today hundreds of thousands of americans will hop into their cars (or onto busses, trains, or planes) to head to destinations where they will celebrate the last few days of our national three month “summer vacation.” right now, in fact, many folks are frantically packing, trying to get out the door, making sure they have everything they need to make the weekend perfect. very likely the more frantic they feel the more stressful everything is becoming. they’ve gotta go, gotta go, gotta go....
a few weeks ago i was honored to share a week with high school students at twin rocks friends camp. one morning i decided to begin our time together by having us all take a few deep breaths together. the sound and feeling of 300 plus souls packed together in a room inhaling and exhaling deeply was stunning. i really mean that. it was captivating. it was as if everything slowed down and we all came together. everything. slowed. down. when we opened our eyes after the last exhale the room felt unified and calm and “together.”
i have an idea...let’s all take a few deep breaths. seriously. right now. i know you’re in a hurry. i know there’s lots to do. i promise, however, you have time. it’ll only take one minute. breathe in then breathe out. i’ll give you some space to do so...
everything you need for a time away/a good break/a needed vacation/a time of family connection/a weekend of rest is within you.
let me say that again.
everything you need is within you. it’s already packed. you can rest and relax and begin the vacation now. you can begin it in the car when you’re stuck in terrible labor day traffic, you can begin it at home as you are scrambling to find that one last perfect item to bring along, you can begin it in the store as you’re gathering supplies three hours later than you’d hoped to do so. you can begin RIGHT NOW. the “perfect time” has very little to do with the space where time is spent and everything to do with the internal world of the person spending it.
the goals for taking breaks, vacations, and getting away may be many but at root i think most of us want to do one thing: LIVE DIFFERENTLY FOR A LITTLE WHILE. this may mean either connecting with others more or in more intentional ways. it might look like becoming a bit more contemplative and turning the focus inward. it might mean playing games, going for long walks, paying attention to the taste and texture of what you eat, see, or hear. or it might mean napping. a lot. without guilt. whatever the goal, however, YOU ARE YOUR ONLY TOOL TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
so why not take a breath? slow down even for a moment. feel the earth under your feet and the air around your body. take another breath and get settled and still. notice the people around you or your own beating heart and connect to them or it. the hardest place to arrive at is not the beach or the city or grandma’s house...it is to yourself and yet only from this centered place can you have the most deeply meaningful experiences.
where ever you are headed today...take your self with you. see if you can vacation (or stay home) from there rather than focusing on the external destination/activity/outcome. i promise, if you do, that the rewards will be many.
with that...take another breath and move forward from there (perhaps a bit more slowly than you were moving before). notice. keep breathing. with intention. keep breathing...