I recently embarked on a 14 day cruise through the western Mediterranean with my husband, my son and his fiancé, and dear friends. I experienced the mind suspension that so often accompanies vacations. I spent focused time with seven people I adore; we were immersed in luxury; and our ports of call were the sites of my studies as a Humanities major in college. Our excursions were rigorous- hiking the hill towns of Cinque Terre; swimming in the turquoise blue waters off Capri; and kayaking around the walls of old city Dubrovnik, Croatia. All of these elements had a mind stilling effect.
For the first time in months and months I felt like I was truly “living in the moment”, which is actually the goal of many spiritual and religious practices. To be fully engaged in the present moment is to be at one with God… to have achieved your Godhood. Mosaic edicts command us to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our being. The end result of following this commandment is to be fully present in a singular moment. Eastern religious traditions likewise urge quieting the mind and synchronizing the breath with our thoughts.
Why is it so hard to achieve this kind of absorption in our daily lives? As women particularly, we walk around with day timers imbedded in our brains as we schedule meetings with clients, make appointments for kids, and plan social engagements. I guess the operative word here is “plan”. We are always thinking ahead or reflecting upon yesterday’s moments. Perhaps we are involved in activities that are less than absorbing and we don’t necessarily want to be fully engaged in the moment. I mean really, how exciting is car pooling after all? Can we really expect that fixing meat loaf for the 300th time can really hold our attention for long?
Since most of us don’t have the luxury of taking a two week vacation often (this is the first two week vacation I’ve had in four years) perhaps we can take micro vacations on occasion- a spa treatment for example; a weekend at the beach; a 30 minute meditation; or escaping into a novel. It’s really quite surprising how we can meet ourselves all over again on a vacation. Happy sailing…