I’ll admit it, even though I’m embarrassed by taking “Yoga Pics” in public, I totally love coming home from a vacation with a yoga picture from each place I visited. I try to take them on my own, but when that doesn’t work (the new iPhone 6 has rounded edges and can’t seem to stand itself up…anyone else agree that this is an evil ploy to make selfie fanatics buy extra phone accessories?) I convince an unsuspecting teenage girl or my Ironman to take one for me. (Side note, you’ve seen “Instagram Husband,” right? It’s the funniest thing to hit the YouTube since Charlie Bit My Finger.)My Traveling Yogi Pictures are evidence that I can, and will, find a moment anywhere in the world to practice my yoga. (Also, the places that I go are really really cool. And beautiful. They deserve pictures: Lisa’s awesome travel-asana gallery.)
But, as cool as these photos are, does it really matter that I can do an arm balance on the top of a mountain? Or a bendy-twisty pose on a meadow hillside? Or a weird standing-bound-something-pose on a rocky beach cliff? No. It doesn’t matter one bit. Because it’s not about where I travel horizontally on this Earth that matters or how cool I look doing it (thanks for being my sponsor, Lululemon CCP!) what matters is how deeply and intentionally I’m willing to travel within myself.
The traveling that really matters in life is my journey to uncover joy, move forward with clarity and refine my relationship with my Inner Light. Yoga philosophy names the Inner Light purusa. It is the element of me that is immutable and unchanging, despite the constant flux of the physical plane I call home. It is my Soul, or my Atman.
Sometimes, I feel present, content and infinitely energetic; during these times, my Inner Light of awareness is clearly shining on what I’m engaged in, so I see things clearly. Other times, I’m wearing a giant, filthy lampshade on my head.
You know those days, right? It’s the days when you can’t take a joke, when your dog pees on your shoe, when you spill your coffee cup outside the front door of your office, when your eyes are swollen shut with allergies, when you get a phone call saying your deadline has been moved two weeks earlier, when someone you trust disappoints you, and when a person you love is suffering. On these days, traveling on even the must mundane errands leaves you with permanent let-leg.
Author Pico Iyer has an interesting take on traveling. As a man who makes his living by traveling and writing, he understands the difference between stillness and motion and how each one affects the Soul.
Iyer suggests that jet-setting is fun, but that the most thoughtful and meaningful journey is one that is taken in Stillness.
When I travel, it’s always with the intention of uncovering my Inner Light. While I am away, I meditate every day, I practice my yoga poses when I can, I practice ahimsa even when I’m stressed, I practice loving the world I’m experiencing and wanting to be Nowhere else. But I guess, I can practice all of these things at home, too. By going Nowhere but Inside. If you haven’t started your own Meditation practice, here’s a good place to begin.
In Iyer’s TED Talk and in his mini-book The Art of Stillness he suggests we need to slow down our movement in order to truly experience the richness of our inner Lives. He says we should learn to travel to Stillness. In other words, uncovering the innate Joy of your Inner Light happens not when you are taking #YogaSelfies in Hawaii, but when you sit yourself down in your home meditation room and become Still. True, the pics won’t be as awesome, and no one will comment “OMYGOSH Gurl! U R soooo cool!!!” But the rewards will be astounding. (Also, your friends should know how to spell first-grade sight words correctly. Just sayin’.)
I once heard it said that ‘Heaven is a place where you think of nowhere else.’ I’m hoping that this is true. I’m also hoping to get really, really good at traveling Inward in Stillness so that Heaven is only as far away as my meditation cushion.
Where are you traveling right now? How can you travel in Stillness? What meditation techniques work for you?
I’d love to hear your travel stories,