Monday, July 5, 2010

6 Tips for the Buddhist Traveler

Feeling the toll from a week in Paris, with hardly any time to be still. Friends and family to visit, exhibits to see, events to attend, restaurants to go to . . . I could not say no. Until this morning, when I  found myself speaking and acting out of mindless, reactive place.  

This passage through the temporary hell of mindlessness has taught me a few things for the rest of the trip, and for future trips as well:
  1. I need to recognize the challenge of practicing without the support of my usual Sangha. Not  benefiting from the support of weekly Dharma talks, group sittings, and conversations with other members in the community.
  2. I need to not underestimate the power of typical vacation environment that fosters idle talk, sensory stimulation, greed, and an overall lack of awareness.
  3. Formal daily meditation practice is a necessity, not an option. Without the ability to recharge from the deep well within, the mind becomes unsettled, and unable to function well.  
  4. The fact that I am not in my usual, home environment is no excuse. Churches, other places of worship are great places to meditate, in the absence of a personal quiet place to retreat to. 
  5. Reading a good Dharma book, staying connected to spiritual friends online, can compensate somewhat for lack of physical Sangha. 
  6. Slow vacationing needs not be an oxymoron. While the temptation is great to want to pack in experiences, giving into too many activities makes it impossible to be mindful.
Today, I shall sit 30' in the Saint-Germain des Pres church before we head out to dinner. I shall take the time to walk slowly, mindfully in the neighborhood. And I will read some more of Ayya Khema's book. 


  1. I went to Catalina, left my book of Dharma at home.
    Spent my time on the beach, making it up in my head.


  2. Thank you for the simple idea of finding public places to practice while traveling!

    Usually on trips, I sometimes manage to sit but more often do short meditations while on the go (as a passenger in a car or train, while falling asleep at night). It's interesting how I can feel myself getting shaken up as the trip progresses, how I feel less grounded, more dispersed. So I notice that, too.

  3. Thank you Stacy for sharing.

    'less grounded, more dispersed . . . ' is exactly how I was feeling, until I started meditating again yesterday afternoon. I will blog about this today.

    Something to be said for shorter travels :) or travels of a different kind, at least!

  4. Thank you Stacy. Love how you put it: 'getting shaken up . . . less grounded, more dispersed'.

    Like dirty water getting constantly stirred and not getting a chance to settle.

  5. Thank you for sharing. Too right! I think I am more than ever relating to a different way of travel - Slow. I think you mentioned it in your post. Where you stay put for a while in each spot and move with as much awareness as you can muster. It's great to experience but not at the expense of ungroundedness. Our mind seems (at least mine does) to poses an incredible capacity for being stirred up.

  6. This last trip really showed me the not quite completely settled mind's tendency to agitate at the slightest provocation. Taking it slow is first step to stay unified while out of familiar environment. Now I know!

  7. Traveling usually shows this practitioner just where the practice is - how little it takes to shake it up, to lose the grounding, to feel dispersed. It's even worse to visit family members - people who surround one with insistent minds that you are what they remember from so many years ago - the rude little imp, the impetuous teenager, the myriad shades of a growing human manifested as a child/youth/young adult who bore the same name but perhaps no longer the same hair color (mine is all gray).

    Unsettledness / (being) dispersed sounds like losing the 4th Brahma Vihara, equanimity being the ballast for the love, compassion & joyful appreciation. Have had these experiences many times. Did the Buddha ever go back to his former home ? He at least did not see his family for at least 7 years. Perhaps there's something valuable there for those of us who still "self". ( We know who "we" are!)