How to Actually Relax on Your Vacation

(Photo above by Gya Den / Pexels)

Since you wrangled time away from work and paid a large bill for hotel and travel, the stakes are high when you’re on vacation. And as you navigate unfamiliar places or spend time sequestered with family and friends—it’s easy for vacations to become 50 shades of craziness and stress.

At their best, vacations are profound. They can refresh us, fill us with wonder and teach us about the world. Good vacations are also proven to reduce stress, help prevent heart disease and increase productivity at our job. However, there are equal amounts of pitfalls. So how can we make the most of our vacation?

Photo by Jason Song / Unsplash

Strategies on how to take a great vacation fall into two general camps: the under-planned “go with the flow” approach, which typically means hours wasted getting lost, waiting in unnecessary lines or discovering you just ate at the 108th best grilled cheese sandwich shop in Oregon; or the uber-planned “check all the boxes” strategy, where every notable local attraction and restaurant you read about in Lonely Planet has been snugly crammed into a 72-hour period.

Buddhism teaches that happiness is not dependent where we are at that moment, but how we feel on the inside. That’s why it’s crucial to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo when we’re on vacation, because being on vacation alone will not make us truly fulfilled. Chanting inspires us to bring out our best selves and take in our trip in the best possible state of mind.

Buddhism teaches that happiness is not dependent where we are at that moment, but how we feel on the inside.

Here are a few tips on how Buddhist practice can enhance your vacation.

Set aside time each morning to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a tool to bring out our highest possible state of life. In a relationship, it helps us to be more compassionate. At school, it can inspire us to work a little harder. And on vacation, it can help us to relax in the wisest, most refreshing way.

How? First, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helps us to tap into our wisdom. We set our minds on having the best possible vacation, then from that determination we squeeze out the wisdom for exactly how to do that.

This can translate as practical strategies for your vacation. One travel expert recommends setting boundaries so you can truly relax. This can include deciding to only check your phone or email twice a day. Or only going on social media once a day so you can truly enjoy the moment.

Chanting can also help you find the wise balance between seeing the sites you want to see while scheduling time to just relax and do nothing. One travel writer plans to see only two sites a day, so they are never in a particular rush and have time to take in the little things.

Chanting inspires us to stay in the moment.

Second, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helps you to savor each moment. During your time chanting, you can swat away negative thoughts or critical self-talk that distracts you from actually enjoying yourself. Here’s a guide we created a few months ago on how to do nothing.

In other words, chanting can make sunsets prettier or ancient ruins more breathtaking. How? It deepens our sense of appreciation and wonder. Pretty amazing.

Chanting helps us stay cool when things heat up.

Lastly, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helps our big hearts shine. This means if something goes awry on our vacation, we don’t catastrophize. We find ways to stay calm and make the most of it.

Buddhist philosopher and teacher Josei Toda shared this wise observation after seeing a glass cup and a pitcher crash and break:

The pitcher may claim, “I broke because I was hit by the glass cup,” and the cup may say “I broke because I was hit by the pitcher.” In fact, they broke because both inherently possess the tendency to break. What would have happened if this were a clash between a piece of cotton and a glass cup? They would never break. Faith is the same. People think they are unhappy because of other people, but that is wrong. If we become the cotton, others will never “break” us. It is pointless to blame others. We must change our own destiny.

In other words, chanting helps us stay even-keeled and have compassion for others. If some mishap happens or if a travel partner gets under our skin, it doesn’t have to derail our vacation. We can find a way to break through the situation.

So, as we pack for our summer getaways, remember that the most essential item to bring is not our sunglasses, it’s our Buddhability.

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