“Kristin, it’s not just a nice idea to share your spiritual experience with people, it’s your responsibility.”
Paige, one of my best friends of over 10 years, and I hiked along on a stunning Idaho day, the wildflowers in fragrant bloom and the birds chirping a chorus, when she turned to me, almost shaking she was so overwhelmed with emotion, and made that announcement.
We’d been talking all week about how we’ve been healing and how for me, tantra, meditation, finding Buddhism, getting sober, and attending retreats all over the world has given me the confidence to travel, hitchhike, and run a business that nobody thought would be profitable. She was right, I often talk about the end result on this blog, encouraging women to travel alone and to discover their own inner power, but I shy away from sharing the steps I took to get there.
I’ve held back about a huge part of the journey for 6 years now.
Because I was afraid. I could picture the imaginary people saying, “We always knew she was a little ‘out there’ but whoa, this is just way beyond what we ever thought…”
I mean what would people think if I started opening up about tantra, a practice of balancing masculine and feminine energy within your body that is often misunderstood as being purely sexual, and the deepest depths of my personal development? What would you guys, my old classmates, or my mom think?
But when I share with my dear friends, they share too and we grow together. Nobody judges and we’re eager to learn from each other, and that’s how I’ve always felt writing this blog – like I’m writing to a friend.
Interestingly, none of us grew up meditating, practicing Reiki or much less tantra. We don’t come from a society that fosters that kind of growth work. Yet we all felt pulled in this direction, together but also independently, each on her own journey. I see a big shift in the world towards healing and spirituality, towards something deeper and more meaningful than consuming and going about the motions, despite all the bad news and negativity out there.
We found that you don’t have to have been raised by hippies or grow up in a spiritual community to find something that speaks to you and to change your life for the better.As Eric Roth, screenwriter of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button wrote: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be.”
I was led towards spiritual growth while traveling. Prior to that, it had never occurred to me. I thought I’d quit my job, end my relationship, start my blog, and run away from it all to a paradise of self assuredness and radiance.
Except that’s not what happened. It turned out there was no escape. I just ran back into myself over and over again.
I struggled to treat my body well, to deal with the stress of budgeting and my dwindling bank account, and to establish healthy boundaries — you-name-it, basically.
I was confused. I’d put so much into demolishing old bridges and going full force towards my dream of a new life. Why was I still up against the same problems that I assumed were caused by a stressful job and dissatisfying daily routine?
Because wherever I went, I was still the same person acting out the same patterns.
I see that in other people now when they say that solo traveling is hard. What I see is women disconnected from our own power, undervaluing our abilities. Sometimes women even caution other women out of being bold and adventurous. When we’re in this space, everything feels hard and nothing flows.
I get it because I’ve been there. The world and politics are communicating to us that we have no power. It can be depressing and demoralizing. But I know that it can be different. Believing in yourself and choosing not to follow the status quo will make all the difference. There’s another path, following ancient belief systems that are backed by neuroscience and quantum physics.
It’s a beautiful journey. At some point it’ll feel so good that you’ll want to share it like I am now.
Life for me is a blissful adventure, traveling alone for over 6 years now and running a blog that makes well into the six figures.
But how did I get here, and what even is spirituality? To me it’s a strong connection to Source, whatever you want to call it – God, the Universe, or universal love. I find it interesting that most major religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity (surely others too but I have only studied these five) all promote this connection of love and service.
Science supports this, too. The more I learn about the importance of energy, tap into it and really feel it, the better I understand why quantum physics used to be referred to, in part, as wave mechanics. We represent each facet of life by a sine wave of a particular wavelength. When you feel another person without speaking a word to them, that’s for real (which I will explain more in coming posts).
There are energy vortexes around the world too, which those who travel have no-doubt experienced. Why is it that Asia just feels different than Africa? Why is it that retreats tend to take place in Ibiza, Sedona, Bali, and why so many ‘hippies’ love Lake Titicaca? Part of it is that being somewhere new is the perfect place to evolve and to let go. Part of it is because of the energy there, which I’ll explain more in a future post, too.
I found out how true that is when I dived head-first into a 10-day silent meditation at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand 6 years ago – the first spiritual practice I’d ever tried. I thought it would fix me.
But it was a major struggle. I didn’t know how to surrender. My mind drove me crazy. Then something beautiful happened.
I started paying attention to what my mind was saying. Instead of letting it push me to do things, I started to simply observe it. Let me tell you, that was interesting. I realized I obsess over things – people, work, the things I need to do, things that happened 10 years ago, things that might happen 10 years from now.
That was the beginning of my interest in Buddhism and meditation, which led me to a more spiritual camp at Burning Man 3 years later and introduced me to tantra. Then I got interested in the chakras and energy, and now I feel like an enthusiastic student who can’t get enough of this ancient wisdom.
Traveling to me is not about getting the ‘gram or writing a how-to post, although those have their place and I’m happy to put them out there. It’s about connecting to the Earth, feeling the interconnectedness of all things and the joy that comes with it, healing my sexual trauma, stepping into my personal power, and learning how to observe my mind. At each step of the journey I’ve had more will power, personal agency, ability to grow this business, and bravery to go to new places both inwardly and outwardly. It’s not just ‘woo woo’ new age, AwakenwithJP stuff, it’s for real and that’s why this ancient knowledge has endured for so long. It’s also why it scares people into labeling it as pseudoscience. Love is powerful. It makes the compulsion to buy things evaporate as we realize that the best investment is in experiences and in ourselves.
And it’s ok if you’re skeptical. We should question everything. It’s okay if it’s uncomfortable and takes you right to your edge because time and time again I’ve found that’s where we grow.
I almost always, from meditation to breath work to EFT and even acupuncture, have “what the fuck are we doing?” moments, but then talk myself into just going with it and surrendering. When I can really do that, I usually come out of it like “that shit was good.”
It can feel like taking ecstasy while being completely sober. For real.
That’s why I want to share it now, even if some people out there really are saying “dang she’s off her rocker.” That’s okay because others will be nodding enthusiastically, knowing this is all possible. And perhaps others too will be somewhere in the middle, with an open mind.
I’m not an empowered meditation teacher and I don’t see myself as some kind of guru, but I have dedicated my last 6 years, with a heavy emphasis on the last two (directly correlating with my sobriety) to understanding why there always felt like I had a gaping hole in my side. It’s purely out of enthusiasm and a desire to heal that I share this, and because many of you have indicated you want more of it.That said, this is a travel blog and always will be, and you’ll still see the same content from me that you always did, except for Sundays, where it’ll take a more spiritual twist.
Dare I call it, Spiritual Sundays? Too cliché? Ok I’ll work on it.
See you next Sunday. Until then, I’ll relay something a 70-year-old woman in a cafe in Idaho said to Paige and I that morning before our hike:
“‘Walk in beauty’, as the Navajo say”.
If you’re looking for a way to travel more intentionally, consider volunteering while you travel. Hostels are always looking for volunteers to help out in exchange for a place to stay. My favorite platform for finding volunteer opportunities is Worldpackers.com (get $10 off your membership with discount code “BMTM”)which has plenty of options in several different countries. From working on a farm to helping out in an eco village to the night shift at hostels, there’s something for everyone.
If you’re curious about what Worldpackers is all about, check out our post about being a Worldpacker in the Mayan jungle.