Self-care ritual for travel

In July 2012 I spent three weeks in India taking a social and cultural diversity course as part of my grad school program. Aka, a real-life, in the weeds learning about what it means to do this work, what my role is as a healer, and being in a space of learning and asking rather than telling and knowing.  The trip was obviously very eye-opening as I looked at the immense privilege in my life, growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with my weekly tennis and piano lessons. In addition to the profound emotional and philosophical response to the trip, my senses were on overload! Anyone who has been to India knows how rich (and awful, and amazing) the sensory experience is. Luckily for me, it was on this trip that I learned an art therapy ritual that I use every time I travel, especially internationally.

The prompt is to make a piece of artwork to express how you’re feeling and/or what you experienced during the day. Then, either before or after making artwork, you journal about the same thing. I recommend using watercolors for the art, as the fluidity of the medium has a quality of letting go of structure and control, which are very important reminders while traveling. Watercolors are also more accessible for expressing emotions, versus something like pens or markers. Logistically, I recommend either watercolor postcards or a watercolor book and a travel watercolor set like this or like this.

March 10, 2015 – I wrote about feeling the conflict between religions at this historic and beautiful sight in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel.
Over the years, I have found that doing this art therapy ritual helps me process my experiences of being in a new culture and out of my comfort zone. It has helped me cope with home sickness and traveling woes. In the midst of feeling like an outsider and out of regularity, having something consistent to come back to every day is both grounding and comforting. And, these art pieces are the most precious souvenirs that money could never buy.

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