Cartagena, Colombia! Day 3.
When traveling, I often feel out of touch with the environment. In fact, I do right now as I write this. I sit in a local coffee shop in Cartagena and my mind is spinning. I did not do much to ground myself today. Here are some techniques I developed over the years to ground myself whilst on the road.
But first, what do I mean by grounding myself? I’m glad you asked.
We humans are a weird species. We are the only known species (to us at least) that can create stories. We can make something that is not here (a thought) more important than what is here (present experience).
I do that a lot.
I walk through the streets here in Colombia and keep playing my own story, keep arguing with my own thoughts. I take my mind more serious than present experience.
Now, this is not a terrible thing to do.
We humans are somewhat doomed by having a mind. We can’t escape thinking, worrying and creating stories. Though this can get quite annoying. Especially when we seem unable to switch off the repetitive chatter between our ears.
I remember sitting on paradisiac beaches in Mexico, worrying about some imaginary future. Those are the moments when a little grounding comes in handy. Here are the techniques I use to ground myself whilst traveling.
You can add your best techniques to the list by leaving a comment.
9 Techniques to Ground Yourself While Traveling
1. Sit in Silence
Now, you should see me sitting here, thinking about how to describe this. In fact, this point does not need much of a description.
When I feel stressed out, when my thoughts are playing hide and seek with themselves, I just sit… and do nothing. You might call that meditation, I guess. Though I don’t try too hard to meditate.
I make a conscious effort to do nothing and don’t act upon any impulses, neither from the outside nor from my own mind. I usually feel pretty good after.
2. Smoke a Cigarette
Oh boy. Why am I putting this at number 2?
Luckily my mom does not understand English.
Yes, there are a gazillion reasons to not smoke… and a few good ones to do just that. Smoking can be a grounding experience. I enjoy occasional cigarettes as a present-moment activity. In moderation, of course.
The act of stopping in the midst of the day, firing one up and watching it burn down is, in fact, a grounding activity for me. Plus I get a little head-buzz going.
Now I am thinking about deleting this again.
3. Take a Nap
I recently met a guy from Canada. His name is Jerry. Jerry and I are somewhat on the same traveling schedule here in South America. We arrived on the same day, plan to stay for 7 months and try to stretch our dollars to avoid going back into offices. Ugh.
Jerry is working on mastering the art of napping.
Yesterday, he took two naps within 30 minutes. Impressive. His favorite animals are cats. No surprise there. He is modeling them quite well.
His message to humanity? We’d all be happier if we’d sleep more.
4. Stretch your Body
I’ll tell you a secret:
My body always live in the present, even when my mind is stressing about something that happened in 1998 (What did happen in 1998?). Shifting my attention into my body–and doing some stretching–is one of the best tools I use to ground myself.
Call it Yoga, if you want. Though I guess a lot of people seem to stress out about doing Yoga religiously (and doing it right), which defeats the purpose.
I like to just stand or sit and go with what my body wants to do, rather than what my mind dictates. Mostly, I feel pretty relaxed and… grounded.
5. Have a Meaningful Conversation
Here is a statement: Human connection cures almost everything.
I came to realize, and I am still realizing, that thoughts, fears, shame and guilt dissolve when shared with other human beans. They can only survive when kept in the shadow of our own minds.
These days, whenever I stress about something, I try to find another human and report how I manage to stress myself with thoughts.
Yesterday, I stressed about money. I went to the ATM and got money. After that, I could not stop thinking about money… until I reported my thoughts to some fellow travelers. They were quite amused.
6. Read a Book
7. Write (Paint, Dance, make Music)
Why you think I write this article?
To ground myself and use my mind, rather than having it run wild.
I don’t really pray.
I watched a guy praying yesterday at the hostel. I guess it helped him to ground himself.
Makes sense. If god is ever-present, no matter how you define god, connected with him (or her, or it) must be grounding.
9. Autogenic Relaxation
My friend, mentor and bestselling author Brad Blanton teaches autogenic relaxation. Here is a Free 20-minute video of him instructing it. Nice. Thanks, YouTube.
That is about it.
If you are still not grounded after doing all of this, try kissing someone.
Kissing is grounding, too.
What do you do to ground yourself when your monkey-mind (Thanks, Buddha) is running wild? Leave a comment and get the discussion started.