Snow-laden Peaks, experiencing the strongest tidal currant of the world in Saltstraumen, braving -14 degree celsius temperatures outdoor that felt -25 degrees with winds blowing, were all unimagined for me. I was a bit out of my comfort zone and into the zone where magic happened. I was more open to universe and less attached to the world. I was taught the most valuable lessons —that we are insignificant, that we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, and that life will go on long after we’re dead.
Gone are my own worst impulses. I spent a good half an hour sitting on a rock watching puffin play in the snow. This was the definition of photographer’s gold, and I didn’t take a single shot. I am grateful that I spent my time here enjoying these moments, rather than chasing down the elusive perfect photo that was unlikely to materialize anyway.
Long walks by the sea in Danish Riviera in Denmark, hikes in the geothermal area and Walking the glaciers in Iceland, gazing at the razor-sharp Fjords and relaxing in the Hot Pots right in nature in Norway, hiking up a volcano that could erupt any time and go for a day-long ride into the wilderness where no cars or people come on the typical Iceland horses. All these experiences made me much more spiritual and synced me more with my inner world while I was out exploring the outer world. I like the new version of me that Nordic made. A quieter version of myself. A more inquisitive version of myself. More of an athlete, more of a scientist, far less self-conscious, far less egoistic. A traveler who let go of her expectations, only took what she was freely given, and was profoundly changed as a result.
Have you experienced spirituality on your travels?