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From walking to Santiago de Compostello to travelling to Mecca, from visiting the ghats of Varanasi to driving Route 66, a pilgrimage can offer us experiences of challenge, curiosity, inquiry, joy, creativity, and confrontation. A pilgrimage can be defined as a journey centered around a spiritual goal. That goal can be a personal mission—fulfilling a promise, paying homage, or simply engaging in self-discovery.
At the heart of the notion of pilgrimage, though, is the intention for the external journey to activate a concurrent inner journey, allowing the yogi to emerge transformed. The physical act of making a pilgrimage creates a purposeful daily structure different from our everyday routines. The shock of being pulled out of our daily habits sparks change that can be tricky to achieve in our familiar surroundings. And here’s where it gets sticky, because, of course, not everyone has the practical means or the physical ability to undertake the travel of a pilgrimage. So how can you make the inner experience of pilgrimage accessible right here and now, wherever you are? How can you nurture a transformational experience within the familiarity of your daily life?
Fortunately, there are many ways to do this. For a month, commit to one of these seven pilgrimages you can make from your own home and see what happens.
Note: For each of the following inner explorations, journaling can be very helpful. Even writing one sentence a day to describe your experience will help you to remember your journey, reflect upon your process, and measure your growth.
1. Meditation Immersion Pilgrimage
Choose a spot in your home or in nature where you will sit daily for meditation for a minimum of 10 minutes. Set a timer, so you don’t need to fidget or check the time. Every day, check off meeting your meditation commitment. If you can augment your daily practice with a weekly visit to a group meditation—at a local meditation center, Zendo, or yoga studio—this will help to deepen your personal practice.
2. Pranayama Pilgrimage
For most of us, nothing makes us connect with our inner spaciousness more than the breath. Explore your inner world through pranayama every morning and evening. Try sitting up in bed in the mornings to practice Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing). At night, try practicing a pranayama that doesn’t involve your hands, such as Samavrtti Pranayama, in which you inhale-retain-exhale-retain for 4 counts each, so you can drift right off to sleep without moving.
3. Vision Board Pilgrimage
Creating a vision board is a way of bringing your thoughts and dreams into the world. Designate a vision board place in your home for the next month. Stock it with supplies so you have materials at your fingertips. Over the next month, add a minimum of one drawn, written, or collaged element to your board every day. Notice how your relationship to your dreams changes throughout the month.
4. Mantra Pilgrimage
Make your inner pilgrimage one of sound by chanting 108 mantra repetitions to begin and end each day for a month. The mantra may weave its way into your waking hours and create a thread of continuity throughout your day. Choose a basic Sanskrit mantra such as Om Namah Shivaya or Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, or simply a bija (seed syllable) such as Om. Notice how this practice creates a daily rhythm and focus.
See also 13 Major Yoga Mantras to Memorize
5. Mini Meditation Pilgrimage
Set your timer for a five-minute meditation three times a day. Try to meditate at approximately the same three times each day. At 15 minutes a day, in one month’s time, you will have meditated for over 7 hours, which is tremendous if you are new to meditation or simply in need of a jumpstart.
See also Find Lasting Peace with Meditation
6. Creativity Pilgrimage
Choose a place to sit in your home for self-focused activities every day. Commit to a minimum of 15 minutes a day to engage in creative activities such as journaling, drawing, pulling cards, meditating, or chanting. You can mix it up, following whichever practices speak to you on any given day. Spending time focusing on your creativity without specific goals or judgement is the point. Think of it as a gift given to you by you.
7. Self-Study Pilgrimage
This is a written practice that is not so much about the writing as it is about the articulation of your thoughts to deepen your awareness of yourself. Each day, spend a small amount of time recording how you feel, what you want, and reflecting on your inner energy. This has nothing to do with writing beautifully or even in complete sentences. This is svadhyaya, or self-study. Answer the following four questions daily. Try to write first thing in the morning to set your daily intention and check back in with what you wrote before you go to bed.
a. What does my energy feel like today—body, mind, and heart?
b. What is in the forefront of my mind?
c. How do I wish to feel today?
d. What do I want to accomplish?
About Our Expert
Susanna Harwood Rubin (pictured above) is the author of Yoga 365. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and artist whose work is rooted in South Indian Philosophy. Based in NYC, Susanna teaches internationally through her Devi Soul Yoga, which combines yoga asana with mantra, myth, and mudra. Susanna created Writing Your Practice workshops and online courses. She has been featured on HuffPostLive, MSNBC Today, in Mantra Yoga+Health, elephant journal, and more. Learn more about her on: