The importance of taking time out has been written about many a times. And yet, I feel the urge to mention it again as I see most people talking about it, and very few actually doing it, including myself. Until last month that is. After last year’s seemingly long, cold and monotonous winter, I wouldn’t budge on a long family holiday this season. So hubby took three weeks off to road-trip north along the Australian East Coast with our three littlies as crew. Although three weeks sounds a lot, it wasn’t enough to take the boat anywhere sailing. In Australia, distances are vast and the ocean and weather patterns work in a different time dimensions where schedules and return back to work days don’t fit it.
The burn out
Before we left, I had for the first time ever reached a point where my body started breaking down bit by bit. Me boing a yoga teacher, you might think… I realized that there is such a thing as too many asanas. Yoga poses can be amazing healing tools and gateways to a more expansive mental and emotional experience. However, they weren’t designed to be done hours on end every day. Teaching ten classes a week didn’t seem so much, but add all the other challenges that have been happening with the house built, within the community and a few other non-disclosable issues, it became all too much.
My usual four to five hours sleep didn’t hit it any longer. My prana was depleted, my qi burnt out. Old injuries flared up and new ones added on as I felt unable to stop and pause. Undeniable signs – that’s what my body does to save me. Divine timing had our break coming up just then. A month later and three weeks with barely a single asana, but lots of breath and meditation, my body has recovered and I’ve re-centred – albeit with a more alert sense of not doing too much.
The first stops consisted of visiting friends who all welcomed us so warm-heartedly it felt like a soothing blanket, warm chimney and hot coconut-chocolate all together on a cold winter night (Cold is relative down under, but with zero insulation in houses, 10 degrees outside feels more like 0 degrees inside!). Taking a stroll down memory lane I showed the kids my university in Queensland. We discovered some amazing, off-the-beaten track camping grounds, some of which we had all to ourselves. Near Rockhampton, we sailed the Barrier Reef with some friends (30% of the coral is dead – shocking!) and spent a week in one of Vanuatu’s island paradises soaking in Pacific culture, sunshine, better reefs and smiles.
By week three we had truly disconnected from the rat race. For a brief moment it felt like we had dropped back into our nomadic, free traveling days like when we lived for three years on a boat in the Med. Heading back south there were more amazing beaches (Australia is good at that.), more visits and sleepovers at beautiful friends’ along the coast and one last flabbergasting back-to-basics bush-life journey in Crowdy Bay National Park. The kids loved having the whole family together, thrived on nature, freedom and adventure and, like us, were really sad when on the Sunday night we had no more hours left to stretch out the holidays any further.
The beauty about travelling is not only the outer experiences but also the journey that simultaneously happens on the inside. It wasn’t all smooth sailing as you’d expect in a month with lots of eclipses, retrogrades and fiery Mars influence. But it certainly gave perspective and insight that can, at times, be harder to gain when one is stuck in the routine of everyday life. For us, big decisions have been made which now allow us to move on.
If you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or trapped, a geographical change might just be the catalyst you need to break unhelpful patterns, walls or fogginess and reconnect with your clear and beaming inner Light. Whilst yoga, meditation and the lot are mostly inner journeys, we cannot deny the social essence of our primal DNA set up. What happens around us influences us, whether we like it or not. It is the importance of sangha in Buddha’s teachings – a like-minded community around you.
Thus paying attention to who you hang out with, what situations you attract and where you create a home and a livelihood are important parts of your inner journey to health, contentment and happiness, too. And, regularly taking the time and space to check out, gain some distance and reassess that your path still aligns with yours stars and your dreams is priceless. Yoga retreats are ideal, but if that fails any other kind of holiday too.
And here’s a seal with a virtual hug from me back in my teaching and teacher training and retreat-organising routine – but it’s a new me as the one I was a month ago does not exist anymore. Thanks to our trip, it’s a me who has relearnt to appreciate what there is and gained a new understanding of the importance of boundaries, standing in one’s power and reading the universe’s signs. More next week. Namaste!