From Brave New Traveler on the Matador Network, comes an excellent article!
NO DISCUSSION ABOUT returning from a lengthy time abroad is complete without talk of reverse culture shock. And, from my experience, this discussion inevitably turns to perspective. Specifically, that many people don’t seem to have any. Perhaps this isn’t a fair statement, but returning home after long-term travel in the developing world often leaves me in a fastidious state of mind.
There is something to be said about travel also crystallizing your perceptions, honing suspiciously naïve sentiments into firm sets of belief. Even within the context of culture shock, it can help keep life in perspective. And if you concentrate enough, it can help mold you into the person you strive to be.
Read the rest of the article here: How Travel Helps to Keep Life in Perspective
The above article is about how being dropped into the deep end of the pool gave that writer perspective. From my perspective, there’s nothing better than spiritual travel to give you a greater understanding of your own life. It can really make a difference.
There are two kinds of perspective switches when you experience spiritual travel, especially when you take a spiritual tour:
1) The 60,000 foot view kicks in
2) Your view once you return home can be radically altered.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail…
What is the 60,000 foot view?
When we’re home working, cleaning, taking care of our families, even writing, we’re focused on the task at hand. Usually, we’re putting one foot in front of another and we’re not paying much attention to our lives. When you get away – really get away, like to Bali, Cuba, China, Bhutan by experiencing spiritual travel… you are focused not just on seeing new things, but if you make it a spiritual tour, it’s an opportunity to look at your life not as the ant, but as the human looking down at all the little ants, saying, “Wow, they’re sure busy.” Sometimes it takes a mid-life crisis (“OMG, what the hell am I DOING with my life?”) or a strong pull to make a huge shift overnight (“Hey, this wasn’t supposed to be the game plan!”). These moments of panic go hand-in-hand with not setting goals, forgetting your dreams, etc. If you can avoid getting to this moment of panic, and experience a spiritual tour or spiritual travel sooner, you can gain perspective which may be less profound, but will ease you to the next level as opposed to drop-kicking you. The freedom this type of trip affords you, the chance to breathe, can make all the difference in your world when you return.
What about when I go home?
Many of our guests have what we call “re-entry shock.” Going to a country where the culture is different seems simple, but step anywhere outside of Europe (even there sometimes); you will find that once you go home again it’s all different, even more so when returning from a spiritual tour or coming back from spiritual travel. Maybe too big, too loud, too consumer-oriented suddenly. After my first trip to Egypt 12 years ago, I couldn’t stand radio advertising. It was like my nerves were mysteriously sensitized to it. However it affects you, be gentle with yourself. Journal, talk with other people who were on the spiritual tour with you, be kind to yourself and give yourself extra sleep and downtime. It will usually right itself in a few days or weeks, but the residual you are left with is wonderful: a better perspective on our place in the world, and our understanding of ourselves as one country, not THE country.