Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Five Minute Vacation

I stumbled across a great quote the other day, from Mark Twain:

Life does not consist mainly of facts and happenings.
It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts
that is forever blowing through one’s head.

Isn’t that the truth? If one can get those thoughts to shut up for a moment, then our stress level goes way down.

In my readings about yoga, I’ve stumbled across the story of a guru who used to go to sleep with a spoon in his hand, poised above a plate. When he would fall asleep, the spoon would fall from his hand, clatter on the plate, and wake him up.

He said that’s all the sleep he needed.

While that may seem ridiculous and impossible, there is a truth in that story. To refresh and rejuvenate ourselves, we really only need that one moment of pure relaxation.

Like a few months ago, when I was so burned out I thought I’d need days of laying in bed to recuperate. Turned out, I only needed to put my niece in my arms, and the whole world fell away. Just a few minutes with her, and I was completely recovered and ready to jump into the world again.

Same with the other day. The dearest and I went fishing. I kayaked across the lake, hooked up to his boat, stuck my feet in the water, and enjoyed the breeze for a moment. We had ten minutes of pure bliss: warm day, clouds blocking the harsh sun, soft breeze on our skin.

And quiet--the pretty. musical quiet of trees rustling, geese squawking, fish jumping, and the waves lapping against our boats.

Then, of course, since it was our first day off in a month, a deluge of rain slammed down on us, completely soaking me in my kayak and nearly sinking his fishing boat.

Despite the problems we had loading the boat back on the trailer (guidepost breaking, me falling into the water, me swimming to find guidepost on the bottom, him getting all impatient because it’s hard for me to back up the trailer!), it was a great morning.

You would’ve thought I’d gone on a ten-day vacation, I was so relaxed.

Mostly it’d been work, but for those ten minutes, I got the same benefit of ten days of vacation.

So why go through all the trouble? How can we train our minds to go into that relaxed, vacation state where the world falls away? Where we refresh and renew? If we only need five or ten minutes of it, why can’t we train our minds to snap into that state once a day? Wouldn’t we be better off for it?

One of these days, I’m going to learn how to meditate. Do you visit that "vacation" state every day? How do you do it?

6 bonus scribbles:

Joan Swan 6/06/2007 11:16:00 PM  

Spy, good thing to remember. And its something that sounds easy to do but isn't.

I've tried meditation on several occasions -- very difficult to stay focused in the present, to clear your mind, but even five minutes of this in highly beneficial.

I don't take a vacation everyday or every week. I usually do something nice for myself maybe once a month.

lainey bancroft 6/07/2007 09:14:00 AM  

Maybe sweet tea therapy? ;-)

Seriously, if you find a solid source of info on meditation, please pass it on. I agree completely, slowing the thoughts and just being in the moment is the key to de-stressing.

The days where I'm thinking of fifty different things are frequently the days when I get the least done.

Glad you had a mini vacation! Love to kayak...we're just waiting for the water to get warm enough around here!

Stewart Sternberg 6/07/2007 09:32:00 AM  

A therapist made me make a list about five years ago of fun things that I would do in the coming summer. These things were big, small...whatever. Go to the park and picnic. GO to a ball game. Stay up until dawn, give a strange woman a flower and walk away, go to the zoo, go to the...well you get the idea.

I make a new list each summer. This summer, I'm going fishing.

StarvingWriteNow 6/07/2007 11:01:00 AM  

LOL!! I'm in La-La Land all the time! I don't need no stinkin' vacation!

spyscribbler 6/07/2007 11:06:00 PM  

Joan, I'd really like to get good at meditation. Actually, I'd like to be able to get through my yoga in the morning without spacing out, walking away, and forgetting about it. (There's concentration for you!)

Oh, cool, Lainey! Do you do the fancy kayaking, like with rolls and everything? I've always wanted to. I just have a rec kayak. Someday, though!

spyscribbler 6/07/2007 11:07:00 PM  

"give a strange woman a flower and walk away,"

Stewart, that is SO amazingly sweet. I could write a whole novel about that women, and how you changed her life!

LOL, Starving!