Your trip’s looming on the horizon of your week. The thought occurs . . . Can I meditate while travelling?
Your heart beats a little faster as you anticipate the crowded train, the bustling airport, followed by the steady hum of the aeroplane’s engine.
And then comes the sanctity and still of the hotel room, the unwind from all the stress, the hustle, the buzz.
Or maybe you’re travelling by car, or train, going to a work conference, or visiting family . . .
And you ask; what will happen to my beloved meditation practise while I’m away?
And the answer?
Practise it, nourish it, feed it . . . and you’ll be glad you did.
Table of Contents
Quick Answer: Can I Meditate While Travelling?
- Yes you can meditate while travelling.
- Set the intention before you leave home. This will make it much easier to actually fulfil.
- Decide on some specific goals about where you’re going to meditate and how often (but be forgiving if you don’t manage to fulfil them; you are travelling, after all).
- Build positive anticipation for all the noises, distractions and chaos which will probably cross your path and interrupt your meditation. Remind yourself that they’ll strengthen your meditation skills. So in way, the noises, distractions and chaos are all gifts to you. Yaay! When you view them that way, nothing will spoil your meditation. It’s an opportunity to go to the ‘gym’ and flex your meditation muscles.
- If you get pulled out of meditation by the traveller next to you for example, so be it. No big deal. Just return to your awareness and say thank you within your mind.
- Be flexible and adapt to the moment.
- Give yourself the grace to do just what feels right for you. Nobody’s judging you. Just do it.
Why Meditate While Travelling?
I get it.
You don’t want to lose the rhythm of your meditation practice or the sensation of freedom and that extra energy it brings you.
You don’t want to yearn for that vibration of freedom pulsing through your blood, the one which absorbs you during meditation in the quiet of your home practising meditation with music, or perhaps in silence.
But you’re going away.
And that will spell disaster for your newly found love for meditation.
Or will it?
Meditating while travelling will make your journey more more pleasurable. You become more aware of everything so you can appreciate your holiday more.
It also creates more flexibility within the mind. Things may not go as planned, no big deal.
And it gives you the opportunity to experiment with meditating in unfamiliar places.
There are so many benefits to meditating, why stop it just because you’re travelling?
You might be wondering whether you can meditate in a noisy environment, but you can. You may not go as deep, you may get pulled out a couple of times, but you can absolutely sit down to meditate.
The question isn’t so much why meditate when travelling, as why not?
5 Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere
13 Tips for Meditating While Travelling
- Anticipate the inevitable interruptions, distractions and inconveniences with a sense of excitement and gratitude. They can all help you to become more grounded in your practise.
- Try to incorporate mindfulness into your activities as well as more formal meditation. Do this by bringing yourself back to your breath no matter where you are, just breathe consciously for a few breaths and take in all the sensations going on around you.
- Keep a journal. After your trip, check to see how you did, and learn from it for next time.
- Be flexible. You’re travelling! Don’t beat yourself up.
- Set yourself some goals. Maybe to check in to your mindfulness 5 times in the day and to meditate once a day, for example.
- Be grateful for all the distractions. Work with your surroundings, not against them.
- If travelling brings you some anxiety, remember to breath deeply more often and bring the focus back to your breath whenever you feel the sensation of anxiety.
- If you feel anxiety, practise mindful breathing throughout your trip but don’t try to go into a full blown meditation on a crowded bus for example. Do what feels right for you in the moment. Meditation can help calm your anxiety down, but you may not feel safe enough to really go inward and an interruption could increase your sense of concern.
- Don’t worry about what people around you think. It’s normal that you might get a little voice in your head about this, but just ride through it. Nobody is looking at you. And if they are, so what.
- For meditating on a train or the subway, count the stops to your final destination so that you don’t miss your stop. Then use the number with the breath, so if your stop is 5 stops away, start by breathing and thinking the number 5. After the train stops at the first stop, breathe the number 4. When you reach number 1, open your eyes if they were closed and gently come out of your meditation.
- Before you start, make sure your belongings are attached to you so that you don’t find yourself worrying about their safety.
- Challenge yourself to find as many unique places to meditate during your travels!
- Commit yourself to your intention.
Won’t I Attract Attention if I Meditate in Public?
Really? You don’t want to be spotted, planted cross legged in the centre of the airport floor chanting Om?
Just kidding, neither do I.
Most of us don’t like to attract attention to ourselves but the great thing is you can meditate without anyone taking any notice of you.
So kick that reservation to the curb to start with.
Meditate more subtly by sitting upright in a seat with your eyes gently closed and hands resting lightly in your lap. Nobody will know you’re meditating.
If that’s still too much, choose a mindfulness meditation with your eyes open and practise some meditative breathing as you strengthen your mindful muscles.
And yes, you can meditate with your eyes open!
What is Meditation While Travelling?
Meditating while travelling may mean taking a few meditative breaths while waiting in queue, or spending half an hour in deep meditation at the airport or on the airplane.
It’s so flexible, you can make it what you will.
But if you wonder whether you should do it or not, it’s a bit like drinking water when you’re thirsty; why wouldn’t you?
Imagine that the word meditation means toolbox (as in tool – box, case, casket), rather than the tool itself.
Inside this tool casket you discover a whole range of different tools. But they all have the same name printed on them. Meditation.
It’s up to you to take out the specific gizmo for the actual moment you’re in.
So you might take a few mindful breaths to ground yourself while sitting on the bus, or spend half an hour in deep meditation on the train, for example.
And don’t forget while you’re standing out in the cold, waiting to catch a taxi back to the hotel.
You can meditate in all these situations. Adapt your meditation.
That’s what it means to meditate while travelling, to select a different appliance than the one you use at home.
Nothing new then really!
I mean when travelling, you see new things, hear new things, do new things . . . so why not let your meditation be new too?
How to Meditate While Travelling
This is just one possible way to meditate while travelling. There are others, of course.
It’s one way which I enjoy practising. Have fun with it and take a moment to recognise how you feel when you come out of it.
Remember, there’s no wrong way to meditate. And just as you can learn mindfulness skills on your own, you can also start to meditate in places which don’t immediately spring to mind in the same sentence as meditation.
As you start, focus on the breath, gently and slowly in and out, in and out. Allow the breath to bring you towards a more meditative state.
Start to become aware of the sensations of your body, the tingle of the air against your skin, the sensation of the seat where it makes contact beneath you, and perhaps against your back.
If you’re standing, be aware of the connection to the earth beneath your feet. Imagine an energy flowing up from the ground upwards, through your body.
Bring your awareness up to your neck, face, ears, hair, the tingling of the hair roots and feel the white light energy flowing through you.
Begin to expand your awareness outwards, like the ripples in the water after throwing in a pebble, circles of energy expanding out to the area directly around you, gradually increasing until your energy reaches out as far as you can see, 360º surrounding you.
Pause for a moment and then gradually bring the circle back inwards once more, returning your focus to you and your body.
Now you are ready to begin your meditation. Choosing a focus from the table below (or other if you prefer. Go for whichever one most resonates with you.
What to Focus on While Meditating and Travelling
The question of what to focus on while meditating and travelling is just as variable as it is at any other time. And the answer is, it depends.
It depends on your situation, your preferences, your needs, your experience (which one you usually practise etc.)
So in no particular order, here are some ways to focus while meditating and travelling.
- Focus on the breathing, in out, in out, noticing as the chest rises and falls. . .
- Count each in and out breath as one count and count from 1-10, then repeat.
- Count from 1-10 with your breath but start again from 1 every time you find a thought pops into your mind.
- Breath in for the count of 4, pause, breath out for the count of 4.
- Connect your attention with your third eye, directly between your eyebrows and imagine the breath being directed upwards through the third eye and out.
- Notice the sensation of breath against the nostrils for every in-breath and out-breath.
- Focus on the out-breath and imagine yourself following the breath down, riding the breath.
- Breath in light and love, breath out an unwanted emotion like anxiety or negativity.
- When you finish, quietly come back to yourself and notice how you feel.
Dealing with Interruptions to Your Meditation while Travelling
Be accepting of all kinds of interruptions while you’re meditating.
For example, another passenger may come by and ask you a question, or your neighbour might want to go to the the toilet and ask you to move so that they can pass.
When I was on a flight, the person next to me began a shouting conversation with her boyfriend who was seated 7 rows away! And yes, believe it or not, he started yelling back gleefully.
They carried on like this for a whole chit-chat, totally oblivious to the other passengers.
You might be tempted to get angry. Or critical. Or superior. Or whatever.
Your inner voice might whinge away inside your head.
But that voice, normal as it may be, is exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to cultivate in meditation: your inner joy is not dependent or hostage to outside circumstances.
Where better to practise that than in a hectic environment?
So you literally have to thank the voice and take back responsibility. It isn’t the other passengers who stole your peace of mind, it’s your own reaction to their actions.
So get back to it. Carry on meditating.
Someone might start listening to a movie on their mobile, or playing loud video games next to you.
I was sitting quietly at the airport when a traveller who was sitting with her back to me decided to throw her long hair out all over my head. And then did nothing to remove it.
And when I moved? Nothing!
Still all the hair all over my space, hanging down the back of my chair after I’d extracted my head from the equation. Long, thick, loose hair. And it was trespassing.
Seriously. I mean, come on.
I moved one chair to the side and carried on. No ruffles.
Ok, I’m lying. Actually I was a tiny bit ruffled, I mean seriously, who covers a stranger’s head with their long hair and then just leaves it there?
But that’s the rule of travelling. We humans are strange creatures. You’ll only get surprised if you expect us to be ‘normal’.
These kind of interruptions are inevitable.
Another kind of interruption that can shake you momentarily out of meditation is when somebody jogs the seat you’re sitting on.
But hey, no sweat, you come out for a second and immediately get right back in.
How to Measure Time While Meditating and Travelling
Meditating while travelling gives time a new meaning.
If you’re on public transport and meditating, you may not want to set a meditation timer, though that’s also an option of course.
If not, there are other ways you can be prepared.
Practise breathing and counting from 1-10, then starting again. Do this method of meditation a few times at home before you leave and learn how long it takes you to do two rounds, so 20 breaths for example.
If you time yourself at home a few times, it shouldn’t vary too much when you’re away.
You can then choose how many cycles of breath to apply to your journey depending on how long your journey is.
Another way is to count the station stops between you and your destination and use those to indicate the timing for you. So instead of counting the breaths you repeat a single number until the train stops, then move to the lower number and so on until you reach number 1 and your destination.
If you don’t want to even think about the timing, you can settle for a mindfulness meditation. Simply breath slowly and notice your breath. Observe everything around you with full awareness.
If a thought occurs, just notice it but don’t interact with it. Be the watcher.
There’s no need for you to go deep into meditative state and you can still be aware of everything going on around you. More so than you might normally, in fact.
Bonus Benefit of Mediating When You Travel
I’m not going to go into all the usual benefits of meditation, like lowering blood pressure, improving memory etc because that’s a whole other topic and one you’re probably all too familiar with.
But there’s one super-power that comes from meditating that you might not have thought about and I think you’re gonna love it.
When you practice meditation you can bend time.
What do I mean?
I mean time no longer really exists because you’ve become so good and being in the moment.
I recently had to wait at the airport for 4 hours because the flight was delayed.
And whereas once upon a time I would have been antsy about how to pass the time, bored at looking at the clock and frustrated at the delay, now it had zero impact.
You learn to be ok with time.
You stop thinking of it as waiting for something to happen in the future and instead you live in the present moment, which is fine.
You’re comfortable and you’re happy!
Final Thought on Can I Meditate While Travelling?
Forget the hype, forget the rules and the promises. Just apply focused attention to the moment, slow your breathing down, become aware of the breath and breathe.
Take in your surroundings and appreciate the scene as it unfolds before you.
This is your moment and your meditation. If you go deep, you’ll have the added bonus of passing the time, easily.
And remember, there’s only one way to do something, at that’s by DOING it.
So what’s holding you back?