Mindfulness means paying attention to the very moment and living in the absolute present. It means being. It means acceptance, patience and openness.
To travel mindfully, I open my mind as wide as possible, curiously letting all impressions in without judging them. At least I try. Here is why my baby is much better at it.
1. Baby lives in the present.
It is admirable how children live the present moment to the max. Baby doesn’t worry about the future and ponder over the past. All that counts for him is what is there right now. That is why even the hundredth time my funny noises are funny to him.
2. Baby discovers something new in everything.
To him, everything is an opportunity, everything is interesting, everything is new. Keys, blankets, trees, people and the floor – he tries to discover them all with the same undivided amount of curiosity, as if he saw them for the very first time.
3. Baby doesn’t judge.
Whether I give him a fancy toy or a random spoon, he will play with both. Whether a grumpy old man passes him or his favourite aunt, he watches them both curiously and is open to what they may have in store for him.
4. Baby trusts.
He knows everything will be fine. He doesn’t fear falling from the bed, being knocked by a car, banging his head on the floor or slipping through his dad’s arms. Baby just enjoys being thrown in the air and trusts he will be caught.
In short: Baby has an open heart.
- He treasures the present moment.
- He acknowledges the opportunity in everything new.
- He is non-judgemental.
- And he trusts.
How to travel as mindful as a baby
Live in the present moment.
Don’t rush to tick the sights on your bucket list. Instead, pay attention to the place you are in right now. Practice that a lot during your trip. Be it the waiting lounge at the airport, the hostel room, the river bend, the temple, the kiosk. How does it look like? How does it sound, smell, taste and feel like? Simply experience the places without liking or disliking them. Do that often.
Focus on mundane things and people, too.
If you consider an area at your destination more boring than the others, go there deliberately and be open for surprises. Look out of the taxi window knowing that nobody ever had this view, which is your very own this very moment, before. And nobody will ever have it again. Not even you. Be curious for the way people live. See what you can learn from them.
Try not to compare life abroad with what you know and take for granted. Instead, sit, breath, listen and watch. It is not your job to divide all impressions into good or bad. Instead leave the categories closed and just focus on the experiences flowing by.
Start walking, not knowing where you are going. You might have to ask strangers for help to get back. Trust that all your encounters will be beautiful. I am not suggesting to behave risky and mindless. On the contrary: Be mindful and pay attention to all the possibilities coming your way when you simply trust that you will be fine.