I will be on vacation this week, as sort of a decompression from summer and respite before I jump full on into Fall, Winter, and all that ensues.
I intend to spend as much time as possible in nature, listening, smelling, seeing, and overall experiencing the amazing world that is around me. Spotting animals, smelling trees, water, flowers, and moss, feeling the crunch of leaves and rocks beneath my feet, hearing the wind blow through the leaves and listen for animal calls, and taste the heat in the hot afternoon sun and cold at early dawn.
I encourage everyone to take 20 minutes sometime between now and when I get back to just go outside, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit – under a tree, near some water, on the street corner near your house – and just listen, smell, taste, and watch. Listen to all the noises. What’s the closest noise, what’s the farthest noise? How many animals can you spot? How many different smells can you pick up? Breathe fully into your lungs and slowly let the air out, feeling it work its way through your nose, throat, and lungs.
Give yourself this 20 minute vacation, even just once this week, and I guarantee your environment will feel fuller, richer, and you’ll feel more in tune with your surroundings.
Just a nice reminder to breathe every once in a while, courtesy of the Business School of Happiness:
The mere thought of taking a vacation can bring a smile to almost anyone’s face. The idea of getting away from work loads, demanding children, school and any and all other commitments that make up daily life is immensely appealing.
Unfortunately, time and money may hamper making those visions of relaxation reality. This need not be the case because that the same relaxing benefits of taking a vacation can be found in minutes of simple meditation interspersed throughout the day. In fact, three one minute sessions of deep breathing–taken at pre-set intervals throughout the day may indeed deliver the deep sense of peacefulness that might have seemed elusive.
The secret? Schedule a minute of relaxation every two to three hours–just like you would an appointment or meeting. Mark it on your calendar so you don’t forget. Then, find a quiet place. Lock yourself in a bathroom stall if it is your only option or pull over while driving. Close your eyes and take a series of 10-20 very deep, thoughtful breaths.
In all honesty I am the worst when it comes to taking time for myself, even a minute. But I posted this exercise, or at least one very similar, to my desk cubicle at work, and even if I don’t give myself a relaxing vacation every couple of hours, it does remind me that that is an option, and it is much more productive than fretting for those two or three minutes.
It may feel weird at first, but give it a shot: breathe innnn sloooooowwwly until you think you can’t fill your lungs any fuller, and then let sloooooowwwly let it out. There, I bet you feel better already. Remember, the more breathing you do the better it is for your brain.