Mindful, or Mind Full?

Written by Katie February 12, 2015

Burano is an island filled with a rainbow of bright, contrasting colors

Venice at her best

Have you ever stopped to think about what it is that makes traveling so enticing? When you visit a new place, you are more attentive to everything: the differences, the similarities, the positives, the negatives. Over the past few weeks, I have begun to recognize that there is so much more that I could gain from traveling aside from elevated blood pressure. Travel is the perfect opportunity for me to practice being more mindful.

A large portion of mindful traveling comes simply from the novelty of the experience. While walking through Venice, I was observant of the gondolas meandering down the canals, the colorful cityscape, and the masks glittering in shop windows. This increased state of mindfulness is the main reason that I enjoy traveling so much. I am appreciative of the new sights, smells, sounds and sensations surrounding me.

After experiencing Carnevale di Venezia, I wanted to share some tips on how to travel in a more mindful, meaningful way.

  1. Marvel in the morning glory of Venice. Rise and shine by starting the day early to see Venice in a unique light. While the city is still half asleep, the few people out and about are the workers sweeping the streets and vendors preparing their stalls for the coming day. It’s absolutely worth the early wake up to witness the calm and somewhat deserted side of Venice before crowds drown out the natural noises of the city.
  2. Get good at waiting. Travel inevitably involves quite a bit of waiting – for trains, planes, hostel check-ins, attractions, dining… you name it! Let’s face it: waiting impatiently makes passing the time unpleasant for everyone involved. Choose to accept the waiting and use the down time to soak in the feeling of the city.
  3. Lost? Look up! As a disclaimer, you WILL get lost in Venice. The good news is that it often leads to amazing discoveries! For some guidance, shift your gaze up at the street corners, as they tend to provide general directions to the nearest main bridge. I specifically took time to wander without a plan, the smaller the street the better. One of the best surprises was stumbling upon countless colorful costumes in Piazza San Marco.
  4. Let go of the need for control. The thrill of travel comes from shifting your focus from merely stepping outside your comfort zone to learning to expand that space. Wrestling with uncertainty makes it instinctive to tighten our grip on the things we think we can influence or control. After a successful first LEAP coaching session this past week, I acknowledged my underlying obstacle that I am committed to improving upon this semester. Instead of letting uncertainty add tension to my life, I am choosing to use it as an opportunity for self-growth and discovery.
  5. Venture to the islands of Venice. We spent the afternoon exploring the islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello on a boat tour. The bright buildings of Burano make this island a photographer’s paradise. Traditionally, families painted with vibrant colors to designate their quarters and to make their homes more visible from the water. Another great spot to be mindful is wandering the glass shops and factories of Murano. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s incredible to watch the glassmakers melt and mold glass into works of art.

With the first extended travel weekend quickly approaching, I am realizing how fast the semester is flying. Beginning Friday evening, my friend and I will be traveling to Barcelona, so be sure to check back next week! Ci vediamo!