How to Stay Mindful When Traveling the World
By Amie Hamling
Travel is all fun and games, until it’s not. Until the long haul flights, security check after security check, lost baggage, homesickness, general sickness, culture shock. But don’t let that stop you from seeing the world.
The world can seem like a big, scary place when you’re on the road. You’re off-centre, in unfamiliar territory. Your regular routines, and eating and sleeping habits, are thrown off slightly.
Even though traveling is a form of self care, there’s also times throughout your travels where it’s vital to bring it back to you and practice mindfulness when you get the chance. Not only is this an excellent way to beat travel blues, but you can create full, lasting memories beyond the selfies on your iPhone. Be present, every step of the way.
Keep a travel diary or journal.
Record how you’re feeling on your journey in a notebook. Check in each day, even when you’re on top of the world (literally), and write down three things that you’re grateful for that day and on a scale of 1-10, rate your current mood.
Create a playlist for a low mood or homesickness.
Tune out from conversations with other travellers or the hustle-and-bustle of the city you’re in, and tune into a playlist curated just for you. Whether it’s hip-hop or jazz, find solace in the same beats every time your mood drops.
Overwhelm sets in quick when in a new city, especially if there’s a language barrier. Take a deep breath and find a comfortable space to just sit and mindfully watch people go about their day. How often in your daily routine do you get to just be and take in your surroundings? For mindfulness beginners: now is the best time to start practicing, while you have more time to appreciate life as a traveller.
Practice mindful eating.
Curious? Mindful eating is about listening to your body and its needs. Holidays and long term travel can be a great excuse for ditching the diet and forgoing exercise – even more so if you worked really hard pre-travel. Once you’ve gorged on all the pasta, curries or noodle dishes, depending on where you are in the world, you’re going to be left with a food hangover you just can’t shake. Stop, listen to your body, and nourish yourself with meals that will boost you on your journey, not slow you down.
Be a travel photographer.
Take in all the sights through the lens of a camera. You don’t have to have a fancy professional camera to dive into photography; even your smartphone can produce beautiful shots worthy of praise. This practice will allow you to stop and consider the world around you, beyond face value.
Lay off the wi-fi.
Give Facebook a rest for one day, and instead of seeking out cafes and restaurants with unlimited wi-fi, go on a hike, or a long stroll through the city center. Rather than fretting about connectivity, enjoy what’s around you and soak in the atmosphere (often unnoticed by those connected to wi-fi).
Listen to daily meditations.
Whilst your days are unpredictable, make it a non-negotiable to listen to at least one guided meditation per day. Upon waking, spend 5-10 minutes in the moment; try a free online audio from Tara Brach or The Chopra Center to begin your day.
Open up to meeting new people.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, or in a group, an incredible, soul-enriching part of travel is meeting new friends along the way. You’ll cross paths with people you wouldn’t normally in your everyday life; be open to friendship, conversation and adventures. Restricting yourself to only mingling with a ‘type’ of person can also restrict how mindful you are in social situations – don’t let negative space in your mind ruin your travels!
The golden rule of being a mindful traveller: be flexible. Things will change, including your travel itinerary, so make room for new plans, new countries and new people. You never know what the future may hold.
Bonus tip: When planning an itinerary, allow a few extra days to travel between places. This way, you can learn to be more flexible and find accommodation along the way. Plus, with days to spare, you can fill them in with places you never thought you’d see. And there you have it, a mindful guide to traveling the world. Take each day as it comes. Remember the secret to happy, mindful travels is to: first, care for yourself and second, care for the people around you. Enjoy your trip!
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What is Organic Cotton?
By: Heather Bien We’re all trying to be better stewards of Mother Earth. From recycling to upcycling and eating conscientiously to dressing mindfully, our choices affect the planet. So choosing organic cotton clothing seems like an easy decision, right? Not so fast! As with all sustainable choices, it’s important to take a moment to learn a bit more about why organic cotton might win over conventional cotton—and what makes these two materials different in the first place. Read on if you’re interested in learning about organic cotton and whether it’s the best choice for you and the environment. Conventional cotton Before we get into debating modern cotton farming techniques, let’s get familiar with the plant we’re talking about: cotton. It’s soft, durable, and probably on your body right now. But what else do you really know about cotton? Here are the basics: Cotton comes from the cotton plant – The cotton plant is a warm-season woody perennial shrub from the genus Gossypium and the family Malvaceae. Cotton fabric is made from the plant’s fibrous seed-hair (which is also called a cotton boll). Cotton is one of the top agricultural crops – Traditional cotton is the most widespread and profitable non-food crop in the world. Although the plant is capable of growing in any warm-weather climate, India and China are now the top producers of cotton globally. Cotton is thirsty – A normal cotton plant requires 10 gallons of water to reach peak potential. That doesn’t sound so bad, but multiplying it outward, that means it takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce just 2.2 pounds of cotton fabric. Pests think it’s delicious – Not only is cotton thirsty, but it’s prone to pest infestations from bollworms, weevils, aphids, stink bugs, thrips, and spider mites. In order to combat these common pests, conventional cotton is routinely sprayed with a veritable salad-dressing of pesticides, many of which can remain in the soil and water supply for years afterward. Cotton harvesting requires defoliation – In order to quickly and efficiently harvest cotton, many commercial growers use chemical defoliants to strip the leaves from the cotton plant prior to harvesting the bolls. Like pesticides, these chemicals remain in the environment and on the cotton itself. Is organic cotton better? All of those cotton factoids point pretty compellingly to buying and wearing organic cotton fabric. But first, it’s important to understand what sets this organic alternative apart. Why exactly is “organic” cotton anyway? You might associate the word organic with your healthy fruits and veggies, but it’s not always clear what this term means when it comes to cotton. For many years, there was not a standard definition, but today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) require that any cotton product labeled “organic” meet the following criteria: Made with fibers from USDA-certified organic crops Third-party certified (ie., through the Global Organic Textile Standard) under the National Organic Program standards Has a specific percentage of organic material (depending on the crop) But this definition is a little circular, so we need also to define USDA-certified organic crops. According to the USDA, organic crop standards are defined as follows: Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops. These can be supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials. Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices, including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used. Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available. The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited. What is organic cotton? In short, it’s cotton that is farmed according to these practices and certified organic by the USDA. Why should you choose organic cotton? With fewer pesticides, fewer synthetic chemicals, and more thoughtful cultivation practices, organic cotton can certainly offer a more environmentally friendly choice when compared to regular cotton. Is organic cotton sustainable? Here are a few other reasons why organic cotton can be a better alternative for you and the earth: It’s better for our water resources – According to an analysis by the Textile Exchange, producing an organic cotton T-shirt requires 1,982 fewer gallons of water compared to a regular cotton T-shirt. Because organic cotton uses less chemicals, its production also releases fewer toxins into our aquatic ecosystems. It’s good for the soil (and our carbon footprint) – According to the Soil Association, the more natural cultivation practices and fewer pesticides used by organic cotton farmers can support healthier soil. That soil, in turn, can absorb more carbon from our atmosphere and help keep the planet healthy. It encourages biodiversity – Multiple studies have shown that organic farming practices can encourage more diversity among the animal species of our planet. Sustainability is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to plant-derived textiles, the ones which help us create a healthier world are always a better alternative. Explore the benefits of bamboo with Boody Whether you choose to purchase conventional or organic cotton clothing, the fact that you are shopping mindfully for yourself is a win for the environment. At Boody, we believe in bringing you quality, comfy, sustainable clothing basics that keep you feeling good about yourself and your personal impact on Mother Earth. From our sleepwear to our loungewear, women’s bamboo shirts to our underwear, sustainable and ethical are our touchstones. Our clothing is made of bamboo viscose, requiring less water than cotton while putting precious oxygen back into the environment. That just feels good, doesn’t it? Explore the bamboo benefits today, with Boody. Sources: Britannica. Cotton. https://www.britannica.com/topic/cotton-fibre-and-plant Cotton. The Story of Cotton - Where Cotton Grows. https://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/story/where.cfm World Wildlife Federation. Cotton. https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton Textile Exchange. Quick Guide to Organic Cotton. https://textileexchange.org/quick-guide-to-organic-cotton Soil Association. What is organic cotton? https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/fashion-textiles/organic-cotton/ USDA. Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/02/29/conservation-and-biological-diversity-organic-production About the Author: Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.