Last month, I went to Japan for four amazing weeks. I spent two of those weeks travelling alone, making my way through small country towns, staying in an eco log cabin in the mountain and spending a night in a yurt on the beach.
I was brought to my knees by the natural beauty of the Japanese landscape; from the rivers and valleys to the smattering of tiny islands along the Seto Inland sea. And in the two weeks alone, I immersed myself in the beauty of the language, the delicate flavours of the food, their tireless dedication to tradition, and all the cultural nuances in between.
This is my fourth time in Japan and every time I go, I get more and more from this country. To me, Japan is intoxicating and strangely reminiscent of home for me.
I think Japan is in many ways, my spiritual home and it has taught me some big lessons.
So today, I am sharing the 6 lessons I learned from travelling alone. It's a culmination of all the soul shaking realisations that I have discovered over the last 6 years of taking solo trips (not only my trips to Japan). This post is one that comes from my heart so I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
Lesson 1 : Releasing control and embracing freedom
One of my core desired feelings (see Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map) (affiliate link) is freedom. For the past 12 months, I have been working on creating more freedom in my life. My experience with travelling alone has allowed me to embrace this freedom in so many different ways.
It can be both exhilarating as well as scary in that you come face to face with all the things that cannot be controlled. And in a way, perhaps that is the lesson we really need.
It is actually such a beautiful and powerful lesson in acceptance and letting go of your desire to control everything. I learned to enjoy the freedom in seeing how things with unfold naturally and without force.
Lesson 2 : Making connections and creating opportunities
Arriving at a place that I have never been before; it feels like a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh notebook ready to be written in. It gave me the gentle nudge I needed to to connect back with myself and get comfortable with being in my own skin.
As a result, I was more open to meeting people and embracing opportunities whenever they came up. And for some reason, I found that I connected so much deeper with people like this instead of when I am caught up in my own little day to day routine. As a result, I met some truly amazing people on my travels; people who are marching to the beat of their own drum, people who have a beautiful curiosity for the world, people who have stirred my soul in so many ways.
Lesson 3 : Finding space for clarity and reflection
The weeks leading up to my trip overseas, I was anxiously filling every moment of my day with a never-ending checklist of to dos. I was all swept up in a flurry of procrastination mixed with inspiration and struggled to find time to sit still for even a moment. It was a frustrating combo of emotions.
So, I set an intention for my trip - to create space.
I chose to spend my days strolling around towns with a slower pace and indulged in nature hikes. I felt time slow and it felt like there was space again. It was a like a breath of fresh air. I revelled in watching the cityscape blur on train rides and enjoyed long mornings sitting in cafes. In the end, it helped me declutter all the unnecessary things that was filling up my life and allowed me to refocus, and distill out that which I was seeking. And most importantly, it gave me the time to heal from things that I had been holding on to.
Lesson 4 : Love the moment and indulging
In our day to day lives, it is so easy to get caught up in an automatic state of being. We forget to truly appreciate the moment. Travelling by myself has definitely helped me rediscover how precious each fleeting moment is.
I believe that when we exist outside our comfort zone or experience something for the first time, our emotions and sensations are heightened. I remember being awestruck by the texture of tofu, mesmerised by the way the rain falls onto the cobbled streets of Kyoto alleyways and being overcome with emotion on my train ride as it pulled away from Hiroshima station. I learned to embrace every emotion to its core, to feel it and to release it.
Lesson 5 : Developing intuition and trusting instinct
During my travels, I realised how much I came to trust my intuition and instinct. I was regularly checking in with myself on so many occasions to see how I was feeling. There is a sense of stillness when you are travelling on your own in that you spend a lot of time with your thoughts as your guide. I became very observant of my thoughts in that it felt almost meditative. And now that I am back in my hometown, I am reminded to enjoy the stillness of my observations.
Lesson 6 : Enjoying the solitude
Travelling solo has definitely taught me how to enjoy my own company. And it remains one of the main reasons why I crave travelling on my own. In Melbourne, I became so accustomed to relying on the company of others that I sometimes struggled with the idea of spending my evenings or weekends alone. In Japan, I learned to love the experience of dining by myself, taking myself on hikes and experiencing the cities by myself. And oddly enough, I no longer felt compelled to share it with someone. In some ways, the experience was sacred in that it was mine.
And since returning from my trip, I have been indulging in doing things by myself. It has given me a new way of experiencing my home town in a different way that is so thoroughly rewarding.
As you can probably tell from my post, I am still experiencing the holiday glow which I hope will last for a little while. This last trip has truly shaken up things in my soul in the best of ways and in the most unexpected of ways.