Holidays are holidays and not holidays!
I recently returned from an annual skiing holiday with my son. We’ve been going skiing for many years now and have a wonderful time. Nature, mountain air, lots of food and physical exercise leaving our bodies feeling nourished and stronger.
The spiritual aspect to the holiday is always both challenging and revealing. If you have a spiritual practice these regular events provide an effective gauge informing you of how you are progressing. With annual holidays taking place around the same time it can be informative to look back and compare how present, mindful or skilful you have been in comparison to the previous year.
This year I completely let go of my daily planned meditation practice and physical yoga practice. I continued study albeit on an ad-hoc basis, which was focused on the yoga sutras. It felt like the planned meditation I usually do was interspersed into the day. Little moments of gazing at pine trees or simply sitting in the hotel doing nothing and just looking into space. It was beautiful.
Holidays are holidays and not holidays! We may get a break from our usual routine and environment, but we never get a break from spiritual practice. Holidays are part of spiritual practice. Even if we don’t know it! Each holiday is custom built to give us just what we need to help us evolve. It may feel positive providing chances to reflect, enjoy nature or enter into deep communication with loved ones or strangers that is all made possible with the extra space and different environments.
Holidays also come with challenges. These take many forms including challenges with difficult people, poor services, delays, ill health and things generally not going to plan. Sometimes the pleasure we’ve attached to in our mind before the holiday doesn’t manifest and we feel short changed! These challenges may temporary knock us off balance causing us to become lost in thought. Then we suffer, then we wake up and become present again. If we reflect and learn from our experience we benefit. If not, there may be similar lessons and more suffering to come. In extreme cases, there are also disasters – these are all part of The Plan.
We should be grateful for whatever happens on a holiday. For the positives and the obstacles that are there to train us and help us evolve. Keep in mind the next time you book a holiday that you are also booking a training programme or spiritual retreat! Ashrams, meditation centres and so on have their place and can be highly beneficial. I’d recommend you consider attending them from time-to-time. But never underestimate how much you gain from a “normal” holiday with friends or family. Holidays are precious and sacred.
The picture is of my son Joshua who is enjoying a good rest.