Vacation with a purpose    

By Cara Graham Cynkar

Let me ask you a couple of questions.

What do you hope to get out of your vacation? An escape from your day-to-day routine? Rest? Relaxation? Recharge your batteries so you’re ready to take on “real life” again?

How often do you actually feel rested and recharged when you come home?

My husband and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take a week-long vacation at a meditation retreat in the Canadian Rockies. I had been to a retreat like this before, but my husband had not. Since I had a good idea of what to expect, I had set an intention to rediscover purpose and clarity for my life. I also wanted my husband to have a good, fulfilling experience.

The location of the retreat was about a 12-hour drive from our home. We decided to split the drive allowing two days to get there and two days to get back. Pacing our travel allowed us to stop and view vista points and historical points of interest that drew our attention. The ability to marvel at the beauty of nature that surrounded us allowed us to be in a relaxed state of mind once we reached our destination.

I tend to describe the experience of the meditation retreat as “six days of meditative bliss,” but the truth is that a retreat like this can be quite intense. We started and ended each day with group meditation, and in between, we had the amazing opportunity to listen to world-renown teachers and medical experts who helped us understand the physiological impacts meditation and yoga has on our minds and bodies. When you take the time to pause and listen to your body, you can expect to experience a sort of purging of emotions that no longer serve your new level of well-being. What’s great about experiencing this during a retreat is that you are supported by a loving community to help you through the process.

The bliss part is a result of eating healthy food, taking the time to nourish the body and mind, which in-turn reduces inflammation and helps to eliminate the stress response in the body*. My husband and I learned the importance of staying inside the eye of the storm. The eye of a hurricane is a place of quiet and stillness while debris is swirling around you. The drama and stress of life is the debris of the hurricane, however, if you are able to find a place of balance and centeredness, then you are able to respond to life’s stressors rather than react to them.

During our two-day drive home, we had amazing conversations about what we learned and how we want to implement what we have learned into our lives. We committed to each other to do our part to stay in the eye of the storm. We set our sights on what we want our future to look like and returned home nourished, rested, and ready to return to our busy lives.

Cara Graham Cynkar, CWPC, Vitality Wellness Strategy Manager, Chopra Center Certified Meditation Teacher, mother of 4 fabulous kids, deep thinker and passionate about self-improvement and personal growth.


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