My hands are open

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I’ve been traveling for about 3 weeks now. Thus far, it’s been more than I expected, harder than I prepared for and more rewarding than I could have imagined. One week into my trip I made a decision—I’m staying longer than I orginally thought. My original plan was to travel for four months. I’m now going to try to travel for 7 months, money willing. I knew the moment I got to Cambodia, I needed more time. Being on my own and seeing new countries is pretty cool but, the traveling I’m doing inside of myself is why I am extending my trip. I’ll explain...

The beautiful thing about traveling is being given time. With the gift of unlimited time and no need to rush to the next “to-do list item” or meeting or some other “important” thing, you start to listen to yourself in a new way. I have always heard my intutional nudges but, I often didn’t listen to them due to being “busy”, needing to rush or because I was distracted. Now, I no longer have those excuses and I’m listening to my nudges a lot more seriously. My nudges led me to my favorite story of my trip thus far.

I was in Siem Reap and supposed to leave on Oct 29th. I had a nudge that I needed to stay. I tried booking a hostel in Phnom Penh, nope, my inner nudge made me cancel it. Siem Reap it was! I got another very strong nudge to stay at one particular hostel versus the others I had seen and wanted to stay in. Again, I tried the other hostels and nope, the nudging led me to one in particular. When I walked in, I was greeted by a fellow lone traveler with curly blonde hair and an Aussie accent. We started a conversation that lasted for five blissful days. I’ve never in my life, shared so much with a human. We talked about our philophies (very similar), the Univere and everything inbetween. Before meeting him, I had this nagging feeling that I was missing the point of traveling. I had been seeing all the sights and while they were nice, it felt hallow. Spending 5 day with this wise Aussie, I found the travel experience I was really looking for, genuine connection and simple moments meant to be shared. He explained to me travel wasn’t about seeing the sights, it was about getting lost and finding yourself in the process. Traveling was about finding and creating a better version of you; the landscape didn’t matter, they are all pretty much the same, it was really about the inner travel. Our simple days together deepened my experience of the world, myself and my beliefs. It felt like the Universe let us both experience pure magic for 5 days and I am better person for it. He had a similar feeling to stay in Siem Reap. He was only supposed to be there for one day but, felt he was wanting for something—me. We got to travel each other, and therefore ourselves more deeply because we simply listened and let ourselves be led. 

This brings me to another thing I’ve picked up in my three weeks abroad— no plan is the best plan. When you create a plan, you’re closing the gap that allows the Universe to come in and play with you. As my wise travel guide told me, “we aren’t here to win, we aren’t here to lose, we are here to play.” We are all physical manifestations of the Universe. The Universe wants to be invited into every moment and wants to lead us to experiences that will exceed our wildest imagination. When we have a plan, that often shuts down the opportunity for the Universe to come in and do it’s thing. The story above was not one I could have planned and it certainly blew away anything I imagined for myself. And it’s because I threw out my plans and let myself flow where the Universe was leading. And letting go, allowed me to play! 

Letting go. This is a concept I’ve been playing with for years. For a long, long time it was just words. It was just a sound I made with my mouth and held no real meaning to me in the way I lived. I would tell myself to let go and then would continue to hold on to things for dear life. However, the concept has begun to crystallize in the recent months and I am learning to live it as I travel. First, I let go of plans. Then, I realized I had to let go of stuff. I have a pretty small pack but, it’s still full of stuff I do not really need. I was carrying extra “stuff” just to be comfortable. Part of my reason for traveling was to force myself to be uncomfortable so, the attachment to “stuff”? I had to let it go. I went through my pack and cut the fat. I instantly felt more free.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in letting go was when my Aussie and I were deciding on whether or not to travel together. As I said, we had 5 blissful days completely immersed in each other and with his visa expiring, we had to choose to continue on or let each other go. We had both chose to travel alone to be uncomfortable and grow. Neither of us were looking for what we found in each other at this particular point and in more practical terms, he was traveling on a motorbike and I would have to go on the bike to keep going with him— not ideal with my two bags and his one. The exploration into this concept started in my teacher training when we learned about the Yamas and Niyamas. One of the Yamas is aparigraha and is about non-attachement. Aparigraha teaches us to only take what we need, keep only what we need and let go when the time is right. A teacher explained it to me is when you try to control or hold on to things/people/situations, it’s like trying to grip sand by closing your fist. Doing so will cause the sand to run through your fingers and leave you with nothing. Opening your palm, you allow the sand to rest in your palm and it will sit there or be blown away by the wind. When I found myself needing a reminder to let go,  I would squeeze my fist and then open my hands— “let go”, I would whisper to myself as I opened my palm. My Aussie had been practicing jujitsu since he was 5 and taught me some moves one day, as we played by the river. I was struck by the fact that in every posture, where in any other martial art form there would be a fist, jujitsu taught to have an open palm. He explained it was that way because jujitsu wasn’t about fighting. Ah, open hands, letting go aren’t about fighting either. We approached our time ending with this philopshy. We both opened our hands and let each other go. 

It’s hard to believe I’ve only been gone for 3 weeks because I felt like I have lived lifetimes already. My experience with the Aussie was especially powerful and left me feeling change on a cellular level. I’m uncovering a deeper understanding of myself, my programming and how I want to travel and by travel I mean live. How you do one thing, is how you do everything. I’ve realized the simpler it is, the more profound and the more I share, the happier and more free I feel.

And so, I continue on, traveling myself and sharing what I find along the way.