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It takes time to.. a)compile a vacation to-do list, b)soak in magnificent scenery, c)relax completely.

November 12, 2010

8 hours of travel across ocean, through thrift shops and amidst a forest of rain lined with smiling pumpkins marked our visit to the edge of the world: the Pacific Rim Provincial Park.

A craving to accomplish a multitude of tasks during my holiday gnawed at me as the destination crept closer and closer.

Like many Type A goal-oriented yogis, I had knowingly created a long internal to-do list, which included: crochet 2 toques, write this piece, read 3 novels and 3 magazines, bake cookies and banana bread, spend money, sit in stillness for 20 minutes each day, practice asana for 1-2 hours per day, swim in the ocean, surf in the ocean, hike many kilometers per day, sauna, soak many times in the outdoor bathtub, play board games, watch videos, love, laugh, sleep.

I had 4 days, two of which included travel.  2.5 of those days were spent calmly arguing with myself about that damn list. Love, laughter and sleep won in the end, mostly sleep.

Although I was yearning for the most exciting trip abound with hilarious stories to share with fellow yogis upon returning home, I had to let the list disappear into the sea salt mist and chose instead to embrace no stress, nothingness, no action.

It is quite beautiful how my process of surrender of thoughts, through thoughts and words can be re-created infinitely. What a unique and tumultuous and ongoing journey we each face: Being and Becoming (as Georg Feuerstein brilliantly coins it).

Happy, empty brain, vacation face.

Nonetheless, there we were at the edge of the world. Ammeded list of holiday activities: giving up on a wolf puzzle I had originally insisted we bring (not without a hard self-reprimanding dialogue), happily falling asleep 5 minutes into Johnny Depp films (gasp. Although not abnormal as I approach my Golden Years), gawking at each mushroom growing along mushroom-laden West Coast trails (anyone can adore them, take photos, and mosey along, perfect for Little Miss No Goals), enjoying a long sunny afternoon on the beach while losing at crib but winning at afternoon wine tastings (double gasp. Wine in the afternoon has been absent from my life for a long time. It was time to indulge. And I did. It also eased the blow of losing at crib) and finally, no yoga asana (that’s a lie. I practiced for a bit on my final day but out of sheer delight! And I awoke each morning to the familiar old tune of “YO-GAAAAAA” in my head).

Instead of crowding my hours with activities I easily enjoy in my day-to-day life (see List 1 above), I chose to adjust my ideas about the holiday and just listen to the roar of the ocean (and adhere only to List 2). At times, simply being on holiday certainly was a choice as the rumble of insecurities and fears and lists and exhaustion appeared in the quiet woody ocean backdrop.

As much as I didn’t expect those rumbles to pop in on my time off, I had to let them happen. Resisting them would have impeded my learning process in a frustrating way. Here is where I remembered an important aspect of learning thanks to Mark Whitwell’s simple teachings – we need human contact to learn about oneself, the essence of yoga practice.

When I met him a few weeks ago, Mark Whitwell reminded me (well, I’m sure all of us in the room..) that it’s not necessarily an obsessive asana regime that brings enlightenment.

A contorted body, a master does not make.

These words echoed as I struggled with solitude vs. partnership, lists vs. relaxation, no daily yoga routine, when I finally accepted that the trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island was not an escape from my job nor an excuse to accomplish a dozen outdoor expeditions. This was actually still an opportunity to learn about loving myself with or without distractions and honour my spirit with a sweet and sunny rest. It was a time to make contact with a new friend, to connect through physical and verbal interactions (a challenging part of the yoga practice). I could not check out of life and my human tendencies, but once I relaxed my judgements about them, my eyes sparkled with spruce, I heard raindrops on a tin roof and I dozed on the sunny shore.

Observe and maybe yoga comes.
Breathe and maybe peace comes.
Rest and maybe ease comes.
Be here, be now and maybe love comes.
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