I just arrived home after spending a week at a health retreat and what an interesting week it was. Part of the overall detox philosophy at the camp was the need to detox from the modern connected world we live in and I have to say, it was challenging.
Day one and I was like a junkie, pacing the room, looking for an Internet connection or a single bar on my phone. Slowly a sense of dread started to settle in. How on earth was I going to cope with seven whole days with no contact with the outside world?
Interestingly I'm not sure what was concerning me more--the fear of missing an opportunity of some sort, the fear of letting a client down or the fear of something happening and I wouldn't be aware of it. Rest assured, the only common theme here is fear.
What I really noticed was how much time I had on my hands when they weren't constantly connected to a device of some sort. All of this time let me do things that were far more constructive in many ways. I read seven books in seven days.
The fog started to lift at about day three. Part of this was due to the end of my caffeine cravings but I certainly felt like my brain was working much better.
Now that I wasn't spending the day doing a million things, multitasking like a mad man, bouncing around all over the place, my thoughts were crystal clear. I could think something through, at a high level, from start to finish and make very clear decisions.
Another interesting observation was that I started sleeping really well, in fact 10 hours per night plus. Yes, some of this was due to the fact that they made us do exercise, but nothing excessive. I've have no doubt that I was sleeping well because I was more relaxed as a result of not checking some device every five minutes, especially at night.
Towards the end of the week I had totally lost the need to have my phone attached to my hip. I had a sense of going with the flow and if anyone needed to get in touch with me they would be happy to wait till I was back in the office (which as it turned out was true).
At the end of the week, I turned on my phone to about one thousand five hundred emails--ninety-five percent were a waste of time, junk or just plain unnecessary. The rest I responded to and cleaned up in an about an hour and a half. Yet I seem to spend hours each day on email? So from now on I am definitely blocking email time--twice per day then switch it off.
Another interesting thing happened when I started to watch the evening news. The first three stories were particularly graphic, brutal, violent, cruel and sad, and I felt myself becoming physically sick, to the point where I had to turn the television off. These terrible stories had a physical effect on me. Wow, how desensitized had I become in the past, being bombarded with stories like this all day. From now on I am going to be very selective about what I watch and what I listen to.
Overall, was it a good exercise? Absolutely. Can I keep a hold of what I have learned and realized? I hope so. I'm also a realist (who gets the irony of writing about disconnecting on an online platform), and whilst I can't ever see myself living off the grid, I do think I can manage it better to live a more sane and serene life.