The Big Quiet’s Jesse Israel is an expert on the health benefits of meditation while traveling.
If there’s anyone who knows how to stay zen while traveling, it’s Jesse Israel. As founder of The Big Quiet, a mass meditation movement that brings thousands of people together for “moments of quiet, connection, and unplugged performances” from the likes of Miguel, Arcade Fire, and more, Israel just finished a month long 10-city tour of sold out gatherings across the U.S.
“Traveling can create real wear and tear on the nervous system, and meditation helps repair and prevent it,” says Israel. “Meditating switches off the sympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. the fight or flight response that tells our body it is being attacked) and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. the relaxation response that tells our body that everything is all good).”
“Traveling can create real wear and tear on the nervous system, and meditation helps repair and prevent it.”
According to Israel, this process generates deep rest in the body and mind, “countering the demands placed on us when we travel and allowing us to enjoy the journey and show up as our best when we arrive.”
Below, Israel shares his process for maintaining a meditation practice while traveling, as well as other tips, tricks, and tools for keeping cool, calm, and collected in transit.
How do you maintain your meditation practice while traveling?
By prioritizing it. No matter where I am, the first thing I do in the morning is meditate for 20 minutes. I remind myself that taking that small amount of time (less than 1.5% of time in a full 24 hours) greatly enhances the remaining 98.5% of time spent while I’m experiencing new parts of the world. I also mediate an extra one to two times on the days when I travel (often on flights or in cars) to allow me to get maximum rest and keep stress low while on the road.
What tips would you give a novice to help them maintain a meditation practice while traveling?
Part of what makes daily meditation tough while traveling is that travel can disrupt our usual routines. With this in mind, I recommend that people meditate first thing in the morning—even if it’s just sliding up in bed before you start your day. This helps us make it happen before the day begins and the change of routine unfolds.
I also recommend seeing airplane time as meditation time. Airplanes are awesome places to meditate because you’re already seated and have limited distractions. Taking the first 10-20 minutes of your flight to meditate is a great practice.
What are some of your favorite places to travel?
The Catskills in Upstate New York, for sure. The slow pace, the healing greenery, the quaint towns—I find that nature helps recalibrate my body from the intensity and stress of the city. I also love Joshua Tree/Ojai in California, the energy and stillness of the desert. It’s a great area for a weekend trip or solo retreat. I like to stop at a spot called The Springs to soak up the natural mineral hot springs in the area, which are super nourishing for the body.
I got this from Package Free Shop—I refill it before all flights at the airport water fountains and take it with me wherever I go while on the road to limit my waste.
I am not just saying this—I always travel with my Away Carry-On in Black. And I recently got The Daypack in Black, which is a perfect companion. I love how it slip-attaches to the Carry-On handle and how sleek the design is.
This is great for waking up my senses after long travel days and reducing body discomfort while on the road.
These are best supplements I’ve used for feeling good and preventing sickness while traveling.
Right now I’m reading a book about the scientific support and research around Eastern medicine practices like acupuncture and energy healing. It’s called Energy Medicine by Jill Blakeway and I’ve been loving it.