Paddle-boating is an under-rated pass-time.

This is a picture of my buddy Stacy and me on a warm afternoon in Mysore, Karnataka, India. It was a fairly uneventful day, but one of my favorite memories. We took this pic toward the end of our trip. We spent that day exploring botanical gardens and paddle-boating.

We knew one another before we set out on the trip, but spending that month together in India definitely solidified our friendship and sparked a fun flame that burns strong between us to this day.

Adventurers

Stacy is just fun and inspiring to be around. She has a zest for life that’s contagious. We’ve definitely had some adventures, and I couldn’t ask for a better traveling partner!

In 2010, we travelled together around Thailand and to Luang Prabang in Laos. Some of my fondest memories of that trip include sitting on a floating log in a lake at Khao Sok National Park and singing old country songs to our fellow yoga retreat participants. We did flips and dives off this log and attempted yoga poses atop it.

Our log can be seen floating in the background.

When you travel to a far away land for an extended period of time, your daily routine changes significantly. You find you have a lot more free time on your hands, and it’s wonderful! In large part, you’re living a life free of obligation and full of spontaneity. You can do whatever you please or nothing at all.

Working on slack-line skills

While it’s fun and rejuvenating to escape, the reality is that most of us have not chosen/cannot choose such a leisurely life full time. Even if we could, I question how fulfilling it would be over the long haul. Having a sense of purpose infused with ritual or routine is just as satisfying. In fact, it probably makes the escape that much sweeter.

Let’s face it, we live in a society that places a premium on competition, attainment and overall success. We’re also a society saturated in convenience and comfort. We definitely enjoy a much higher standard of living than the majority of the rest of the world. We work hard and endure a lot of stress to create those conditions, but how much to do we enjoy them?

I think a lot of people even practice their yoga in the same manner – fast and furious. They push themselves to become stronger, more flexible and attain more difficult poses. They’re hard on themselves when they don’t progress as far as they’d like as quickly as they think they should. A majority of time is dedicated to asana when a great amount of good could be reaped from cultivating a mindfulness practice.

I’m not pointing fingers. Well, if I am, I’m pointing my own finger at myself too. I definitely practice this way sometimes, but I don’t think it’s sustainable.

There is definitely a place for building strength, increasing flexibility and overall progress. But why can’t it be playful and fun? Why can’t we celebrate the learning process itself with less focus on the attainment? Why not learn to sit in stillness and follow the breath? Why not learn to live like everyday is an escape to a far away land for an extended period of time? I think it’s possible.

The following is a list of ideas that I value and think make life a little richer:

Work as hard as you see fit, and surround yourself with people who share your values. Spend time with fun-loving, kindred spirits. Hang back your head and laugh loudly. Try new things, and don’t be afraid of the learning process; enjoy it. Be spontaneous. Dream up and go on adventures, even if they’re only short distances.  Learn to laugh at yourself and all the strange obstacles life will surely present. Day-dream and be silly. Set aside quiet time to meditate, watch the sun rise, journal or listen to the sounds of life. Slow down, especially when driving. There’s always something else to do/somewhere else to be, so what’s the rush?

Playful practice

Spinning a ring on one foot in headstand!

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