Breaking from Daily Practice

Every time I go on vacation, I suddenly become someone who doesn't meditate. And every single time I feel annoyed with myself and lazy. And I feel less good in my brain and my emotional realm than normal. And I spend all day thinking, "I'll just do this one thing, and then I'll meditate."

So why in the hell can't I bring myself to do it? At home I am exceedingly disciplined, bordering on rigid, making time for meditation no matter what. Which brings the obvious point to mind--it's part of my routine and my day wouldn't be normal or complete without it. But if it makes me feel so sane and so joyful why not just do it?

Me, on vacation, meditating!
Yesterday I returned to my routine from a ten day hiatus, having traveled with my family and friends in Colorado. I did find sporadic opportunities to meditate while there, and some days were as good as any day on my cushion at home. But yesterday I got to sit on my cushion, with my mala, and read the Yoga Sutras and do my chanting, and do the whole routine, free from the eyes and ears of all.
Oh my. I spent the entire time with a giant smile on my face.

But I wouldn't have had quite the same experience, had I not taken a few days break. This break gave me the opportunity to reflect on how much I appreciate my practice and how good it feels as a part of my day. I think taking breaks from any constant thing that we do is a key to enjoyment of that thing. Now this observation may seem like a cop-out from someone who can't bring themselves to meditate while on vacation, however! the point for me is that I did come back to my cushion and will continue to do so regardless of missing days. And when I did come back, it felt like coming home.

Breaking from asana practice is also useful. It can be hard to recognize progress without stepping back to reflect and enjoy your effort. Every week I take at least one or two days to enjoy my morning without practice. Sometimes it's hard to step away, it can make me feel lazy or make my body feel stiff. But most of the time I am grateful to have a break and to enjoy the fruits of my labor with a morning to myself.

This is part of a larger practice of letting go. Accepting what is as it comes and learning to live joyfully regardless. Surrendering to the flow of life when necessary, and coming back to your cushion with regularity and devotion.

Momentum

Have you ever noticed that when you consistently come to your mat or your cushion on a daily basis that it gets easier and easier to continue to do so? My teacher Theresa Murphy suggests that you come to your mat everyday, even if it's just for ten minutes.
This past week, I found myself low on the inspiration and drive totem pole. This happens to me often after I have an especially inspired practice or class. I'm not sure what it is....some little part of me feels that I've made an accomplishment and now I can retire.
Perhaps I will retire to India?
So, this past week I felt a bit like I was dragging myself to the mat. And then essentially rolling around on the mat because I couldn't muster up the impetus to practice any sequencing. Each day I'd come up with a list of things that I had to do before practicing (checking my email, drinking tea, folding my laundry, rechecking my email) but each day, even though it felt like a drag, I ended up on my mat and then my meditation cushion.
I do believe that this sort of slow down happens to everyone. It's pretty impossible to be "on" all the time and can actually be quite useful as a time for reflection to not quite "turn off" but at least turn down. Roll around on your mat (actually I was doing a lot of sensory awareness training also known as somatics), keep it low key and appreciate the times when I do feel the urge to do a badass practice with meticulous sequencing.
Being on the backside of last week, I feel grateful for making my way matward, even if only for a few moments. by doing so, I retained my sense of forward momentum and trust fully that inspiration will head my way before too long.