For many at this time of year, thoughts turn to vacations and what we are going to do. For many years my holidays were about drinking and overindulgence. Then holidays became about our children: where to take them, possible activities, being with them, keeping them occupied and happy.
For many holidays are about overeating, drinking lots of alcohol. “Why shouldn’t I, I’m on holiday?”
If that is what you want to do with your precious time then just fine! I would like to suggest another approach.
Holidays are a great time to be with ourselves and to be with others; to practice mindfulness and meditation − all in different settings and with different possibilities.
On holiday we do not have the pressure of our day-to-day work-lives, so we have much more time to do what we want instead of what we “have to”. Here are some ideas which you may care to try:
- Moments of natural goodness: Our lives are filled with moments of natural goodness, moments that have the potential to connect us to the present, and generate feelings of gratitude. Gratitude is very agreeable and nourishing if we can simply be present to experience it. Most of the time we are too distracted to notice. For example, coming out of a stuffy meeting and feeling the cool refreshing revitalising breeze on your face; the freshness of early morning when all is still and quiet; the day, pregnant with possibilities, has not yet started; the feel of clean, fresh cotton sheets when you go to bed; the smell of coffee in the morning; the unselfconscious laughter of a small child; coming out of the sea lying on your towel to feel the warming sun itchily dry your back; that first dip in the sea; the moment you dive into a wave. Why not notice and be fully present for these moments?
Why not start your day sitting quietly with or without your coffee, and just being? Notice. Allow any feelings of gratitude to develop. Notice the feeling of the fresh air on your face, the smell, the world waking up.
- See, listen and understand: Take time to see and listen to your loved ones. After many years together and each lost in the day-to-day activities of life, we forget to really see the people in our lives. I believe that many relationships fail because we simply stop seeing our partner. We feel that we already know what he/she has to say; we know their expressions, their jokes, the type of comment that they are going to make. We forget that these ideas are our mental model of that person − not that person. Take time to listen. To do this you should adopt an attitude of simply trying to understand the other person, not trying to be understood. This means not doing anything else, not with your mobile, not with any other sort of distraction: 100% listening.
- Practice gratitude: Make a list, mental or written (best written) of all the aspects in your life that make you feel grateful. You could start with how wonderful it is to be alive. Family, friends, health. Once you start, the list is endless. Make a special point of reflecting on a difficult time in your life when you really learnt an important lesson.
- Your attitude during all of this should be one of open curiosity, kindness to yourself and a sense of humour. Don’t try to “achieve” anything. Don’t look for any “result”; just be present, and practice.
I will take this occasion to wish you all a wonderful summer. Thank you to all of you who read my blog. A special thank you if you also have taken the time to comment, send a message, or an email. Please know that it means a lot to me and all the team.
With much love and wishing you peace, health and happiness.
A big hug from all of us here at Las Bardas – Cantabria.