Soul-scape: Journey Deeper Within and Beyond

By Chelcee Johns. Photography by Deun Ivory. 

“I kept choosing to move toward myself.” – Akwaeke Emezi

Travel is a way to find your mirrors. To see your reflection in the ocean, in the young artist abroad, the dish that rushes your body into the diaspora or maybe right among an undiscovered spot in town.

During my time living as an expat in Indonesia, one of the resounding messages that rang clear was, “journey deeper.” So much so, I debated getting it tattooed in Bahasa on my rib-cage. It seemed the universe was showing me it’s many layers and asking me to explore among them. To look beyond the surface, to hear God in all things, to look in the mirrors making manifest around me, to find pieces of myself in places I never realized I’d left me.

That is the beauty of travel, not only emerging yourself in new places and people, but moving toward an evolving self.  


This month at BGIO, our theme is Traveling in Om: Journey Deeper Within and Beyond. As we plan some of our last trips of the summer and look forward to fall, in what ways might we invite travel into our lives - even when we’re at home and not on the road.

There’s a distinct difference between being a traveler and a tourist, we like to lean toward the former in every area of our lives. A traveler bends the notion of borders, a tourist colors within the lines – a traveler doesn’t see any.

Whether at home or abroad, we often carve out invisible borders in our lives, our careers, our relationships, but what walls need to come tumbling down in your world?  Travel also allows us to find new safe spaces, when we journey deeper into our romantic and platonic relationships, we often get to etch out a soft place to land.  

This month, we’ll be looking at new ways to create a soul-scape, to journey deeper both at home and abroad, the trials and joys of expat life, wrestling with a country steeped in division, creating Om in your city and more.  While I often miss life abroad, living back in the concrete jungle of America has allowed me to explore new modes of travel.

Below are a few ways I try to incorporate travel in my day-to-day living. While it isn’t always easy, travel really asks me to prioritize my own inner and outer adventures.

5 Ways to Journey Deeper Today

1.      Question western values. While we may live in a country steeped in division and brewed in #DoingItForTheGram, there are still ways to unlatch from societal values that do not truly resonate with who you are. Whether it’s new spiritual practices, opting for all-natural remedies over prescriptions, or ideas of success – move beyond where you are simply by questioning the ideas you’ve inherited by living here and adjust as necessary.

2.      Plan a simple Saturday stay-cation. Sometimes we make creating new experiences a lofty goal when it may simply be setting aside a weekend to explore a part of your own backyard. I’ve lived in NYC for seven years and have yet to see all of the hidden corners. Go play!

3.      Dive into another dimension. Whether it’s prayer and worship, moon gazing, djembe rhythms while talking to the ancestors. Carve some time out of your day to lean into your spirit and transcend the body for a bit.

4.      Awaken your body. Whether it’s acupuncture, Ayurveda, or your morning yoga practice. In our day-to-day lives much of our movements are on auto-pilot, but when we slow down and create new relationships with our limbs via bodywork we allow ourselves to travel the full extent of what houses us.  

5.      Say “yes” to something (or someone) new. This may be that crush, that budding sister circle, or that #Goals trip. While not everyone can take a trip abroad at a moments ease, maybe it means setting aside a few dollars a day to build your travel budget. Also, say “yes,” to the places that are calling your name. For some unknown reason, the southwestern deserts and the swamps of New Orleans have been waving my way, as has South Africa and Jerusalem. Some places call us before we call them. Say, “yes” and slowly plan your way there.

The beauty of travel is its ability to  keep you constantly moving closer to yourself. Let’s journey deeper together.

We’d love to hear of the ways you Travel in Om, submit your pitch and/or article today at

P.s Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel Freshwater is one easy and soul-stirring way to travel mentally and spiritually.


Chelcee Johns is a digital nomad, publishing professional, Detroit native, editor, and word & world-loving soul. She is based in Harlem and recently called Bali home. Her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past decade with organizations such as Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.