Recently, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join him on a vacation in Maui…the day after tomorrow. I looked at him with a “Oh come on,” expression.

He said, “What do you need to make this happen?”

Good questions can be motivating. He said that he already had accommodations, a car rented, and activities lined up.

I like being spontaneous, but this was tough to pull off even for me. I had all kinds of obligations – family, work, and classes. I said to give me a couple of hours to see if I could swing it.

Well, somehow everything fell into place so that I could go…thank you universe.

The point of this blog isn’t just to tell you about my vacation. This post is about your vacation. No, I’m not inviting you to Maui…not yet anyway. I want this to be about how to take a vacation when your friends don’t invite you to Maui. Vacations are wonderful – relaxing, restorative, and fun.

The reality is, that we can’t always be on a tropical island. Even so, there is a way to create a little mini-vacation each and everyday. Qi Gong, the ancient art of flowing movement and effortless power, is a way to do just that. Qi Gong relaxes the body, calms the mind, clears stress , relieves tension, and helps you find your flow. Sounds like a vacation right!

What we want to be able to do is take a vacation from mental stress, excess tension, worry, anxiety, and all the situations that pull us off our center. Stress shifts our system into fight or flight mode, and into the the sympathetic branch of the nervous system. In fight or flight, muscles hold tension (especially the neck and upper back), energy moves away from digestion (stress plays a factor in weight gain), and the mind becomes turbulent with thought (worry and anxiety).

Vacation helps to shift the nervous system into relaxation mode, the parasympathetic branch. Qi Gong does the same thing. When we are on vacation or practicing Qi Gong, the body releases tension, the mind becomes calm, and the spirit is elevated.

Relaxation response or parasympathetic mode is when the inner healing power of the body is most active. This is when the body rebalances and comes back into harmony.

Every morning in Maui, the two of us would get up and do some kind of activity. On the second day we took a boat to the island sanctuary of Molokini. The diving was incredible. There is always both a fear and an inner peace being 90 feet under the ocean. The body often tenses up being so deep under the surface and I haven’t been on a dive in quite a while. Qi Gong training really helped to slow down my breath, relax my body, and enjoy the new experience. During a dive, it’s really important to breathe slowly, otherwise you run out of air and have to go up to the boat prematurely. We saw sea turtles, octopus, and hundreds of fish.

Under the ocean, I really got the sense of the water element. The power of the current, the creative expression of life, and the quiet peace of floating weightless.

On the way back to Maui, whales were spouting in the distance. Then, suddenly, the boats engine stopped. The captain said, “Whales off the port side of the boat.” When I looked up two big spouts shot up into the air about 30 feet away.

The whales swam closer and closer, until they were right under the boat. These gentle giants were so close that the tail came within feet of the nose of the boat. They stayed for 10 minutes, checking us out, then dove deep and disappeared. Here are a few photos from the camera phone.

One morning, I woke up to a beautiful rainbow that stretched from one end of the horizon to the other. I was reminded that nature showed off her beauty above land as well as under the ocean. It reminded me of a question my daughter Maile asked me when she was 3 years old. She said, “Daddy, where do rainbows come from?”

I replied with a question, “Where do you think they come from?”

She thought for a moment, then shouted emphatically, “Crayons!”

Well, this was a lovely crayon filled sky.

I stood outside and did some Qi Gong. The air was warm and thick. I took long slow deep breaths, my body moving like a palm tree in the breeze. In Qi Gong, there is a movement called Painting the Rainbow. Here it is:

And, on the last day, I went down to the beach with my phone and tripod and filmed another short Qi Gong routine. I wanted to bring you a little Maui energy.

Here it is:

Remember to tap into your inner tropical island everyday. It only takes a few minutes to shift into relaxation mode. Take your Qi Gong vacation whenever you can.

Aloha to you all,