Reflections of my time earlier this Spring on vacation:
Its here. Time to relax and I’ve been planning for it for months. I spent time imagining how this vacation would feel and the moments working up to it were tough. Its always so hard to get away and leave work and regular life behind. For a moment there I wasn’t sure I would get my work covered but I did.
I spent the day traveling here. Driving, flying, driving again and I’m finally here. Unpacked I decide to walk outside and sit on a grassy hill just under a tree where I could lookout and watch the tall green mountains, blue sky and lake in the distance. I can’t believe I’m here! I take a deep breath in and smell the clean air. Then an unexpected feeling floods my body and suddenly I want to cry. I can feel the emotions building up and I start to push that feeling away. Silently telling myself – “what is there to cry about? Stop it! You have so much to be happy for.” Justifying my thoughts and even blame my feelings. “Why should you be unhappy?”
I could see myself go through the motions of avoiding the feelings of this moment. Even the ways I would use my hand to feather away the tears. “Oh come on. Really there are people suffering in the world and you are crying.”
Yet crying is just what my instincts knew I needed, so I decided instead to just cry and release. Tears return along with a fast breath. I didn’t try to understand it or rationalize. Just free myself. Why did I punish myself thinking this was wrong? Turns out what I thought was going to be a long and scary experience was just about 30 seconds. I started feeling this moment. Wait… this isn’t an unhappy feeling at all, but a really joyful. Now I started laughing. I was suddenly filled with love and joy. That I knew that this space had just the kind of love and people I needed. That was really the root of my feelings. I was so happy to be here.
As I looked around I felt a sense that something had shifted within me. Maybe not something noticeable to the outside world but I felt it. After all there is such a fine line between self-awareness and blame. Between witness and judge. Between listening and hearing.
My thoughts start wandering to agendas, plans and people. “What time is it? I should start to get ready for the workshop. Oh and I should call home. Check work email.” Wait – why? I had purposely left my phone locked up in the safe in my room. I didn’t trust myself to have self-control so I locked it up. I’m not blaming the tools of today but wow do they have a hold on me. Ok so I tell myself for this vacation I’m going to set up some rules. I’m only going to check my phone and email twice a day. I’m going to be more silent. Walk slower. Maybe I’ll just sit here just a bit longer – there is no rush. Just witness this day.
Ok. Now with that time freed up I decided to set one more rule: a conscious decision to stop tasking and just explore this space, people and time. After sitting there a bit longer I start to stand up, stretch, took a look around and realize I just”landed” there. Present and ready for my vacation; nothing else to do but relax.
This story inspired me as I have listened to many go through the same dilemmas. We save up our time to go on vacation only to find ourselves still very much wandering off with our thinking mind. We beat ourselves up either mentally, physically or emotionally because we had spent time imagining our vacation and then when we got there we were elsewhere. Sometimes we even justify it – “My boss will be happy that I responded back; that I’m always reachable.” We keep putting everyone else ahead of ourselves knowing very well we are just hurting ourselves. Seeing it isn’t enough though. Set up ways you can be healthy and mindful on your vacations. Don’t feel you have to stick to the rules you set though. Give yourself permission to start again; no blame or judgement. Just start it again. I hope this helps.