Productive Change:

Is a productive change better than a rest?  I recently put this theory to the test.

At the end of April, I did something that I haven’t done for a long … long time.

I took a month off. Five weeks, to be exact. Thirty-five days without turning on my computer; thirty-five days without picking up the phone; and thirty-five days without even reading a newspaper.

It was fantastic!

How does someone who spends most of his day in front of a computer writing articles, working on a book, editing a magazine, managing a website, and answering dozens of emails from students and aspiring yogis, suddenly unplug … and stay unplugged for over a month?

Easy … he goes to Nepal and heads out into the Himalayan mountains, far… far away from it all!

That’s exactly what I did. My old friend Mladen flew over from Canada to join me, and together we hit the hiking trails for an amazing, refreshing, and rejuvenating adventure.

Carrying a backpack and hiking nearly 300 kilometres through some pretty big mountains may not seem like a very relaxing vacation. At times it wasn’t. But I wasn’t particularly looking to relax. What I needed the most was a good break from my daily routine.

I wasn’t bored with my work, by any means, but I was feeling a bit overworked; so a change was definitely in order. I’m sure that you can relate to me on this one. At some point you’ve probably felt worn out too. It’s something that we’ve pretty much come to accept as an inevitable consequence of daily living. At some point, we all need a break.

To buffer this undesirable by-product of modern life, we’ve worked an ingenious concept into the mix. We call it the “vacation.” In most western societies, a vacation is now a mandatory element of your employment. I guess the theory is that a rested employee is a more productive one. Either that, or we all just need to get away once in awhile to keep from killing each other.

The problem is that when this vacation time finally rolls around, most folks are so terribly run-down and their energy and motivation so depleted that they find little enthusiasm beyond the desire to simply recline in a beach chair and sip margaritas in the cool ocean breeze.

Two weeks at a spa or resort is supposed to relax and rejuvenate, yet a lot of people end up falling apart and falling sick as soon as they have had a chance to “slow down” and relax.

Like most people, you probably find the morning commute back to work at the end of this all-too-short break to be a torturous ride. Before you know it, you’ve probably fallen right back into the same old routines with the same old stresses and the same old frustrations. A week or two back on the job, it probably feels as if the vacation had never even happened. Am I right? Good thing you took some pictures!

Are Vacations a Bad Idea?

There’s a fundamental problem here. You see, we’ve been trained to think of our “down time” as a time to either put our feet up and chill, or to let loose and party! Ever seen a Club Med ad? People are having the time of their lives! Of course, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing with your time off too, right?

What a foolish waste of time and money. Sure, you may have been able to forget about some of your cares and stresses for a couple weeks, but at the end of this kind of a holiday what have you really done to change anything? Not much.

You probably haven’t improved your physical, mental or emotional health at all (you may have gained a few pounds though). You likely haven’t re-evaluated your perspectives or gained any real insight into yourself or your life — things which would help you return to your “old situation” with a new vitality, with fresh enthusiasm, renewed ambition and a brand new sense of purpose.

That’s why the yogis say “a productive change is as better than a rest.” When we’re feeling stifled, stagnant, stressed-out or exhausted, then a “productive change,” not a mindless indulgence of the senses, is what we really need.

What is a Productive Change?

Here’s a vacation tip … Try a spiritual retreat instead of a weekend at the lake. Instead of taking a ski and beer holiday, go on an adventure tour – hiking in the mountains of Nepal, or biking through the Italian countryside.

Opportunities to volunteer for some aid organization in a developing country can bring an untold wealth of new experiences too.

You don’t have to travel far and wide to make a productive change though. I’m sure you can volunteer right in your own back yard. … Or why not take that drawing or photography class that you’ve always wanted to? Heck, your time off is the perfect time to tackle those home-renovations you’ve been talking about forever.

Endeavours that are enriching to the mind, body and soul, such as yoga, are the perfect productive change to a busy, stressed out life. Spending your “holidays” diving deep into sadhana (yoga study and practice), whether on a yoga vacation, or on your own, can leave you feeling more refreshed, revived and rejuvenated then all the exotic and tropical beach vacations in the world put together!

One who takes a productive change instead of a rest will find themselves returning to their old life anew, with new perspectives, new enthusiasm, and a renewed spirit. Give this vacation tip a try and I’m sure you’ll agree that a productive change is much better than a rest could ever be!

PART 2 … some changes you can make to re-invigorate and rejuvenate your yoga practice.

About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam, and Editor of The Yoga News

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