Experience: Raw Wonder
I turned the handle at the sink, staring with wonder. The water ran as it normally does, but for the past 18 days, warm running water had scarcely come from a facet. Living in the wilderness, hiking the John Muir Trail, we were far from such comforts. Water was just the beginning. My hiking buddy and I went to dinner to celebrate my 50th birthday and plates of food arrived hot to the table. Ice came in glasses…shining plates appeared along with silverware. Everything was so clean! Days passed in this state of wonder experiencing deeply little things I normally took for granted. The journey home began.
For a few days, I afforded myself a gentle return staying at my mom’s house in Southern California. My adventure had left me a bit raw. I had significant blisters, tingling, and hot spots in my feet. My body was tapped out and tired. To recover, I slept long hours in bed over several days. It felt luxurious after getting up with the dawn and hiking all day until nightfall. Sleep helped immensely to provide healing and recovery. I noticed also that staying quiet helped my body and mind to settle down in the midst of cars and people, cement and television. The quiet allowed me to connect with a rhythm I had experienced in nature, and it was still alive even in the city. Each day, I took time to reflect on the experiences of the trail… the people we’d met, the sights we’d seen, and the memories both tough and triumphant. I made sure the trail journal I had kept along the way got filled in with details while they were still fresh.
Relevance: Integration Space
Returning from a big event, accomplishment, or breakthrough in your life is exciting. You cross the finish line in a race, get a standing ovation after a talk, or you and your team nail a major proposal. It’s time to celebrate! After the celebration though comes the return. It is easy to overlook that you’ve just pushed hard and run the motors at full. Taking time to rest and reflect provides a space of transition. This space allows for the integration of what was learned and experienced. It can replenish energy and refuel the body and mind. However, we often rush back into our routines, skipping this step altogether. It can feel like running into a brick wall! This can leave us overstressed, resigned, and depleted.
Practice: Recover, Reflect, Reveal
To allow for transition, here are some tips for creating an integration space:
1) Build in time to RECOVER. Put several hours on the calendar to relax. Schedule them ahead of time. If you’ve worked particularly hard, take a whole day or more. 2) REFLECT on what you’ve experienced. Write down what you’ve learned or talk it over with a friend. Take a walk or enjoy a quiet moment to collect your thoughts. 3) REVEAL your experiences and share them with others. When you’ve returned from an important milestone, sharing lessons learned can be like giving gifts. There is a spirit that is both generous as well as renewing. When you give in this way, your own learning deepens and people in your life, from home to work, benefit. Expressing the trials and the triumphs, you weave stronger social connections as well as contribute to increased effectiveness.