Spiritual and Cultural Exposure While Traveling
One of the biggest advantages of being a nomad is having constant exposure to various lifestyles and beliefs. Most of us are brought up focusing on one belief and some of us don’t even continue that belief (some of us become less religious). Being on the move allows you to be naturally exposed, as part of your new environment, to new religious beliefs and rituals. One example that comes to mind is the Zen monks who dedicated their lives to traveling and seeking answers to life’s questions. Every time they heard about a prominent mentor that lives in a remote town, they decided to walk for many days in order to visit with him and ask him questions. Some of them stayed with the spiritual mentor for years and some only stayed for a few days, but they always kept on moving after they received their answers and learned all they could from him.
Spirituality has many forms, the most obvious being religious but other forms also exist. For example, yoga and meditation are not religious, yet offer a depth of spiritual tools. You may meet a person while on the road who may not be religious but instead may have a unique spiritual wisdom that cannot be ignored.
So what are the best ways to be exposed to new spiritual ways of life?
The easiest way is to simply be aware and curious about the prevalent spiritual beliefs in the place you are at. For example, if you are in India, you can easily be exposed to the ideas and rituals of the Hindu religion. If you are in Israel, you can do the same for the Jewish religion and so on. The key is to be genuinely interested, ask questions, and make note of things that you like and connect to. Don’t be too shy to go to a synagogue or Buddhist temple; observe the rituals and ask questions. Usually people attending those sermons are very receptive to foreigners who are interested in their spiritual path and even take it as a compliment. When you do so, it is advisable to check in advance for things that aren’t permitted to avoid unintentionally causing insult (for example, going into a synagogue without a kipa or entering a mosque with shorts).
A great way would be to find local people who are interested in spirituality and set meetings with them to discuss their way of life. I’ve also found that a good way to supplement your spiritual knowledge is to read relevant books and publications while there. Many places also have events such as spiritual yoga sessions in India and special gatherings of various religious holidays which can be a great way to expose yourself as well.
An additional way to explore beliefs would be to follow the example of the Zen monks and actively search for spiritual mentors. Some of them are well-known and accept visitors. From my experience, some of the encounters can be very useful while others may be disappointing.
You can also connect to spirituality on your own without being exposed to other people by just getting a feel for the place; use nature’s unique characteristics to find new insights about life. For example, one of the best ways to isolate yourself from the noise that the modern world emits is to go on a trek for a few days. You might find that walking in nature by yourself is a great way to reconnect to yourself and your deepest thoughts.
One additional thing to keep in mind is the place’s history. Sadly, in many cases the historical residents of the place may have had a lot more wisdom and spirituality than the modern-day ones. Going into museums and asking questions about ancient inhabitants and their ways might offer a lot more insight than talking to the locals (who are usually very focused on the ‘now’ and urgent matters of today’s mundane life). A good example would be Latin America, having many unique cultures such as the Incas and the Mayans in comparison to the modern way of life that does not offer many spiritual insights.
AS YOU CAN SEE, THERE ARE MANY EXCITING WAYS OF USING A NOMADIC LIFESTYLE TO GAIN MORE SPIRITUALITY IN YOUR LIFE. THE KEY IS TO BE OPEN-MINDED, AWARE, AND RECEPTIVE TO THE OPPORTUNITIES YOU ENCOUNTER ALONG THE WAY.