7 Things I Learned From An Unexpected Solo Vacation
In his book, The Art of Stillness, Pico Iyer describes his experiences traveling to Kyoto, Japan as well as a monastery in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California, seeking solace from creating a space for himself. Some of my friends also prefer taking trips alone or going on solo retreats. As an introvert, I do cherish my alone time. However, I never had an inclination to actually take a vacation by myself. This year, two of my best friends and I planned to travel to Sedona, Arizona for three days. The morning before they were to fly to Flagstaff, Arizona, they learned their flight was canceled due to flooding from a tropical storm. After much deliberation, my friends decided their best option was to cancel their trips.
What was I going to do? I was contemplating at home and decided that the time I would have spent on the phone justifying the refund would be better spent embarking on my own little adventure. The longest I have ever gone anywhere by myself was for one day. So, I grabbed my bags, hopped into my car, and headed east for my own voyage. The three days I spent exploring Northern Arizona solo was amazing, lonely, surprising, and life-changing. My most valuable lessons were:
1. New connections: When I’m not with my family or friends, I am more receptive to new people. Each being with whom we come into contact is a blessing and an opportunity to connect with new souls. I visited a market where a lady named Juanita, from the Navajo reservation, was selling some beautiful pottery and jewelry. She and I had a lovely conversation, and she taught me so much about the Navajo people, the family structure, how the tribe cares for their aging, and even a few Navajo words.
2. Awareness of my environment: I visited the Grand Canyon, which was a planned excursion for the trip. My first visit was when I was two years old with my parents, and I recollected nothing. This time, I was well aware of my surroundings. I could appreciate the miraculous wonder created by the Universe. Each of my five senses was satisfied simultaneously, as what I could see, hear, smell, taste, and feel were perfect.
3. Gratitude for my loved ones: Even though my close friends could not make the trip and none of my family members were present, the connection I have with them is always alive. I always could feel my love for them, and the love they have for me. Ultimately, I felt very grateful to even have such a wonderful friend group that we could even consider a trip together.
4. Getting to know mySelf: When we spend time alone, we have an opportunity to be acquainted with our own souls. In that stillness, our connectedness to our Universe becomes strengthened. I hiked the Red Rocks by myself, and each breath was my way of communicating with the trees, hummingbirds, and breeze that surrounded me.
5. No rules: When I don’t have a group of friends or family members, there is no need to make a plan. Time is a human-created constraint, and when you are by yourself, time does not really exist. There is no schedule, and you surrender to what the Universe plans for you.
6. No shortage of miracles: I went on a hike in Boynton Canyon, to experience one of the famous energy vortexes. A gentleman named Robert approached me at the summit and gave me a heart carved from red rocks. He explained that this heart is a symbol of the unconditional love I could share with others that exist within and around me. I met a lady later who asked, “Did you get a heart? So many people wanted one.” I realized I was chosen.
7. Shift in energy: I was initially afraid to go on this trip alone. I worried about what people would think seeing a woman by herself. I feared traveling to unknown places. But, I overcame these self-imposed limitations, and afterward, realized I experienced a very powerful shift in my energy. What I let go created space to receive the gifts of the Universe.
Being able to take a short trip by myself taught me how beautiful our Universe is, and the gifts that are available to each of us. I also learned how connected we are to each being. Most of all, I learned that there is nothing more powerful than the love and gratitude I feel.
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