The trifecta in reaching your ideal state consists of a sound mind, a healthy body, and a peaceful soul. The first two are fairly straightforward and academic. We all want to eat right and learn more. We strive to have healthy bodies by adding chia seeds to our breakfast, drinking green tea with honey, going to the gym regularly. Our society encourages education early on. We continue to challenge our brains to keep our mind agile and fresh. We do all sorts of things to nourish and take care of our bodies and our minds.
But how do we nourish our soul? How to we grow that “muscle” for self acceptance, love, connection, and that feeling of completeness? For me, one of the greatest tools to enriching my soul has been travel. Seeing the world from another angle, through a different set of eyes, from a place of curiosity and wonder. Expanding the paradigm from “my bubble” to the huge sphere of the world around us.
My Soul Acknowledges Yours
Have you ever heard the word, Namaste? You may have heard it in yoga class, or seen it printed on a funny t-shirt used such as “Namaste, in bed all day!”. But on a deeper note, the term expresses our innate connection to all humankind. Literally translated as “my soul acknowledges yours”. Our ability to have empathy and love and understanding is part of this universal connection; how we feel the world. This connection keeps us grounded in peace, blessed with hope. It allows us to be capable of compassion for our fellow Earth dwellers, regardless of our perceived “differences”.
We are all the same.
And yet we are all utterly unique.
In truth, we are more alike in this world than we are different. Children are born and grow in India and Canada in very similar fashion – babies cry, toddlers are curious, children like to play and don’t like their vegetables. People in Uganda and Germany alike love their families, parents sacrifice for their children. But we sometimes start to feel like the world around us is so large, so chaotic – we can forget the humanity that connects us all.
The Thread of Life
Travel opens up, not just new experiences, but new understandings. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the food and the architecture and breathtaking views. But my real love for traveling is seeing people just like you and me, living a world so completely different but also so much the same. The face of children eagerly sitting in class learning or playing ball in a field. The couple lost in each others eyes at a cafe sharing those moments of bliss. A mother weeping to a statue of a deity praying for her grandchild’s health. Soldiers returning home with scars that will never heal. A father holding his newborn child for the first time.
When traveling to new cities there is so much to see and do. Visiting the historical sites we read about in books, or feeling the breeze of the ocean on our face, or tasting amazing street foods. We may overlook the deeper connections around us if we don’t dive deep and feel below the surface. There is so much more beauty in walking the path with the people, along side them, allowing ourselves to experience their world. Absorb your surroundings, acknowledge the souls around you, and let the world speak to you. Realize and embrace that common thread woven thru time and space to each of our hearts.
Tip toeing around the Sanctuary of Truth in Thailand where one is engulfed in serenity and silence. Buildings and temples created to offer solace to those seeking to get away from the distractions of the busy frantic modern world. Sitting in the quiet, calming places in all corners of the world where we can seek peace and tranquility within our hearts. A reminder that there is always a place of calm in a world of chaos.
Water lapping at your feet on the beach in Spain. Wandering thru a snowy forest where Austria, Germany, and Switzerland meet. So many places where one can marvel in the sheer beauty and intricacy of nature – trees, mountains, oceans teeming with life. Everything having it’s own ecosystem, it’s own small treasure and simultaneously part of a larger whole of connected life.
Wandering thru the narrow streets of Morocco and the myriad of wares and trinkets of the market. The liveliness of community dinners in the barrios of Mexico. The crowded streets of walkers and bikes and tuk tuks in India. All signs that the hustle and bustle of everyday living and need for interaction is universal.
And the pain…
Walking thru Dachau, a concentration camp in Germany, where you can physically feel the heaviness of the tragedy of the Holocaust in the misty air. Trying to lift your feet to take a step and the emotional gravity almost holding your body down. In the deep bunkers of Vietnam, where refugees hid and waited to be liberated, you feel underwater and far away at the same time. In these places, where so much fear reigned free you can feel the loss of thousands of lives, their souls snuffed out by evil, and the indifference that allowed such tragedies to happen. You are reminded that life is precious, all life. That people can be evil or innocent, but they are all still people.
“Love is the whole thing. We are only pieces.”-Rumi
Areas known for histories wrought with inhumanity, violence, tyranny, oppression and war can also be home to the most peaceful and humble peoples. Crumbled buildings and streets full of the remnants of poverty and pain are also full of compassion and love shown to strangers. The soul of a person recognizing that the person before them also has a soul and is deserving of honor and dignity. This reinforces the belief that we are all one people – we are all human.
Expand Your Horizons
Everywhere we go, we can learn and understand and connect with the universal truths around us. The similar needs, goals, and challenges we juggle as we all strive to be better humans. Every inch of our world has meaning, we just need to be open to accepting and growing from it.
It’s easy to focus on our small world, the daily regimen and mundane. At some point we start to lose our sense of belonging and purpose if we are only feeding our bodies and maintaining our brains. Go beyond your comfort zone, reach farther to understand the unknown. Embrace all that is different and new in the world in an effort to be at peace within yourself and in love with the beauty inside the souls of others.