Unpack, Unplug, Unwind

Lessons from the Beaches of Oahu

My 16-year-old daughter told me when she was nine years old that she wanted the family to go to Hawai’i to celebrate her sweet sixteen. Thankfully she gave me seven years to save for it, so we were able to go this year. I had so much work to do before I left that I wasn’t even focused on the excitement of traveling 12 hours to Paradise. Once we entered the plane, I was determined to put aside my obligations and just focus on my family and our vacation.

A funny thing happened while I was sitting on the beaches so far from home. I learned that I can carry the vacation feeling throughout my days even when I am sitting at my computer, working with clients or traveling to speak at an event. How is this possible? I certainly don’t live in a utopian place like Oahu. But choosing to slow down my fast pace, to give up my frantic need to check my iPhone and respond to requests and my constant question of “What do I need to do next?” can be done anywhere.

I’m not unrealistic – the life demands are different when we are home versus on the beach somewhere. I didn’t have to open my mail and pay my bills, or respond to the hundreds of emails that come in from clients and students each week. I didn’t have to schedule babysitters and camp, and fill out forms for three kids at three different schools. I didn’t have to walk dogs, clean litter boxes or feed the hamster, either! Of course it is easier to just sit and relax when there is nothing demanding our time in that moment.

In spite of this, why can’t we assume a “vacation mentality” as we go about our daily business? Why can’t we do all of the things we’re required to do, but do them with less stress, less anxiety and less concern about outcomes? Why can’t we carry that peaceful feeling over into our normal lives – why do we reserve it for those rare times we are actually away from our life?

In my hypnosis practice, we often use beach scenes and tranquil places to help people enter a state of hypnosis. In self-hypnosis, we can sit and close our eyes and imagine that we are sitting on the beach in Ko Olina, Oahu, and if we use our imagination well we can even hear the waves and the seagulls and feel that warm, salt air. If we can imagine it to induce hypnosis, why can’t we imagine it anywhere? Why can’t I feel the beach when I am standing in an endless line at the supermarket? Why can’t I feel the beach when I am responding to an irate client? Why can’t I feel the beach when my teenagers are being teenagers? I realized, when I returned, that I can! I don’t have to leave the beach at the beach. I can bring it home with me – not just in a bottle, but inside my heart and mind.

I’m determined to live Hawai’i every day. I admit when the snow starts to fly here it will get a little harder, but even then the weather can’t steal my inner peace and ability to unplug whenever I want. This week, think about what you can mentally unpack and how you can unplug from negativity, worry or stress. Focus on unwinding as if you were on vacation, even while you go about your day-to-day routine. Let’s see if we can bring the beach home. I’m willing to try it – are you?