Sometimes it has been difficult staying mindful while traveling. We are planning for the future: accommodation, transport, activities. It can become a whirling tornado of thought trying to decide where to go and what to do. It has often left me staring into space, lost in thought, even while surrounded by beauty and opportunity around me. We have found no matter how much time one devotes to researching the next steps, nothing can prepare you for what is to come. Mindfulness is key, and I keep coming back to it. I use this strategy for grounding using my five senses.
What do you feel? I feel sand beneath my feet, sweat dried on my skin, hand-washed clothes, subtly damp from humidity, clinging to my body.
What do you taste? I taste the after effects of Balinese coffee lingering in my mouth. The fine grains of the coffee lightly coat my teeth. My mouth is warm with the bitter taste.
What do you hear? I hear the soft breeze and roosters crowing in nearby farms. The jingling Gili Air horses come in waves as they pass carrying other travelers to their destinations. Occasionally a gecko will croak and moments later its partner will return the call. Always I hear the rhythmic waves rolling onto the sand.
What do you smell? I smell salt in the air, damp wood, and an oncoming rain.
What do you see? I see the Indian Ocean stretched before me and snorkelers exploring its beauty beneath the surface. Boats glide across the horizon carrying supplies to neighboring islands and divers to their favorite spots. Bits of coral are washed up on the shore forming a border parallel to the waves. I see my skin browned from the sun, still pink in some spots from too much. I see Marc reading a book next to me. He, too, more bronze than when we had left. His face is calm, and we now match because this grounding technique works.
Photo: Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia — January 2018