I just returned from a seven-day cruise. I was sick with the flu right up until the ship disembarked. I was nervous that the motion of the ship was going to make me feel nauseous and dizzy. I packed every homeopathic remedy. But, once we started to move out of the port, I immediately felt good. I felt free.

The Celebrity Mercury is a big ship. Don’t let anyone fool you: no matter how large the ship is, you feel it moving! Whether I was eating, talking, dancing, or sleeping, the ship’s motion was continuous. I expected my awareness of the motion to subside, however, it was just the opposite, becoming more pronounced as the days went on.

I began to notice how comforting I found the ship’s rocking motion – sleeping was heaven! No matter what I chose to do, what I was thinking, or whom I was with, we moved at a certain pace all the time. It was subtle, but I was awake to it and found that the motion imparted a great sense of security. It almost didn’t matter what I was doing, I was going somewhere at the perfect pace. Watching the waves, the whitecaps, the moon on the water encouraged me more and more to give way to something bigger now guiding me.

Going on vacation is like a really long savasana. You have all this space to drop everything that you usually do. With the ocean underneath, a water-borne vacation allows you to simply float. Like the breath, the ocean too has a fluid back and forth motion. If you pay attention to it long enough, it can soften any control the mind might have on you. Each day, I found more release. By the end of the trip, my mind didn’t have its usual grip on me. Instead I felt more spontaneous, expressive and patient.

I find it fascinating as I step into my normal routine that the water had such a hypnotic effect: it lingers even now inviting me to align with the pace of the ship moving on the water. The memory of the ship’s steady pace, nudges me to “let go” even as I stand on solid ground. For me, the cruise exposed some of the resistance I create in just letting my life flow.

Earlier this month (pre-cruise), I had the opportunity to attend a seminar led by Dr. Wayne Dyer, author of “Power of Intention” and other books. Dr. Dyer’s great seminars, regularly shown on PBS, reveal his stature as a modern day sage. No hair. He has let go of most of his possessions and lives his life according to the “Tao.” He has been a friend to Bikram Yoga for years and claims that flexibility is a companion to life, while stiffness is a companion to death. His goal is to have each of us “return to that place of where we come from and know it for the first time.” And, Wayne Dyer, wants us to recognize this while we are still alive.

The ego, Wayne states, is “Edging God Out.” Instead, he says, align with your true nature by being grateful, sincere, supportive, and gentle. Have reverence for everything and watch how things will fall into place for you. (Wayne calls this, “holy setups.”) Living with “right action” in the smallest ways is where the biggest miracles take place. We are a product of life’s longings, Wayne teaches. Let life come through you, not for you.

Dr. Dyer’s final comments were on living with meaning as opposed to living with ambition. Renowned psychiatrist, Carl Jung, states that we live the Morning of our life with ambition, and the Afternoon of our life with meaning. In this second half of our life (and age has nothing to do with it) instead of continuing to strive for more, we at last, arrive. Our motivations begin to shift away from wanting more to inquiring “how may I serve” – in doing so, more will come.

I thought about Dyer’s words as I was on the ship. As in the classroom, I felt no judgment on the cruise, rather a freedom to connect with something more encompassing. When we start practicing yoga, it’s normal to be ambitious. Similarly, on vacation, we strive to pack action into every moment, taking advantage of the chance to see or do something new or exciting. However, no matter how you do the poses, or how you spend your day at sea, something deeper is serving you. The slow movement of the ship helped to dissolve those more automatic ambitious behaviors; yoga’s repetition and discipline develop a strong awareness and an ability to stay present. Returning to our “true nature” (as Dr. Dyer expresses) doesn’t come from the impulse to do more with what’s in front of us but to align with the deeper meaning behind it. It’s not that ambition be damned – it is certainly an asset to have in your life. However, wake up tomorrow and inquire all day long: “how may I serve?” Put “service” in the driver’s seat and let “ambition” ride along for a day. You might get to your goals quicker even if at the pace of a slow-moving cruise ship.

–Michele Vennard