This past week, I took 5 days away from the everyday grind. Not that I don't enjoy the everyday grind,....I love my work and I never consider it "work". However I was invited to spend some time at the Oregon coast at a beautiful beach house, and I couldn't refuse.
It felt odd to travel and not have a "reason" to do so. Usually, when I travel, its for my radio show, organizing martial arts events, teaching, etc. While I have fun traveling for those events, this trip to the coast was a bit weird at first. I almost felt....guilty....for not having a reason to travel.
After going down to the beach and hearing the sound of the ocean for the first time in years, that guilt faded. I stared into tide pools at low tide, did Tai Chi on the beach each morning, looked in awe at the incoming waves, we walked the dogs and let them lead us to interesting nooks and crannies in the rock formations, felt the breath of the sea as it blew strongly past my ears, slept to the sound of the ocean just outside my window.....
As martial artists or athletes, we are dedicated to our training and self improvement. Some of us run martial arts studios or exercise facilities and we run a business. Our training and our business is what we go to sleep thinking about and eagerly wake up to. However, one part of our training regimen or business plan should never be ignored.....time for US.
Some of us seem to believe that the busier we are, the more productive we are. Everything "must" have a reason to do...for our business, for our marketing, for our training, for our next tournament, for whatever else.....
The sand and the sea reminded me that not everything needs a reason. There's no "result" to stacking rocks, there's no "marketing" when staring into tide pools, there's no gold medal in marveling at the ocean waves and no money to be made when feeling the wind press against your jacket. And you know what? It feels GREAT to not have reasons to do these things. VERY therapeutic!
However the real therapeutic experience.........
As someone who holds intuition as an integral part of my training and everyday life, I realized that using intuition for specific real world reasons (business, training, etc) was not enough.....To tap into intuition for inner world reasons, was exactly what I needed. As I walked the beach alone one day, I was drawn to certain rocks and set aside those and something told me to stack them.....so I stacked/balanced them along the beach. This type "active meditation" allows you to just be, just experience your activity and let things just happen.
At one point after my last stack (that took quite a while, because I was determined to get the arrangement to balance in a way that it seemingly wouldn't), I sat back, exhaled, felt a sense of accomplishment, and then.....felt a wave of emotions all at once.....sadness, grief, doubt, heartache of the past, loss, unvented anger from times gone by, frustration etc. I was surprised at what what going on, even a bit embarrassed, which added to the mix. I stood up wondering "what the hell is wrong with me?". I walked closer to the edge of shore, faced the waves and just let the emotions run themselves out. I wasn't sobbing, but I did feel the sting in my eyes as tears ran down my cheek....I was just experiencing emotions. Sometimes all at once, at moments individually. I don't exactly remember.....but I do think I actually let out a roar against the sound of the waves.......
I don't know how long I stood at the shore, but as I felt the wake of that emotional tide disappear, I felt hungover yet lighter and rejuvenated. I felt the stress of the past year or so, fall off my shoulders. I realized that this was a week that I had gone for days without a headache or a migraine and I smiled at the thought. I wiped away tears, pulled myself together and continued walking, finding more stones, and balancing them along the beach.
The photo above....is the stack of rocks that somehow allowed me to productively vent. It would have been easier to switch the top two stones, but something told me to keep at it to find the balance point on this particular arrangement. The "pain" of patience must have released something.
I once read somewhere that balancing rocks tests the patience and forces one to not 'make' something balance,...you have to let go and let patience, intuition and tactile sensitivity guide you in finding that "one spot" where everything aligns. I believe, that this test of patience is what allowed me to just let go.
Many times we really don't know that we actually actively hold space for negativity.....we actually need some of these emotions for balance.....however, when you hold onto some of these things from days or years long gone past (namely anger, frustration, grief), we run out of space for the positive things. We hold on to the stress of dealing with that irate boss, we hold onto the hurtful words that someone said years ago, we hold onto anger, we hold onto the betrayals you convinced yourself to forgive. Slowly, these stresses get tucked away somewhere deep, and one day even the most ordinary thing brings these emotions to the surface....where you have to experience them, to face them, to close those chapters and move forward.
That "pain" of patience that became close to frustration (you know the feeling!) opened a floodgate that I myself put up over the past few years. Sometimes, you have to face some of the very things that you put on the backburner to consider for later. This was my "later". With that said, I'll have to remember to make time for myself....to meditate, to vent, to talk with a friend.....and NOT try to be tough and put things on the backburner. This was a lesson learned, and one that I'll remember.