My recent vacation was great, and it was fun to get to ride around some amazing places, but since I returned I have been dealing with a sense of dissatisfaction. Going on the vacation presented a lot of tradeoffs for me.

I was happy with how I prepared for my vacation by spending the few weekends beforehand connecting and making space for presence. I minimized how much of that time I spent in front of a screen.

I wanted to make sure that I would be prepared to be present for my experience.

When I got to my destinations, however, they were generally pretty crowded with tourists. Ironically, I ended up feeling like I can “get away from it all” better around Denver, where I know how to avoid the crowds.

Normally, at home, I get up at 3 a.m. so I can have time to read, meditate, and do my practices. But it didn’t make a lot of sense to do this while camping, so I didn’t have that space for my practices.

I managed to do my 3-2-1, the exercise of gratitude and affirmation, but that was about it.

An appetizer from the Indo Grill in Moab. This restaurant provided an excellent post ride indulgence.

I also decided to indulge more while I was out, from buying nice road snacks to going out to eat after a ride.

Between losing my grounding in my practices and getting into habits of consuming, I have come off the base for my best life considerably.

I’m honestly guessing as to what has me in a funk and trying to play detective to understand how to get myself back on track.

But it seems to me that this illustrates a tradeoff in practices. At least for me, habits help me to stay consistent with my practices. But habits can also slowly lead to a nagging dissatisfaction.

Stunning views abound in Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

It is important to break loose at times from habit and make space for new experience. If we’re not living our life, then it would seem to me that practices could only be a crutch or opiate by which we try to pacify our dissatisfaction.

But then… here I am back at dissatisfaction. So it seems it has me by both ends.

Such is life.

In all likelihood, some unacknowledged expectations are souring my sense of happiness.

I have no lesson to deliver. Only a mediation on how joy seems to spring from carefully cultivated conditions. It slips out from underneath you when you think you have everything figured out.

As many have done before me, I’ll vaguely gesture to the idea of balance, a spiritual black box that theoretically contains the solution.

Published by Miles of Mindfulness

My name is Mike Bragg. I'm a Denver-based cycling enthusiast and a big advocate of mindfulness. I enjoy the outdoors, and I use mindfulness practices to help myself be more present with my adventures. I like to read challenging material, and I have a keen interest in ancient history and natural sciences.

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