I don’t know about you, but I’m missing travel.
The opportunity to move in freedom from one country to another.
There are moments when I feel stuck-then moments when I remember life is on pause. Both of these moments lead me to being reflective as a seasoned Therapist, with experience working with addiction, stress, burnout, anxiety & depression – loss and grief.
Step 1: I allow myself to experience the missing.
The loss of mobility – a freedom which brings me back solely to me. A chance to escape the norm, embrace the new and connect with possibility, whilst embracing the full colour of my emotions, senses and capabilities.
Step 2: I ground myself through my breath.
Even if there feels no time to breathe, there are ways to manipulate the experience which allow us to connect with ourselves and this, to me, starts with the breath.
I once told a very busy client who was a Barrister, experiencing so much anxiety ramping up, through the stressful experience of his job, which left no room for him as a person – that as he wasn’t willing to change careers to give himself the space needed, he had to create space within it and this could only come in those moments when he was alone.
Those moments happened in between court rooms, on his visits to the toilet and when travelling to and from work. If that is what you have – then that is where you need to work with. With skype, instant messaging, microsoft teams and zoom. Work may feel it has completely invaded your home and you need to find those moments to bring yourself back to you. As one conference call ends and an instant message begins – before tapping the keys breathe in deeply through the nose, pull it into your stomach and then physically move your hands from your stomach back to the keyboard and press the button. In those small moments you can empower yourself, regain control of you.
Step 3: I think of a time or moment where I have felt fully alive – full of colour and at one with myself and the universe.
Sounds a bit hippy doesn’t it, yet its not meant to be. I simply feel more connected – to me, to you, to our planet and in these moments acknowledge and recognise both the separateness and togetherness of everything.
What can you visualise? It needn’t be something big.
Even the minions out of the Despicable Me movies bring a smile to my face, a happy feeling in my heart and a warmth in my belly which gives me a moment – if thats all I have, to be with me.
Step 4: As the choice to travel is the thing I miss the most – I choose a moment of happiness from my travels to meditate on.
When I was working on Koh Chang in a rehab facility I’d spend the weekends on the beach. I created a routine for myself where on a saturday I’d be up and out early in the morning, catching the local taxi bus – take myself to White Sands – a beach resort which was about a 30 minute drive away from where I worked. It was the most touristy place I could be, which was the opposite to where I lived (in the jungle) and worked. Here I would have breakfast at one of the beachfront cafe’s.
The weekends were when I could act like a tourist.
After breakfast I would naughtily set myself up at one of the hotels by the pool or lay my towel out on the beach. It helped me when one of the thai workers from my facility recognised me and said hello. I felt more at home in a country and culture foreign to me.
I would lay in the emerald sea and unravel all the anxiety built up from working in a foreign country, with a different style of management and the intense therapeutic work I was doing – helping individuals deal with their substance misuse challenges. Helping create new lives – something I enjoy very much.
On a sunday I would arise later in the morning. A glorious sunday morning lay – in, with a cup of lipton’s tea – the waft of the air conditioning, sending cool wrinkles across my clean cotton sheet, as I gazed out of my balcony door and into the dense jungle behind my room. Listen to the sounds of the monkeys in the moment. A small pack of tim tams, kept cool in the fridge overnight, now strategically placed next to my drink, to be dunked in my tea at the right moment.
Then, it would be a lunch time walk down the big hill, past Bang Bao and onward towards Kong Kloi beach near the end of the island – just before the turn in the road, I would walk down the steps to the little reggae restaurant, I DO, I DO – playing cool tunes and serving good food.
Here I would order Pad Cha – a temptingly tasty stir fry, filled with fragrant thai herbs, full of fresh veg and served up with a side of rice. This became my sunday dinner.
After, I would rest underneath the coloured sun umbrellas, recline on wooden, striped deckchairs, which reminded me of england. Connect with my family in the UK, whilst using excellent wifi. Cooling myself with the occasional swim, before finishing the day with a rinse off under their fresh water shower. The walk home would be up and down hills – past smelly rubbish piles, barking dogs, scooter riding tourists and the small temple next to the school. It would tire me out. I would re-enter my room, exhausted but happy with only my company on occasion to keep me going. Ready for my next day at work. It was a good and healthy self care routine.
Step 5: Learn to linger in the moment.
This is the final step and an important one – i’m not talking about lingering in the moment on a psychological level but I am talking about it on a physiological level. You need to bring that moment to life within you.
To sense, to feel it and experience it in your being is the way in which to do so. This is a skill you can learn to transcend the shallowness of your mind and move you into the depth of your soul.
To remind myself of a happy place, then allow the remembrance to nestle in my heart for what it gave me – whilst connecting it with my soul, deep in my belly, allows it to deliver a sense of peace and contentment within. It’s not about holding it -that provokes rigidity. it can be fleeting. But when you flex this psychological and physiological muscle when you need it. You can connect easier each time. It’s small moments which make difficult times easier and you can help yourself in following these steps to enable you to do so.
Let me know if they work – or connect with me if you need a session to help you develop the skill.