How to use the desert as a teacher: 4 questions to ask before you leave

Dara Laine Murray
4 min readJul 11, 2022

Are you seeking to escape your current situation or to enhance it? The desert can help you answer this question before you leave home; why go now when you still have work to do here?

“Wherever you go, there you are.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

The desert provides us with lessons we can observe in our daily lives, but the last thing I want is to send you running elsewhere in search of peace. The key to thriving during a desert vacation or life is to understand the preliminary lessons before you head out for adventure. Without doing your homework, a trip to the desert will provide a revolution that you will not understand. To search for the lessons in your everyday life, you can ask yourself a series of questions. The desert will ask the questions you are afraid to ask, not the ones you are asking right now, so it is important to first realize what you are asking.

benefits of spending time in the desert

The voice in your head urging you to wonder is the same voice you will hear in the desert. It takes time for it to stop asking questions and start showing you answers. It will save you a lot of time if you ask yourself the first few questions so you can dive deeper upon arrival. Writing down your answers will be beneficial, but you may also spend time wondering about or meditating on them.

4 Questions & Considerations for spending time in the desert

1. What are you avoiding?

Consider the places in your mind that make you feel uncomfortable. Why do they make you uncomfortable?

Consider the grief that you never processed. Does doing so still bring up unwelcome memories, or have you made peace with these moments?

Consider the past or current experiences that you believe only time will heal. Will time heal them, or are you using time as a strategy for avoidance?

2. What are you clinging to?

Consider the pieces of your identity that you view as immutable. Why do you feel personally attacked when someone criticizes your spiritual choices, favorite foods, or even your favorite color?

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Dara Laine Murray

Multi-passionate sobriety writer on Medium. Day job: Director of Research at a nonprofit. Stories = sober + stats. Editor: https://medium.com/modern-sobriety