I’m so happy to be back with you this week! You may have noticed that I’ve been away for the past few weeks. I just returned home from three amazing weeks I spent unplugged, in Bali. While I’ll delve into what I learned on my adventures later on, this week I wanted to get into the impetus of my trip and share a super important life lesson that I experienced and will incorporate into my post-Bali life.
I have been consistently writing a weekly blog here for four years (never missing a single week)! Over time, I have taken major pride in creating new content, without fail every single week… until recently. A few months ago, I started to feel a little burned out and uninspired, which are feelings that I know come up when you’re living a creative life. In that time I started to get a hit that I needed some extended time to unplug and reconnect to myself.
As much as I knew this to be true, I was also terrified of what unplugging truly meant. How could I not put out content for the weeks I would be away? Would people forget about me? Would anyone care once I returned? As you know the mind can be a tricky place to reside. Despite all these fearful thoughts, I knew this was something that I had to do, and I was up for the challenge.
For 10 days, I remained completely unplugged from the outside world. No email, TV, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, texting, Netflix… none of it!
Here’s what happened…
– I recognized just how addicted to technology I truly was. The first few days were super challenging, and they forced me to really take a look at my mindset surrounding being connected with the rest of the world. I noticed that I was constantly counting down to the day I could go back to “normal.” I then realized how crazy this was, brought myself back to the present, and reframed my purpose for doing this detox.
– I was able to see just how my mind works. I truly thought I was a pretty zen, chilled out person, until I took my phone away. We all do spiritual work on our minds, but what happens when you take away all the distractions? What does your mind do when it’s completely free? Where does your mind go? I was really blown away by the thoughts (not always positive) that my mind fell back on when it didn’t have something to distract it with.
– Because I could see where my undistracted mind went, I was able to really work through and process some deep-seeded feelings, emotions, traumas, and thoughts. Without a distraction to go to when I didn’t want to deal with an unpleasant thought, I was forced to look at each and every one that popped up. This is something I think we rarely do when we have the ability to jump to something more pleasant.
– I was able to be truly present to the people who were actually around me. How many times do we have conversations with people while simultaneously looking at our phones or checking our computers? The gift of being present, with people I didn’t even know, allowed me to form close bonds and friendships that I will truly cherish. It allowed me to feel genuinely invested in what each person was saying, and I know I wouldn’t have felt this as much had the option of checking my phone from time to time been there.
– I felt a strong connection to nature and the environment that surrounded me. When you are not distracted, you notice the beauty of the bird hopping around next to you, the way the wind blows through the trees, or the smell of the flowers nearby. Your senses are heightened because you are giving presence to them.
– I was able to distinguish my thoughts from the outside information I took in. Have you ever contemplated where some of your thoughts come from? When I wasn’t taking in any new content from the external world, I was able to truly see my own thoughts and beliefs. When we are constantly taking in other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and ideas, it naturally influences our own. Because of this, I felt that I was truly able to learn about myself and connect with myself on a much deeper level.
– I had more energy and slept so much better. We know that staring at screens all day drains our energy. I even took a picture when I was gone to see if I could notice a difference in my eyes and my face while away from technology. Let’s just say there was a definite difference.
In this time away, I deeply realized that all that truly matters is the present moment, and everything that’s happening right now. Sure there are majorly pressing issues happening all around us, but when we are able to manage what’s directly in front of us, then we can be more useful when facing life’s challenges in the external world.
Taking time away from technology changed my life, changed how I think, and changed how I hope to spend each moment here on earth. I’m sure many of you are thinking, this sounds great, but what if we don’t have 10 days to disconnect? You can incorporate this into your daily life, but like anything else, it’s a practice!
Here are some ways you can unplug, yet stay on the grid in day-to-day life:
– Give yourself a limit of how many times you’ll check email and social media. Find a number that’s doable yet not totally relaxed.
– Put your phone completely away during times when you desire to be truly present. For example, this may be: at meals, while driving, at the gym, when with loved ones, etc.
– Try to keep your devices out of your bedroom, and avoid looking at your screens before bedtime.
– Read printed copies of books and magazines rather than on Kindles and iPads.
– Take a full day off of all technology every once in a while to give your mind, body, and spirit a break.
I truly missed being here with you and hope you have enjoyed a peek into my time away. I promise (from my personal experience!) that these tips will help you in unplugging to reconnect back with yourself. Please share your thoughts in the comments below; I would love to hear from you!
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org