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How To Travel Wisely In Times Of Climate Change?

Written by: Monika Schaffner, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Monika Schaffner

A profound transformation of our global environmental challenges will not happen purely by calculating carbon balances. Rather, authentic encounters between human beings of different cultures may ignite the very spark needed to leap-frog us forward as a global society. Conscious, purpose-driven travel creates a positive impact – ultimately contributing to climate mitigation and resilience. Because it inspires individual transformation and as such, fuels the collective societal transformation our planet urgently needs.

Photo of snowy mountain

This article explores how to travel consciously for a positive impact. It shows how by following your inner calling you will contribute to positive global change. And it underlines that conscious travel can indeed be a force for good.


The question

I am frequently asked – given the pressing issue of climate change – how I justify advocating holistic sustainability and conscious individual behavior, while myself regularly flying, and even offering Himalayan Journeys, to Nepal.

I respect this question. It moves and concerns me too. I dwelled on it repeatedly, considering varying mainstream opinions and the underlying reasons for my actions. My answer is not a straightforward one.

As a scientist, I understand the arguments

In mathematical terms, a single long-haul flight will override the entire carbon balance of my otherwise utterly conscious lifestyle. This fact cannot easily be wiped away – and it gives me ample reason for thought. However, this linear worldview is just one perspective, just one aspect of reality.

I don't believe that the only solution at hand lies in the mathematical reduction of carbon balances. Because to be honest, if we calculate linearly, we would have no chance at all. As a Western civilization, we have been aware of the mathematical arguments for decades, but have we yet solved any of the pressing global challenges with this approach? No, we did not even come close.

A more holistic approach is needed

This is why I believe we need to take a more holistic approach: By setting out to reach a tipping point as a global society through individual condensation points of care, respect, and appreciation towards our planet; of embodied awareness of our coexistence with nature; of real encounters on eye-level between people of different cultures, classes, and backgrounds.

That is why direct human connection is important – not just virtually, but in genuine connections from the heart, in the form of individual experiences that touch senses and souls. In a sincere, authentic encounter between two human beings of different cultures, a great deal can happen that may leap-frog us forward as a global society and as individuals. The great power of humanity lies in direct experiences and connections, and this we urgently need – just as much as a linear reduction of CO2. That is why I believe that conscious travel can indeed be a force for good.

A mindful journey in Nepal – as an example – shines light on the extraordinary value of Himalayan Landscape, Culture, and Heritage – this ray of light would not shine without the perspective of the guests from outside coming to see it.

This is actively seeding global transformation in the times of climate change

A solution that lies beyond linear models and the frameworks of action that currently characterize our worldview.

I am not saying: carry on as before and travel as much as you like – a city tour over the weekend, around the world during the Christmas holiday. No, as with many things, the purpose behind the choice, and the quality of action are important. The middle way, according to Buddhist philosophy. This timeless wisdom applies just as much to travel: The more consciously a journey is designed, traveled, and experienced, the more meaningful the impact will be – for you as an individual and on an overarching level for us as a global society.

It's not about the “bucket list”, or "having seen it and been there" so that you can tick this destination off your list. It's about experiencing and connecting with all your senses. From this connection, from this deeper involvement, from these encounters with nature, culture, and people, moments of deep insight, realization, and a broadening of horizons can arise. You will take home a 1-degree change in perspective that will change your world. At the very least, you will change your own life situation and most likely the situation of the world around you.

My biography has given me a differentiated attitude

As for many other people with bi and multicultural backgrounds: born into a Swiss family living in Nepal  what kind of person would I be if my parents had not chosen to fly there at that time, to live with us children in this distant region for many years? In any case, I would not be the person that I am today. Because the experiences, the horizon of a childhood in the Himalayas, the opportunities to get to know foreign cultures at a young age, to feel at home in them – this broadening of horizons in experiencing and getting to know different people and landscapes has significantly shaped my worldview.

The Himalayas’ significant transformational energy

Over the past decades, I have repeatedly experienced the Himalayas’ great potential for individual and collective transformation, both in my transformational solo journeys as well as through purpose-driven experiences with my guests: I continue to be amazed by the extraordinary beauty and awe of these great mountains.

In this sense, the Himalayan Journeys we offer are not just any trips they are purpose- and impact-driven, carefully designed tours for people who feel a deep call within themselves. Guests with an innate urge to experience the powerful spaces of the Himalayas with their significant transformational energy. People who wish to have a profound individual travel experience, a reflective time with themselves in a setting that powerfully supports these processes: Traveling individually, as a couple, or as a mindful intimate group. Ready and open to surrender to the flow of a transformational journey and to engage in genuine encounters with the situation that presents itself to you. Ideally with a guide who embodies the art of connecting and mediating between cultures.

Allow your inner call to guide you

It is conscious travel decisions that motivate these people to sign up for such a journey. Decisions that follow an inner call. And if there is urgency in this deep call, then there is something there waiting for you to experience. An inspiration that will shape your life path in a supportive way. Therefore, if you hear the call, investigate it carefully  and if it persists, then follow it.

I am convinced that overarching and more profound changes are needed for humanity to develop a sustainable, caring coexistence with our planet. And these changes stem from conscious decisions taken by dedicated individuals to follow an inner call. On this path, we will ultimately rediscover our true purpose and grow more and more into self-aware, self-responsible individuals who radiate positive impact and contribute to creating the kind of world we all wish for.

Stuck in human adolescence

I consider global warming to be one of several worrying symptoms of a much broader disease: that of 8 billion people stuck in human adolescence. Depth psychologist Bill Plotkin writes on page 1 of his highly recommended book „The Journey of Soul Initiation”:

I believe the root cause of the dire crises and challenges of our time – all of our currently cascading environmental and cultural collapses – is a widespread failure of individual human development. This has been true for so long and in so many societies that most people today […] are unaware of this breakdown in the natural sequence of human maturation, a failure now plainly evident – as witnessed in the current epidemics of psychological dysfunction as well as social and ecological degradation. Vitral threads in growing whole are missing from the cultural fabric. Too many of us are only troubled guests on this Earth”.

This is precisely the underlying purpose we pursue with re.connect Alpine Retreats and Himalayan Journeys: They are invitations to support us human beings in recognizing our true purpose and finding our very own individual means to contribute to a transformed coexistence of the human species with all of Planet Earth’s living communities.

If this strikes a chord deep within you, come join us on one of our upcoming Himalayan Journeys to Pikey Peak or Rolwaling, or even book an individually curated journey for yourself.

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Monika Schaffner Executive Contributor

Monika Schaffner, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Monika Schaffner was born in Nepal and is now settled in Switzerland. Having grown up in the Himalayas, she cares deeply for the mystic beauty, the vital sanity, the complex harmony of pristine natural spaces. Today a freelance geographer, Monika advocates a holistic co-existence of the human species with Nature. She develops regenerative approaches to tourism in Nepal, and works at the nexus between water protection and hydropower in Switzerland. As a nature therapist she inspires individuals to reconnect with wild nature and to thereby reconnect with themselves. With her own formula of energetic massage, she creates spaces for her clients to relax, regenerate and experience deep sense of home-coming within.



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