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Taking a holiday within yourself

She chose to be quiet for two days, speaking to no one, listening to no news, shutting out the world in order to rest. Feeling overwhelmed with plans, others’ concerns and her own thoughts, she wanted to hop off the planet for a brief time.

She could go away somewhere. Thinking about a certain hot springs up north, she considered the five-hour drive there and another five hours back. That drive didn’t seem very restful, so she crossed the idea off her list of possibilities.

After several thoughts of different alternatives she decided to stay put. As they say in New Orleans during a hurricane, “shelter in place.” That place was home … that place was her own mind. Notifying a few close friends of her intention, she unplugged the phone, turned off her cell and prepared for the next two days of solitude.

“What should I do first?” she asked herself, as a list of household projects she wanted to do beckoned. “That’s not the point,” she thought. This wasn’t the time to embark on a flurry of chores that she had been neglecting. “The point is to rest … slow down … heal what needs to be healed … come back to myself.”

This last one was particularly important to her. As a mother, friend, and busy community member, her energy constantly reached outward, leaving her with little nurturing for herself. With the cold of winter drawing closer this left her feeling vulnerable.

“I have everything I need right here,” she thought. “ I don’t need to do anything.”

So that’s what she did … nothing. Sitting and scanning her body and her mind, she focused on her breath — in and out. Thoughts competed for attention, crowding in to compete with one another.

“This feels like my ‘normal life,’” she thought. “Nothing restful about this.” Giving herself more time just sitting, the thoughts kept coming … and leaving. Finally she felt her body relaxing with each exhale, until she could just allow the thoughts to come and go without concern, or without thinking she had to do anything about them.

She lay down, and slept. A little chilled, she put another log on the fire and made a cup of hot tea. Doing as little productive activity as possible, she began to reacquaint herself with what she needed. When she became hungry she prepared food. When she became sleepy she took a nap. Stiff? She did some stretching. Just being with herself became one of the more caring gifts she could give herself.

So simple, yet so difficult to do this with all the external bombardment we face from media, others’ needs, and our own list of “shoulds.”

A rhythm began. Whenever she questioned what was next, she sat and relaxed, until something deep inside made a suggestion that was not determined by any outside factors from which she was taking a holiday. She felt like reading something contemplative. Again she slept … maybe 12 hours each day of sleeping and napping.

“I guess I need this sleep,” she thought, not trying to second guess herself. She was truly feeling her own rhythm. Seeming lighter, she managed to do one or two projects … just small ones … cleaning out her closet and putting a few things away. It seemed to reinforce what was happening internally.

As her 48 hours started coming to an end, she felt rested — as if she had been on a long holiday. She didn’t really want to reenter her normal daily routine, but knew she couldn’t exist in isolation. She was part of a family; part of a community. But, she now knew she had an antidote for when all that external busyness created overwhelm. This two-day period of solitude taught her something … she had the power to practice self-care and take a holiday for herself.

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