"The quieter you become, the more you can hear."

Two recent summer getaways have helped me understand the importance of travel in "decluttering of the mind". These breaks in the daily grind are essential to the human experience, offering refreshed perspectives, a therapeutic recharge, and a rare moment for pause or reflection.

While I have traveled a lot in my day, I have not been able to relate my experiences to minimalism until recently. I'm learning that there are trips, and then there are vacations- and each can embrace simplicity and mindfulness in varying ways.

It turns out that most of my life I have been taking what my husband calls 'organized excursions'- a less enlightened version of a trip. The purpose of these journeys are to explore, experience new things, seek out adventure and of course- have fun.

I've been able to figure out one of life's greatest truths first hand. The key to a successful trip: LETTING GO. Parting with expectations and surrendering control. All easier said than done, of course. Going with the flow is very difficult for me as I am a natural planner and prefer structure and order. But as I'm learning- that's rarely how life works.

So, starting with our visit to Chicago last month, I practiced loosening my grip and giving in to the unknown. While scary and uncomfortable at first, the end result was me feeling lighter and unburdened. To my surprise, I realized that I could actually enjoy myself even (and despite) "the chaos". And this feeling was strangely familiar... I noticed that it mimicked the same sensation I felt in a tidy, uncluttered home- the feeling of tranquility, and that the possibilities are endless!

So in contrast, what happens when you travel to intentionally and actively seek cessation, nothingness? Folks, that's a vacation and its purpose is simple: TO RELAX. However a real vacation, I am realizing, is extremely rare. It can only be found only in moments of quiet and stillness.

The feeling of an empty mind and idle hands is foreign to many Americans because we have been wired since childhood to always be doing. We are so accustomed to being wound up that we may even feel anxious or unsettled when we start to unwind. So a vacation, with the sole purpose of relaxation, feels counterintuitive because it takes a degree of focus and discipline to achieve.

During our recent visit to the Carolina coast I was finally able to achieve this ultimate "vacation mode". There was a release of tension that I had never experienced before (at least consciously). Some stress was so ingrained in me that I didn't even realize it was there. And it went deep: years of repressed anxieties, unresolved guilt, outside pressure mixed with the everyday nonsense of to-dos, worries, questions. The turning point was when I refused to let all of this unnecessary mental, emotional or psychological baggage return home with me. I said goodbye to the clutter.

The key to any travel, vacation or trip, is perhaps also the secret to life: to live in the moment. That means getting rid of your own mental clutter and following your inner compass. Napping when you feel like napping, even if it's for the 3rd time that day. Letting of diet restrictions and indulging for a meal or two. Taking a walk with no where to go. Daydreaming, dancing, laughing and playing with loved ones. And sometimes, just BEING. Breathing and existing in peace, in the here and now.

Love & Light (and less)



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