Vacation as Spiritual Practice

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Most of us are conditioned to look forward to our vacations. For some it’s an opportunity to travel to a new or favorite destination, for others it’s a chance to spend time at home, perhaps with family or on a hobby, and still for others, a chance to tune out. Generally speaking, vacations are about rest and relaxation, or for those who are more active, about play and adventure.

None of these reasons is inherently better than any other. However, vacation is also a great time to reconnect to our center and to get back on track with our spiritual practices, like meditation. When we get away from the busyness of our daily lives, there is time for reflection, contemplation, and stepping back to see where we are.

Many will go to a spiritual retreat for this purpose, and while those are great (I love them), for many this would not satisfy all of their needs for a vacation. A 20-minute meditation first thing in the morning before starting the day could really serve well, or a mindful walk on the beach that is focused inward rather than outward through the use of silence.

Vacation is an excellent time to reconnect to our center if we feel out of balance or stressed. Reconnecting can be as simple as letting go of the to-do list and focusing more on just being, with less of an agenda and more presence. How could you be more in the present moment rather than planning for the next moment?

Our intention to be present can also be very revealing to us. I remember some years ago taking vacation time on the northern California coast in Mendocino, which is about a three-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area where I was leading a very busy and active life. My first day I was feeling impatient with how slow people were driving and observing myself wanting to get from place to place as quickly as possible. Then it dawned on me – I’m on vacation, where do I have to be in a hurry? It was a good check-in to see how much I had formed a habitual pattern of being in a hurry.

If nothing else, an intention to be more present can make us aware of our habitual ways of being. Awareness gives us more choice as we can then decide, is this how I consciously choose to be?

None of our spiritual practices need to be heavy or feel like too much of a burden while on vacation. The choice to be conscious and present is a choice that leads to greater aliveness and more connection to the simple things that bring us joy, like watching a sunset or appreciating the beauty of nature on a hike.

The invitation is to bring more presence and connection into your vacation and downtime this summer, and to make it fun!

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

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