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Eat, Pray, Love Vibes: Why Travel is a Wellness Essential for Black Women

I decided not to wait for the group chat.

Decided not to feel beholden to others’ schedules or finances or desires. In September, I boarded a plane and traveled solo halfway across the world to join a women's healing retreat because it seemed like the right thing for my spirit.

I was going through a significant break up. I was feeling stuck, and I needed some recalibration that felt bigger than what a self-care bubble bath could handle.

I wasn’t looking to escape and forget my problems. Wasn’t looking to party or pose for bragadocious Instagram-worthy pictures. I wasn’t even looking to lay up on a beach and relax. I just wanted to tend to my soul. I wanted to dive into the deep waters of my spirit while also indulging in a fascinating exploration of life. I wanted to create my own little “Eat, Pray, Love” venture. One that pulled from the experience of writer Elizabeth Gilbert in her memoir-turned-movie, but also spoke to my unique experience as a Black woman. An adventure infused with the spirit of Zora Neal Hurston’s unapologetic energy and a dash of Cree Summer’s free woman attitude. That was the vibe I wanted for this trip.

So I packed a copy of Ms. Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and Chimamanda Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun,” created a goddess playlist for the 10+ hour flights and readied my heart for something new I knew it needed.

My prayer for Black women is we always feel empowered to fearlessly align ourselves with our needs and environments that support those needs. Travel is a powerful tool to enable us to do that.

Traveling gives us an opportunity to pause and take a breath from our daily rat race while reminding us the American way of life is not the only way to live. Traveling opens our minds to new ideas about what it means to live well. It allows us to discover (and rediscover) parts of ourselves that have gone offline during survival mode or that simply haven’t been nurtured or celebrated by American culture. Traveling awakens the joyful explorer within us. It reminds us that life is about living.

Many of these benefits are the very things “Eat, Pray, Love’”s author sought from her year of travel. She spent four months each in Italy (where she pleasurably ate), India (where she prayed), and Bali (where she loved). And while I sought all of this too, my journey was on a budget with a time limit of two weeks, so I needed Bali to give me the eat, the pray, and the love parts all in one efficient dose.

Honestly, it did.

Bali made my heart smile. It made my spirit, my eyes, and my toes smile. Even my smile smiled! Bali gave, and I received.

Bali naturally embodied the elements of “Eat, Pray, Love.” The food was amazing, and I allowed myself to indulge—Nasi Goreng–Balinese fried rice–was my fav! The people were extremely prayerful—you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing spiritual flower offerings on the street or a temple within sight—and they seemed to have a love for life that helped to awaken my own feelings of gratitude.

Bali's peaceful atmosphere and its loving people taught me lessons that will be with me for life. Its biggest lesson: surrender. The Balinese don’t concern themselves with chasing the next best thing or trying to control every aspect of their lives. They lean into what is.

I was at a Balinese spa getting a massage when this lesson washed over me. Instead of anticipating and hoping the masseuse would hit the exact right spots (like the massage snob I am), something whispered to let it be what it was going to be and sink into the pleasure of whatever I received. It didn’t matter if they hit every spot, just the simple act of someone tending to my muscles carried its own pleasure I couldn’t truly appreciate while anticipating the perfect massage.

So I let go.

Intentionally sinking into that moment felt akin to slipping into a meditative state. I left the massage in bliss. I couldn’t tell you if they hit all the spots, but I absolutely could tell you I felt grateful for the experience. And that was the gift.

From this lesson flowed others. Meditations on a wooden balcony in Ubud overlooking Balinese rice fields cultivated a sense of inner tranquility, showing me peace is the fruit of acceptance, and acceptance is the opposite of control.

Visits to sacred temples reminded me to lean into the balance of life, accepting that both the unpleasant and pleasant are divine parts of the human experience. Reminding me gratitude for the latter shapes my experience with the former. Every experience was like one divine gift after another, and my heart began to seek appreciation for what was in front of me rather than focus on what wasn’t.

On my last day, as I whizzed through the streets of Canggu aback a scooter taxi I’d hailed on my own, I allowed myself to be deeply rooted in the pleasure of that moment. Despite my heartache and amidst my pain, I knew life still had gifts of joy to offer, if only my heart knew how to hold them and surrender to the joy life was giving me rather than anxiously anticipating the joy I thought she should be giving. Wind to my face, my heart buried itself in the joy of now. Travel gave my heart the time and space to learn how to do that.


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