When to take a break from practicing

I am always so grateful when a holiday arrives. I am glad to have a break from the usual schedule and spend time with my family. To “sleep in” (there’s no sleeping in at my house), to not rush to a meeting, to take a slower pace. My body and brain need a break from the stresses of decision making. I also look forward to taking a break from my practice for a few days. (Don’t tell on me!)

I am a dedicated practitioner with an ingrained practice habit. I almost always want to practice and stick to the schedule. Occasionally on a Friday morning, when I am often tired from a long week, I do have a thought that maybe I will skip the morning practice. But even after considering the skip I usually don’t. I jump out of the shower rejuvenated and somehow my thinking is completely reversed–I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing than getting on the mat.

A beach vacation is so great for taking a break! But this holiday I will settle for Cincinnati, Ohio. Ha ha!

I wonder, am I lucky that I seem to be able to take a reasonable break from my practice and still return to it? I don’t know if I can verbalize why I continue to return over and over and over. But I think it has something to do with my desire to seek a deeper meaning in life. A willingness to seek it out over and over.

I started teaching in 2005. Over the years I have seen countless students make a start in the practice but not continue. Many quit right away, after a class or two. Some had a big life event that interrupted their practice. And many people thought they were taking “a little break”, which accidentally turned into years.

What helps reduce the quitting rate?

I think a longer semester schedule reduces the risk of people taking a little break which morphs into years. If you sign up for a class for three months taking a break for a week is no big deal, you just pick it up again next week and make up the missed class later. And the learning is infinitely better if you make a longer commitment.

So, I say definitely take a break! Sleep in, stay up late, move slow, show up when you want, get renewed. But then return to the group so you can feel the group encouragement. It’s difficult to try to practice in isolation. The group can help you. And I can help you.

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