Have you ever needed a “vacation” after your vacation? Did you ever go home after your well-earned vacation feeling tired, exhausted, run down? Sometimes we spend our entire vacation making sure everyone else is having a good time, and we forget to take any time out for ourselves. But perhaps the answer is as simple as just taking the time to enjoy the present moment.
When I was a young mother with three small children, the family vacations were preceded by days of making lists, packing and planning. Upon arrival at our destination, I would do the grocery shopping for the week, assist with all the unpacking and settling in and then plan out a week of fun for everyone.
Each day involved getting ready for the next activity, making sure everyone was safe and happy while they were enjoying said activity, and then planning and organizing for the next great adventure. Each moment was spent getting ready for the next. Before I knew it, the week had passed in a blur and I was ready to collapse in a state of exhaustion. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
So how can you orchestrate a great family vacation and still find a way to enjoy yourself? The answer is: one moment at a time. Try a mindfulness practice to check in with yourself in the present moment. Before you become skeptical and stop reading, stay with me for just a few more moments.
Let's explore a mindfulness body scan together. Begin by noticing your breath. Get a sense of how the breath moves through your body. Notice how you breathe in and breathe out. Take your attention to the top of your head, the skin of your face. Did you feel your facial muscles relax just then? Notice your neck, your chest. Did your shoulders drop as you took your attention there?
As you work your way down your body, notice all of the places where you are holding tension. And when you get to the end, start over again. Did your facial muscles tense up while you were noticing your feet?
Try this when you have a few moments to yourself and repeat as needed. And though this may sound like a cliché, I mean it. Seriously — repeat as needed. No — I take that back — repeat whether you need it or not. If you felt any part of your body releasing tension during this little exercise, then clearly you need it.
But carving out some time for a body scan is the easy part. Doing it consistently on a daily basis — well, that's the challenge. Rest assured the payoff is big.
Once mindfulness becomes a daily habit, you'll soon see that you can practice it anywhere, anytime. Maybe as you are putting groceries away, you notice the weight of the item in your hand, notice which muscles you are using to place it on the shelf.
As you are watching the ocean roll onto the sand, stop and feel the texture of the sand beneath your feet. Notice the sounds of the crashing waves, the blues and greens of the water as it ebbs and flows. And then notice how it makes you feel. What thoughts does it evoke? What feelings arise?
Practicing mindfulness is the art of being in the present moment. Sometimes I surprise myself when I think I am fully present in a situation and then I take the time to notice my breath or scan my body and bring myself into truly experiencing the fullness of that very special moment, whatever it may be.
And isn't that what we all want, to savor each and every special moment of our vacation, our life? Don't we want to feel and experience every moment and to be totally present and mindful and enjoy each moment that life has to offer? And, more importantly, we should want to go home from our vacation knowing that we savored every blissful moment.
Nancy C. Dalesio, MS, RYT500, is a Yoga Alliance-certified teacher and an Urban Zen integrative therapist. She is the stress management specialist for the Ornish Reversal Program at Beebe Healthcare. She is trained in the healing modalities of yoga therapy, Reiki, essential oils, nutrition and contemplative care. For more information on the Ornish Reversal Program, go to https://www.beebehealthcare.org/ornish.