The answer, in my experience, is “Yes”. You may be surprised because a lot of other words can be quite important, like “Where is the bathroom?”. Up until May 2016, I would have agreed with you on that—not that relieving oneself isn’t still high on the list! Ok Nikki, back to the story...I was in France at the time and this simple three letter word led me to have the most magical, unexpected experience I could imagine.
My work exchange host invited me to a dance class called Biodanza. I was intrigued because I love to dance, but it also brought up many insecurities, fears, and doubts within me. I worried about how well I could follow the French instructions considering I’m far from being fluent. I felt insecure about going by myself to experience something for the first time because my travel partner wasn’t available to go. I doubted that I would fit in and connect with the other people in the class, as I’d be a total newbie to the group and probably the only American.
As if those thoughts weren’t bothersome enough, my host told me that it was a freeform dance class that encourages freedom of expression and has no choreography. I got even more nervous, wondering if I would look silly and make a fool of myself because I had never done any dance that wasn’t choreographed to some extent. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love dancing! But, how often do we just dance freely like nobody is watching other than when we’re home alone in our underwear?
Despite all of the worries rushing through my mind, I said yes—well actually oui, but you get the picture. I knew this was a step outside my comfort zone, and it would have been so much easier to say no. One of the biggest lessons to learn through travel is that getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. It expands your mind and you grow in a way that you wouldn’t have otherwise. I also learned that saying yes doesn’t mean to just say yes to everything. I could, but I wouldn’t necessarily end up with all positive experiences. I realized if I say yes to things that honor me and resonate with my truth, I can expand while growing through joy and abundance. Biodanza was the perfect representation of this. The class was perfectly safe to attend and the first one is free, so I literally had nothing to lose. I acknowledged the doubts in my mind but stuck with my decision to try something new and went to the class. Let me tell you… I had an absolute blast!!!
It was a truly amazing cultural experience. We were in a small village in the South of France with a population of about 600 people, yet there were people in the class from all over the world—UK, Syria, Kosovo, and of course France. I was surprised to make this discovery of so many cultures coming together in a remote place like Lagrasse. I came to find out that there is a government housing facility in the town for refugees just getting settled in France. Several of the refugees didn’t speak any French and had little to no clue what the instructor was saying just like me! The smiles and laughter that were exchanged despite the language differences created one of the greatest feelings I had ever experienced. Nobody was judging anyone’s dance moves, everyone showed up to be themselves, move their bodies, and have fun. I was heartily welcomed into the group.
I bonded with a Syrian refugee who learned to speak English from watching TV shows and listening to music. We talked about our favorite shows and songs, and how he found his way to France. My host and I continued talking to him on the walk home, and he ended up inviting us over for dinner at his sister’s apartment. We happily accepted the opportunity to get to know his family and have homemade Syrian food. France, Syria, England, and the USA came together for a wonderful evening sharing delicious food and conversation with 8 of us packed into the small apartment. We were a melting pot of many different cultures, nationalities, languages, genders, ages, and religions. I kept reminding myself that we were only in a small village of 600 people in the South of France. This was the last thing I expected to experience here and especially surprised that it all happened because I said yes to go to a dance class.
It is impossible to see where life and our travels will take us. If I had turned down the invitation to the dance class, I might never have met all of the refugees. I would never have been invited to the dinner and made friends with so many people in the village. I would never have had authentic Syrian food. Most of all, my experience of Lagrasse would be great but I would have missed out on amazing memories that will stick with me for a lifetime.
This is why “Yes” is the most important word in every language. I always keep in mind though that a mindful yes is the key. It isn’t about saying yes to whatever comes your way because sometimes it is better to say no to things that don’t resonate with you. I found the power was when I set aside my insecurity, fear, doubt, and worry and said yes to my deeper self. In France, I acknowledged the small me who wanted to stay within my comfort zone, but then I said yes to the big me and stepped into a new experience. In life and in travel, it is an empowering experience to be outside your comfort zone and you will be rewarded for it.
Some of my favorite experiences from saying yes to my deeper self...
I would love to hear what you have said yes to! Feel free to share in the comments below or on social media with the hashtag #MindfulTraveler.