Things to do when you’re travelling alone: Open your senses
Travelling is an opportunity to gain new experiences and broaden your horizons. In order to fully appreciate and exploit this wonderful opportunity, it’s important to be aware of and open to whatever may come down your path. Be aware of the details as well as the bigger context. For instance, the colour of a leaf (detail) as well as the density of the forest (bigger context); or the scent of a single fruit as well as the variety of fruit at that market stall. Being in this state of awareness opens doors to a whole new world of sights, sounds and scents, as well as their relations with each other.
To help me be more aware, I often do a simple exercise I learned from a martial arts instructor many years ago. Ok, this may sound silly to some but I find that it does help in increasing my awareness of my surroundings. The exercise is as follows: stand anywhere you like, preferably outside. Then bring your hands together to your chest level. Your fingers should be outstretched, and your hands parallel to and facing one another but not touching. Slowly move your hands forward, still parallel to one another, in a lightly (upward) sloping line until your arms are fully stretched. When you do this, keep your eyes focused on your hands and breathe in normally (through your nose). When your arms are fully stretched, exhale slowly through your mouth as you move your hands away from one another in a wide arc until your arms are back at your sides. As you do this, change the focus away from your hands and look ahead and around you. Notice the wide space that is being created as your hands move away. The whole movement is very similar to a breaststroke but then in slow motion. Repeat this exercise several times. I find that this exercise opens my eyes (quite literally) as the narrow focus (on your hands) changes into a wide focus (as your hands separate). The effect is amazing.
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