~ Here comes the sun and I say, "It's alright" ~
Vacations are yoga.
Vacations feel so good. Even the ones where there are long drives and rainy days. Even the ones with bright sun and sandy beaches. Why is it that they feel so good? Because during vacations we are present. Present in the moment. Present in time.
"It requires tremendous patience to calm the restless mind which is coloured by innumerable past experiences and samskara (the accumulated residue of past thoughts and actions)." ~ Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
Since samskaras can color perceptions of self and others, in either a positive or negative way, the aim of spiritual practice should be to seek out and strengthen certain samskaras while eliminating those which do not align with the type of life we want to live and the truth of the person we really are at heart.
While on vacation we leave these samskaras behind. Embodying freedom and cutting ties to attachments and expectations, of schedules, work and homework. Of habitual physical and mental patterns. We aren't thinking of yesterday or tomorrow, we are unconsciously living for the moment of vacationing.
How to live like we are on a permanent vacation minus the travel? By changing and reflecting on our own samskaras.
Practicing meditation or yoga is a perfect way to cultivate awareness of the present. Observing internal thoughts, emotions and sensations. The practice of noticing ourselves builds the pathway that reminds us to pay attention to what we’re engaging in physically and mentally. Once practiced enough, this awareness can be carried in each moment.
We begin to notice that our habits can be helpful or harmful. Helpful samskara can bring us more fully into the present moment and cultivate feelings of compassion and gratitude, guiding us towards happiness. Harmful samskara can cause suffering and at extremes, mental illness. A repetitive harmful thought can create a habit that is extremely hard to overcome or change. In this way, we can get stuck in a pattern of harming ourselves. This can lead to anxiety or depression.
When we attempt to change our harmful habits, we discover where we really desire to put our focus. We can begin to ask ourselves what we really want and if the way we are living our everyday lives follows.
Don't wait for a vacation to break the cycle. Use today to get outside or to read that beach read. Take this morning to watch the sunrise or hug your kids a little bit longer. Take right now to not worry about a deadline that resides in tomorrow but enjoy the process of the project, the skills you are using and gaining. Is it necessary to hit the gym at 5 am or can you make movement happen in a family or couple walk today. Cut corners on the small stuff like laundry and grocery shopping in order to enjoy the big stuff like time with friends and family.
Break the cycle of harmful samskaras and lean into those that bring joy. Listen to your body, to your breath and to your mind ... they will lead you to the instinct of which are harmful and which bring peace.
Here comes the sun ... everyday, as long as you let it shine within no matter the outdoor forecast.
Written by Brooke Halperin
Check out Brooke's classes at Good Juju Lombard. New schedule coming soon. Book it at goodjujuyoga.com