I checked myself into a three day retreat, locked up my phone and computer during my time there and spent the weekend without any technology. I lived to tell the tale. Here is my story.
And the craziest part? I didn’t even notice I had any sort of “blogger burnout” until my mentor sat me down and said “I’m gonna get real with you right now…” Uh oh… I thought. I came in thinking we were chatting strategy while she clearly had something else on the tip of her tongue.
She said that if I was to continue with a thriving business at the level that I was at, I HAD TO take a step back and truly disconnect to reconnect. She said a retreat would be good for me. “But a digital detox retreat is gonna be tough for you,” she told me. “You’re really going to have to feel your feelings.” I took her advice seriously and with the help of my assistant, booked the first opening in my schedule with a weekend in the Berkshires to a place called KRIPALU. I promised myself as soon as the GPS brought me to this yoga & wellness center, I would go without the phone and computer for a three days away.
At the ripe hour of 4PM, I drove the half mile up to the Kripalu Welcome Center. I saw my point person Henry, who said “are you…?” as I looked at him and said “are you…?” and we hugged (heart to heart as Henry requested) and I almost started to cry from the immediate sense of home…
And with that, I swiftly handed over my iPhone and my MacBook like it was a bag of dope and a needle.
I am here.
I have arrived.
This is good.
This is necessary.
These three days away will change my life.
I know it.
And eating, well that was another story. At first, it felt really weird to have dinner alone. (And not just solo at a bar with a glass of wine and full social feed of Facebook) But actually sitting down at a communal table by myself, and trying to figure out how to eat and act with no phone, no booze and no bartender to make small talk with. And the interesting part was without all the socializing, I got to listen a lot more. It reminded me of my early bartending days when I used to nonchalantly eavesdrop on conversations. People are fascinating… especially when you don’t know them. “We’re women of extremes,” one diner said to another. And with the situation that I had just placed myself in, I had to nod and agree.
I went to bed after a bath and a gentle yoga class and said a prayer for the safety of my digital life. I awoke to the sound of an ACTUAL alarm clock and the sight of the sunrise over the mountains. And just like a beautiful morning will do to you, all of a sudden I felt so motivated and ready to make a new habit… which was eating a solid breakfast. At Kripalu, breakfast turns out to be a silent meal. It helps you have a calm and mindful start to your day with a quiet meal. To me, this simple practice was fascinating. The only sounds were that of forks in scrambled eggs and a spoon scraping the oatmeal out of the side of a bowl. So other than getting used to the sound of my own chewing, it was a totally enlightening experiece. I ate seven of my eight meals alone and savored each one in a different way.
I took a writers workshop on “The Travelers Mindset” about how our eyes are so open while we travel and everything from a stoplight to a barber shop seems beautiful, so why don’t we take those same eyes and use them on our everyday life? We were all supposed to write free form about one place that we traveled to that we loved. I wrote about Punta Del Diablo and my time in this sleepy surf beach town in northern Uruguay. Feeling both nervous and open, I shared my draft. At the end of the class, an English teacher from Brooklyn came up and said are you a writer? “Ummmm, yeah, I guess,” I stammered. “Well I could have read 400 more pages of your writing.” she replied.
Well, I better get on that, I thought. Note to SELF: write more.
I spent my days in ten second increments…. inhale count to five… exhale count to five… I swear these small pauses are going to change my habits somehow. Need to respond to an unfriendly email? Now I’m going to pause… inhale (1,2,3,4,5) exhale (1,2,3,4,5) … and respond… not react. Social media getting me down? I’m going to log out of whatever I’m are doing and focus on my breath and show gratitude for being alive. I decided it was high time to put some time into enjoying the moment.