I’m sitting in my best friend’s apartment in Las Vegas after finishing the first meditation of my vacation. This is my fourth day on vacation and I have found a reason every day not to meditate; not formally at least. I have taken moments to remain present, especially when I was hiking up Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles. The view was spectacular and the realization of how out of shape I am definitely kept me present and focused on my breath.
I have often extolled the virtues of meditation and as I am taking my first holiday since adopting a regular meditation practice I have had the opportunity to focus on how important vacation meditation can be. Let’s face it, vacations can be calming and restorative. They can also be hectic, stressful, and filled with activity. If we are not relaxing in the sun on the beach with a cold drink in our hand we are more than likely looking at a guide book or map trying to fit in as many sites as possible into our limited time. We want to pack as much experience into our short window of a holiday we possibly can. We run through Grand Central Station trying to catch a train. We rush past priceless master pieces just to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Mona Lisa. We ignore the powerful energies of an ancient Celtic ruin to make our lunch reservation on time. We don’t take the time to be present in the moments we are creating.
How often on vacation do you feel tired, overwhelmed, and cranky? Do you snap at your travel partner? Do your children see your frustration as they ask for the millionth time, “when will we get there?” Do you leave some place you were looking forward to seeing with a sense that you missed most of what was there? Then you are wasting your holiday. Meditation can help you enjoy your holiday more. I know you may not believe that, but it’s true. Start each morning and end each night with just ten minutes of focused meditation and it can help you slow down and truly enjoy the holiday you’ve paid a great deal to be on.
It will help you remember to put down the guide book and truly see, hear, feel, experience what is happening around you. Don’t read about the Piazza Navona stand at its center and drink in your surroundings. Actually look at the faces of the people as they move through. Look at your children as they discover what is being offered to them. Have lunch together and savor the smells and flavors of the food. Listen to your loved ones as they regale you with their versions of the holiday experience. Every step you take, every moment you pause, every site you see can be a form of meditation; either passive or active. And all you need to jump start staying present in each of these individual moments throughout your vacation is a morning and evening meditation practice. Take it a step further and involve your entire travel party. Invite everyone to experience true awareness.
If you have been actively meditating for a while the addition of a morning and evening meditation while you’re on holiday will not be a burden for you. If you are new to meditation or just want to improve your overall vacation experience it may be a slight adjustment for you. You can wake up just ten minutes earlier than you planned and go to bed ten minutes later than the others you are with. It is an investment. The ten minutes you take in the morning to ground and center yourself will allow for a more stress free day. And the time you take at the end of your day will help to restore you after all of your adventures. Take this little bit of time for yourself. It will all be worth it.