Now Covid travel restrictions have eased, some people are able to enjoy travelling again. However this is not the case for everyone, whether for financial, health or other reasons. Some people might choose to stay home but others usually find it difficult if they cannot live how they’d most like. It is not easy to stay contented when you hear about others’ travel plans, see adverts offering amazing trips, or even get caught up in your own holiday memories.
On the other hand, when I was fortunate many years ago to be able to spend a year travelling around the world, moving places every week or so, although I didn’t miss home, I realised I needed to create a sense of home wherever I was, as I was away for so long. I had some cards from family and friends that I would stick on the wall in every new bedroom, and once the cards and my hat were in position, I affirmed I was ‘home’!
In the same way as I created a sense of the familiar wherever I was in the world, we can also do the opposite – create a sense of wonder and being somewhere new, even if we are in the same place we have been for years. It just takes curiosity and using our senses.
So, forget the seven wonders of the world, I invite you to tour seven wonders of wherever you are. Come on a trip to explore the wonders of your here and now. No tickets, passports, vaccinations, pet or health arrangements necessary!
Before we start our adventure, like any trip, it helps to do a little preparation. Firstly, we need to acknowledge where we are, and to allow any difficult thoughts or feelings that might be present as we consider holidays and travel. We might be feeling envy, resentment, frustration, disappointment or sadness when we consider holidays we’re unable to go on. Perhaps take a moment to notice if any such feelings are here for you. If so, it can help to gently place a hand on your chest, take a few deep breaths; maybe notice if there are any particular sensations in the body when you notice a strong emotion. Imagine breathing towards those places.
Remember it is completely normal and understandable to be feeling this way. See if you can simply let the emotions just be. Rather than try and push emotions or thoughts away, it can be simpler to just invite them along for the trip too. Let them be by your side while you move onto the first destination.
My suggested route will cover various places but do feel free to adapt the trip according to your tastes, what might make you feel happy, or what you have access to. Our excursion will include any positive aspects of your body, your home, and any outside space you can visit or see out of a window. On the way thoughts and feelings might pop up that are less positive – see if you can just treat these as grumpy fellow tourists you’re going to ignore for the time being. For this journey we’re just engaging with the tourists, travel journalists and explorers who are really interested in investigating the many wonders of where we are.
First stop – your body
Find a comfortable position to sit and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Choose one part of your body that works reasonably well, that’s not likely to lead you to difficult thoughts – maybe your lungs, heart, taste buds, hands or feet, your ability to speak, listen or see. Just pick one. You might be able to feel or see it moving, or simply bring awareness to it. Take a moment to consider how extraordinary this part of your body is, to appreciate all you can do because of it.
You could open your eyes and look at your hand. Notice the creases – each one evidence of all the times the hand has moved. Perhaps gently open and close your fingers, noticing all the different ways your fingers can move. What about all the veins – working to send blood around your body? Perhaps give thanks for what your body can do, rather than our automatic focus on what it can’t. What amazing parts of the body do you take for granted – elbows, wrists, ankles, taste buds, the ability to breathe?
Destination two – bedroom or lounge
Choose a room in your home, such as a bedroom or lounge. Either go there or bring it to mind.
What wonders are to be found there if you take a good look? Perhaps you’re reading this in bed – can you take a moment to look at and feel your bedding? Or zoom right in on the texture of an armchair or sofa. The trick to finding the wonders of where you are is to really look – notice colours, textures, shapes. Close your eyes and stroke part of what you’re sitting or lying on – what does it feel like. You might have an ornament in your room that you take for granted. Take time to thoroughly explore it. Consider where it came from – all the different people involved in making it and it ending up in your home. It might not have been such a process as building a pyramid, but it can be surprising to consider all the people involved in this small object. And perhaps give thanks for having a bed or other furniture – not everyone does.
Destination three – bathroom
Using the same sense of wonder, bring awareness to what you see and feel when you turn on a tap. Feel the water running over your hand, then look at it falling – notice colours, temperature and sounds. How wondrous it is to have water, possibly water that is safe to drink, maybe enough to have a shower or bath. Take time to use the senses to appreciate it. Water is certainly something that many people do not have access to.
Michelin restaurant – AKA your kitchen
There can be so many delights and wonders when we take time to savour our food. When we bring ourselves to the present moment with food, the ordinary can become extraordinary. Take a small item, maybe a raisin, strawberry, grape, tomato or piece of cheese. Cut it in half and study it as if you’ve never seen it before; in fact you haven’t seen this particular item before. Take time to smell it, to notice the texture in your mouth, to chew it. Eating in this way can make simple food taste more amazing than usual.
National Trust Gardens – or your garden or windowsill
Even if you don’t have a garden or cannot visit a park, perhaps you have a plant or flower on a windowsill you could explore. And if not, this exercise works just as well by looking at a picture of a flower. As with food, take time to zoom in on one item – notice colours, shapes, patterns. Nature is truly extraordinary when we take time to look deeply and connect with the beauty of the natural environment, something we so easily miss when we are rushing or have simply started taking it for granted.
Space travel – or simply the sky
Can you take a moment to study the sky, either out of a window or perhaps you can go outside? If you have a completely blue sky, savour it, breathe it in. If you can see clouds, notice the different colours, shapes, patterns. How are the clouds different? Look at how they move. Maybe the sky is just grey – is it all the same grey?
Or perhaps you can see stars? Consider how far away they are and what an amazing universe we’re in. Or the moon – what does that look like at the moment? Explore all you can see as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Sense its magnificence.
Coming back to earth
Perhaps the greatest wonder of all is human beings’ ability to be aware, to notice and appreciate all these wonders. So maybe end our journey by congratulating yourself on taking time to look at what you already have as a source of joy and wonder. By making space for our feelings about what we don’t have and letting go of wanting things to be different, whether about travel, holidays or anything, we can discover the wonders of life that are in front of us and within ourselves.
Enjoy travelling at home!
Do share your reflections in the comments below. Have you tried any of the techniques Catherine has shared? Let us know how you got on.
Catherine regularly runs live mindfulness classes at The Joy Club, find out more about joining her next session here.