Paddling in the sea, right where the water laps the shore. Allowing your gaze to wander, gliding over the waves towards the horizon. Or sitting on a stone, high above the world, drinking in a panorama of sky and mountains. Or simply relaxing on a city bench, turning your focus upwards to find a slice of blue sky between the buildings.
It doesn’t matter where or how we spend our free time during the summer break. All of these scenarios have one thing in common: looking towards the sky, allowing our gaze to wander, becoming aware of the landscape around us, freeing our minds of the repetitive thoughts of our daily routines. It’s as if the clarity of the sky brings us the mental clarity we have spent so long searching for – the clarity that floods us with new energy and motivation to undertake new things.
The state of mental clarity that many of us experience during carefree holidays is actually a condition that can be achieved through various forms of ‘training’, such as mindful meditation and yoga.
But why do we always screech up to our holidays with our suitcases packed to the brim with stress?
Despite all of the good intentions we have when we start afresh in January and September, we always arrive at the holidays drained and exhausted.
Instead, we must learn to let go of our bodies and purify our minds in our everyday lives. There is no point waiting for the ideal situation or moment or seeking perfection, be it work, family or relationships. If we wait for a time that we imagine to be perfect, it will never arrive.
Finding little opportunities throughout the day to stop, extend our gaze towards the blue sky, the horizon, the lush greenery of the meadows and trees and allow the sensation to wash over our entire bodies, whether standing, sitting or even walking – taking this time to check in with our bodies is vital to allow us to loosen up and let go of accumulated tensions.
And then we allow ourselves to breathe and really feel it in our bodies. And, little by little, we become more and more aware.
These simple check-ins with yourself only take between three and eleven minutes – and don’t demand anything but an open window, a quick walk to the nearest park, a moment to sit on a bench in a nice area of your neighbourhood. This is all it takes to sow the seeds of a habit in you, your body and your mind to let go and renew.
To feel your body and breathe deeply. Something very simple. Something extremely powerful.
Find a comfortable, quiet place and turn your attention to how your body feels. Notice the weight of your body and its contact with the ground, through your feet, through your buttocks. Relax your hips and knees. Straighten your back and notice how it gently lengthens. Relax your belly and diaphragm. Feel and observe your breath. Let it flow freely. Relax your shoulders, your arms, your hands. Release your jaw and tongue and gradually take control of your breath, slowly making it longer and deeper. Don't allow yourself to be distracted by any thoughts that appear. Simply acknowledge them without dedicating your attention to them and focus on the physical sensations in your body and on controlling your breath. If you find yourself following your thoughts, stop and bring yourself back to your body. Perceive the weight of your body. Perceive the sensations on your skin. Perceive the sounds around you. Breathe consciously.
If you can instil a routine as simple as this, it is likely to bring new nuances to your life, guiding you and shifting your focus – perhaps towards new internal perspectives that move you to seek more meditative space, or finally motivate you to do that sport, that dance, that activity you’ve always wanted to, or convince you to make a change to your diet, or give you the confidence to start that relationship you desire or end one you feel trapped in.
The idea is to achieve moments in which you are completely and fully present with your body and breath. Without wanting anything. Without expecting anything. And, progressively and without hurry, letting your own presence of body and mind unfold new positions, new perspectives, new horizons.