I want to speak about the art of compassion. Over 20 plus years teaching yoga, the primary mantra was always and still is compassion. A daily practice, I also infuse compassion when planning trips for others. It’s central in everything to do with travel from the planning process to the trip itself. Which brings me to explain how and why compassion is central to travel.
Let’s start with the definition of compassion, which literally means to suffer together. It’s the motivator to help the physical, mental and emotional of another as well as oneself. The Dalai Lama describes compassion as a genuine concern of the other’s interest using mutual respect as the way to practice compassion. A more accurate definition of compassion is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
(Random House, Inc. 2019)
Cultivation of compassion through travel allows the traveler to have an open heart. That is, a heart receptive to tolerance, empathy, appreciation and, ultimately, compassion for others and the cultures in which they live. Without this, travel is mere sight seeing…a missed opportunity to embrace our complicated, challenging world and to learn to love one another. When I speak of travel, it doesn’t mean just an international trip, but anytime you enter into another neighborhood or environment causing some discomfort.
Travelers who use Via Mondo dig deeper into the cultural, people and lifestyle. In other words, engaging in cultural experiences that will help you learn and take part in cultures that are different from our own. Becoming a better person and a better citizen by traveling with intention, openness and mindfulness, to reach a higher level of understanding, transformation, and acting compassionately. Upon your return, it is in the reflection of the experience and the altar of your own thoughts and feelings, which conjure up unconditional compassion. The sharing of travel stories to spark appreciation, awareness and to cultivate compassion. In the end, appreciating the notion that different is not wrong and acceptance is the key.
A Dalai Lama quote hangs in my office and I quote, “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” When planning your next trip, allow me to add a bit of compassion to pull you out of your comfort zone, but in a safe way. Here’s a warning label to underline: you’ll find yourself activating your compassion and becoming a positive force in the world. Compassion is central to travel. Become a traveler rather than a tourist.
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