Its Wonderful, But Dangerous to Your Meditation Practice
This article is about something that is a wonderful part of all our lives. We each enjoy this activity and participate in it regularly, but, unfortunately this activity can be quite dangerous to the health of your meditation, yoga and other spiritual practice. Here is a little story to help shed some light on this curious puzzle.
Monk Tataga was a new member of No Wind Monastery and he was busy familiarizing himself with his new duties and responsibilities. He had been given 2 major tasks to start out with. The first was to be the driver for Zen Master Blumise and the second was to work the front desk and guest reservations at the new Monastery Spa. Both tasks were well within his abilities and he was confident of being able to handle them without much difficulty, except for just one item that was confusing to him. Wanting clarity, he approached senior Monk Tara for clarification regarding it.
“Taraji, one item in my list of responsibilities has me very confused,” he said. “You see, the other day I drove Master Blumise to the city and dropped him at Henry Brown’s house to spend the weekend. This of course would be fine, except that when I work the front desk, it says there clearly that Mr. Henry Brown is not to be allowed into the spa under any circumstances? So I thought he must be a big trouble maker or unwanted person, because, he is the only person who is on the “Do Not Allow In” list. So now I am confused about this whole situation with Mr. Brown.”
Tara had a big laugh and said, “Henry and Master Blumise are actually very good friends.”
“Good friends? Now I am even more lost,” replied a befuddled Tataga.
“Yes, you see Henry has been trying for years to establish a strong meditation practice. He is actually able to get it going, but, Henry loves to go on vacations. Every time his practice is about to take hold, he has an urge for another vacation and when he returns, his daily sadhana (spiritual practice) is back to square one as he is unable to pick up where he left off. So Master Blumise has spoken to all the places he likes to go vacationing and gotten him barred from everywhere.”
“Well, Master Blumise certainly is an interesting friend to have,” acknowledged Tataga now having understood.
Vacations: Wonderful… absolutely, but, it’s the one event I have seen time and again be a disruptive force in the establishing of a spiritual practice, especially for beginners. Does this mean you should get yourself black listed from all your favorite vacation spots. Well… no of course not. What this means is you need to be cognizant that vacations can derail a bourgeoning meditation, yoga, health, fitness or other such practice. One of the hardest parts in these practices is establishing consistency and early in the life cycle, when inspiration is high, is a key time to make it an integral part of your daily routine. You may be about to get there, where a day without meditation or yoga feels incomplete and then comes the trip to Disney Land and when you return you are back where you started from.
If possible, of course, continue your practice while on vacation, but, often I find these good intentions to be a bit unrealistic. So, go on vacation, but, on your way back home hone your intent to immediately get back to your beautiful practice. There may be a whole slew of excuses just waiting to challenge you when you return, so it could take a bit of willpower to put it back on track initially. But just do it. I guarantee that you will be glad you did.
Summer here in the North Eastern US is vacation season and I have several excellent students who are enjoying holidays in all corners of the world. I am keen to see them back on the path when they return. Lets see if they are able to survive the dangers of vacation :-)…
Satnam, I’ve managed to keep up with my kundalini yoga daily Sadhana through many vacations . If there is a range of times in my particular kriya, I will cut it shorter, but when you have 2yrs. In on a 1000 sadhana, I’m not going to miss a day and have to go all the way back to Day One!
think that one that is doing meditation for like 3 years can aford a little pause, he can meditate while he is in vacation with out the need to sit: choiseless awareness. One who is doing meditation for long time should star beeing aware all the time
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
In Tantra there is a great Law which I cling to, it pretty much says “Whatever works use it”. A consistent meditation and yoga practice is the rarest thing to find and that’s because it’s not easy to put together. So if carrying your personal meditative world with you helps, by all means do so. To that end a Zafu is very handy and they even have “mobile” Zafus now which you can lug around to help you sit.
That is not to say that meditation is only possible on a pillow, but if it helps you keep up then I say why not.
I completely agree with your post. As I embarked on my last vacation, I told myself that I would find time to meditate… no matter what. Everything was fine the first day, after which I came up with excuses, and towards the end just told myself that I would get back on the horse after I return home. The good news though was that I was able to get right back to my practice after returning home.
The biggest hurdle for me was that I needed my own little sanctuary to meditate. I’m not sure if that is necessarily a good thing that I need my place to meditate. Shouldn’t one be able to get into a meditative state no matter where you are?
I am absolutely a fan of staying connected and close to nature. For readers who want to check out the great nature vacation that recently inspired Desika, head on over to his blog to see these amazing pictures…
Nature as My Teacher: My Trip to Olympic National Park:
Good idea. To plan some specific “spiritual activities” during the vacation rather than leaving it open ended is surely a good way to stay on track. Thanks for your contribution.
Absolutely right Anmol, unless one goes into the Nature for vacation, to observe and learn from it, which in itself is a spiritual practice.
Great article – too true. It’s so tempting to just “take a break” from spiritual practice when we’re also taking a break from “real life” – and then we never get back to the practice. I like to schedule something into my vacations that is oriented towards spiritual practice – a special yoga studio to visit, for example. It reminds me of what I’m missing, in case I’m tempted to skip my practice while I’m out of town.