How To Empty Your Mind On Vacation

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You dream that the holidays will begin and your mind will be emptied of thoughts and worries.

Most of us live with an incessant flow of activities and obligations in our daily lives and hope in the few days of summer vacation to recover from the fatigue of a whole year. We’re looking forward to getting away, so that our minds can finally clear the deluge of thoughts that has plagued us for the other eleven months.

Can mindfulness meditation help us get rid of thoughts?

The truth is it can’t empty your mind. One of the biggest myths about meditation is that with practice we will stop thinking and live in a state of perpetual calm. But this is impossible. According to research from Harvard University, the average person has about 30,000 to 50,000 thoughts every day, 85% of which are negative, while only half are conscious. 

This means that we are absent for about half of our lives. We miss the moments unfolding before us, immersed in our thoughts without realizing it, reminiscing and regretting the past or worrying about the future. With the practice of mindfulness we learn to focus on whatever is happening in each moment in the present with kindness and non-judgment.

Does your mind go blank on vacation?

Often on vacation we want to catch up on everything, see every attraction, every beach, every site. This can eventually create additional stress and fatigue. Vacation moments, however, can signal exactly what the word defines: A break from our need to constantly be in action and an opportunity to pause, leaving vacant space to simply “be.” We can free our schedule by only doing activities that really fill us up in the day, no “musts” or “shoulds”, devoting plenty of time to reflection and observation, doing less and enjoying them more. 

In this way, we are trained to be aware of the thoughts we are having when we are having them, and not to empty the mind of thoughts. This attitude allows us to experience our thoughts and feelings in a way that emphasizes their subjectivity as well as their ephemeral nature. We notice thoughts and feelings recognizing that they are events and processes of the mind and thus stop identifying with them and reacting in our usual automated ways. 

At the same time, we train the mind to focus. Gradually we learn not to create additional difficulty for ourselves when something unpleasant happens in our life, by being carried away by destructive thoughts. We change the way we relate to anything that stresses us, reducing reactivity and improving our ability to respond maturely.

empty your mind

Living for the moment

Even on vacation, therefore, we can practise mindfulness by focusing on the present through simple moments of our day.

Walking in nature 

Walking on the beach or in nature, we focus on our feet and their contact with the ground. Whenever the mind wanders to thoughts or images, we bring our attention back to the sensation in our feet. That is, we choose whenever we perceive distractions to let go of thoughts and consciously return to the present and the activity we are doing at the given moment – ​​we simply walk and know that we are walking.

Summer sounds

Another way to practise is to focus our attention on the sounds that are around us, consciously, exploring their quality and characteristics, without creating stories about what we hear. We just notice them just as they are – just sounds. The waves of the sea, the rustling of leaves, the song of cicadas.

Swimming

Even a swim in the sea can be a practice in mindfulness, if done consciously. We can try bringing our attention to the present by feeling the temperature of the water when we first dive into the sea, noticing the movements and sensations of the body when swimming, focusing on our breathing or bringing our awareness to the sounds that surround us in the water.

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