So many of us have been here: rushing around the house, throwing clothes and shoes in bags, rummaging through toiletries to find that travel size tooth paste you know you bought for the last trip…and likely…having little to no awareness of your breath. “I’ll relax when I get on the plane” (train or automobile…) is something we’ve all said before.
In fact, I said it just last weekend when preparing for a trip to the Cape! Why do we make ourselves wait for relaxation? And then feel that we have to look for it; seek it out; travel to it – keeping it at a distance from our daily life. Relaxation then becomes a “quest” – something outside of and away from ourselves, something that becomes a mission to find. What we are left with is the conditioned belief that feeling a sense of solace and respite must be an externalized experience. The more and more this happens – the farther we get from the truth: relaxation is within us.
By externalizing the experience of relaxation, we convince ourselves that we can’t achieve it on our own. We actually start to believe that only once we’re on the boat or in the hammock will we be able to relax. Only after everything on the “to-do-list” is checked off – then we can relax. We become masters of manipulation. By no means am I saying that we should not enjoy the incredible joys of what vacations and travel have to offer. I am a firm believer in changing our latitudes and perspectives as often as we can. And of course, it’s true that there is something instantly relaxing about lying on a hammock, or soaking in a Jacuzzi – there’s no denying that! The danger lies in believing that we can only let go and quiet the mind when these types of things are happening. The real “quest” is about how we can weave a sense of relaxation, presence, and breath throughout everything that we do – even the most mundane.
We see this in our yoga practice as well. It may be easy to focus on your breath and movement, quieting the thoughts in your head in a yoga class – but more challenging to maintain that mindful connection outside of the yoga studio. Someone once told me that “real yoga happens when you roll UP your yoga mat.” All it takes is mindful awareness, practice, and breath. Yoga is called a practice for that very reason. We can’t figure this all out overnight. With gentle patience, we can start to see that everything we’re looking for is already within us.