Vacation Vibes – How to Bring the Feeling of Relaxation Home

Today is the first day back from a week of vacation. I’m really hoping that all the rest and relaxation of the last few days won’t evaporate in a puff once I open my email for work and get back to all the to-do’s on my calendar related to a full-time job, running a household, and getting ready for the holidays.

Grand Cayman – East End

I could feel my mind start to spin the moment I woke up – Monday morning and a work day. Ughh! I thought about how many things needed to get done today. So, I knew the first thing was to do nothing. That is: sit in stillness and silence and watch my breath for 20 minutes.

Immediately, I was transported from my house near Toronto, where it was still dark outside and very cold, to a warm beach on the east end of Grand Cayman Island, where the sky was aglow with the rising sun, and the ocean was loudly breaking over the coral reefs. I had meditated just 24 hours earlier on a beach chair, facing the powerful wind roaring in across the sea.

Grand Cayman is an island just south of Cuba, a self-governing British territory. The island is small, and the east end, where we stayed, was so windy we saw kite surfers seeming to fly over the ocean for several seconds at a time.

At 7 am, however, the beach was deserted, and I was able to practice mindfulness to fully be present with the ocean, the palm trees, and the warmth of a tropical sun. Coming back home and practicing the same meditation, I realized that feeling rested and relaxed is partly due to location, but it’s also partly due to mindset. I could bring back that feeling of peace and relaxation from the tropical island to my part of the world because, in both settings, the present moment is essentially the same – one where I exhale and inhale and feel the world around me.

I could just as easily have brought my work laptop on vacation and allowed stress from back home to creep into the vacation. But I chose to take a full break from both work and social media to allow my mind to downshift fully. Then, on the first day of vacation, three awful things happened to people I loved back home. I know there is a saying that bad news comes in 3’s. I don’t know where this saying comes from, but in my case, it did. I realized quickly that I could support my loved ones best by practicing loving-kindness or Metta meditation for them. Worrying would do absolutely no good. I practiced self-compassion as well because I could feel how sad and tense I was. It was like I was feeling the pain and stress of their situations. Empathy can be a very draining emotion. I tended to my emotional needs directly and theirs through sending loving-kindness.

Relaxation is a mindset and not a setting.

Similarly, as I begin this week and the busy month of December, the same lesson applies. Relaxation is a mindset – I can bring those beach meditation vibes back anytime, even though I’m a few thousand miles away. The vibe is not about being at the beach, but the vibe of ‘allowing.’

‘Allowing’ means not wanting things to be different than they are. ‘Allowing’ means letting self-compassion happen. ‘Allowing’ is that state where it’s clear that there is no control over bad things happening to others – the only control rests in the response to the situation.

A powerful lesson on inner peace

I had a powerful lesson during one of my morning beach meditations. Amidst all the peace and beauty I was immersed in, an insight arose. I was meditating on a question: What is my purpose in life? I didn’t get an answer directly, but what came up was:

“Don’t identify with anything.”

Hmm. I wondered -what does that mean?  The answer arose:  don’t attach to my thinking whether good or bad. It’s the vibe of allowing. But still, I was confused – what did it have to do with my purpose?

Then, a smelly bulldozer loudly crossed the quiet, early morning beach in front of me. It was scooping up the seaweed to make the beach cleaner for the tourists. At first, I didn’t like it at all, but then in that state of mindfulness, I realized I was identifying with the thought: “Diesel bulldozers don’t belong on a beautiful beach at 7 am.” It seemed like a very ‘right’ thought, and I sat with it for a few breaths, just allowing myself to have the thought. I realized my challenge was to feel loving-kindness for this bulldozer! And I did manage to meditate for several moments, feeling just as much peace with the bulldozer there as if it wasn’t there.

Then I saw a rooster, chickens, and chicks walking up to my beach chair. These animals are prevalent in Grand Cayman, where they run wild everywhere – even the beach. The rooster crowed and scared the living daylights out of me. Imagine relaxing and then hearing a loud piercing sound at close range. I could only smile once I realized the rooster, who was giving me quite the side eye, wasn’t going to attack me or jump on my chair.

Another interruption and disruption to my peace? No, I think it was another lesson: Don’t identify with the disruption. Be at peace with it. Allow the rooster to do what he does. After all — he’s allowing me to do what I’m doing.

That’s how true peace comes – to realize that it always exists and can only be disrupted if allowed by negative thinking.

Wow! What a lesson. My whole body relaxed with the truth of this insight. And I know with certainty that this week of vacation is over (the freezing temperatures tell me that). But the lessons on how to exist in the world with harmony and peace are the things I’ve brought back home:

  1. Don’t identify with my thoughts.
  2. Whatever interrupts and disrupts my peace – sit with it and practice ‘allowing.’
  3. Relaxation is something I can do anywhere – on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean or in an urban setting or workplace.

I plan to play with this sense of finding peace exactly where I am. I likely won’t find any roosters around, but I’m sure there will be other disruptions to practice with.

With just a few minutes of meditation, I’m feeling ready to be back to work and back to help my loved ones with their various situations that have truly disrupted their lives. Monday morning feels much better because I know I have built up the kind of energy within that will help bring love, peace, and compassion to difficult situations. And I’m so glad to have so many mindful moments in Grand Cayman – it’s like I brought the island vibes home with me.


Wild Grand Cayman Rooster

2 thoughts on “Vacation Vibes – How to Bring the Feeling of Relaxation Home

  1. What a lovely, inspiring post. I feel invited to allow whatever comes up without judgement, and open to the peace that’s possible any time any place. Thank you for bringing your wisdom to us, Sunita.

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