Hanging on to vacation brain

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I’ve spent the last ten days on vacation, mostly on a beach in Florida doing nothing but watching waves, drinking Corona, and smoking the occasional cigar. Oh, and eating seafood obviously.

I do this pilgrimage every April, so I know what to expect: utter relaxation and escape from “real life.”

When I’m on my beach in Florida, I don’t worry about anxiety or depression. I don’t think about all the work I should be doing. I don’t stress over my upcoming schedule or money/death/Indians baseball. No, I simply exist without social media or email for over a week. It’s incredible.

I arrived home yesterday, and I’m trying to move slowly. Last night, for instance, instead of hurrying to the grocery store and cooking dinner, I went to my favorite Cleveland bar for cheap wings. Instead of working through my lunch today, I did yoga. I took my dogs to the park. I’ve been working, yes–catching up on email and organizing the coming month–but I’m trying to be slow about it. I fear rushing back into the stressors of day-to-day could erase the vacation brain I’ve spent ten days cultivating.

Now, I realize beach life is a different life. I love beach life. I enjoy the slow pace, the walks on the beach, and need to be … nowhere. The air smells different down there; the breeze feels freer. I’m different in Florida. I laugh more, relax more, and just don’t worry about anything.

I can’t exist in that space forever.

Well, I could.

I spent time with several official “beach bums” in Florida who seemingly do nothing but drink beer and talk about boats. I could, in theory, give up on real life … but I won’t. The question I ponder today is: How do I tap back into vacation brain? Is there a hidden pocket in my mind where I can tuck it away and metaphorically visit the beach whenever I want? I’m working on it.

Doing nothing is an art form. I did a whole lot of nothing recently in Florida. I need to do more nothing here in Ohio. I just need to travel to that special place in my brain where the Corona flows freely and no one mentions work, money, or (best of all) feeling sad.

On meditation

meditation

I tried meditating before bed last night. Usually, this is the time when I make up “stories.” They are often horrible stories that never see the light of day, but I tell them to myself, like a small child with a half-drawn picture book. But maybe telling stories isn’t that great of an idea, because sometimes, I actually tell GOOD stories that end up as novels, which means I’m awake and scribbling notes at 11 PM and my husband is like “Sara, WTF?”

So anyway, meditation.

There’s this meditation guy that’s really popular: Jason Stephenson. He’s Australian, which I admit did add a little je ne sais quoi to the experience. I used a guided meditation exercise where the guy talks at you and tells you to breathe and relax above a massage parlor soundtrack.

Traditional meditation as I’ve tried it in the past is worthless to me. I can’t sit there and think of “nothing.” My brain is infuriatingly loud, so telling me to think of nothing is like telling me DON’T THINK ABOUT PIZZA.

See? Now, you’re thinking about pizza. I’m thinking about pizza. We are all thinking about pizza, preferably with mushrooms, sausage, and black olives and this white garlic sauce they make at the parlor down the street. This is why the “think about nothing” meditation has never worked.

Last night, I let Australian Jason guide me through a 15 minute meditation, and all it did was make me remember I’d left the front door unlocked.

It’s not Jason’s fault I couldn’t relax. I’m pretty sure meditation is a skill that takes practice, so I’ll try it again tonight … and the night after that. It’s a re-training of the brain. It’s not often that I’m fully relaxed. Even while sitting still, watching TV, I’m usually making a list of some kind in my head.

The coloring book has helped with that because I’m a perfectionist and refuse to color outside the lines. Yoga helps the most, though, because if you zone out in the middle of a hot yoga flow class, you’re gonna end up on your face.

I promise, I’ll try meditation again … and again. Maybe this is something I could eventually get into? Not sure. Do you meditate? If so, got any tips for the newbie over here?