How to Take a Vacation When You Can’t Take a Vacation…Courtesy Beginner’s Mind.

Take a vacation at "om"

[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by yoga teacher and life coach Lindsey Lewis of]


Take a vacation at “om”

Travelling is addicting. I recently read that serotinin—that’s the happy brain chemical—is released when we experience something new. Even receiving new emails is apparently enough to kick it into gear. No wonder we love being on vacation! New-ness around every corner! Serotonin overload!

The other week I realized that I was in desperate need of some new territory—a change of scenery. But I just went to New York, and I’ve got some trips coming up sometime soonish, so I’ve simply gotta save my funds. Since I’m damned if I can’t prove that yoga and other ancient spiritual practices can be useful and helpful in nearly any modern-day situation, I challenged myself to find a way to solve this conundrum using my yogi powers.


Here’s my solution: mindfulness. Yup, mindfulness. When we travel we’re more mindful. We’re more present. Because when things are new, we don’t skip past them, caught up in the whirl and wind of our monkey mind. Instead, we are fully aware of our surroundings. Which is actually something we teach in mindfulness-based practices: Using our senses is one of the easiest, most effective practices we can adopt to help us drop out of our planning, rehashing, and worrying mind.

So here I am: planted in my regular spot in the café I regularly hang out in that I arrived at the way I always do, strolling down the streets I always walk. BUT, here’s what I did differently. I pretended I was seeing it all for the first time. Okay, I know I sound a bit like a kids’ book writer here (I can’t help it, I’m hoping to get some published.) I know this sounds like something you and I have heard before. But it really hit home. All I did was drop out of my head, all I did was drop into a somewhat light version of zen mind, or beginner’s mind. I stopped letting my mind convince me I knew it all, had seen it all. And the florist shop was bursting with blooms I’d never registered. The linen shop had sheets and duvet covers that were shockingly fresh and new. The Greek bakery offered treats labeled with names I’d never heard of. Signs were written in a language I took time to comprehend.


Abracadabra mindfulness shaboom: I am on vacation, baby! Who are all these fascinating people? Check out this group meeting for somebody’s birthday—look at the men’s style: all cardigans and skinny jeans and slouchy toques. And the women! Long-sleeve button-ups with high-waisted pants. They’re kinda preppy in a hipster kind of way in this town. Ooops, I just saw someone I know. How did they get here? Wow, we’re on vacation in the same place at the same time! Okay, that may be taking it a bit far.

The point is it was so simple. And so powerful. Mindfulness is mad! It’s incredible! I’ve just taken a leap of faith out of my mind and into the moment and once again the rewards are endless. Jai ho!

With love, Lindsey


  1. Great post! It just so happens that I was out of town and on a mini vacation in Asheville at that time you posted this. I was feeling so mindful (as you said) fresh, new and my senses were alive; taking in all my new and beautiful surroundings. Your post was perfect timing to keep my adventurous feelings going now that I’m back home and back to my daily routines. Everyday presence brings us everyday gratefulness!

  2. Yes to more vacations and new ways of seeing things!
    Even my walk to the beach, which I love, sometimes pales from familiarity. My vacation-at-home strategy is to do the walk “widdershins.” Instead of heading straight for the beach then west, I head west through the neighborhood, then down to the far end of the beach and back to where I usually begin. It’s extraordinary how new everything looks from that one simple change.
    I don’t often go widdershins in my yoga practice, but I have taken a class, from Devki Desai, one of the teachers at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, that started with Savasana and ended in Tadasana. Very interesting.

  3. Very true, being a professional truck driver i can vouch for the validity of always wanting to be on the road to someplace new. whenever i went to the same places i’ve already been it always seemed to take longer and be less exciting. Thanks for the tip i will put it to use right away!

  4. I just got back from a vacation and I will totally agree that having and experiencing new things around you makes you appreciate and be mindful of whatever you do.Sometimes in order to survive life you need to have new things, surroundings and experiences in your everyday life.

  5. The only time I’m not mindful while on vacation is when it comes to spending… usually the only time I’m actually mindful when off vacation. Hehe, this was a wonderful post to remind me about balancing the two even if your intention was to have us enjoy the moment whether on vacation or not. Thanks for posting 🙂

  6. I can’t stress enough how much mindfulness makes everything more enjoyable. And I had no idea that seratonin is released when we experience something new. Makes sense though.

  7. I appreciate this so much after having returned from vacation in Costa Rica. Now I’m back in NYC and reminding myself of the various ways to stay in touch with the peaceful quietude I found and how to strive for balance.

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