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Conscious Travel: A Path to Self Discovery

by Gayle Lawrence

These days it seems that greater numbers of people are no longer satisfied with the one-size fits all, mass marketed vacation travel packages. More individuals are searching for a travel experience that is deeper, richer, and more personally meaningful. One that finds them returning home feeling they have somehow been transformed from the "inside out".

The term, Conscious Travel, strikes a deep chord of resonance within me. My first "Conscious Travel" experience was in Peru many years ago where I felt like I finally "woke up" from a long troubled sleep. Since then I have had many Conscious Travel experiences all over the world that have changed my life. So what is Conscious Travel? Webster’s definition of conscious is: to be awake, sharing another’s knowledge or awareness of an inward state or outward fact, personally felt, perceiving, being concerned or interested, marked by strong feelings or notions.

My personal definition of conscious travel is the intent to be engaged with yourself within the experience. To embark upon the journey with a desire to learn more about yourself and the world around you, to grow personally, to be open and fully present for the encounter and to transcend the limited view you have of who you think you are.

What has precipitated this inner call for a more Conscious Travel experience? I believe world events have initiated more personal introspection. The outer trappings of success are no longer enough. People recognize something is missing and find themselves living lives of quiet desperation, starving for more connection and meaning. Searching for some intangible something that cannot be found "out there" but sometimes you have to travel "out there" in order to be guided toward the journey within.

Conscious travel is not about knowing every fact in the guide book about where you are going, but it is about an intention that the experience be more than a diversion or distraction from our everyday routine. It is a belief that travel intended to foster personal growth can deepen your own divine essence, clarify life decisions and illuminate emotional blocks that are hindering you from moving forward. Traveling consciously can be a powerful form of self-therapy, creating the space to heal past hurts and old emotional wounds.

There is an ancient Sufi saying, "some doors can only be opened from the inside", but where and how do you access this inner door?

Awareness begins with your first thought of taking the journey, that initial opening toward something new. A particular country, ancient sacred site, wildlife encounter, or any number of travel options might seem to speak to your heart, pay attention to these feelings. Whether it is the Great Pyramid, sacred sites in the southwest, swimming with dolphins, or a planned walk in the woods, if it evokes a sense of inspiration, wonder or passion don’t discount it.

Sometimes, a "Major Conscious Awakening" means taking our self away from all that is familiar. Traveling on our own home turf with people we know can keep us connected to a comfortable definition about who we think we are. But taking ourselves to a place where everything, even the people, are foreign to us forces us to move and stretch beyond our comfort zone. We cannot plug into anything familiar and we are forced to open to the unknown and unexpected. This is fertile ground for a major wake-up call!

Conscious Travel can also be about taking a risk, fear of the unknown. The entire experience is a growth process, from figuring out what to pack and reading about where you are going to perhaps a long airplane flight and placing your trust in the pilot and crew. Maybe you’re traveling with a group and you feel a slight apprehension about not knowing anyone. All of the outer components of the trip begin to nudge you out of your comfort zone. Here begins a conscious attitude of "trust" that everything will be fine and you will be "safe". This is the beginning of a self-examination process that can feel risky. This can be an emotionally scary time as you consciously embark on a journey from who you have been into who you are destined to become.

Janine Pommy Vega writes in "Tracking the Serpent: Journeys to Four Continents". "My desire to slip away from the stories and the choices we make to secure our identity in everyday life has borne fruit again and again. To go on a pilgrimage, I discovered, you do not need to know what you are looking for, only that you are looking for something, and need urgently to find it. It is the urgency that does the work, a readiness to receive that finds the answers".

Traveling consciously can be a turning point in your life. You may step through a doorway and then discover there is no turning back. The path is never ending and all you need do is keep consciously traveling forward on that inner journey of self-discovery. This is truly, the grand adventure of them all!

Gayle Lawrence creates Journeys of Discovery – Mind, Body, Spirit Travel adventures. Upcoming journeys include: Peru / Machu Picchu with shaman guide August 17 – 27. South Africa – Safari and Sacred sites Jan. 20 – Feb. 1, 2007. For details on other magical journeys, Mystical Ireland, Galapagos Islands, wild dolphin swims and more visit: http://www.ajourneyofdiscovery.com Email: whalesongs@earthlink.net or call Gayle at: 727-785-5563


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