by Dr. Nikki Starr Noce, MD: What if I told you my greatest teacher was not a person?

After years of studying in the system—countless hours, books and facts learned—my greatest teacher, by far, has been travel. Traveling is the single thing that changed my life in extraordinary ways. Traveling has allowed me to realize the infinite possibilities that exist within this lifetime. Traveling expanded my awareness and my consciousness as to what is truly possible this lifetime.

By the time I was 25, I touched every continent except Antarctica. What began as family holidays in the Caribbean, turned into a thirst for immersion into all that was foreign and unknown. Eventually, site seeing in European cities turned into a hunger satiated by trekking remote regions of the earth.

When it came to travel, I was unstoppable. It nourished my soul, providing me with unparalleled wisdom. This unique education exposed me to other ways of living and being.  For once I was not told what to see, learn, or do. There were no expectations. I drew my own conclusions and created my own experiences.

Dr. Nikki swinging over the Amazon Rainforest, 2009

I grew up in the greater New York City area and believed it to be the center of the universe. I only knew one way to live and believed it to be the “right” way. This bubble dissolved when I began exploring the many cultures and ways of living across the globe. The further I traveled from home, the more I questioned my entire life.

Traveling the world was both a blessing and a curse to. It was a blessing because I was expanding my horizons, and I began to see my purpose on this planet much more clearly. And it was a curse, because it shattered every bit of what I thought to be my existence.

Dr. Nikki at Sunset in Montenegro, 2012

The longer a stayed away, the weaker the ties became to all that I knew. The stronger I became in accepting the true yearnings in my heart, the easier it became to break away from the expectations of society and others. Travel dispelled those instilled belief systems we unknowingly accept as our reality.

Travel filled me with a confidence to stand in my power and create a life full of passion. Through travel I learned more about myself. Through travel I was introduced to meditation and a deeper understanding of yoga, two other teachers I am so very grateful for.

Dr. Nikki Providing medical care in the mountains of ecuador, 2010

Removing myself from my usual environment, through travel, often put things into perspective. I’d often venture off solo, choosing this time for solitude and reflection. Travel allows me to evaluate what is truly important in my life and what I wish to achieve.

Because of travel I experienced poverty.  Living with less privileged families while providing medical care in third world countries enlightened me to so much about health and life. Travel has always filled me with a deep sense of gratitude for the life that I’ve created.

The best way to travel is simply—with the least amount of baggage, immersing oneself with the people of the culture or region. As the saying goes, “When in Rome…” It’s not about the fanciest hotel, but rather how authentic of a trip you allow for yourself. It’s about trying new things and meeting new people. The act of being, immersion, and meeting new people provides for a rich experience.

Because of travel I have friends across the world. I found my true sense of self while traveling for there is no need for facades. Each and every beautiful soul I have met along the journey has touched my heart. Some remain in my life in significant ways and others are but a fond memory, filling my heart with joy and lighting my face with a smile as I replay our encounters nostalgically.

So what stops people from this life changing, enriching experience? …Fear of the unknown? …Money? …Too busy? There are ways to travel inexpensively. I worked multiple jobs while I was in school to fund this habit, and it was worth every penny—this education and life experience is priceless.

Traveling is beyond being a tourist. A traveler immerses oneself in the culture and in all of the surroundings. A traveler goes with the flow, is open to learning, leaves expectations to the wind, and simply chooses to experience that which unfolds. A traveler disconnects with everyday reality and is open to all the lessons along the adventure. A traveler listens, observes, and is open to change.

Dr. Nikki Starr Noce MD

Source: AWAKEN