When we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to unplug (literally, from all the electronic devices we use), and sit down with ourselves, acknowledge our exhaustion, our joys and failures of the day, our feelings of defeat, and our feelings of triumph, we lose the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves. Our minds lose focus and, with this loss, we find it difficult to build meaning and purpose in our lives.
There’s an emptiness that sometimes fills the soul when we lie down and just watch TV or surf the web day in and day out during our free time. During that time, we pull ourselves away from what truly exists right now in our immediate environment and, instead, get pulled into a screen that makes us feel like we are traveling, meeting people, and learning about the world. Now, there’s nothing that says there is anything wrong with occasional leisurely indulgences and escapes from reality. However, almost anyone who has experienced some sort of live retreat – a temporary shift of focus away from everyday activity – will say that turning off all digital devices left them with a feeling of deep relaxation, as if having let go of some of life’s burdens. The tweets, Instagram pictures, and facebook newsfeed posts that make people feel incomplete at times are turned off. And now, with this new space created inside, we can engage in the present moment. This helps reset our focus and refresh our minds.
The action for this article comes in the form of a retreat of your choice:
With the next school year just around the corner (and for those of us out of school, with the next season just around the corner), perhaps it is time to take a mini-retreat of our choice. For a series of 3 consecutive days, do not use your phone, laptop, iPad, TV (etc..) during your free time. This means that, once you are finished with work that requires the internet, you do not take even a few more minutes to browse the web or check your phone for text messages.
What happens when you leave your devices behind? Listen to what your body and mind say and do in the moment! Maybe you can write a letter to a good friend or bake in the kitchen without the luxury of looking up recipes on the internet. You could take a quiet walk or lay down in your bed to re-reading a childhood book. You might feel like checking your phone or turning on the news, but you can also let these feelings pass like waves of the mind. If a 3-day retreat is challenging, try one day at a time!