Prescribe Yourself Some Travel Therapy
"Do you know a cure for me?" "Why yes," he said, "I know a cure for everything. Salt water." - Isak Dinesen
When I was 16, my parents sent me off on a family holiday to stay with relatives in Barbados. It was their way of rewarding me for the hard work I put into studying for my GCSEs.
Since childhood, I had always suffered with eczema. For years my skin was fed creams as a way of soothing my skin eruptions and taking away the intense irritation the rash caused. Living with eczema did nothing for my already insecure confidence and self-consciousness, which intensified in my teenage years.
But something amazing happened during my holiday to Barbados. Whether it was the combination of relief that my exams were over, or the healing rays of the hot sun and the almost daily sea baths I treated my body to, I’m not sure. But I emerged from that vacation with skin as smooth as a baby's bottom and it has pretty much remained that way ever since.
Pilgrimages do not need to be located in faraway often-religious destinations and sites.
I think of that teenage holiday as a pilgrimage similar to the kind of pilgrimage Muslims make to Mecca or the life transition pilgrimage the writer Cheryl Strayed and thousands of other like her made in the book, Wild. But pilgrimages do not need to be located in faraway often-religious destinations and sites.
Sometimes the pilgrimage can be made to a less exotic destination. A return to your childhood home to make peace with your past for example, or a trip down memory lane with a visit to the spot where you met your first love. Travel therapy exists in both the exotic and the ordinariness of those locations close to home and often places close to the heart.
I am sure, if you think about it, you can think of a place that makes you feel instantly better. What if we consciously chose destinations not only because of their physical locality but based on their psychological and energetic elements?
I once worked on an Outward Bound retreat with a group of young leaders in Australia. I'll never forget the silence that overcame the group as we stood face to face with a pool of water, a waterfall, and behind it a hundred-foot gorge we needed to climb before dinnertime. And all with a blow-up dinghy. The sheer scale of the physical task ahead of us made even the most challenging item on my to-do list pale in significance.
The climb to the top of the gorge was one of those life achievements I hope I never forget. The experience left such a deep imprint that I have called on its memory many times when faced with a difficult task or challenge.
My sisters and I have a yearly vacation every August visiting our Mum in Barbados where she now lives. One year we invited a friend along who had recently separated from her husband. We thought our jolly time together would cheer her up. We were wrong.
Her inner journey did not require sun, sea, socialising and drinking.
Her inner journey did not require sun, sea, socialising and drinking. She needed a different destination aligned with different medicine for her soul. Looking back, how could I have missed that what my friend most needed was silence, solitude and stillness. A landscape polar opposite to the one she found herself trapped in. One that would hold and reflect the loss or emptiness she was feeling.
Travel therapy kicks in when your inner journey becomes reflected in the outer journey you embark on and vice versa. The inner and the outer journeys are in alignment especially when your chosen destination becomes one of choice.
Got a holiday or trip coming up soon? What destination might suit where you are right now in terms of your inner journey?