Within or Without: My Spiritual Journey on the Road

Before we began this road trip through the US, I had a few concerns about losing my inner balance. The past year has been full of new experiences, new challenges and a few big (painful) lessons.

As a result, the last six months in Latin America were a self-imposed spiritual retreat for me. Through the pain of realising how I was relying on my external circumstances to make me happy, I completely surrendered to a daily spiritual practice of meditation and self-honesty.

I also surrendered to the concept that the Spirit of the universe has my highest good (and everyone else’s) in mind, and that I only need to seek guidance about the next right step rather than try to control the trajectory of my path.

So I was a little anxious about hitting the road again; swapping the Pacific Ocean for the Arizona desert; a spacious home for our four wheels and random motels. Mostly I was afraid of losing my daily practice and neglecting my inner journey in favour if the outer.

Of course, I needn’t have worried. Spiritual growth requires an acceptance of any situation and welcoming the only constant in life – change. Clinging to a practice is still clinging and so when I was unable to maintain the same discipline with my morning meditation routine, I had to let go with faith that I would connect to my soul in other ways.

The landscapes of Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon and Montana have certainly helped me remain connected to Life through its expression of such natural beauty. Hiking, seeing, breathing, smelling, strolling and laughing have helped me remain centered in the beauty of the present moment.

One step

snow walk

Short, three breath meditations, simple prayers, outpourings of gratitude and giving my time and listening ear to others became the practices which kept me grounded in awareness.

This journey has had its challenges, as all good ones do, but I am pleasantly surprised by how my inner journey is unfolding along with the outer. In fact, I now know more than ever that my external circumstances are a manifestation of the peace and joy I’ve discovered within, and that it is something I take with me wherever I go.

When I began this journey back in 2012 it was to seek the things outside of myself which I thought I was lacking. It has been an epic adventure, full of crazy experiences; ALL of which have guided me to the last place I thought to look; within.

Now that we are settled in Montana for a few weeks, I have started my morning practice again. It’s been hard getting up; I have certainly been embracing the term ‘hibernation’ and have been sleeping in till 930 most days which is much later than usual.

snow whitefish

It took me a few weeks of heading straight for the espresso machine (yes, it’s amazing) before I got back to making time and space to connect within. I loved myself into it rather than forced it.

Now that I am meditating again, I am feeling super creative and more connected to the things I want to bring into the world. I am working on a book that I started in Mexico a few months ago and am feeling really inspired by the process. I was slogging away on a different book off and on for over a year before this one and it never felt as good as this.

writing desk

writing snacks

Those words were not wasted, however, because they brought me right here. The very fact that I am mentioning it means that somehow, this thing is going to find its way into the world.

I’m really excited (and terrified, of course).

This journey has presented me with my own inner healing and has turned out nothing like I imagined it would. My dream job used to be to write for Conde Nast Traveller and now being a travel writer is the furthest thing from my mind.

It’s been a subtle yet powerful shift for me to seek guidance from within rather than look for it outside myself. As a result, my goals feel more centered in who I truly am and what I enjoy most: connecting, healing, sharing and transforming.

Hosting a meditation retreat in Bali next year feels like a natural expression of that, and has been a great process so far. We have eight wonderful women signed up, with places still available for those who need to finalize their plans.

I love writing about charting new territories within and how these are the true road maps of our life. By being willing to embrace the many lessons of this journey, especially the messy, painful ones, I have discovered places within me I never knew existed and a source of healing which I know is available to us all.

I no longer feel broken by my past, my mistakes or my short-comings; I feel empowered by them. For it is through those very sacred places that the light has found its way in.

I want to help other people discover how their ‘imperfections’ are their ticket to transformation too.

I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that if I keep showing up for the lessons and asking for inner guidance, it’s going to be all…bright.

Sarah Somewhere close up

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Within or Without: My Spiritual Journey on the Road — 18 Comments

    • Hi Tim! Yes, it is usually the way for me! It always takes courage to change direction, but this journey has always been about discovering my true self, so it helps to pay attention to the signs :-) Thank you as always for your insight.

  1. “I no longer feel broken by my past, my mistakes or my short-comings; I feel empowered by them. For it is through those very sacred places that the light has found its way in.”
    I love this!
    You’ve come so far Sarah. I love following your journey both personally, spiritually and where the road takes you!
    I appreciate the wisdom lately as I feel with a lot of change (new job, new apt), sometimes I get caught up in the daily grind that matters but doesn’t deserve as much attention as it gets…
    Lauren @Roamingtheworld recently posted..Gratitude and Reflections: A tribute for my fatherMy Profile

    • Hi Lauren! I hope you have settled well into your new place; transitions and new beginnings are always scarey and exciting. It is lovely to hear from you, I am so glad we finally met in person and I enjoyed our conversations so much. Much love to you beautiful girl xxx

  2. beautiful post as always sarah – so inspirational. thanks for you reply in your other post, would love to chat more, I don’t have your email tho. I’m robink@ii.net. xxxx

  3. I always want to post an encouragement to you because I am so inspired by your honesty and your willingness to share… But when I go to post, it just sounds like clapping in my head! How do I spell a thousand claps of praise, cheering u on?!? ? You inspire just by spilling the thoughts in your head. I can’t even count the number of friends I have who have remarked on your journey, writing, and life! Cannot wait to see this new idea unfold…
    holly recently posted..suicide momMy Profile

    • Thank you so much sweet sister, that really does mean so much! I have to dig deep to find it in myself to keep going despite the voices in my head that cry out in resistance. Which is why I so, so, so appreciate your encouragement, it means more than you know and helps me to take the next step xxx

  4. Sarah, it really seems like this last year has been one where you have not only taken root, but burst into bloom as well. I’m so glad to hear that your journey continues and even as you navigate new murky waters, you have not be come unmoored or overwhelmed. I know all too well how easy it is to become unhinged by changes in my schedule and all the pressures of daily life, but it sounds like you’ve found a real lasting sense of peace that you can bring with you wherever you go. I hope the year continues to be good to you and that 2015 has even better things in store for you!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..A DIY Gelato Crawl in FlorenceMy Profile

    • Hi Steph, I love the plant analogy because that is exactly what it feels like. The only way I can bloom is to seek deeper places within; to find my grounding in the truth of who I am so that I may become who I am created to be. I am no monk though. Part of my journey has been embracing my humanness, all of me, all of my crazy thinking and reactions. Mindfulness meditation is excellent for this (as you know). Allowing all of me to be present, not needing to improve or achieve or be better than I am in order to access the unconditional love flowing within. Sending you countless blessings Steph xoxox

  5. I am so glad I’m not the only one who started out wanting to be a travel writer for well known publications and has now realised not only is that not actually what I want but what I have instead is so much better.

    Remember when I posted about having to cancel New York and you said something much better is waiting? You were right – I still don’t really know what that is and some days it’s very hard to remember, but I have kind of a glimpse of it now. So I think this was a big year, for a lot of people, where the universe kinda went, “No, not that thing. The other thing. It’s better. Trust me”.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..I Don’t Think I Want To Be A Travel Blogger AnymoreMy Profile

    • YES!!!! I remember, and I completely agree that this seems to be the year for it!!! I have been completely re-directed, and after the initial pain of that ( the letting go of what I thought I wanted), it has been such a beautiful (yet scary) process. I can see you are emerging into your true calling and it is wonderful. We only need to take one step at a time. So happy to be on this journey with you xxx

  6. Oh beautiful post Sarah! I love what you said about adapting your spiritual practice to your travels. I love travelling but since I’ve begun on the spiritual path I too have worried about maintaining my progress and spiritual practice on the road. After reading your post I’m no longer worried. Thanks for sharing x x
    Nicola Murrin recently posted..The Bad Habit Holding You BackMy Profile

    • Hi Nicola! Travel has actually been the container in which I have forged my true path. Also, not having the trappings of a normal life with societal, family pressures etc has allowed the process to unfold organically, encouraging me to seek the truth within in order to find peace. It has been a wonderful adventure. I wish you much love and blessings on your journey within, wherever you may roam xxx