Excerpt from The Mystical Backpacker

by  Hannah Papp

It is absolutely essential you keep a record of your journey, both outward and inward. You may either keep two separate and distinct journals, one for documenting your travels and one for documenting your Mystical Exercises, or you can keep one journal and work your way through both journeys in one place. It’s entirely up to you. I strongly encourage you to include your full name and mailing address with a request to ship the journal to your address if found. This way, if you lose your journal, you may not end up losing it forever.

I encourage you to keep your records in your own handwriting and not as a digital document. A lost tablet, notebook, or smartphone is less likely to be returned to you. Also, there’s something sacred about looking at your thoughts in writing, running your fingers over the labels, ticket stubs, stickers, and café napkins you place within its pages, and seeing the pinched letters of distress next to the soaring cursive of a breakthrough. There are pages in my notebook where teardrops have dried, marking the location in time and place my own personal healing began. These journals have become valuable possessions marking not just my travel adventures and experiences but also the inner journey of my soul’s healing.

The Practical: Buy a paperback journal or notebook to use as a journal because that kind is relatively easy to transport (it doesn’t weigh a lot), both as you carry it and if you mail it home, and to write in (it bends and folds easily). It’s also the least expensive to buy and the most readily available wherever you travel, so if you fill one up, you can easily purchase a second volume.

The Mystical: Make your journal special or sacred to you. Embellish the cover, inscribe the first page with your favorite quote, add your name and address to the back pages, etc. Find a way to mark this as a special place for you to go. Create a space you want to spend time in.

Top 5 Dreads
Make a list of the top five things you routinely dread in your daily life (feel free to record this exercise in your newly acquired journal!).

Top 5 Pleasures
Make a list of the top five simple pleasures you routinely enjoy in your daily life (regardless of whether or not they’re healthy for you).

Finality Exercise
There are many fun movies and stories about people who are given the opportunity for a do-over, thereby escaping death, improving their lives, or mending their relationships. Perhaps the most famous of these is A Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge experiences a life review and opts to change his ways. But it’s a popular theme explored in other stories as well. Off the top of my head, I can think of Defending Your Life with Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks, Chances Are with Robert Downey Jr. and Cybil Shepherd, Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais and Téa Leoni, and It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart. In this exercise, I want you to imagine yourself as the main character in just such a story and you have just learned that you are going to kick the bucket tomorrow. Immerse yourself in that feeling of finality. From this place, knowing that all your chances are over and your life has been fully lived, answer the following questions. If you find it difficult to center yourself and go within to the truth of this moment, you are welcome to try using a free guided meditation at the Mystical Backpacker website, themysticalbackpacker.com, under the freebies section. The meditation for this exercise is “Mystical Meditation 1: Finality.”

Once you’ve successfully connected with that feeling of finality, please write these questions and answers out on a few blank pieces of paper. You can opt to include them in your journal, too, if you wish.

  1. The most important life experiences I’ve had to date are:
  2. The relationships I cherish the most are [please explain why as well]:
  3. My top five regrets are:
  4. If there was one thing I could have experienced and didn’t, it would be:
  5. If I could go back to a turning point in my life and give myself advice, it would be:

Nicely done. Answering these questions has already moved you to a more powerful place. Even if some of the answers make you sad or uncomfortable, remember that this isn’t the end of your story. You are still writing it. It’s time to get into that silver Passat and drive it like you own it (because you do) out onto the open road, knowing that you’ll never drive a crappy old junker again.

A Mystical Exercise

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