Travelling alone is the best spiritual growth

There are many parallels between travelling and spiritual growth. In this blog I share some of my personal stories and lessons. Perhaps they are inspiration for you to travel, or trigger something else in you. If you want to talk about your own experiences, or like to receive personal guidance and advice, just contact me. We might inspire each other… you never know.

I was in my early thirties, when I discovered the true joy and power of travelling alone. At that time, I just came out of a long relationship and would start a whole new life. For almost a decade, I had travelled and went on holidays/vacations with my partner. Don’t get me wrong… that was really good, she was great, and I’ve enjoyed all our adventures together. Actually, it was because of her that we went to New Zealand, about six months before we broke up. We flew to Christchurch for her best friend’s wedding. The first time I set foot on the other side of the world (we lived in the Netherlands), I felt some profound shift in me.

About two years later, I went back to New Zealand, this time alone and with hardly any plans at all. I just wanted to go with the flow, see where it would take me. At work, I had made an arrangement and I’d saved up enough free days for more than two months off. I stayed in hostels and slept in dorms, which is a sure way to meet new people. There were a few hikes that I wanted to do and places I wanted to see, but I was open for anything. It turned out to be a great adventure, and I met all sorts of people. When I came back, I was a different man.

Get out of your comfort zone

Having (temporarily) a different daily routine, forced me to approach every day as it came. I later found out, that ‘no expectations’ is key in the spiritual process, where routine equals ego. We have routines/ego for a reason. We’ve developed them over a long period of time, getting comfortable with them, integrating them completely. They make us feel safe! We can’t feel bad from unpleasant surprises, when we know what happens next. But there are no pleasant surprises, either. We may have dreams, wishes, desires… By staying where we are, they’ll remain just that: dreams, wishes, desires. They’ll stay out of reach, because there’s no place for them in our safe, little world of routines.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” So, if you want something else, you need to do something else. And you should travel alone. Not because everything is someone else’s fault, but you’re automatically focussed on each other when you travel together. Even if you don’t want to, routines are stronger and you have expectations towards your partner/friend. Travelling together is safe and pleasant. But you’ll compromise with decisions, because it’s important you both stay happy. And you expect the same from them. Part of your energy is therefore focussed on them, not on your own experience.

You might have ‘wild’ plans together, but how spontaneous can you really be? Leaving your comfort zone is not just about doing bungee-jumps or eating weird food. It’s about truly being in the moment, sometimes doing something you’ve never done before. This only works when there’s no connection to the old you through someone else. And you have no attachment to that old you. You are in a different country, meeting different people, feeling free and excited, without expectations or unwritten rules.

Get creative

A sure way to get out of your comfort zone, is to travel low budget. What to eat, where to sleep, getting from A to B… you’ll have to get creative. You’ll have to think outside the box. Especially if you’re used to a certain luxury at home, this will really push your boundaries. If you worry about what could happen… what do you think will happen? Exactly, you’ll just manifest precisely what you’re worried about. You’ll narrow your experience to what you dare to allow beforehand. This mental limitation is very important to let go of – in travelling and spirituality.

The (universal) law of attraction states: “you attract what you send out”. When you trust that things will work out, they always will. This works both ways, though. Emitting energy at lower frequencies, attracts experiences linked to those frequencies. Worry about hitch-hiking and the wrong cars will stop. Worry about sleeping in dorms and you won’t find much sleep. However, if you have no expectations, you could end up somewhere interesting. I once went to a somewhat remote island without any plan, and ended up having an amazing time on a yacht, enjoying dinner with movie stars (although I didn’t know any of them).

When you manifest something into being, don’t think about every step getting there, or the desire for change. That would block the manifestation, because you focus on not-being there now. The trick is to focus on where you want to be and how you’d feel being there. Don’t think about the road to there, that’s not up to you. Have faith in Source/Universe/God to take care of you on that path. Don’t see yourself underway, see yourself having arrived… regardless how you got there. And have no expectations of (and no attachment to) the result.

Allow yourself to let the experience change you

I know this is easier said than done, but travelling is a great time to practice. Just accept and allow everything to happen as it does. Let it unfold. Some things you do when you’re in a different country and culture, can trigger profound changes in you. Let them happen, let them change you. If anything… they will boost your confidence and there will be an inner knowing that you’re capable and powerful. You have literally created new pathways in your brain, and you can always go back for more.

There is simply no way to have new experiences and not be changed by them. And not just change, but also grow. You’ll always be more than when you started. Therefore, you can never return to the same home you left when you walked out the door. That home hasn’t changed in the mean time, but you have… by definition. And nothing will ever be the same again. Every spiritual experience is also about changing yourself, not changing the world outside. In fact, the world outside changes when you change inside. It’s a reflection of what is alive in you.

Travelling demands to see things from different perspectives, especially coming from a different culture. You put on different glasses, see things from another angle, experience things from another side. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It took me some time to understand, but this is indeed key for your spiritual process. You have to let go of all attachments to the old, in order to allow the new to come into existence. You don’t need to create anything new, just hold space for the new to come into it. But this won’t flow if you’re (emotionally) invested in a particular outcome.

The journey or the destination?

It’s incredibly difficult for most people to not have any attachment with the outcome or destination. We want to be happy, not starting something to have a bad experience. But it does happen, and not just because we manifest it by putting attention to fear. Sometimes we need these things to happen to receive a message or to shake us awake. Ego doesn’t like any of that, it doesn’t like change or ‘risks’, and ego doesn’t want you to grow. It wants you to stay ‘safe’ at home, where you can do what you’ve always done. Travelling is also a big ‘fuck you’ to ego.

You may think that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. But there are some very dangerous roads, and some take you nowhere. Or worse, they lead you in circles. The spiritual process is not a happy process, nor a quick one. Don’t trust anyone who talks only about love and divinity and how enlightened they are. Many of them are stuck in ego and they’re often connected, without knowing, to a False Light. Don’t be fooled, and only follow your own heart. Even if this means making difficult decisions that will change your life, like your partner, home, profession….

Your heart will not easily talk with you and tell you in details its needs and desires. You have to learn to speak heart language, and we’ll go into that some other time. But the heart clearly says NO when it needs to, then its voice is loud and clear. Please don’t ignore this ‘no’… ever. Any other voice is almost certainly that of ego. But there is no need to ask for directions, anyway. As long as you trust that you’re on the right path, you will be.

The journey goes within

If you choose to take your spiritual process seriously, you can’t have expectations of the destination. The only thing that matters is truth. When you are at the start of a new road, you may see a beautiful mountain. It makes sense that climbing this mountain is your spiritual process. There’s also a vast, green and lush forest, surely a spiritual metaphor. And how about that unforgiving desert, full of hardship and perseverance. Or sailing endless oceans with storms and dangerous winds and currents.

But none of it matters. All that matters is that the road, your road, appears with every step you take. You just need to keep stepping forward. You can’t know where your journey leads. Nor should you want to know, or have any control over it. Like I said… have no expectations and go with the flow. Trust me, it’ll feel good to be lost in the right direction. Your heart will know. Eventually, all roads lead inward. Spiritual answers can’t be found outside ourselves, like in books or religion or gurus. We can find guidance at most, but only if it stimulates us to find our own answers. Anything else would be manipulation.

In Buddhism you won’t find answers, although there are definitely teachings. But the path to enlightenment is personal for each and every one of us. I followed a Vipassana training (the teachings of the first Buddha) once. We all used the same technique, took the same steps, and heard the same guidance from the teacher. Yet, we all had completely different journeys and none of us met any of us while on the road. The only thing we had in common with each other, is that we all travelled alone.

The only constant is change

On our spiritual journey we want to see everything from different perspectives, often to end up looking inward. The less we expect to see, the more we start to observe, and the more we end up truly ‘seeing’. Like the calming down of water. First is the surface, so you can see your reflection. Later you can see what is actually in the water. And if everything becomes totally tranquil, you can even see the bottom. The same thing happens in your mind, when everything starts to calm down and your thoughts fall silent. I’ll get into the power (and essentiality) of meditation in another blog.

One thing that becomes clear, is the impermanence of it all. Everything comes and goes. Start travelling to see mountains ahead. Continue going and climb them. Travel further and you’ll descend on the other side. Keep on going and you’ll eventually lose all sight of the mountains, as if they were never there. The world is an unending, ever-changing spectacle of views and sceneries. Seasons change, tides come and go, life grows and dies, while the sun and moon and stars move across the sky. The same thing goes for our thoughts. It’s a big show and we’re watching it unfold on stage.

The freedom of travel is not the ability to see it all, it’s the ability to accept it all, without judgment. Take it all in, exactly as it is, in all its beauty. Then look inside and accept what is there, exactly as it is, in all its beauty. How deep into the water can you see today? Can you see the life that is inside? Can you see the bottom? Do you see yourself staring back from the water? It’ll be different tomorrow, and the day after… there’s always impermanence.

Have no regrets and never look back

No matter what you do and where you go, it’s important to never regret anything. When you do, you’ll take the energy out from what you did, but you can’t replace it with something else. Regret is a low energy that colours all memories eventually. There’s a poem by Robert Frost, called “The road not taken“. The last lines of it are often used as an inspirational meme. They talk about how taking the road less travelled, has made all the difference. But the whole poem is far more subtle. Actually, the road not taken and the road less travelled, are two different roads, hence the fork he meets.

Without over-analysing poetry… it’s about the doubt of the traveller, suffering from every decision he makes. If you think back about the fork in the road behind you, and the road you didn’t take, where does that leave you on the road you have taken? Or the work you do, the partner you’re with, the house you live in. The fork in the road is basically every decision in life. Looking back to the fork is living in the past. Every second you spend there, you are not in the present. Yet, that is the only place and time where you can make a difference. It’s the only time that’s real, while all around you… everything just comes and goes.

There are many more stories to tell and parallels to discuss. There will surely be other travel blogs in the future. Maybe you’d like some insight in your own process, or have an extra light for when your path becomes kind of dark. Contact me, perhaps we can talk and have some sessions together. I’d like to hear all about your path and I’d be happy to share more of mine.

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