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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2 Amazing Ways Traveling Increases Your Consciousness

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2 Amazing Ways Traveling Increases Your Consciousness

Photo above and article below by: Sean Suddes

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ―Mark Twain

If you have ever done any form of extensive travel you can probably relate to what Mark Twain says above.

Experiencing another culture can open so many realms of conscious expansion because it allows you to see the world from a different perspective. You can read all you want, look at pictures, watch videos, talk to people who have visited a certain place, but until you immerse yourself fully (and physically) you will never truly understand the power of travel.

Here are 2 amazing ways traveling can help expand your consciousness:

1) Diminish Preexisting Prejudices and Create Unity

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein

When I discuss travel here I am not simply talking about being a tourist, staying in fancy hotels, only visiting where your travel book tells you etc. In order to get the most out of traveling it is important to live as the locals do, eat as the locals eat, and in countries where your language is not common, speak as the locals speak.

When you fully immerse yourself into the culture around you a shift starts to take place from within.

By experiencing as many different countries and cultures as possible the more one will expand their awareness of the world. Most people come to realize that we are all the same no matter geographical location.

We all have needs in order to survive, we all laugh, we all love.

In 2001 North Western University conducted a study to understand if traveling scientifically diminishes bigotry and broadens the mind. Their results were amazing!

In the study titled: Does Travel Broaden the Mind? Breadth of Foreign Experiences Increases Generalized Trust, the research included more than 700 participants in 5 different studies.

They concluded that “Visiting places that are unfamiliar and different appears to be a key factor. In their final experiment, Cao and her colleagues found those who visited places less similar than their homeland became more trusting than those who visited places more similar to their homeland.

“Given that trust is such a highly valuable asset, we think this paper will have important implications for public policy makers about how to promote a high trust environment,” Cao told PsyPost. “The current research also provides support for study abroad programs and expatriate assignments in organizations, but with a twist — seeing more of the world may be as or more important than spending a longer period of time seeing less of it.”

2) Traveling with a Purpose Brings True Happiness and Helps with Depression

“…so many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a [person] than a secure future. The very basic core of a living spirit is passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day, to have a new and different sun.” -Chris McCandless, ‘Into the Wild’

In 2008 I was extremely depressed about my life for various reasons. I was working a dead end job, my girlfriend broke up with me, and living alone in a new place did not help.

‘There is more to the world’, I thought, and came to the realization that I was depressed because I was lacking meaning in my life. So I quit my job, followed my instincts, and volunteered 2 months in Ecuador.

I spoke little to no Spanish and traveled the majority of the trip with only the pack on my back as company, but was fortunate to meet some beautiful new friends along the way.

The mission was to prove to myself that I was capable of surviving on my own in a completely different culture than I was accustomed to.

During my time in Ecuador I volunteered at an animal rescue center in the mountains for a month, caring for abused or illegally traded animals of all kinds (the squirrel monkeys were my favorite).

I also volunteered in the jungle for 3 weeks at Yachana High School, and spent the remainder of my time hostel jumping up the coast, staying with host families, and even staying with random strangers (of which I now consider family).

Studies have shown that happiness is more apt to take place with experience than with acquiring material possessions. The reasons vary, but when it comes down to it things don’t create true lasting happiness. Experience on the other hand will stay with you forever!

The most beneficial type of journey one can take is that of volunteering for others. Compassion has been scientifically proven to decrease depression, help with chronic pain, and bring about an overall sense of well-being.

Between the language barrier, tarantulas climbing my wall, almost falling out of a canoe in the middle of the Amazon River, running out of money, contracting a parasite (don’t worry, it’s gone now), and getting altitude sickness I was forced to deal with the situation at hand.

There were two choices:

1) Make the situation worse by being negative and self-loathing
2) Focus on a solution and use my energy for productivity, not destruction.

By practicing the art of observation I was able to de-power negative thoughts, and this allowed me to see that I am NOT my thoughts, rather I am the conscious observer of my thoughts.

I brought this practice back with me and have been using it ever since. It wasn’t easy and took more than just traveling, but the experiences gained were a catalyst for living more consciously.

No matter the challenges it was all worth it. The feeling of helping an animal or a person in need is gift that I will forever cherish.

Now get out in the world and take the journey of your dream!

Source: Expanded Consciousness
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