I’ve always loved to travel. Each trip reminds me that there are so many different perceptions, ideas, and customs that exist outside my small existence.
In June, I travelled to Amsterdam for an acupuncture seminar and, before and after the work days, I got to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes – walking the city streets. No destination, no particular goal, just wandering in a historical European city.
Amsterdam is an amazing place to indulge in walking because so many of the streets are bordered by beautiful canals. I was in awe of the numerous small bridges connecting streets, boats heading somewhere, and the famous houseboats that border the canals.
There is nothing like this in the US. I walked so many hours during this trip that my feet were sore in the evenings. Wandering in a beautiful foreign city, seeing places for the first time, finding a delicious cafe (like Lavinia Good Food, a hidden delight) is heavenly.
*For more great suggestions about what to do in Amsterdam on a budget check out this post.
My phone only worked when I had wi-fi, so I was often disconnected from the web. I resolved to never wear my headphones, so I was not distracted from all the new sights and sounds that surrounded me. This, plus the hours of walking, created a lot of time to think, and I realized something new, another reason I love traveling.
I felt present, it was glorious.
Being mindful of my surroundings amplified the moment and I was more aware of what was around me as well as what I was feeling inside. I’m sure this has been true before, but I never felt so acutely aware of that experience as on this trip. Every time I stepped out my door some new adventure awaited me; I felt excited, I didn’t want to miss a moment.
‘Be present’ is a huge theme in most philosophies. ‘All you have is the now’ is a familiar phrase. And, so often, the now is lost in worries or memories of the past, and dreams or fears for the future. Time is a path in only one direction; if you miss today, it’s not coming back.
If you’re mindful of yourself and your surroundings it’s easier to focus on the moment rather than all those external stressors life throws our way.
I’ve often resolved to be present in a situation or place, only to find the resolve stolen away by a thought that takes over. I go down the path with that thought or feeling and poof! The now is gone.
I suspect that it was being in Amsterdam that enabled me to be more present. When I’m in another country, I know my time is limited. That helps me to recognize the value of each day and each experience. However, as I write this, I realize that all time is limited, so it’s important to appreciate the less exciting moments as well. I am practicing and will get better.
*Top & Bottom Photo Credit: Creative Commons Zero