I was talking to someone today, and we were joking (gratefully!) that sometimes you take a vacation in a new and exciting place, and while you're having a blast, it's a bit of work - what to do, where to stay, how to get places, how to make sure you will eat and all of those little details. Sure, that's part of it and greatly fun and amusing... however, sometimes that makes the vacation a little more work than relaxation, especially for the 'driven folks' - OK, total disclosure, I'm an 8 museums in 7 days kinda guy!
The reason we love the Netherlands is familiarity - we've been there often enough to feel really comfortable and at ease. Amsterdam is hands-down one of the safest, tourist- and pedestrian-friendly cities I've ever visited and I have not once feared for my safety there. We know our way around and several ways around, so we can walk anywhere we need, anytime we need. We've got favorite restaurants and know how and when to get reservations, we also know good food stalls and stands in case we miss a dinner. We know where we like to explore, we find new things every visit, and after over a decade going there at least once per year, we actually get recognized as 'regulars' in a few places - crazy, but nice.
I write this because I found myself really at ease - in my element, and 'at home' but out of my element, and far from home. So, I couldn't fester or get easily distracted... I've resigned my job, so I was able to move my mentality into tying up the pieces and handing them off, rather than having to continue to engage in longer-term thinking, problem solving, and the lot that goes with running a going concern. I got to be me, just me, in relationship with and in the full-time presence with my loving best friend and partner, playing, being goofy, loving each other and loving life. What a gift, and one that I had hoped for, but was still stunned by!
Folks ask me, and I have no reason to lie, do I do yoga when I'm on vacation - well, no and yes. To be clear, I 'stretch' and 'breath' intently every day, whether through Asana Practice or not. But do I do Asana Practice on vacation - rarely... honestly, a week away from the practice sometimes provides a perspective on the habit, routine, or even ritual of the practice. To not just DO IT, but to be purposeful.
So, Asana Practice, nope - however, Yoga, yup... to wit: I was present, I was walking on uneven surfaces and constantly thinking about my foundation and stability as we walked up to 12-15 miles in town, daily. I was present to and with my love, not casually, not just physically, but in connection and communication and relationship. Rare, sorry to admit, and treasured.
And, while it pains me a little to admit it, I like to think I'm good at dealing with stress and fairly body-aware... Ha, only took me 3 days of no practice to show me how my body handles stress and then the next 5 days of releasing it just by being a human being... My shoulders, my legs, my neck - all went through subtle rebellion, but then just released.
I had that feeling, but today it was made palpable by a regular student who said she could see how different I looked; lighter, freer, more present, more subtle yet joyful, and calm. That's the greatest gift. And what did I discover through this process - that the stress we believe we are coping with still resides in us. It took days of just being to let it come 'up' and then 'out. And, it was exhausting, as in sleep-is-needed exhaustion. I slept every night, straight through, for more hours than I can believe. I woke up feeling great, but can only imagine as the muscles and sub-structure were allowed to really release, that the 'toll' had to be paid.
Grateful, thankful, inspired and ready to move forward into still I'm not sure what, but how glorious will be the journey.
Give thanks and praise!