I just returned from vacationing in one of my favorite places on earth, Key West. I left the island feeling rested, tired, and happy—exactly how one should feel at the end of a long weekend away. I distinctly felt different while on vacation. I didn’t care about my “beach body”—I put my body on the beach. Boom! Done!—I had mojitos at lunch; I started developing a map in my head of the island as I zoomed through the old streets on my scooter; I wore springy, hot-weather clothes and loved it.
“What makes our vacation self so expansive, joyful, and full of permission?” Lisa Wimberger asks in Neurosculpting: A Whole-Brain Approach to Heal Trauma, Rewrite Limiting Beliefs, and Find Wholeness.
“What strips us of that when a random day printed on the calendar notes the end of the vacation? What invisible constraints do we shed and then put back on during that whole process? What underlying processes or behavior scripts shift our body relationships in the world from one context to the next? It is clear to me when I think about this scenario that my mind, body, and spirit are in one sort of communication before vacation and in a different type of communication during vacation. The catalyst for this changing communication might just be our beliefs, illusions, and expectations.” (emphasis added)
So how can we experience that Vacation Mind more often in daily life? I mean, who of us wouldn’t want to feel the relaxation and wonder and joy that vacation brings? The first step is to down-regulate the limbic system—the part of the brain responsible for many functions including our fight-or-flight response. Students of Neurosculpting® will recognize this as the first step in the 5-Step process we follow in every meditation.
Focus on your breath, focus on those things that are sure and safe in your life. Maybe you focus
on gravity or the ground beneath your feet.
Perhaps you take a moment to remind yourself that you’re nourished enough and safe enough in the moment; that you have access to modern healthcare or you enjoy the benefits of indoor plumbing and air conditioning.
Then tease your curiosity—and your prefrontal cortex (PFC), the part of the brain
responsible for those ideal human states of compassion, enlightenment, creativity, and more. You can do this by imagining a brand new color in your mind or trying to spell your name backwards. If you’re feeling very imaginative, you might try to focus your concentration on a single eyelash or a single hair on your head.
When you’re on vacation, your limbic system is typically chilled out and your PFC is going crazy with cool new things to experience. New food, new roads to learn as you navigate through town, new people to meet, stories on guided tours, art galleries, even a different home base in the form of your hotel room—all these things tease your sense of wonder in a non-threatening way.
As we prepare for a vacation, it’s likely that we shift our mindset to expect a stress-free experience full of new interactions with a new place. So the question is: What if we were to shift our everyday mindset to expect a stress-free experience at work or while on our errands? Of course we can’t be completely free of stress, but what would happen if we stopped expecting it? If we started expecting a more vacation-like experience in everyday life? Might we be able to be on “vacation” more often?
Open, friendly, and compassionate, Megan Winkler is inspired to make the world a better place. In 2013, she began studying Neurosculpting®, a brain-based approach to healing through the union of meditation and neuroscience. She found that it settled her mind and helped her manage stress in life-changing ways. In 2014, she completed her Tier 1 certification with the Neurosculpting® Institute. As a meditation instructor, Megan provides a safe, comfortable environment in which students of all ages—eight to 108—can unlock their innate ability to experience change and healing in their own lives. She currently serves as the Neurosculpting® Institute’s Editorial Coordinator and Youth Program Co-Developer. She also holds a certification in Nutritional Therapy and regularly integrates nutritional suggestions into classes. When she’s not teaching in person or online, Megan can be found working on her tiny home project with partner Mike and her daughter, singing karaoke, or working on her latest novel. : www.thebrainybabe.com