How to Be Mindful on Vacation

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Meditation for Real Life

“Going on vacation can lead to relaxation, adventure and even awe, whether you’re seeing a famous landmark or enjoying a local delicacy. But it can also be stressful, replete with botched travel plans and dashed expectations. Whatever is happening, take time to savor the experience. Being mindful on vacation can help us fully appreciate each moment, from exhilarating new adventures to relaxing quiet afternoons.” — Dina Kaplan, founder of The Path, a meditation community.

Try going on vacation without a checklist. Can you avoid ticking off tourist sites and instead enjoy the relaxed sensations of living in the moment, wherever you are? Think of a vacation as a feeling within, rather than a chance to bring your hurried lifestyle to another place.

Experiment with a new rhythm. Make a plan to have no plans. Avoid scheduling anything for an afternoon and see how that makes you feel. Does it bring up anxiety? Do you feel like you’re missing something? Can you pause, focus on your breath and be comfortable with a bit of uncertainty and unplanned exploring?

Be open to meeting new people. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact, share a smile and strike up a new conversation.

If you stumble upon a park, a restaurant or a cultural attraction that looks interesting, be willing to try out new experiences, even if they’re not in a guidebook.

Sit at a cafe or park or garden where a local would spend time. Notice how people dress, speak or gesture differently than at home and whether the smells from nearby restaurants and bakeries are different, too.

When a ferry or flight or driver is delayed, try to let go of anxiety. What if this is part of the journey and will lead to something unexpected and better? We can’t always control what is happening, but we can control how we choose to respond to every situation throughout the day.

When things don’t go as planned, put your phone and computer away, come back to your breath and notice how you’re feeling. Do you feel tightness in your chest or jaw?

If so, come back to your breath again and try to let it go. Keep your phone away and try picking up a book you’ve always wanted to read. This is the perfect time.

During the best times of your vacation, try not to get too attached to how you’re feeling, taking care to avoid getting caught up in craving more moments like this.

Notice the sensations you are feeling even as you acknowledge that they, and this experience, are impermanent. Enjoy them even while knowing it will eventually be time to head home.