Recently, I returned from a big road/camping family trip where we covered over 1750 miles in the southwest. I had two goals over the trip: #1, be present and enjoy my kids, hubs, the moments and the scenery, and #2, fully engage in #1 by disconnecting and going rogue. What does that mean? No social media, emails and very limited texts (yes, mom). Fortunately, the Universe supported these goals because most of the time we didn’t have cell service. Boom. I made this decision because while I tend to have great intentions, there is always some kind of shiny distraction fighting for my attention. Like many challenges I have tried, this was going to be another one!
While I am cognitively aware of the positive impacts of focusing on the now by disengaging from external distractions such as social media and the continual stream of notifications, it doesn’t mean I’m going to immediately stop. Our habitual behavior is based on repeated thoughts and beliefs that are generated from past experiences and emotions. Imagine yourself as you walk through every hour of your day. What are you thinking? Are you thinking about new thoughts when you wake up? Or are you going through the motions? Do you check your email, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or texts first thing in the morning? Or are you deliberate with your energy and time, setting your intention and doing what fuels your mind and body?
Going through the motions of the day and the constant feed of distractions dictated my day. There was a component of a structure, however, it was often blurred with oh just let me send this quick text and then I will work on project D. My intentions were always good the night before. I wake up at 5:15 am to study, make my coffee and then I get to the task. Okay – good start. Next thing I know, I’m texting with my tribe or commenting on Facebook. Then my thoughts led me to other people, their miracles and kids, cute dogs, and beautiful presentations of food and travel which throws my attention and energy away from my focus. Then I look at the clock wondering what the heck I just spent the last 45 minutes on, my kiddos are awake, and the thoughts set in that I am unable to accomplish what is important to me which leads to guilt, lack of motivation, staying stuck, and a repeat of yesterday. I often use the term energy flows where intention goes. What we focus our attention on flourishes and whatever we divert our attention from withers away.
Spring break arrived and like my alcohol-free challenge, I was determined to stick to my vacation goals (yes, I make goals and set intentions for much of what I do in life). At first, it was strange and felt a little off. What is going on with my family, my friends, what am I missing? I felt like I should be doing ‘the things’. Whatever they are. I realized I never gave myself permission to relax and let go! My husband teases me about how hard it is for me to “arrive’ while we are on vacation. It typically takes me a few days to unwind and while I am physically present, mentally I am still in my over accomplishing mode and my brain is still cranking out everything waiting for me when I return. This time, I was determined to change this habitual process. Once I granted myself permission, it was like the clouds departed and the light appeared. I drank the beer. I ate S’mores. I watched sunrises, sunsets, and the nighttime sky. I went to bed early. I laughed so hard with my kids, my belly hurt. I played ball with my boy, danced around the fire with my daughter. I dropped my exercise routine, drank coffee creamer (GASP – it was all natural). We didn’t do anything epic or crazy, just being and living in the moment. There was no guilt, no need to be busy, no expectations, no need to control the outcome, no worrying about my upcoming workshop, what needs to change on my website, what I am doing etc.
Returning from break, I knew I had a mountain of work that was waiting for me. Letting go of my routine, the distractions, and the thoughts during our vacation (that normally run rampant through my mind) of what needs to get done was exactly what I needed. Maybe for you, taking a break isn’t a challenge and I commend you for allowing yourself to relax and let go. Transformation is a continual process of letting go and It’s still a big work in progress for me. Taking mental and physical breaks is crucial for your health and well being. Whether it’s an actual vacation or a 10-minute pause between tasks over the course of your day. The brain needs white space before it moves onto the next thing. In order to fully engage in the moment, you have to clear the residual thoughts that are occupying your mind.
All you have is the present moment. Enjoy it and let go of everything else. You will do everything you need to once you release the expectation and let go. Then you will have the energy to make things happen.