the art of disconnecting & retreating

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written from tobago:

sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself. – zen saying

as i shut my computer connection to the internet for the last time on thursday, march 23, i felt a combination of elation and fear. i have not been offline for an entire week in almost two years thanks to my handy treo phone and a not-so-slight addiction to being connected. however, as i write this from a lounge chair overlooking the caribbean sea in tobago, i must confess that this disconnection has done a body (and spirit) good.

before i left last week, i encouraged blog readers to also play with the concept of disconnecting—from a habit or to simply escape routine for a few days. as i continue to find “doing things differently” to have a profound effect on my overall well-being, i also am finding disconnection to be therapeutic. the ability to lose track of time, not know what day it is, and not worry about little things that are out of my control is underrated.

sure you may not be able to escape to the caribbean for a week-long yoga retreat but there are other ways to find yourself in the flow with still keeping an urban-dweller’s busy schedule. to practice the art of disconnection and retreating, try these 5 tips:

1. schedule down time—one sacred hour to browse a bookstore, an afternoon off to walk through the phillips collection and sip tea in their cafe, a weekend away holed up in a cabin within the shenandoah region, a solo sojourn to a new country, a month-long bike ride through france.
2. let loved ones and colleagues know an emergency number, that you’ll be out of touch, and set up an e-mail auto-reply so that any expected (or unexpected) peeps trying to get in touch are made aware of your inaccessibility.
3. leave ability to connect to outside world to a minimum.
4. take your journal, a pen, creative tools such as sketchbook and colored pencils, comfy clothes, loads of water, reading material, healthy snacks, your yoga mat, and a beginner’s mind.
5. let go of expectations and embrace the experience.

this retreat has allowed me to sleep more than i thought humanly possible (amazing how tired i am when i’m forced to slow down), dive into my practice in between naps, read while swinging on the hammock, observe my aching and “over-yogaed” glute muscles, and savor the taste of the caribbean. by disconnecting from a habit that you hold dear, you may find yourself coming face-to-face with your truly undistracted self. and i promise, the undistracted self will have lots to share with you if you will only disconnect, retreat, and listen. happy disconnecting and retreating!