Lessons Learned Solo
It takes a certain kind of bravery to set sail for a place where you don’t know a single soul. We love that our students are bold enough to make this exciting step! Luckily 99% of our students are in this same situation – so it doesn’t take long for strong friendships and bonds to grow on our yoga teacher trainings. We so often hear our students refer to their Santosha group as a ‘family’ – and it’s true, sharing these experiences together allows a deep connection to quickly grow. It’s a very special part of our immersive trainings.
Being away from your ‘everyday life’ is also an amazing chance to get to know the real you; the person you are when all the obligations, routines and expectations of you are stripped away. This can be confronting for sure! But it is also an amazing opportunity for growth and transformation, as you re-assess not only who you are, but what your priorities are in life.
That’s why as soon as I read this blog post by Santosha Level 1 Yoga Teacher Training graduate Greta, I knew I had to share it! She sums up some of the incredible lessons solo travel has to offer…. for those bold enough to step up and take them. I hope you are inspired by Greta’s words to start planning an adventure of your own. We’d love to have you join us in Bali!
Greta shares…. Five Things I’ve Learned Through Solo Travel
This has perhaps been the most powerful lesson I’ve learned through my travels. I’ve never spent so much time by myself and I’ve never had so much freedom to make choices solely for me. I am so grateful to have been able to travel in this way because it is a rare and empowering thing. It was about a month into my travels that I felt the strange power of doing whatever I wanted. I mean, really, whatever I wanted. My days were completely open. I was in control of where I traveled to next. I could choose to stay an extra day in a city, or leave early. It was all up to me.
I think that even as adults we don’t have opportunities to feel so free. Commitments keep up in one place and create timetables for us to live by. These aren’t bad things per se, but it’s incredible to experience the opposite. With this freedom I found that I got to know myself better. I found myself at the beginning of each day asking, “What do you want to do? what do you REALLY want to do?” I noticed FOMO (fear of missing out) creeping in once in a while. I would worry that if I choose to have a laid-back day I would be missing out on something amazing. Then I realized that no matter what I do, I am always missing out on something. There are amazing things happening everywhere, even if I choose one I’m still missing out on others. That’s life.
Once I accepted that I wasn’t going to see and do everything, I was able to relax and enjoy my trip. And so, I found that some days I didn’t want to do anything. A lot of times these days came after long, exhausting travel days – and there were plenty of those. I learned to find balance. I gave myself days to rest and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I realized that self-care was my number one priority because I was all I had. That’s not to say that I didn’t find friends and travel companions along the way, but at the end of the day, I am in charge of myself and making sure that I’m taken care of. I found ways to pamper and treat myself. When I’d get into a city after a long day of travel I’d take myself out to eat. Or sometimes I’d take myself to the movies or sometimes both. I learned to be okay with doing these things alone and in fact, I learned that I really liked them.
There were also days when I just felt off – sometimes lonely, sometimes overwhelmed with trying to organize travel plans, and those were days that I treated myself to something that I liked, whether it be a massage (incredibly cheap in SE Asia I may add) or allowing myself to buy books at the used book store even though I had zero space in my backpack. I learned to become my own best friend and I fell in love with myself. I started to feel stronger and more confident. I braved new situations calmly and confidently. I came to realize that life is short and I am worthy of loving myself; in fact, we all are. It took this trip for me to realize it. And through it all I’ve found a confidence that I didn’t know I had. I make lists of new goals that I have and things I want to do with my life, and none of it feels crazy or out of reach. I feel like I can it do all and it’s because I believe in myself more than I ever have before.
Traveling does not make you immune to the challenges of life. If anything it presents a whole new set of challenges that you’ve never experienced. And sometimes you need people. Sometimes you need help. Sometimes you get sick or feel lonely. And yes, you learn to take care of yourself, but you also learn to accept the kindness of strangers and new friends. There were many times when I relied on the kindness of others to help me. You can’t always be in control.
I learned this lesson my second week in Bali when I found myself very ill and two of my classmates came to my aid. I would have been lost without them. It was a moment of true surrender. I trusted them and was thankful to have them there with me. And so, there’s a balance you find between being self sufficient but also realizing that when you need help and help presents itself, you humbly and gratefully accept. We are all alone and yet we need each other.
Even as we go through life and find partners and get married, we aren’t guaranteed to be together with anyone for the rest of our lives. We only have ourselves, and yet we are all in the same boat, or maybe, we are in our own boats but in the same ocean. We are all alone, we only have ourselves, but we are all alone together.
One of my most memorable experiences was in Myanmar when our overnight bus started on fire. It was a small fire, but we all quickly shuffled off of the bus when flames and smoke were spotted. Once off the bus everyone started chattering about the situation, trying to figure out what was going on. The fire was completely out at this point and just some smoke remained. I felt calm and commented that if we had to camp out for the night it wasn’t such a bad spot- the stars were spectacular. We only had to wait for about a half an hour until the bus was fixed and we were ushered back on.
After getting settled back in our seats, one of the bus attendants walked though the isle with a spray air freshener, leaving a cloud of aerosal behind him. To be honest, it wasn’t the best smelling stuff and a few people groaned at the attempt to cover up the smoke smell. I said, “well, at least it’s not axe body spray” and laughed a bit at my own cleverness. A girl in front of my turned around and said “you’re all about that silver lining, aren’t you?” I smiled and nodded proudly. I thought, yeah, I guess I am.
Unexpected and less than ideal situations happen all the time when you travel and you learn to accept them and laugh, because complaining doesn’t really do anything. In most instances it can always be worse. Which brings me to my next lesson…
I think I have to give credit to my yoga teacher training for this revelation as we talked a lot about this in our course. Through my training I learned to become more observant of my thoughts. I learned to observe thoughts without clinging to them. This was massively helpful as I went on with my travels, as I often found myself in situations that were challenging. There were times when it was easy to think “if this happens then…” And soon I’d find myself thinking about a grim, made up situation that could theoretically happen but was not actually happening at the moment. But I found that it was easier to catch these thoughts and to come back to the moment and ask myself “what in this moment is lacking?” And usually, almost always, there was nothing truly lacking. I was alive, healthy, well, maybe a bit hot or uncomfortable, but if there was nothing lacking then there was nothing to worry about. And if there was something truly lacking from a moment, I then could either change the situation or circumstance if I could, or surrender.
Those are the two choices- surrender and accept, or change. Once I realized this concept, situations that were once anxiety inducing or scary to me were much more manageable. For example, when my “taxi” got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere in scorching Cambodia and our spare was also flat and both the driver and other passenger did not speak English. This could have been an “oh shit” moment, but instead I got my book, I sat under a tree, and I trusted that things would work out. I had snacks and water and shade, I was okay. My driver was able to call a friend who came with an extra tire on a motor bike. It was not a disaster in the least, rather it was a moment to pause. A moment to practice acceptance.
One beautiful and unexpected result of my travels has been becoming closer with my parents. I never thought going halfway across the world would do this, but I feel closer to my Mom and Dad than I ever have. We talk more often than when I lived in Portland- skyping nearly every week. They are excited for me and are genuinely happy for my happiness.
A week ago while talking with my Mom she said she feels like she has “evolved” in a way. She said that she doesn’t feel sad anymore about me being far because she knows I’m so happy. This is the type of relationship I had always hoped to have my with my Mom – one where we can still feel close but also with the freedom to explore and create my own life. This trip has been a blessing in so many ways, but I think the closeness that I know feel with my parents has been one of the most amazing things to come of my travels. I feel grateful everyday to have their support and love.
Greta is a yogi, blogger, globetrotter, karaoke legend and cat enthusiast.
You can read more of her exciting adventures involving all these things on her awesome blog 🙂
Inspired by Greta? Find out more about our Level 1 Yoga Teacher Trainings here.
Or, if you know you are ready to start your next adventure view our Upcoming Course Dates and Locations.