It’s September. If you’re like me, you’re hoping you can squeeze in one more trip to the beach to capture that endless summer feeling. But as we reenter our fall rhythm, we might ask: how do we bring our beach bliss home with us? Because we can.
Spending time at the beach is good for your brain. I totally get that. Just thinking about beach time relaxes my body. I can feel my breathing slow down. If I imagine myself lying under an umbrella near the water I can almost get a whiff of that calming sea breeze.
One thing that also happens for many of us when we head to the beach is that we get into beach mind. We start relaxing before we even get there. The beach allows us to forget our action items: we naturally tune into the pleasures of the body, the feeling of our feet on the sand, the pleasure of gazing across the waves, thinking about nothing but where our next lemonade is coming from.
But here’s the question: do we have to head to the beach to get all of those benefits? No, we don’t. It’s not just the beach and the waves on the water. We can get the relaxation, the focus on the sensual, the changed brain waves and the general feeling of ease in other ways.
But we do have to practice creating the experience of bliss. We can turn towards being more mindful. It’s mindfulness that helps us reap the benefits of the relaxation. What does this look like, concretely?
We pay attention to where we are. We look for the nourishing elements of our present experience. We orient ourselves to what is real instead of wandering about in our minds. This takes effort, but it gives the same effect as a beach, because the calming effect of a beach actually has little to do with the beach itself.
Some people hate the feeling of hot sand under their feet. They find the glare of the sun on the water unpleasant to look at, and sunscreen just feels sticky to them. Are they experiencing the bliss of beach time? Of course not. It’s how we take in the sun and the sand. It’s the mindful attention we bring to those pleasures.
We can do that back home.
I call that bliss oasis time. We can learn to develop the skill and determination to get our beach time all year long. It doesn’t just happen. As we become more aware of the costs of the stress that we are under and the extraordinary benefits of stopping the stress we can get motivated to get blissful oasis time in any setting, not just the beach. We can become fiercely determined to get oasis time.
Once you are determined to get oasis time you can make it happen through five steps:
- Plan, protect and prepare for it. Set aside the time and protect it. Don’t do work or errands.
- Begin and end it consciously. Name your beginning and name your ending time.
- Disconnect to connect. Unplug your devices so that you can plug into your natural sources of energy.
- Slow down to savor. Slow your movement. Slow down your thoughts. Eat more slowly.
- Let go of achieving to rest, reflect and play. Stop trying to get anything done. Don’t achieve anything for this set amount of time. Yup, take a breath, look around, and follow your nose. See what happens. Don’t make anything happen.
Just like beach time, embracing this oasis in time will let you enjoy the treasures of life that are in front of you.