I want to go on a spirit quest
September 1, 2016 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I spent my twenties being highly broke. Now I'm 30 and all of a sudden have an income. Luckily, I have no kids or a partner as well as an extremely flexible job. I can take off any day of the week or any amount of weeks of the month. I want to do something or multiple somethings that would cost money that would make me feel spiritually free. I can spend up to $1000. What should I pick?
posted by malapropist to Human Relations (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I know someone who just went on a month-long yoga retreat. That sounds spiritually freeing, but it's hard to do that with a full time job.

I'm not sure what you're asking - are you looking for vacation destinations?

You could donate money and/or time to a few charities who support causes you believe in.
posted by hydra77 at 8:50 AM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am a bit stumped.

You have no partner, children or commitments and can take as long as you want off work to spend $1000 - you are ACTUALLY free, never mind spiritually free!

Can you narrow down the sort of thing you are looking for? Feeling closer to God (or whatever the focus of your belief is)? Having an exciting out-of-reality experience? Experiencing a vision which will lead you to your "true purpose" in life? Do you want a little break from ordinary or a life-changing break from ordinary?

I could suggest anything from "climb a tough mountain" to " take a ton of drugs", it really depends what you are actually looking for.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 8:56 AM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

How do you feel about service? Perhaps a month volunteering to build houses somewhere with Habitat for Humanity or a similar job that will mostly just pay for your lodging?

I'd find that pretty rewarding, but it certainly isn't for everyone.

I bet you'd learn a lot about yourself.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:04 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

When you were broke in your twenties, did you have any daydreams in the back of your mind about what you'd do if you weren't broke? "When I can afford it, I'm going to buy myself an electric guitar and learn how to play it," "If I can ever get away long enough, I'm going to take a trip to New York City," whatever. Make one of those daydreams come true.
posted by usonian at 9:06 AM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Dhamma.org is a good place to start. Closest to a vision quest you can get for very little $$$.
posted by parmanparman at 9:09 AM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

A backpacking trip on a long trail (Long Trail, AT, Pacific Crest) is one classic answer to this. However, it will probably cost more than $1000. You could probably do the Long Trail for $1000.
posted by Miko at 9:15 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Basically, I've been through some hard times, and now I'm not rich, I've just gotten to a point where I'm self employed and can basically apply effort to make money, and not on anyone else's terms. If I want to take a month off, I can make the appropriate amount of money to sustain myself before I do that, then just go somewhere for a month, whereas I could never have done that before.

If I had to peg myself in one way or the other I'd say I'm a queer Alan-Watts-loving hippie? I guess? Service is great but I'm really asking this question, to be honest, to find ways to make myself feel good.

Yeah, sorry, I'm not changing the world with this question. I wanna know how to make myself feel pampered and special and shit.
posted by malapropist at 9:15 AM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry normal threadsitting disclaimer etc.

I feel like this opportunity will not exist for more than one or two years longer, so I want to take advantage of this and plan a trip, at least one good trip, before the opportunity is tapped out. That's why I'm asking. If you had a chance to do something life changing on a middle class budget, before you turned 32, what would you do?
posted by malapropist at 9:17 AM on September 1, 2016

Maybe learn to SCUBA or surf? Being in the ocean feels amazing and learning a skill like that can be life changing, if you really take to it. Depending where you are, you could probably get yourself to a place like Cozumel (if you're in N America) or Bali (if you're in Asia/Australia), flight + lodging + week's instructional package for $1000.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:24 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

intergalacticvelvet, I am totally the kind of guy who would be into life changing psychedelic experiences, but I've done all the different types of drugs and that's not really what I'm looking for.

I guess what I'm hoping you peeps will say is oh, there's this guy who lives in central California who will take you on a five day yoga tour and you will come out feeling life-changingly relaxed, or something like that...

If anything, my problem is too many intoxicants, not not-enough...

Ok that's enough, I'm stepping away I swear
posted by malapropist at 9:25 AM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, are you looking for suggestions for traveling?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:30 AM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you ever hiked the Grand Canyon? If so, you should absolutely, definitely, totally plan a solo weeklong hiking trip.
posted by dinnerdance at 9:42 AM on September 1, 2016

If I were in your shoes, I would go to the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass, www.dharma.org and do a nice meditation retreat. You can never tell with retreats, they can be lovely or they can be torture, it all depends on your mind and how many plicks it wants to tray on you ;-) But there is nothing for me as cleansing as true silence -- no talking, no reading, no watching tv, no outside stimulation except for (i) nightly dharma talks (usually about aspects of meditation, such as the five hindrances), (ii) regular check in meetings with the teachers, and (iii) (usually) a form of group mindful movement (because sitting and walking meditation will always lead to pain and some nice slow stretching can help with that). A simple vegetarian diet is provided.
posted by janey47 at 9:55 AM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I went on a zen meditation retreat in the North Carolina mountains earlier this year, and it was one of the most wonderful experiences I've had. Lots of meditation time in a beautiful setting, simple and clean accommodations, delicious vegan food (and plenty of coffee!), and silence. I felt more mentally healthy there than I think I ever have before. The location was Southern Dharma, and I think the rates are still $80/night, plus donation for the instructors. Highly highly highly recommend.
posted by witchen at 10:01 AM on September 1, 2016

In your shoes....

If I were fit, I would look into hiking the John Muir or Appalachian Trail.

If I were into languages, I would enroll in an immersive Spanish-language study program in a homestay situation in Guatemala or Costa Rica (the airfare is often less than $400 from the midwest and east coast, so the budget could work).

If I already had a meditation practice, I would consider doing a ten day intensive silent retreat. Many of those are free, in fact.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 10:38 AM on September 1, 2016

Would you like to get a Sex Therapy certificate?

As a follow up to my original response, I learned to meditate on a 10-day meditation retreat. If you do a retreat with no prerequisites, you don't need to already have a practice.
posted by janey47 at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2016

[One comment deleted. malapropist, given your kind of flip approach so far I'm officially asking you to either restrict yourself to honestly clarifying or please leave this alone, don't joke around or put things in exaggerated humorous terms, because the jokes can be sort of offensive and people here can't read your mind.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:00 AM on September 1, 2016

If I want to take a month off, I can make the appropriate amount of money to sustain myself before I do that, then just go somewhere for a month, whereas I could never have done that before.

I had the same work/money situation in my 20s (and now 30s..) and what I did was bike touring. Trips were cheap to plan and easy to take off for if I had a slow week or month. Pick somewhere I'd never been before, figure out how to get to/from the start, and then all I had to do was pay for food along the way if I camped.

So similar to the backpacking response, but for me what makes the bike thing different is you are still in civlization even though you're in the same oh shit I'm on a real adventure mindset. Everywhere I have been in the world, total strangers will offer advice or help unsolicited, from offering to buy coffee or a beer so they could hear my stories (and tell theirs usually) to inviting me into their homes or telling me what road is best to head in whichever direction out of town. It definitely restores my faith in humanity and has changed me as a person for the better, along with all the other the-journey-is-the-destination zen of being on a real experience and being in beautiful, strange places.

So that's what I did. A small initial investment of a bike and some camping gear, and then you can go on as many trips as you want for almost nothing. See the world by stepping slightly outside of it. Since you're a queer Alan Watts hippie, read this zine.

Now that I'm older I tend to plan these trips around say, hot springs or retreat places, as the more "pampered" option. I don't think those things would be as meaningful to me without the journey to get there though.
posted by bradbane at 1:22 PM on September 1, 2016

I'm also gonna say the 10-day silent meditation retreats offered through dhamma.org are amazing. I've done it twice and both times it seriously changed my head. I really wish I could go again, but alas, toddlers make it complicated.
posted by missjenny at 5:15 PM on September 1, 2016

If you're gonna spend, pay it forward to those who need it. That's far more enlightening than taking drugs or going on a "shamanic journey" with a bunch of affluent white folk.

Examples: If you want to hike, look for a local guide and pay them(also, foraging classes, seriously). If you have items to buy,buy local(and check for local etsy sellers). Go take an art class or buy a piece from a struggling artist. Go to a restaurant and pay for someone else's table. If you want to meditate, donate generously to the temple you spend your time at. Go get clothing fitted by a local tailor(it's a dying art).

When I've had income to burn, I always remembered what it felt like to have no disposable income, and I try to give freely so that others might give freely one day too. That, to me, is really meaningful.
posted by InkDrinker at 6:23 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Definitely consider scuba, somewhere beautiful

I thought it would be a fun, cool experience. I did not expect the huge high. A year later my breath still catches at the memory.
posted by Cozybee at 1:22 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

That helps!

The most freeing thing I have ever done was to take off for three weeks and hitchhike round Scotland (where I already lived! You can cut your cloth to suit). I also camped because I was a poor student, but it would also work with inns/small hotels to stay in.

Something about hitchhiking, trusting the universe to get me where I needed to get to, and my own judgement about the people who offered me lifts (i only turned down one and felt a bit iffy in another and got out early) made me feel at once immensely free and deeply connected to the "power" of the world (i should say, I'm an atheist so this is a woolly idea to me but something I definitely felt). Unhooking from the normal rules of my life taught me a lot about myself, it was a fantastically peaceful and secure feeling.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 2:48 AM on September 2, 2016

Go float the Grand Canyon.
posted by trbrts at 6:13 AM on September 2, 2016

Go to MONA -The Museum Of Old and New Art - in Hobart, Australia. It's a museum of sex and death (but mostly death) built on a lake by an eccentric billionarie. Twice a year they host amazing festivals - DARK MOFO lets you take a nude tip in a freezing river. It's very freeing.

Or just get high and beat Dark Souls. That was equally spirtual.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:36 PM on September 12, 2016

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