Just about every ancient and modern wisdom tradition emphasizes the central role of “Consciousness” living a deeply meaningful life. Yet even pretty evolved people with right intentions can get sidetracked and fall off the path while traveling in unfamiliar places. Fear and judgment can come into play, and we’re trying to feel safe, but it is hard, and we blame the other guy, or the culture, or the cold showers, or the awful driving, or…you know how that can go…
By “Consciousness”, we mean that deeper awareness of ourselves, of ourselves in connection with others, or, more archetypally, “The Other.” Traveling consciously means to take in our experiences without that sense of “against-ness”, without fear, without that feeling that “The thing that ‘is’, should not be, and what is happening should not be happening; this is too hard, and it must be somebody else’s fault.” We can easily fall into comparing everything against what we are accustomed to, as if that is the gold standard.
Transformational travel is conscious travel. We cultivate an awareness, and we just ‘be’ in the experience, we observe it, feel it, roll with it, ideally enjoy it, and do not judge it. From this point of view, outside of fear, we can just get curious about things, interested in things, rather than against them, or afraid of them. “Wow, this traffic is unbelievable not like what we have back home. It is a lot of traffic, and I have no idea what the rules are, or if there are any. And the poverty appears much greater here, but then again, the people seem joyful, are dressed colorfully, and it’s not something I am familiar with…It’s interesting…”
To be able to travel with this level of awareness is not always easy. Sat Ananda Voyages knows this, and an essential part of our journeys involves time for self-reflection, time for talking about our experiences with professional facilitators who know a lot about this kind of thing. Then we can understand the different-ness in a broader context, helping each other make sense of what we are feeling. We will encourage journaling, blogging, making art, writing poetry, taking intentional photos that reflect and capture the inner journey we are on, as well as the outer journey.
Sat Ananda Voyages has all the travelers meet together, if at all possible, before the trip. Sometimes more than once. This guided and intentional part of the journey can make all the difference.
You might even note the similarity how we travel to the traditional, indigenous “Vision Quest.” Typically, these involve a guided “intention setting” ritual, and discussion of the meaning of the journey, concerns about the journey, and so on. It is important to note, too, that in the vision quest, the journey is not “the thing.” The vision is not even “the thing.”
After going on the journey, and having the experience you have, coming back to one’s fellow voyagers to process and begin to integrate the experience is enormously important. Integrating the experiences and learning from travel is something many people never successfully achieve. They may not even be aware that this is part of any meaningful journey. They come home with a gallery of striking photographs, a few funny or poignant stories, or biased observations (“It is SO dirty there!” or “New Yorkers are SO rude!”), a hanging for the wall, and those become the symbols of, and the primary memories of, what could have been much richer, had it been processed and integrated in a more thoughtful, shared way.
The final phase of the vision quest is bringing what you learned back to your Tribe. If all you bring back are the stories about the driving, or the time you got sick, then your Tribe has been cheated, and so have you.