My yoga mat has spent most of this trip in darkness. When we set up the trailer we arranged the bed in layers – first the camping pads, then the extra blankets, mattress cover, sheets, bedding, etc. David, without thinking, added the yoga mat to the camping pad category, and I’ve been too lazy to pull it out. After runs I stretch but we’re usually at crowded campgrounds which aren’t conducive to zen. It wasn’t worth the hassle.
Which is really stupid, considering one of my original goals of this trip was to do yoga as much as possible. Oops.
But then… White Sands. Oh my gosh.
The massive expanse of blindingly white sand under a strikingly blue sky beckoned for my yoga mat. So I brought it back into the light (which took all of two minutes, go figure). I lugged it up and over a dune to a seemingly totally secluded spot. People were probably a stone’s through in every direction but I couldn’t see a soul.
I practiced for an hour. It was glorious. Not only did my joints and muscles purr with appreciation, but I was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace. By the end I was bursting with immeasurable happiness.
The previous night we scored an quiet campsite in a national forest. We were the only ones there. For the first time since Florida we were completely alone. It was perfect. I made dinner and David pulled out his guitar for the first time (usually we’re worried about bothering people). We ate under a stunning blanket of stars. It was cool but not cold, there was no wind, and there wasn’t a bug in sight. The little things go a long way. We caught up our journals and cracked open our books. We reflected. It was the most content evening of the trip so far.
In the sand, on my yoga mat, I had a realization.
It’s not the distance you go or the number of external wonders you encounter that matter when you’re traveling. Rather, it’s the time you take to process the experience for yourself. I could push through monument after monument, park after park, but the beauty of experiencing these new places lies in how they impact me internally. I need to slow down and reflect to appreciate that.
Then, I realized that the same is true for the “journey of life” (for lack of a less obnoxious label). We can pack our days with every activity we can think of, make the most of our “time.” Yet, for me, the most important moments occur when nothing extraordinary is happening at all – when I take the time to process what’s happening in my life and how it’s changing me. To reflect I write and I practice yoga. But, when life gets crazy, these are the first things I push aside. That needs to change.
However you choose: through writing, yoga, meditation, music, walking, art, sitting and thinking, or anything else – reflection is key to a sustainable pace of life.
How do you reflect?