Every summer I have 6 lovely weeks away from my paid job. This year, I slowed down instead of taking a digital break or going on vacation for all or part of that time.
My insights and creativity soar whenever I give myself space. So much so that I want to jump up and express myself. But I know it’s better to wait and soak in the peace. I did, however, scribble down some of my insights to share with you as well as 9 compelling questions that could make a major difference in your life too Here they are.
1. Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
At first I just wanted to sleep. I think this is a natural reaction when you slow down because most American’s are sleep deprived. I don’t know people manage in other countries. I just know I needed to sleep right away.
So I slept as much as I wanted. The extra shut-eye felt so refreshing. Then, I no longer needed extra sleep.
Are you getting enough sleep?
If you’re sleep deprived, read this: Skimping on Sleep Can Make You Sick, Fat, and Stupid. You’ll learn some of the best sleep hygiene practices to get you back into a restful cycle of regeneration.
2. Can You Relax When Attending to the Details of Life?
Life takes time. I wonder if we all need a few weeks off each year just to take care of the accumulated must-dos.
I renewed my driver’s license, went to dental and medical appointments, ordered vitamins, cleaned out my clothes closet, dealt with hack attacks, and removed seeds from an abundance of sour sop so it could be frozen (that took hours).
Here’s the difference: I tried to do this all in relaxed mode. Of course, that was easier to do during a glorious break. But even so, it gave me relaxation practice so I’ll have more resilience when life gets busier in September.
Can you relax when you’re attending to the details of life?
3. Is Your Spiritual Practice Vibrantly Alive?
Whatever your spiritual practice might be, it’s easy to do it on rote in order to get on to what might be calling from the day ahead.
But actually, at least for me, my spiritual practice is far more important than any other daily activity. It sets the tone for the day, it calms and nourishes me, it transforms negative emotions into positive ones, it gives me the strength to face life as it is, and it will prepare me to meet death with more awareness and peace and without regrets.
Reminder to self: Don’t just mindlessly repeat the words of your spiritual practice. Don’t meditate in complete distraction and then jump up and get busy. Be fully present. Put your heart into your practice. Bring it alive.
Is the heart of your spiritual practice or meditation beating vibrantly?
4. Do You Carve Out Time for Personal Exploration?
I enjoyed the luxury of not rushing in the morning on many days.
Instead, I lingered in bed with my journal. I reviewed my personal goals. I highlighted the key points for working with my habits, patterns, and false beliefs. I celebrated my accomplishments.
Do you carve out time for personal exploration?
5. Do You Stay in Bed When You’re Sick?
One week, I was beset by sore throats every few days. Staying in bed proved to be the best medicine.
Do you work when you’re sick? Fess up! I’ve done that SO much in my life. Now I know it saves time on the long run to rest when I’m sick. Yes, it’s a matter of breaking the work compulsion. That may not be easy, but staying in bed when you’re sick is a good place to start.
Do you stay in bed when you’re sick?
6. Are Subtle Expectations Making You Feel Discontent?
I’ve been carrying around a subtle expectation that someone will hit me on the head and a momentous positive change will occur, maybe even a Zen satori or enlightenment itself.
Some people do have sudden awakenings like that, but they are rare. Most of us need to put in our time on the cushion, practice positivity in daily life, and regularly work with our own mind and emotions for change to take place. Positive change will indeed occur, but for most of us progress is gradual though its sweetness constantly grows.
Wishing for something else keeps me discontent. I know it’s far better to enjoy the present moment. So I say adieu to those subtle expectations.
Are subtle expectations making you feel discontent?
7. Do You Accept Your Own Pace?
My friend Joy suggested this affirmation for me: “My pace is perfect for me. As I honor it, I experience infinite possibilities.”
I’m always working at the art of subtraction. There’s so much I would like to do, but I’m no longer willing to sacrifice my health and well-being by over-stretching myself.
Accepting my own pace is not easy for me. I expect this is due to trauma and the way, in some cases, it tries to keep your system on high. I’m happy to have this affirmation to remind me to choose the most important priorities, take breaks, and let go of unrealistic timelines.
Do you accept your own pace?
8. Do You Acknowledge What You Already Do?
I set self-healing as one of my goals during my break. As a first step, I acknowledged my current self-healing practices instead of piling on more.
It’s not always about more. Often, it’s about being fully present to what you’re already doing. For example, I’m practicing Tai Chi at least 6 hours a week With that alone, I’m already a self-healing star.
Are you always going for more or do you acknowledge what you already do?
9. How Do You Expand Your Limits and Maintain Your Boundaries?
I worked with a healer who holds a different set of beliefs than I do. This helped me open to new possibilities, for which I’m grateful.
At the same time, I realized I could never be fully comfortable or completely me without triggering dissonance, disagreement, and discord. In short, too much stress for me and not the sense of safety I need to keep my nervous system regulated.
I want to expand my limits and eradicate concepts, but my beliefs about the world make sense to me and help me keep moving forward. In fact, when I experiment and try other approaches, I always come back to knowing I have the most powerful practices – for me – at my fingertips, thanks to the years I’ve studied Tibetan Buddhism.
Sometimes I’m exceptional when it comes to setting boundaries. Other times, like in this situation, it’s hard for me to do so and I find it difficult to detach. But, I’m learning I have a right to be who I am. It’s okay to acknowledge, “This doesn’t work for me.” That doesn’t mean it’s not good at all or doesn’t work for someone else.
I find it’s a delicate balance to stretch myself and respect myself at the same time.
How do you expand your limits and maintain your boundaries?
Slowing Down vs. A Full On Break
My break turned out more like a slowed down version of real life than a holiday.
On the positive side, this approach helped me to practice relaxation during daily activities. It allowed me time and space for sleep, self-exploration, and fun. My creativity constantly burst forth as well.
It wasn’t the same as a digital break or full-on vacation though. In the end, I wish I had gifted myself the latter if only for a week or two. That wish churns in my mind for the future. I know I don’t have to wait till next year! I especially like to indulge in relaxation on Saturday mornings. I also see the other side of the island beckoning to me in the fall.
I know for certain that I need regular breaks to replenish myself. I hope you’re getting the downtime you need too. I also hope these questions stirred some food for thought.
Do you take vacations, digital sabbaticals, or other forms of regular breaks? I would love to hear from you in the comments.
Thank you for your presence! May you be well, happy, and safe – always. With love, Sandra