Please, consider doing this revealing self-pampering trick for your wellbeing and to open your awareness to truth. Once again I went offline for a week. My phone locked in some other place than I am leaving me physically and virtually disconnected from the social chatter and media. I turned the portable device off. What a relief this simple act of allowing oneself to be with oneself brings! It was just me and nature, books, pen, paper, well and the basic survival stuff like a warm room to stay in, food and water. After a long time I felt I had a full control of my being, my days and nights were directed by what I set to do and consciously work on.
Being with oneself is not a sweet talk, but can be nice
I would love to stay virtually disconnected for longer, but commitments and responsibilities do not allow for such a luxury in today’s hyper-connected world. I have an emergency set up. Someone close knows where I am and there is a phone to reach me on.
What this offline time in space allowed me was to dive deep again into my mind, the heart, soul and some wholesome writing work. Brutal honesty, if you allow me. We all need to remind ourselves from time to time of who we are, what we need to do and what we want now in this point in life. This changes and sometimes we forget what we wanted initially. We disconnected from our purpose and worse, our values. A chapel, a church or a temple of any faith used to provide us this mindful shelter. We could go outside of the religious service to clear our heads from the everyday clutter, stress, worries. We still can, but so many of us non-religiously affiliated ban ourselves from such sacred places. These refuges, unless blocked by the religious authorities, are open to anyone and everyone. We all can do our inner cleaning there.
We can also do it elsewhere. Nature is my god, so I go to her. Forest bathing or a pilgrimage of sorts. One can create a small ritual corner in one’s home, many artists do it also in their studios. The space for emptying and reflection can exist anywhere where the noise of civilisation does not distract and disrupt the precious flowing stream of consciousness. What I call the sacred. For me it is also intuitive. I seek this emptying regularly and it helps my wavering emotional self to harmonise.
I have done a weeklong phone detox during the first lockdown of the pandemic, because it was possible as I was not meeting anyone outside. Just think about that. How do you schedule your life? It is all on the portable device – the calendar, time, diary, health, notepad, notifications, safety alerts, step measuring, virtually most of our communication (except for those postcards I still send to and receive from some friends willing to do the work; to actually physically walk to the post box or office to buy stamps to mail the painterly greeting and note from one heart to another, plus I still write occasional letters). A card or a letter feel immeasurably more valuable than any text message or email will ever be capable of.
The hurdles of contemporary offline lifestyles
The first thing I missed were strangely not people (I nourished myself socially during the preceding there weeks to the brim anyway, called my parents and sister just before my time off), but music. I stream most of the songs I love from my phone app. My home vinyl player is not portable, so I had no other source of music than, voila! My laptop. Hello YouTube, long time no see. Alright, here I am still having my slice of tech with me, but one can do without. Use something from back then when we were not yet plugged in online. From a portable radio or dig out the iPod player, a disc-man or walkman baby, let’s roller blade!
The money mind loves distractions
I planned to focus on writing my novel, so I had to bring my computer along. It haloed a post-it note: No email, no social media, only my book-related research! I had to add the exclamation mark to alert myself promptly. Curiosity was banned, unless relevant. Uff! I had the door of my monkey mind shut.
One week, after all is not that bad. Well, I forgot to take my watch, and that kind of left me in a limbo, totally lost in the absolute void of time. Not entirely though. The light outside and the darkness of the setting evening notified me along with the local village church bells. How liberating and calming at the same time. Suddenly, all time was really my time. I kept writing, ate some healthy food, drank tea and water, I slept and swam or walked every day. And you can do just nothing, no guilt, just be.
Wonders for the mind and the body! Trust me, disconnecting, you will have the silent space to connect with your deeper layers, with the lurking needs you had perhaps neglected for a very long time. Awareness requires space and as little distraction as there can be. Keep a journal at hand.
Higher awareness needs even more void in the daily routine. Perhaps, stop playing the music and let the music play itself. Bellow is my poetic way:
My Secret Garden
I hope She remains my secret garden, serene simplicity painted with a smooth stroke of peace.
Tranquility, only natural teeter of the birds singing to their soulmates. A random whizz of bees, a cuckoo — I wonder, what is all the music about?
As if competing with each other whose instrument reached a more fine-tuned sound. Nature’s delight.
Is it a sailboat on the flowing curls of the sea that they sing about or to; or is it and?
— a reciprocal connectivity
I let them to their business and turn inside my own.
My head — what is It telling? Is It shouting or whispering to me? The skull’s gutter constantly flushing thoughts, doubts, happy pondering, wandering and wondering in all that rattle that goes on inside when I am surrounded by the craze of cities. The space suffocating human activity goes on, engines, honks and squeaks. The sirens’ calls to the bound Odysseus and his deaf crew. More trees, we need more lungs that provide, not take. We need to hear, too.
Noise, noise, clacking, clicking, snapping, jetting, shuffling, huffing, puffing, whizzing, volume up to blasting away life that once was peaceful, maybe.
It amazes me how what we do disturbs more than most noises of the natural world. Save for thundery storm, it is human activity now that kicks us out of balance. We tremble, waver and wobble in the hurricane of manmade sounds.
The vibrations of portable phones, snake hissing in your pocket or a bag. Forget to take it onto a yoga mat! Its venom does not let the mind go its own way. Rushing into my head; is it urgent? I might ask, sometimes. Do I really have to leave what I am doing right now?
I silence the beast, but I have already abandoned my stream of thoughts. I do not like to pick up calls, my whole privy world already knows.
I like to keep time in my space, so the mind can go on like the wild ocean’s waves.
Like the moon controls the tides, consciousness manages our heads.
Being with ourselves is human
What I gained during my time offline was not just the focus on what I needed and wanted to do at the same time, the undistracted week allowed for a revealing observation of others. When you are without a smartphone, you notice even more how others are addicted on these relatively recent devices. Their virtually present, but locally void faces are glued on the tiny screens continually absorbing the invisible heavy metals into their bodies. Alone or with some other person in flesh, while eating in and out, traveling, walking — oh, do we really hate being with ourselves? Just for some time go offline and be with nature, our nurturing planet that we have disconnected from so profoundly.
We do not seem to care enough and know where the in plastic wrapped food is grown and that oranges are just not good in summer and autumn, no matter what the altered breed might deliver. We eat unhealthy, nutrient-poor food, drink polluted water, have chronic pain and ADD in the so called ‘developed’ world. Sometimes, I think back about the village kids in the Himalayas that impressed me with their genuine joy almost two decades ago. Look at the city children, are the majority of them as sparkly? They are the future of potential unhappiness.
I wrote more about how are being changed by the digital culture in this linked musing.
My first phone detox was simply within a rented apartment, I just locked it in the safe. This time I decided to wholly detox at the Chenot Palace in Weggis. While most guests kept browsing, calling, chatting in the robes even inside the treatment rooms, some while taking their bath tubs. I went for a full detox — offline. Cleansing goes beyond the food and what we drink, the mud wraps and hot baths, the heavy metals from the polluted environment as well as our devices keep accumulating in our bodies and we shall regularly disconnect from their luring company.
During my retreat I received the results of my heavy metal load as well as acupuncture during which I meditated so deeply that I felt rush of heat in my veins. My body and mind vibrated with energy, with something primordial. I walked in a nearby forest and wondered at every, by the dog walkers usually unnoticed, cushion of moss here, a lichen-clad boulder, a solitary tree skeleton speaking on a grass carpet with snowed peaks of the Alps in the background. It was pure magic and I did not take a photo. It’s alright, because, you know, I will carry this special image in my heart. I will use my memory, instead of giving this agency to my tech device, which is not making me any smarter, but rather, shall I say it? You know what I mean, the smart phones take something from us and we only realise it once we disconnect for some time. Please, keep this in mind. Others won’t miss you for a week and if you need to communicate, write a letter or postcard, anyone will appreciate that rather special act of attention.
If a week is impossible, then consider one day, weekend perhaps, I call that my day of nothingness and try to regularly include it into my schedule. It is much harder while traveling (depending on where one goes), but it can be done. Certainly this act of awareness will benefit your sense of wellbeing.