Turning Vacation Into a State of Mind
People love to get away on vacation, and I don’t think there are any exceptions to this. I don’t really know of anyone who doesn’t love a good vacation. The feeling of taking time to care for yourself, getting away and leaving behind work responsibilities and all your troubles is almost necessary for a person’s well-being. Just actually being free to be yourself and do things you love is such a wonderful feeling and we all need to do it.
I had always struggled with leaving work thoughts behind when I went away on vacation. I always had something on my mind, and it was always there just in the background. Even when I was in the middle of playing with my son I could never quite just let go of my normal everyday life. I found eventually that over time while I was on vacation those thoughts would slowly fade away and I was able to fully enjoy my vacation time, leave work and the world behind. I found the experience of being on vacation to be one of the greatest feelings, because you take the time to treat yourself to good and enjoyable things, you relax and you truly love your experience and in doing so love yourself and treat yourself properly.
I decided to take all these good feelings and turn it into a meditation! This way, I could relive all the good things that I had experienced while I was on vacation. Vacation doesn’t have to be a place you go to, but it can be a state of mind! For this meditation I chose to go up north to a cottage in the woods.
I am not sure what it is about going up north into the forest but some of my most memorable vacations were spent in wooded cabins on lakes or rivers. Spending time with my family or friends and making time for myself in the mornings to do things I love brings a smile to my face. Sitting together as a group, playing games, swimming, going on boat rides, fishing – whatever it is you truly enjoy doing, you can take those feelings with you and you can make them real in a meditation.
The meditation we are going to do is called Down on the Dock. It is very peaceful and very self-indulgent. You will have to really draw on all five of your senses and the more detail you can use the greater the experience will be. Turn your mind up to 11 and bring yourself fully and completely down to the dock with me!
Down on the Dock
Every year I go to a cottage in the woods with my family, and it’s about a 6 hour drive away from where I live. It is a peaceful drive on a two lane highway, kind of like a country road. It's not a three or four lane super highway with speeding cars, the honking of horns, and people following too close. This highway goes through small towns and is a winding road, which has many hills and valleys with creeks and green, grassy fields. There are farms along the way as well with horses and cows grazing in lush old pastures. To say the drive there is an enjoyable experience is the absolute truth, a laid back drive that is beautiful and just as relaxing as being at the cottage.
(Breathe deeply now, make sure that you are comfortable and relax yourself fully. Picture yourself now in your car driving on this highway, you’re not in a hurry and the windows are down, the sun is shining. Who is with you? What music do you have playing on the radio? Bring yourself there now. Take your time as you are on vacation and there is no hurry for you to get to your destination – in fact, the drive is part of the vacation itself)
The cottage is in the middle of a dense forest, the road to the cottage about two kilometres off the highway. The road is gravel and windy and you have to drive slowly to navigate the rocky turns and mossy slick shoulders. There is a sign at the entrance to this road that lists your last name and cottage way.
(Picture yourself now turning off the main country highway and driving on this road. Imagine everything: the sun shinning through the trees, the sound of your car tires slowly going over the gravel, etc.)
There’s one last steep hill right at the end of the road that leads to the cottage, and you have to give the car all the gas you’ve got to make it up. The tires spin and the gravel flies, hitting the underside of the car as you rocket up the last hill and once you are at the top, the cottage is just a sharp turn to your left and you are there.
(Feel the excitement of reaching your final destination, the exaltation of making it up the hill and now knowing that you are just seconds from parking the car at the cottage.)
As you make the turn into the driveway you see the red log cottage and you smile. The cottage has two bedrooms with a breathtaking view of the lake. It is a bungalow, nothing fancy, and nestled away in the woods it is nice and comfortable just for you.
(What does the cottage look like? Picture it as you drive up. What do the trees look like? What does the driveway look like? Picture everything as you drive up to your cottage.)
Once you pull up, you get out of your car and take a deep breath, filling your lungs with the fresh air, so crisp and clean compared to the city air. You close your car door and follow the path around back of the cottage: there will be time to unpack later. Right now you want to see the lake! As you reach the back of the cottage you make a left hand turn, and stop to look out at this beautiful sight.
(Now use all five of your senses and bring yourself right to this moment, breathe deeply and just enjoy this sight for what it is.)
There is a large deck on the back of the cottage with comfortable chairs and a large table in the centre for you to put a drink on or play cards, or even light candles for a stargazing night. This back porch is entertainment central at the cottage. The table is made out of a large tree cut in half and sanded and finished perfectly.
(Picture this table and the back porch as you would like to, use as much detail as you can and make it a real place.)
As you sit on the deck you look out on the lake through the trimmed pine trees. The sight lines are perfect and you can see the entire lake. (What do you see and hear as you look out at the lake?)
Leading off the deck is a well-worn trail in the sandy ground, and it is framed by rocks on either side of the trail. This trail leads down to the dock at the lake’s shoreline. (Walk down to the trail now and go to the dock.)
The dock is big – fifty feet wide by fifty feet deep and is made out of cedar (which smells intoxicating in the early morning when there is a fresh coat of dew intensifying the scent.)
(Picture this dock now and see yourself stepping onto it and looking around at the wonderful view. It is breathtaking.)
You turn and walk back up to the car to unpack and settle in for a good night’s sleep. It has been a long but enjoyable ride.
(Now you are free to picture the cottage on the inside as best as you can, make it look, smell, and feel the way you want it to. Feel you are now there completely and the only thoughts you have are about this cottage, this wonderful place you have created.)
The next morning you wake up early, turn the coffee maker on and make your way down to the dock. This is the best part of your day, and how you like to start every day when you are up at the cottage.
You love going down to the dock in the early mornings just before the sun rises. The silence is pure and absolute, not a sound other than the water swishing up on the rocky shore, not an aggressive swoosh but a calm one that happens every two or three seconds. It is dark but not night time dark, just enough light to feel comfortable. You sit right at the end of the dock and watch the mist slowly roll by about a foot off the lake’s edge and three feet above the water. It moves slowly, creating ghostly shapes before your eyes. The sun rises and begins to light up the whole scene; the lake is about to come to life.
(Take the time now to see this mist roll by, hear the water swooshing up against the rocky shoreline.)
The lake is about five kilometres wide and there are pine trees lining the shoreline. The sunrise is slowly lighting up the sky, and your eyes are being treated to a multicoloured landscape of greens and yellows and browns. (See the sun rising slowly, peeking over the treetops and bringing the landscape to life.)
There are cottages that dot the shoreline, some are even hidden in the green hills. As it gets brighter and brighter around you, the mist slowly dissipates and you hear a loon call from off in the distance. Life is beginning to wake up in front of your waiting eyes and ears.
(Take a deep breath and let nature slowly come to life, take in everything as if you are seeing it for the first time.)
You hear a fish jump out of the water. You look over to your right and watch the ripples in the water expand and slowly disappear before your eyes. You look over to your left and see the loon you heard calling just moments before dive down into the depths of the lake, perhaps going after the fish that just jumped. After about twenty seconds the loon emerges from the water not far in front of you with a large splash. It caught a fish. The fish is flopping around in its tightly closed bill. The loon flaps its wings and is airborne with its morning catch, maybe flying off to feed awaiting babies or just landing somewhere to enjoy the catch alone.
You look into the clear, tea coloured lake right in front of the dock and you can see to the bottom.
(What do you see as you look into the clear water; are there fish swimming? A turtle passing by on its morning swim? Create any images you may want to see.)
The lake is coming alive as the sun rises. Birds start chirping, and the water is now swooshing up on the rocks, getting louder and faster as there is now a calm breeze. You take a deep breath and you smell freshly brewed coffee coming from the cottage. You stand up take a good look at the view before you. Now you make your way up the sandy path to the cottage. You go inside and pour yourself a steaming mug of coffee. You then go back outside and sit facing the breathtaking view in front of you.
(Take the time now to relax, breathe deeply and truly embrace this feeling and the freedom you have in this moment.)
The rest of this meditation is up to you, take the time now to make the ending your own and realize that there will be many more trips to this cottage, down to the dock, and that each trip can be different.
This meditation is one I enjoy very much. I can create so many different experiences down on the dock. Children diving into the water and playing while I sit with my wife and friends enjoying their company... candlelit dinners on the back deck, star watching on the dock late at night. If you can think of it, you can transport yourself there. The opportunity to bring in all the senses to this experience is never ending. You can draw on sight, sound and smell so very easily because being up north is such a wild and untamed place, the sky is the limit with this meditation.
After this meditation I am always refreshed and relaxed; work is gone and the rest of my day is filled with memories of being down on the dock. The most important thing is my state of mind after this meditation – I am in such a state of relaxation that it is only matched by actual being there physically. The power of meditation is so incredible, I can carry my memories throughout an entire day and the hours pass by faster because I am happy and still at the cottage in my mind.
It can become a little secret that you keep to yourself, you can have a little smirk on your face all day because while the world is spinning in its usual way because you have these memories still fresh in your mind. You do your work and all along you’re really sitting on that dock doing whatever you want to be doing and you’re the only one who knows it! That is what life is about, and happiness and meditation is a doorway to that feeling!
Remembering that the feelings you have when on vacation are created by you, you are also able to feel that way in any moment in your life. It is so very important to realize vacation can be a state of mind. I encourage you to practice this meditation as much as you can until it feels natural and you make every image yours and yours alone. Having a vacation state of mind will help you enjoy your day and keep you grounded even when you think it may be impossible. Meditation is something that you carry with you throughout the day and doesn’t end when the meditation ends.
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