5 Tips for Meditating While You're Traveling
by WITHIN Cofounder Hannah Knapp
When you're traveling, it can be easy to slip out of the routines that keep you sane. Fortunately, you don't have to give up your meditation practice entirely. With a few adjustments, you can keep it going no matter where you go. Here are 5 tips on how to keep it up while you're on the road, with a healthy dose of realism.
Tip #1: Accept The Situation
You may have high hopes of continuing your usual meditation practice while you're out of your regular routine, but this is where pragmatism meets idealism. With all the chaos of traveling, staying in hotels or with friends, and time zone changes, you'll be lucky if you can squeeze in a fraction of what you usually do.
That doesn't have to mean giving it up entirely, though - you just need to adjust your expectations a bit. If you currently have a solid 30-minutes-in-the-morning meditation practice, it'll be easy to feel like a failure if you don't get at least that much time in while you're on the road.
Instead, use this as an opportunity to practice dropping your resistance, and accepting whatever is happening. Rather than feeding your frustration or disappointment, let go of needing to do it the "right way," and settle for doing what's do-able.
Tip #2: Define What's Do-Able
Now that you've let go of those pesky expectations, ask yourself what's really and truly do-able while you're traveling. When do you think you'll have a consistent window of time to be alone and meditate? It might be 5 minutes in the morning before getting going for the day, or in the evening when you're about to go to sleep.
Choose a time and place that seems likely to work, and commit to meditating then. Put it in your calendar, or set a reminder on your phone, to help you stick to your promise. And congratulate yourself when you do it!
Tip #3: Find A Group Wherever You Are
If you're going to be anywhere for more than a few days, see if you can find a meditation group or studio nearby. Many places are free or low-cost to try, and you'll get exposure to new teachers and other people who are exploring meditation. (Here at WITHIN, in downtown San Francisco, your first class is just $10.) Try Meetup or Eventbrite, or a simple internet search for "meditation groups near me."
Tip #4: Look for Unexpected Opportunities
There are quiet spaces where you can pause and meditate, wherever you go. Some airports now have yoga rooms, and many hotels have lobbies with quiet corners. Be on the look-out for places where you could close your eyes for a few minutes, and breathe.
Another great option is beautiful outdoor spaces. Soak in silence as you take in a beautiful vista. Try a walking meditation in a park or on the beach, or ask the people you're hiking with if you can all be silent for the first 10 minutes on the trail. Let being in nature be your meditation.
Tip #5: Let Technology Help You
While meditation apps have their downsides, one of the great things they can do is help you find stillness on-demand. You can put on headphones, close your eyes, and let a guided meditation help you turn inward and block out the chaotic airport, or the loud conversation between the people next to you.
Many apps also let you track how often you've meditated, which can be a helpful way to reinforce the promise you've made to yourself about doing it regularly.
Two of our favorites are Insight Timer and Aura Health. Both are free, with optional premium upgrades, and both include a wide variety of guided meditations from many different teachers. You can even follow our WITHIN Meditation channel on Aura to have teachers from our studio guide you during your meditation breaks.
Another way to use the magic of technology in your favor is our livestreamed classes. We're streaming from the studio three times a week. You can join us live, or listen to or watch the recording for up to 24 hours after each class. That makes it easy to keep feeling like you're joining us in the studio, even when you're hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.
No matter what happens - if you're able to meditate the way you planned, sit with a group, put your headphones on, or none of the above - remember to practice self-compassion. Celebrate what you're able to do, forgive yourself for what you don't do, and start again tomorrow.
The good news is that your meditation muscle doesn't atrophy as quickly as your physical muscles; even if you miss a few days, you'll be able to build it up again when you get back into your regular routine.
Do what you can and enjoy the ride!
What helps you keep meditating while you're on the road? Tell us in the comments below!