Whenever I wake to a shadowy winter morning, I remember how badly I wanted to escape my hospital bed for travel all around the world…
The dark of winter is upon us like a cold yet comforting cloak. Even after the solstice, though we know the days to be growing in length little by little, the hours in which we have light and can venture out into the world seem still short and fleeting. It’s hard, in these cool and damp parts of the year, to stay motivated toward our path; to stay diligent on our movements forward. It’s hard to keep the physical body active and the mind in momentum ahead. And true, there is an essentialness to hibernation now. It heals the soul and revives the sleepy bones to stay still, to stay warm, to hunker in connected with the ones we love. It’s part of the year and the body and the heart’s cycle to retreat to our cave for a time. But it is also important to remember that this is a time in which we rest ourselves like bears, only in preparation for whats ahead.
What is most striking in this time just after the holidays when we no longer feel need to celebrate the winter, is our desire to dynamically escape it. In a sudden and profound shift, we seek out the other side of the world, the beaches and the sun and the waves. Especially in New York where our temperatures are dropping even more as of late, we’re all lingering with one word on our lips:
As trite as it may seem, there is good reason our souls seek escape. It’s not just that our limbs long for the warmth of sun rays. It’s not just that our tongues are tired of winter stews and yearn for the fresh fruits of summer harvests. Though all these are striking and worthwhile enough, it’s that at some point, in some way, a deep part of our soul asks us to trek out and see the entire world. Because travel, as they say, is food for the soul.
Travel feeds us in ways that no other experience, mental or physical can. Travel connect us to each other as similar yet different beings of the same species. It connects us to the world around us. It allows us to access something incredibly divine. For when we completely and wholly step out of our own egoic existences; that is, when we leave home and all that we know and believe, and immerse ourselves in a world totally new, only then are we able to open to truths much bigger than ourselves. We have to completely free ourselves of all that we are accustomed to in order to be humbled by that which is much larger than ourselves: the universe.
In our day-to-day lives, we believe we have a grip on everything. The kids are fed and taken care of. The laundry is done. The job is handled and the car is maintained. But none of this, in a bigger sense, actually matters. None of this fuels our creativity. None of these lights a fire within us. None of this allows us to connect to the loving vibration of existence or see the vast and infinite beauty of Life. Thus, when we travel and leave all our responsibilities and titles behind, we can realize we know nothing of the truth of Life. We are humbled by our ignorance, and able again to learn and to see and to be awestruck by all that the world creates. We place ourselves on a beach and realize just how big the ocean is, just how tiny we are. We realize that every wave refreshes and cleans the shore and has a purpose in a lifetime of the sea, just as our every breath serves a purpose and that it is our duty to use our waves, our actions, to serve the world.
Have you ever been so struck by a sunset that it brought tears to your eyes?
Have you ever laughed or smiled or spoke the universal language of love and friendship with a stranger from another country, one that knows not you nor the language you speak, and yet you connected so deeply, so truly?
Have you ever felt the cool, fresh breeze whistle past your ears, like a tune that reminds you of the song you’ve always known, transporting you back to a younger, more naïve version of yourself?
These are reminders. These are moments in which the world reaches out to you, to tell you that all of the universe lies within you. These moments of peace and joy are proof that deep within you lies the wellspring of all of life, of the farthest reaches of the sky, and so they come out from within you as feelings of joy. They are proof that connecting everything within you and all across the world is one, unifying force, a force of love that you are, that all things are made of, and thus are all one. It takes us from our minds, our jobs, our thoughts and wants and obligations, and reminds us of all our senses. That we can see, and taste, and hear and feel the world around us, not just think it but live it. This is why travel matters.
Travel is not just about bikinis, tan lines, exotic cocktails and steamy affairs, all though all of these are blissfully and wonderfully available to us. But they only compound upon the gift that we are given: the opportunity to experience so much in this world and in our single lives. In the new year ahead, may you venture out of your comfort zone. May you make your vacations less about your beach accessories and more about your experiences. May you dare to brave into a new existence, one in which you are willing to completely step out of your self and all that you know. For it is when we step out of our selves that we are able to most fully become and embody our Selves.
It’s a big world out there. In these dark winter months, feed your curiosity with plans and dreams to explore this life in new, and thrilling ways like never before. Life is short.
Tips to Keep Winter Cold at Bay
Warm up healthily
We’re a bit too obsessed lately with our winter drinks of choice: Pumpkin lattes and Creme Brulee hot chocolates. Try healthier options that will not only warm your soul but warm your body without adding extra calories. Green tea is a great option, and also very healthy as it’s full of antioxidants. If you really need something sweet, try a chai tea with just a dash of milk and honey.
Use body oils
Winter temperatures can wreak havoc on your skin. Switch to gentle cleansers; think ones that aren’t gel based as those dry out the skin more. Rather than lotions every day, use a body oil every few days or even every day to replace oils lost naturally. This will also keep the skin soft and supple for upcoming vacations.
Keep exercising even in winter months. Our constitutions, especially if your dosha is kapha, (‘Dosha’ is an Ayurvedic analysis of your constitution. Not sure of yours? The the quiz HERE) tend to resonate with the dark and dampness of winter and keep us wanting to stay in bed longer. Get up and get moving to keep your heart, body and mind healthy. If you can’t stand the thought of sweating it out at a gym (though with $10-$15 monthly memberships at Planet Fitness and Blink in NYC, it’s hard to justify not joining!), try restorative yoga or pilattes.
Make a list of what you want to accomplish this year, and-more importantly-how you will achieve it. In these hibernation months, setting goals for the year ahead and starting off with intention can help you reach where you want to go. On our list this year? TRAVEL. We’ll be setting off on new adventures around the world this year that we’re sure to share on our Instagram and Twitter!