Practise mindfulness by volunteering abroad

    Article by Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Posted: November 19, 2019

    Volunteer opportunities abroad offer an excellent chance to practise mindfulness. 

    Mindfulness is the art of paying attention in a particular way: purposefully, in the present moment, and without judgement. 

    With research suggesting that practising mindfulness is good for both body and mind, we have every reason to explore this enticing way of being. 


    Give action to your mindfulness

    Service abroad has aspects of mindfulness woven into its very nature. 

    Immersing ourselves in cultures different from our own and taking part in community empowerment encourages us to be more present in the moment. These activities can also help us to look beyond our own problems and gain a newer (and hopefully more positive) perspective.



    Finding a responsible volunteer abroad organisation is a good way to start practising mindfulness.

    This is because the benefits of mindfulness stem not just from what you do, but from how you do it. You’ll need to pay close attention and choose a program with purpose. 

    You may come across many organisations that seem to hit the mark. But, the most transparent organisations, and those that have their eye on ethics offer you the opportunity to do good, better.


    Be nurtured by nature

    Research shows that being more mindful seems to help us connect with nature, and connecting with nature actually helps us to be more mindful! 

    Of all nature-based activities, it seems that volunteering in nature may be the best way to immediately improve your well-being. 

    This is because being in nature encourages us to practise informal mindfulness. 



    Informal mindfulness means practising mindfulness skills in everyday life. A randomised controlled trial looking at mindfulness practices, showed that informal mindfulness practices are as effective as formal practices in improving well-being. 

    Practising mindfulness becomes easier with ethical volunteer abroad programs, with wildlife conservation programs giving you a guarantee of being immersed in nature. GVI runs ethical volunteer abroad programs all over the world — in all types of natural environments —  perfect for channelling a more mindful you. 


    Make a positive impact on the world

    Beyond opportunities for just practising mindfulness, ethical volunteer abroad opportunities give you the chance to make a positive impact on the world. 

    Making a positive impact is the foundation of GVIs volunteer opportunities abroad. Each project encourages positive change and a deeper sense of global engagement. 



    It’s been shown that making a positive impact helps us to feel good. In fact, new research shows that volunteers who participate in meaningful volunteer events carry feeling good into their futures.

    Ensuring a feel-good future

    With this in mind, it’s easy to see how ethical volunteering abroad could leave you with more mindfulness know-how.

    And, GVI goes above just ethics, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) as a compass for all its programs. 

    These goals set the scene for volunteering that aims to prioritise local communities and benefit volunteers.



    Contributing to other-oriented volunteering — focusing on benefiting others and not just oneself — is ideal to improve your mindfulness practice. By focusing on responsible volunteering and humanitarian concerns, other-oriented volunteering moves us toward purpose, without judgement — a move toward mindfulness.  

    Practising mindfulness in a responsible way promotes being mindful in your daily life after volunteering. And as we now know, being more mindful benefits our bodies and minds.

    So, take the opportunity, sign up to volunteer abroad ethically, and allow mindfulness to remake your body and mind.

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here. 


    By Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a travel writer living in South Africa. She has experience in public health nutrition and worked as a dietician before launching her writing career. She loves bringing her passion for public health and sustainable development to every article she writes. Her travels around South Africa as well as to India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have fueled her passion for exploration.