The Home Routine: You and Your Zen Habits
You are a health nut.
You are an exercise devotee.
You are a yoga practitioner.
You are a regular juicer.
You are [fill in the blank with your own zen habit].
You do it with enthusiasm.
You are settled into a routine with it.
You even have a special corner of your place dedicated to it.
You have it down to a science even.
You are proud of yourself (as you should be).
Me too. I am just like you. Check on all the above
…until, that is, I pack up to get on the road, a business trip, a vacation, a fusion of the two (my current life), whatever it may be. I am away from it all, the yoga mat, the juicer, the yoga studio, and a few other attachments.
Then all bets are off.
How does one stay motivated (or something) to keep up one’s zen habits while away from home?
Travel is a big deal to me, such a big deal that it was the focus of my first book and first ever product. I Love to Travel.
And I am a productivity machine while traveling, that’s not an issue either.
But staying healthy and fit on all my travels – at least by my standards – is ever a challenge. Which actually reminds me of my buddy Nathan Agin for his work on combining two opposite forces: healthy eating and traveling.
No easy task Nathan has taken on. Every time hubby wants to plan the next trip, I hesitate for a moment because I know I’d need to say goodbye to my borderline obsessive health habits, from my selective eating, early rising (which is going through its own little funk, let’s not talk about it), daily juicing, regular Ashtanga practice, and more …
But alas, I must travel or else he will go without me and I can’t stand the jealousy.
Your zen habits may differ but the problem remains the same: You are plucked away from your home environment where the habit thrives, where it lives and breathes, and you are planting it in a new city, country, climate, and everything is different, except you. You are the only common factor.
What Not To Expect When You Are Traveling
The first problem is that we are under the mistaken notion that we should or would stick to all our habits on the road. After all, we are responsible and determined adults with zen habits, who would we be and what example would we set if we didn’t stick to our zen habits every where?
I used to believe that with enough self-discipline, I could stay in charge of my dozen zen habits no matter how far we traveled and what our circumstances or commitments around a particular trip.
Ha! Simple little mind of younger me! Who was I kidding?
If jet lag didn’t do enough to knock me out, there were the dozen daily miles that hubby made me walk (when we are away from home, he turns into a super zealous walker with Popeye power, and I have yet to figure it out!), and I would have neither desire nor energy to do my yoga practice and certainly no appetite for juicing when I’d rather stuff my face with Japanese divine food and Parisian delights.
So no later than the second day on the road would I drop my zen habits in total defeat and spend the rest of the time resenting myself and start planning how I will punish myself at home for being so bad on the road.
And this is the evil cycle I would repeat:
1. Go into the trip with a determination to stay on top of all my zen habits.
2. Fail due to exhaustion of one sort or another promptly by day two.
3. Declare defeat and remove all zen habits for the rest of the trip.
4. Apply resentment to self for not having enough “self-discipline”
5. Punish self upon return home and push too hard to make up for the “lost time”.
6. Raise expectations for next trip and repeat cycle.
How to Stick to Your Zen Habits on the Road
There is only so many times you can repeat the same mistake before you decide to do something differently. I pushed that bar to the max.
But today, I look at my zen habits differently and approach travel planning around my habits in a way that just works better. I have simplified it to 4 steps that mostly takes place in that pretty head of yours, so no need to write things down or do charts or worksheets, but it’s important to stick to what you decide so decide with intention and with full expectation to do that which you decide.
The 4 Step Process to Fusing Travel with Zen Habits
Step 1. Accept Your Zen Habits Must Adjust for the Road
The first part is accepting that you have to modify your routine. This is not about lowering expectations or giving up on your zen habits or even losing hope that you would do them. This is just a first step of saying:
“Look darling (or whatever you call yourself when you talk to yourself), you need to accept that the trip is going to change your home routine and you need to decide in advance adjustments to your wonderful zen habits.”
Operative key words here: Decide in advance.
Now that you have prepared yourself for the change, and removed expectations that you will be behaving exactly as you would if you were home, you are ready for Step #2.
Step 2. Decide in Advance the Primary Zen Habit to “Pack Along”
I love all my zen habits the same. Sadly, this is where you have to pick the primary zen habit that you pack along and the rest that you leave behind.
In other words, honey: You must choose between your babies, no other way around it.
I generally pack yoga along – and meditation is easy now that I use these affirmations – unless it’s totally out of the question with our schedule in which case the healthy eating must be front and center, even if not 100% of the meals. Think about your destination, the atmosphere, the vibe, the climate, the schedule you need to keep and think about the best complimentary one – max two – zen habits that you will take along and stick to!
Step 3. Trade in the Disruption of Routine for the Experience of Travel
Let me ask you, if you were to keep every single zen habit on the road, then how on earth can you make time for anything else that the road experience offers? In a way, you are going away to earn a new experience, and as much as I LOVE my zen habits and they make me feel alive, I also want to let the travel experience unfold without pressure and expectations that it should mold into my little box of perfect zen habits.
For instance, take my upcoming African Safari. If doing my daily yoga takes time away from experiencing Africa in the way we have planned, you bet I will set aside my beloved and devout practice of Ashtanga primary series temporarily.
But at the same time, I know that if I don’t “pack along” at least one zen habit, I will be a wee bit miserable. You need just the right amount of familiarity packed along on an adventure and the combination of the two brings about thrilling experiences. Mark my words on that one.
Step 4. Embrace Full Return to Zen Habits upon Return Home
And then upon return home, it’s time to get back into it and on this one, don’t wait. Don’t dilly dally. Just get back into your zen habits one at a time. If you have a dozen of them, good for you but give yourself 2 weeks to slip back into that routine.
Rushing back into your zen habits, well, takes out the zen for one, and at the same time, waiting for the mood to strike or some such nonsense will only make it harder to restart your habit.
So be gentle but firm. Give yourself a date – a week maybe two depending on how many habits you have! – and agree that you will be settled back into your pre-travel routine with all your zen habits and then work to meet that goal.
That’s the four step process for the travel-loving zen-living spirit you nurture inside. You can have your zen habits and travel with them too! Don’t you think?
What do you think? Tell me your fabulous thoughts in the comments below.