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Stake Your Claim

Posted: 07/03/2012 9:20 am

The stress and strains of our always-connected lives can sometimes take us off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what works for others in the hopes that you can find out what works for yourself. Whether it's photos that relax you or make you smile, songs that bring you back to your heart, quotes or poems that balance you or meditative exercises that help de-stress you, we all have tricks that we use when we get bent out of shape. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and harmony.

Here's what I've learned. Even when my to do list is full of challenging, meaningful work I love, I can still get lost in its sea of details, in the constant doing and the parade of deadlines. In fact, I am most at risk of losing track of myself when I'm in the midst of work that excites me because I forget to do important things like eat, sleep, stand still for a second and just breathe. All too often what reminds me to take care of myself is hitting a wall. Exhausted physically, emotionally and psychologically, I do what people do in that state: I crash and burn. Recovery, when I let it get that far, is always a long and messy process, needlessly painful.

So I've been trying something new: daily sabbaticals. They can be as short as five minutes or as long as the day, and I can fill them however I want to. The only requirement is that they be conscious. I enter each sabbatical with clarity that this time -- however long or short it is -- is absolutely, unequivocally mine. How I fill it makes no difference at all. I could even do more work if I wanted to (though that is rarely what I pick), as long as what I do is exactly what I want to do. Sincerely. Heart, soul and gut.

It's amazing how empowering it is to simply take control of a pocket of time, claim it as your own, and fill it unapologetically, however you want. Read the comics, write a letter, make something amazing, flirt, wander, escape to the beach, the woods, the city, your backyard, take pictures like you're on vacation.

I've been doing this for a few weeks now, and here are some of my favorite "sabbatical destinations."

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  • 1. My Yoga Mat

    And not as part of a class or with a video. I hit the mat on my own, stretching, balancing, holding poses according to my real-time body needs, my spontaneous, "I just decided to try crow pose" goals. I use <a href="" target="_hplink">Pandora</a> for my yoga sabbaticals: Matisyahu when I'm feeling daring and crow-posey, Karsh Kale and Anugama when I when I want the music to take me inside myself.

  • 2. Books

    I read a lot of books because of my work, but on sabbatical, I read what I want, and whenever possible I try to read outside, on my balcony, in parks and outdoor cafes, on benches with a view. My favorite reads so far this year: <em><a href="" target="_hplink">Wild</a>,</em> by Cheryl Strayed; <em><a href="" target="_hplink">Girlchild</a></em> by Tupelo Hassman; <em><a href="" target="_hplink">Let's Pretend This Never Happened</a></em> by Jenny (The Bloggess) Lawson.

  • 3. The Garden

    I never thought I'd be a gardener, but there's nothing like eating tomatoes (and peppers and cucumbers and zucchini and arugula and grapes) I've grown myself. Plus, there's something rejuvenating about being so utterly unplugged, outside, on my knees, hands in the dirt, totally absorbed in a skin-to-planet connection. It's like the earth telling me in no uncertain terms: You are here.

  • 4. Poetry

    I've never been a big poetry reader, but in 2012, I committed myself to reading a poem a day. Here's what I like about reading poems: for however long it takes, I'm fully present. You can't read a poem and do anything else at the same time. Honestly, I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it. My favorite poem so far? <a href="" target="_hplink">"Phenomenal Woman"</a> by Maya Angelou.

  • 5. Behind My Camera

    Want to plug into your world? Take its picture. You'll be amazed at how quickly connecting to your physical environment connects you to your soul.

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