Picture this: It’s 80 degrees out with a nice breeze blowing through your hair. The sand on the beach is warming your skin as the breaking waves creep up close enough to give off a salty aroma.
Ahh, vacation. Life couldn’t be better.
Just when you thought the moment couldn't be more perfect, your 5-year-old drops her ice cream cone in the sand, seagulls come screeching toward it and your toddler is screaming for all beachgoers to hear.
Family trips can turn to misery in a matter of minutes. So how does one maintain the peace for all to enjoy?
The practice of mindfulness meditation seems simple enough, but experts say it requires practice. Sharon Salzberg, a meditation teacher, told Mindful that when she first tried the meditation practice she was shocked by how quickly her mind lost focus of what she was doing.
“I thought, OK, what will it be, like, 800 breaths before my mind starts to wander? And to my absolute amazement, it was one breath, and I’d be gone,” says Salzberg.
Mindfulness meditation is not a cure-all diagnosis, but incorporating it in your life can help in remaining calm as those seagulls eat the $8 ice cream cone you paid for.
Rather than letting your emotions get the best of you when things don’t go to plan, taking a second to focus on your breathing can be life-saving and relationship-saving.
Often, when people get upset, they tend to say things in the moment that they regret later. Instead of doing that, Mindworks suggests focusing on breaths:
“Breathe in deeply through your nose for at least three seconds and hold it in for a further two seconds. Next, exhale for at least four seconds through the mouth. You can repeat this exercise a couple of times if you’d like. Next, gradually transition into natural breathing. If your nasal passages are clear, you should breathe through your nose.”
Simply being aware of one’s breathing can be stabilizing. Irwin refers to short breathing exercises as “micro hits” of meditation.
“We all have to breathe all the time, and just being aware of our breath is a perfect anchor,” Irwin said, noting even a minute or two makes a difference.
Whether you’re on vacation with your extended family or a large group of friends, taking the time to meditate can help you be more present and aware of your surroundings, according to The Bluewalk.
“Meditation relieves stress and puts you in a better mood. It really puts life into perspective and you’ll find that you get along better with those around you. This is especially helpful if you are traveling with a group of people. Sometimes personalities clash but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip or even your day,” the article said.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, but recently, scientists have been using the health benefits of meditating to manage stress and depression as well as improve sleep habits in individuals.
Late nights are common on vacation. Staying up late playing games or recalling memories can be bonding for a family.
Irwin suggests meditating before bed can help with getting better sleep so that the following day can be more enjoyable.
“We’ve found that even the practice of meditation for 10 minutes before you go to sleep actually helps you improve your sleep,” Irwin says.
Travel days often start first thing in the morning when patience levels are low.
So next time your spouse rents the wrong car or your teens are fighting over the Nintendo Switch in the backseat, take a few calming minutes to breathe and assess the situation.