I travel extensively for my "real job", you know the one, the job that pays the bills! I often receive exclamations from my work colleagues as to how lucky I am that I get to travel so far, and for so long. I do consider myself fortunate enough to be in a position that allows me to visit far away places, and meet new people, but for anyone that does travel for work, you know it's early mornings, long days, and late nights (mixed in with the business class, lay down to sleep air travel of course!).
I remember my first experience of business class flying Malaysian air (this was before their planes started disappearing from the sky). I was extremely disappointed that their business class was NOT lay down to sleep seats, but they were longer seats with more leg room and laid back a considerably longer distance than economy class. I woke up during the night needing to stretch my legs, feeling very uncomfortable and annoyed. I was bothered that I was still sleeping upright while in business class. I ambled to the back of the business class cabin and peaked through into economy, and watched as the passengers squirmed and wriggled in small seating, and barely any recline, and it was such a humbling moment for me to get a taste of the real world, and how I should be grateful for the extra leg room, and comfy seat.
It's those moments of a reality check during travel (and in life) that you need to ensure you stay grounded and be grateful for what you have, and not resentful or jealous of what you don't have.
Traveling for work (or pleasure) can be glamorous, but you can literally work 15+ hour days if you consider the breakfast meetings....talking about work, the quick bite of lunch or the extremely long lunches....talking about work, and the dinners, which usually don't start until 9pm....talking about work, it can be tough....HONESTLY!!
Keeping your Spiritual Connection
I know for my physical and mental well-being there are certain steps I need to take to ensure I can stay focused and actually have a good time during the long days.
For me the following list is what keeps me going:
1. Pre-select the gluten free meal when on the plane
I'm not gluten intolerant, but I was provided this advice from a nutritionist and I was amazed at the difference it made. Let's face it, in flight meals are NOT good in economy class. They do step up a peg (or three) when moving into premium economy or business class, but they really aren't flash. I found when consuming the gluten free meal I didn't get that bloated feeling I got EVERY TIME I ate an in flight meal. I have tried the vegan and vegetarian options, but an airlines view of what vegetarians eat is a long way away from tasty eats. The qualifier to choosing gluten free, is, if you are vegan or vegetarian then gluten free won't work, so do what you have to do. You could even try to take your own in flight snacks. I did try taking my own snacks, but it just doesn't suit my personality - if I see someone around me getting a "meal", rather than home made snacks...I WANT THAT MEAL!
2. Practice meditation
This works best if you have a regular practice, but even if you don't, just simple pranayam (long deep breathing) can help, particularly if you are a nervous flyer. I use to feel quite self-conscious meditating in public, but its been so long now that it doesn't seem to bother me. I will qualify this by saying I do CHANGE my meditation for public appearances. I have out loud chanting as part of my regular practice, this is replaced by an internal, quiet practice of the mantra. My meditation also waves my arms around (very cool in public I believe...NOT), so I mentally imagine myself making those arms movements. The mere visualisation is about 70-80% effective, and 100% better than not doing anything at all. It is not recommended to practice meditation during your flight. I also thought it would be a GREAT idea to get it all done, and all you have to do is meditate throughout the flight...BOOM...done. But Kundalini Yoga meditation requires you to be grounded, and when you are 30,000 or 40,000ft in the air, you are not very grounded. So please don't practice meditation during your flight.
3. Get moving - do yoga, whatever you can get done, just move
If your trip is for pleasure, and personal enjoyment then its far more likely you will be moving almost constantly. Walking to see new places, running to catch the ferry you are about to miss, or just wandering and taking in the sites. Movement is great for physical energy and well-being. However, if your trip is for business, it's likely you just sat on plane for hours (after you have meditated of course), and are now sitting in a business meeting for the next who knows how long. Movement can be tricky to fit in. I have traveled with many different types of people, and each of them have chosen their own form of movement. One person would get up at 5 am (easier when you gain time on your trip), and run for an hour or so on the streets. Another preferred treadmill running to outdoor running, so everywhere that person traveled, they needed to ensure their hotel included a gym. My personal choice is a Kundalini Yoga kriya, and lately its been the vigorous *Nabhi Kriya or the energising, but far less challenging *Suryva Kriya, or alternatively one my original favourites, *Kriya for Elevation
* to view these files, you will need to be a site member of Strength Within. Moving first thing in the morning during business trips can be easier than trying to fit it in after the work day. This is because you are never really sure when that work day will end.
4. Do something special or different for yourself if you are travelling for work
On a recent trip to the United States I lost 2 full weekends to travel, and while the schedule during the trip was not overly hectic, I did not get to see my family or participate in my usual life pattern than keeps me healthy and happy. I had a small amount of downtime, and instead of picking up the laptop and continuing to work I decided I would go to a baseball game. Now I don't even go to rugby, netball or cricket games in my real life in New Zealand, but I decided I was a long way from home, and I needed to get out of the hotel room! A baseball game was different and challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and I had always wanted to experience the atmosphere. I booked online, and showed up on the day to pick up my ticket, and I'm VERY pleased I did. If you haven't experienced baseball, ITS A LONG GAME, I mean 3 hours of sitting and watching, but the cool thing about the experience was that there was always something to watch, and surprisingly it was quite action packed. Including a tornado warning that made me second guess why I was there, and then rain, which, overall, didn't dampen the experience (no pun intended), and it was great. I felt very sorry for the gentleman sitting next to me who received multiple questions on the basics of the sport thanks to me. I bought the foam finger (I've always wanted to own one), however, I realised very early in the game that I was the only person over the age of five that had a foam finger. Clearly foam fingers were not designed for the mature audience, hence, it was perfect for me.
Spiritual Sanctuary during Travel
The techniques I recommended above might sound obvious, but, when travelling for work, it can be difficult to remember that you always need time for yourself, and a spiritual sanctuary during your travel. I always travel with my sheepskin (a staple for some Kundalini Yoga practioners), and that sheepy is placed in my hotel room where I will meditate and activate my Kundalini each morning before I start my work, and each night so I can clear my head, ready for sleep. These simple techniques were recently tested over and over again, and I came out of the experience still spiritually and physically grounded in a way I both needed, and had not experienced with other work travel previously.
Sat Nam, and may you have a beautiful day ahead....