I had one whole day to myself on my ‘me retreat’. I had nowhere to go, no plans, no appointments, no structured activities, no time to be anywhere, no driving to get there, no driving back home. I created a space within time to be what I described as free.
So where did I choose to go? The beach of course! My whole being comes alive anywhere near the ocean and beach. I don’t have to get in the water, just be within sight, sound and smell and I am instantly in heaven on Earth.
Just me and nature
For me the best way to experience the beach is in solitude or with a few random people. Not possible mid summer on a weekend, but so easy on a work day in winter. In this natural haven I can soak up the vastness and expansiveness of the ocean, sky and land all at once.
A visit to the beach gives perspective. The ocean symbolizes abundance, opportunity and a world full of possibilities. The never-ending horizon excites the explorer within to cast aside risk and set off for new discovery and adventure. This is the power of the ocean, the beach and the coast to me.
So I walked a little. Despite a gale force storm the night before, I was enjoying an almost spring like day.
The waves keep coming and coming.
This is certain.
No two waves are alike.
Whether one is right for you to ride is only known in the moment when you meet the wave.
Patience and trust will be rewarded eventually.
How long can you wait?
Then I just sat. I sat, sat, sat, and sat. I didn’t do anything for a long time. I pondered life, pondered the sea, pondered moments. Then I pondered nothing. I just soaked up and enjoyed the freedom of truly being in the present with nothing, nothing at all to think about, consider or worry.
The only thing that got me out of my blissful meditation was mother nature herself. Having been basking in the spring-like weather a wind and some clouds finally came to remind me it was still winter.
The best thing about my sitting was my concept of time was gone. I had no reference point other than the sun moving in the sky. Time to me was irrelevant. Instead changes in weather, seasonal factors, body needs and cycles called to me. I felt balanced and at peace.
Witness and observer
I reflected more on the sitting itself and the experience from a place of witness. I know this sounds odd, perhaps a bit esoteric and all philosophical. Yet I like to do this kind of reflecting. So sitting more I observed my self sitting. I asked myself how I felt, what I noticed or no longer paid attention to. My witness self looked at me and observed peaceful Jenn compared to hurried and busy Jenn. What is the difference? I then explored even further how I can replicate this feeling, this experience of calmness back in the busy and fast pace of daily life.
Rather than share my insights – which to me are somewhat personal – I urge you to take a similar sitting break. You don’t have to drive 2 hours from home. You don’t have to go on retreat somewhere. Any quiet place where you can be alone in nature, undisturbed will do. The key is to allow yourself the time so you no longer let time restrain you. Then sit. Sit and notice like I did. Then be your own observer stepping back to note the difference in your life. What strategies can you identify that help you bring a little dose of calmness into your daily life?
As I said goodbye to the beach I silently thanked the ocean, the elements, the sand and the experience. Mostly I thanked time for temporarily stepping out of my awareness so that I could truly remember and have the simplicity of being.
Even though I follow practices of taking time out in my daily life, this day helped refocus and revisit the level and priority with which I go.