On Taking a Time Out

My posting frequency has declined, but for very good reasons.  I’ve been spending time with friends, new and old, and fully enjoying this wonderful summer of less responsibilities than normal.  Even so, I’m still working at the job I had during the school year, planning my master’s project, volunteering, doing maid-of-honor duty for my good friend’s wedding, and generally staying connected and informed about the world.

Sometimes constant repetition of habits can become grating on one’s soul.  I’ve written before about the benefits of mindfulness and yoga practice.  For a few months, I’d been meditating first thing in the morning for 20 minutes every day, and doing a vinyasa practice 5 times per week.  Eventually the monotony started to wear on me.  I still firmly believe in the healing and peace-making power of mindfulness, but I’m now a bit more lenient about my practice schedule.

I started meditating a bit less frequently, and have varied the time of day and location of my meditation to suit my feelings.  My knees started bothering me and I felt a grating dissatisfaction with my vinyasa practice, so started focusing more on yoga nidra and gentle yoga.  Both of these changes have renewed my love for my meditation and yoga practices by allowing me to stay connected with the things that I love and receive from them.  I do yoga to connect with my body and breath, and have had to allow myself to take a step back physically when both my mind and body require it.  I meditate to connect to myself and be freed from my thoughts, so rigidly requiring myself to meditate for the same period of time every single day seemed to be a symptom of the type of mindset that I seek to soften through meditation.

One of the overall goals of a mindfulness practice is to listen to what my body and mind truly need.  I was afraid that this experience of dissatisfaction with my mindfulness practice would cause me to abandon it altogether, and feared that changing the practice to suit my evolving needs would result in its dissolution.  That has not been the case, however.  By allowing a little more flexibility in my meditation and yoga schedules, I’ve been able to enjoy them more, which causes me to want to do them more.  After a couple weeks of yoga nidra, restorative, and gentle, I’m now easing myself back into the world of vinyasa.  I’m seeking a balanced yoga practice that incorporates all of those types into a yoga routine that is both peaceful and energizing.

I have another large time out coming up in my life.  I will be spending a month at the Mystical Yoga Farm in Guatemala, and then traveling for a week at the end of my stay.  Spending time with new interesting friends in my grad school program pushed me to become a better and braver person.  One thing I’ve always wanted to do is travel by myself, but it’s also something that I’ve feared.  I hope to expand myself through living in a spiritual community and experiencing a new mindfulness routine.  I hope to learn about myself and become comfortable knowing no one (initially) in a foreign place.  I hope to miss my wonderful friends and family (but not too much) so that when I come back, I appreciate them all anew.

There are many ways to take a time out, by making more time for yourself or choosing to spend more time with others.  By beginning a mindfulness practice or decreasing the intensity of a current practice.  By spending less time online, eating healthier, exercising more, or spending more time volunteering.  Dissatisfaction can also be resolved by spending more time in gratitude meditation and being mindful of all the wonderful things in your life.  I feel very fortunate for all of the lovely people and experiences in my life, and I feel equally fortunate to have the opportunity to explore something completely new this summer.