Tips on Traveling Mindfully

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Whether your escape from the winter doldrums is mere weeks away or you’re starting months in advance to plan this summer’s vacation, you’ve probably recognized that travel—exciting and relaxing though it can be—may also be a source of stress and anxiety. To prep for the hurdles you’re liable to encounter—be it trip booking, flying or culture shock—consider brushing up on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, the formal practice of maintaining calm awareness of one’s thoughts and actions. These books on the connection between mindfulness and travel show how to optimize your experience by eliminating negative tension and focusing on the spiritual value that every journey, large or small, offers.

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Fly fearlessly
For many travelers, the stress of travel hits as soon as they’re on a jetway. In “Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler,” Elisha Goldstein (“The Now Effect”) gives soothing but practical advice to those afraid of flying. His wisdom is twofold: jittery journeyers must learn to see the difference between their emotional mind and their rational mind, but it’s equally important to accept—not fight—anxiety and cultivate self-compassion.

Keep a travel journal
In “The Mindful Traveler,” Jim Currie, an environmental scientist and travel enthusiast, maintains that every travel experience can be spiritually transformative if you know how to remain attentive to your feelings and receptive to self-discovery. Using the Buddhist Eightfold Path as a guide, he tells readers how to find personal meaning in every trip–whether it’s a two-week family vacation or an overnight work jaunt–by identifying the “spiritual touchstones” each new setting has to offer. He also shows how to create vivid memories of the experience by keeping a mindfulness-oriented travel journal.

Honor every step of the journey
In “The Way of the Traveler,” an award-winning collection of travel essays, holistic healing expert Joseph Dispenza enumerates the ways that travel can raise consciousness and lead to personal growth. He divides the essays into five basic steps of the traveling experience–the call to journey, preparation, the “encounter,” homecoming and recounting–and instructs readers on how to apply mindfulness practices.

Take a moment
Meditation and mindfulness require free time and solitude–both of which tend to be in short supply when traveling. In “One-Minute Mindfulness,” Donald Altman, a psychotherapist and former Buddhist monk, provides readers with 50 quick techniques that can ease anxiety, enhance concentration, boost energy and promote serenity–no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Learn from the masters
One way to mitigate your stress and anxiety is to remind yourself how personally enriching travel can be. In “The Tao of Travel,” novelist and journalist Paul Theroux amasses essays from travel writing greats—from Charles Dickens and Graham Greene to Ernest Hemingway and Eudora Welty—that offer inspiring takes on the ways travel can enhance our lives emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. Immersing yourself in these great writers’ grand views of travel will help you to gain perspective on your anxieties and focus on the upsides of your journey.

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