Does traveling with your kids stress you out?
Airports, tickets, and passports… oh my! The security lines alone seem to take years off our lives.
But you’ve been training yourself to live a more peaceful life. All that yoga can help you here. It’s time to take your practice to the airport. Tools from yoga and mindfulness practices will completely transform travel into something that feeds your soul.
This past weekend I flew up to Boston to visit my new 1-month old niece, my brother and his family. I traveled with my 3-year old daughter, and when I got there, I was not stressed out.
It didn’t matter that we were in damp, chilly Boston.
Without those usual layers of post-travel stress, I could enjoy everything more. My daughter and her cousin were ecstatically happy to be with one another. The 3 days feel like a true getaway.
Traveling showed me how grateful I am to be able to incorporate yoga and mindfulness practices into my life. Short home practices rejuvenated me at my brother’s house, and mindfulness practices kept me grounded while getting there and back.
We all know that there are a lot of stressed and unhappy people in airports. Whether or not you’re one of them, you can palpably feel the tension in the security line. Yet it’s possible to have a completely different experience. It’s possible to generate peace and loving-kindness even under adverse conditions.
Take your practice into the airport. Take your practice on vacation! Here’s what I suggest for practicing yoga and mindfulness while traveling:
1. Be present with Slogans. A getaway is a special time and I wanted to really be present for each moment with my family, I didn’t want to be lost in thought. So I use gathas, the Buddhist word for ‘little slogans’, to stay present.
At traffic lights I practiced, “Breathing in, I have arrived. Breathing out, I am home.”
When I found myself getting caught up in children’s drama, I practiced, “Breathing in, I feel calm, breathing out, peace. Breathing in, I smile. Breathing out, release.”
Try it right now. You will feel the difference.
2. Go easy on the Treats. I definitely enjoy some special treats on vacation, but I know that if I go overboard, I feel terrible. So I make sure to eat as many vegetables and healthy proteins as I can while on vacation. At my brother’s place, I made a big meal chock full of veggies. Later I made everyone some green smoothies that helped me to feel nourished while sharing with my host.
3. Surrender to Your Vacation. After I arrived at my destination, I surrendered to wherever I was in the moment. Whether you find yourself lingering in a café or stopped in traffic, it’s so important to let go of our agendas and allow ourselves to fully relax. Taking off my watch is a symbol of that for me.
4. Squeeze in a Yoga Practice. While it’s fun to go to a class when traveling, I had only 3 days on this trip so I wanted to soak up as much family time as possible. I did not want to miss those few moments when my new niece was actually awake! When we had some down time, I rolled out my mat for a short 20-minute practice. My brother joined me, and at one point, I was doing tree pose holding my 1-month old niece!
5. Meditation on the Go. Normally, I sit quietly for 30 minutes in the morning before the family wakes up. While traveling, I was sharing a room with my daughter and our schedule was different, but I knew I still needed some time to get quiet.
I fit my meditation in through other ways. One day I sat on the stoop outside for 10 minutes while everyone else was still getting their boots and jackets on.
Another day, I woke up early and sat in the living room while I listened to my brother getting my niece breakfast in the kitchen. It was enough time in stillness to keep me clear-headed throughout the rest of my visit.
6. Share the Love. This practice is key to making all of my journeys more relaxed. It’s kind of sneaky in that you are wishing peace for others but it helps you to release tension and feel better, too.
I practiced this waiting in the security line, boarding my flight, waiting to get off my flight, and all around the airport.
This is how it works: First, you wish yourself loving-kindness.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
Then you extend that wish to others, collectively or individually:
May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.
You can try this in any kind of public situation. I’m amazed at how these mantras have the power to transform entire experiences.
Remember that these tips shouldn’t be taken as a required to-do list all at once. These are all habits that I have developed over time, reminding me that it does take time and effort to make change. It might help to introduce one small practice at a time rather than vying for a complete overhaul of the way you do things. Research shows us that not overwhelming yourself with goals helps us to make changes that last.
Author: Hunter Clarke-Fields
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Courtesy of Author