It was a sunny day in the south of France. I was sitting on the beach holding my boyfriend's hand, feeling the gentle wind in my face, hearing the birds and singing a song quietly in my mind. Tacky, I know.
We were in the second week of our two-week vacation.
I remember I reflected upon the moment, and theoretically, according to the book, and according to what I have learned to aspire to in life, this moment is supposed to be perfect. It certainly didn't feel that way. I remember sitting there, and feeling uncomfortable with the disharmony between the perfect nature I saw outside, and the feeling I felt inside. It was as if something was blocking my heart from being completely happy, and feeling the way the picture around me invited me to feel.
Now, don't get me wrong. I truly love my boyfriend, and the beach, and how can I not love the South of France? All these things outside were not the issue. They never are. These things were unbelievably perfect. And yet, inside I was feeling a little less than OK. It was that moment that enabled me to completely understand that being on a vacation is a state of mind.
The outside was so perfect on the vacation, that it left me with no one to blame, but my own state of mind. On a "vacation" it's easier to recognize your state of mind. There are no visible problems. It's your thought patterns that appear in front of your eyes so clearly and paint reality in the colors that match it. You can feel stressed from a city tour that clashes with your favorite restaurant's dinner time, you can blame and be upset with the person that is working at the reception desk for not giving you all the necessary details. But what's the big deal? you are "vacationing" now, aren't you? On this vacation it was suddenly so clear to me that the biggest and actually the only "problem" is the way we think. And what a relief that this is in our control.
I'm not the kind of person who would agree to compromise and settle in this life with an "OK" state of mind. I don't want to live here as a survivor, it's not what I'm here for.
So I decided to intentionally create an inner mind shift -- to make the best of this vacation internally.
The first association that comes up for me when I think about a vacation is reenergizing, getting fueled with inspiration, hope, ideas, faith and courage. I visualize myself coming back to my "routine" and being super efficient and brilliant.
I noticed that the only time I am guaranteed to feel this way is when I'm back from a meditation retreat. At a retreat, I have time to be in a state of silence, to quiet my senses, and afterwards I'm filled with clarity and inspiration. I come back enhanced, the same but somewhat stronger. I figured that the reason for this difference is because at these retreats I work with my mind consciously. I dedicate all my energy for purifying my habits of thought, and at the end of the week I have clean, lucid and clear thoughts. On this "vacation" on the other hand, which wasn't a retreat, I noticed that I would have to actively lead the process of purification rather than be led by the agenda of a retreat. It was challenging, but eventually it worked. After a few days, I was in a vacation state of mind.
Did you ever find yourself fantasizing about your next vacation? In your mind the vacation is the perfect situation, you are calm, no one is bugging you, and life is suddenly perfect.
The truth is that a "vacation state of mind" shouldn't be reserved for being on a vacation. It should be our life.Why should we want a break from our life? It's our life.
Next time you fantasize about a vacation with some palm trees, try to pause for a bit, to quiet the senses, and to intentionally change your mindset. You might get the same outcome from a two-week vacation in Hawaii.
It doesn't matter at all if you're on the beach or in your office -- you are still yourself, and your mind patterns are staying just the way they were, unless you consciously change them.
If you are used to being angry at people and blaming someone, you will find someone to blame, even in the place with the most beautiful view in the world, with the best food, after 10 hours of sleep. If you are not calm in your mind, the vacation conditions are perfect just for telling you the truth -- which is that if you want to be calm, take responsibility and consciously work on being calm. Because the fine food, or nice view won't do it for you, at least not for long.
For more by Narkis Alon, click here.
For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.