Traveling the World Taught Me to Sit Still. ~ Camille Willemain

Via Camille Willemain
on Sep 5, 2013
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yoga travel

My unhappiness spiraled so recklessly I knew I had to make a change; so I ran away.

The word stillness never used to be part of my vocabulary.

When I was a child, teachers consistently offered the same feedback on my report card: “Will not sit still in class.”

“Do you need Ritalin?” people often asked.

“Slow down turbo!” my high school boyfriend would shout as I trudged ahead.

In adulthood I constantly picked, fidgeted and shook. I adjusted my furniture and my outfit in dissatisfaction. I scheduled my days with work, projects and events.

I desperately longed to quiet my mind and rest my body.

Yet somehow in my restlessness, I became stagnant—trapped by my discontentment. From never sitting quietly with introspection, I never offered myself release. Past pains and relationships that did not serve me stayed stuck in my tissue like roadblocks. The thought of change positively terrified me.

That is until two years ago when my unhappiness spiraled so recklessly I knew that I had to make a change.

So I ran away.

With a smile that overtook my face, I hopped a plane to Costa Rica leaving behind the belongings I obsessed over, the career that never made me happy and the relationship that in all of its unfulfilling glory, I could not let go of.

Happiness was inevitable in paradise, I thought.

Boy was I wrong.

Camille WillemainIn a remote town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, without the distraction of my routine, my friends and my work, I understood the adage “wherever you go, there you are.”

And let me tell you, it was hard.

With no transportation but my own feet, I walked for two hours to use the ATM in a town that does not accept plastic.I carried enormous jugs of purified water for miles to my modest jungle cabin. I ran through intermittent downpours. I sat in the dark without a television, the internet or a phone.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

So I started to listen and observe.

Where I once felt trapped I began to open myself to possibility. Choosing to stay in this uncomfortable place allowed me to appreciate what was already around me: my best friend, the ocean and the freedom to grow and change.

What more could I need?

I gave up on reliable internet. I waited patiently for two hours for a fruit salad. I accepted being wet and sandy most of the time. I stopped fighting the inevitability of my circumstances and instead, began to embrace them.

I learned the beautiful art of surrender because I had no other choice.

It made me happier than I had ever been.

Camille Willemain
Camille Willemain

Since then my feet have taken me to Portuguese castles overlooking the sea, to sand dunes in the Sahara Desert, below sea level in the green Caribbean ocean, along trails deep in the jungle with wild predators, to the tops of volcanoes in Nicaragua, to sleepy Colombian fishing villages, to deserted islands with no plumbing or electricity and many times, to my haven in the Costa Rican Caribbean.

What I have learned is invaluable.

Flights can be delayed for days. Restaurant service is hardly ever prompt. Islands lose electricity often. Street food nearly always makes me sick. People are imperfect and can hurt one another at times with apparent ease.

Living with these realities can be a constant struggle or an empowering practice in letting go.

I choose the latter.

While I still have an active body, a chatty mouth, and a swirling mind, I sit and stare in silence at the sunset while the waves drown my thoughts. I configure my limbs into uncomfortable positions and focus on my breath. I feel content allowing my body to rest in one place acknowledging that, even in stillness, it always has the freedom to move.


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Assistant Ed.: Stephanie Sefton / Ed.: Cat Beekmans


About Camille Willemain

Camille Willemain is a coconut loving barefoot beach bum who finds bliss exploring the endless possibilities of the Earth on and off of the mat. She chronicles her world travels and life lessons on her blog.


9 Responses to “Traveling the World Taught Me to Sit Still. ~ Camille Willemain”

  1. Ingrid says:

    What a beautifully written post! Camille, your words are so powerful. Thank you for writing such a thought-provoking article – I look forward to reading more!

  2. Anjuli Waybright says:

    I totally resonate with you on this…. feels like I was reading from my own story even. I unplugged everything in my life in March, gave up my career, sold most of what I owned and drove across the US then took a seasonal gig in Alaska that ends in a few weeks.. I'm about to spend the next seven months living out of a backpack across Africa and beyond. Life and travel are good… there's a lot of adjusting pains but for those of us with wanderlust and an inability to be boxed in it's so satisfying to break out of the cage at long last. Keep up the travels, maybe I'll see you en route sometime. 🙂

  3. Tess says:

    Loved it Camille.

    Can’t wait to hear more!

  4. Thank you so much for your kind words Ingrid! I hope to write many more articles here in the future.

  5. Anjuli thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an inspiration. I'm in awe of your bravery and I cannot wait to hear about your experiences in Africa. I'm headed to Southeast Asia next.

  6. Thank you so much Tess!

  7. Elena Schneible says:

    Another amazing piece by the amazing Camille! What an inspiration. xo

  8. Chip says:

    As usual you hit it squarely out of the park. I'm a new fan of "This American Girl". Every time I read her articles there are always gems that I can apply to my life and trials. I'm in the process of moving and downsizing and trying to let go of more material and mental stuff. Great article that really hits home. Thank you.

  9. Neil Harlan says:

    The great thing about Camille Willemain's writings is that they can be read over and over and they always leave me feeling better every time. Her photos are to die for!