I was considering for this year whether to attend another Vipassana 10 day silent meditation retreat as I did a couple of years ago. 10 days of total silence, no communication of any sort, technology, reading or writing. It was an amazing experience that gave me an incredible sense of clarity and direction after of course sifting through years of internal stuff. The no speaking bit… Was the easiest part. Without a doubt one of the toughest experiences of my life physically, mentally and emotionally. Not something I would recommend for everyone but amazing and game changing all the same. Since I have a few things already on the go this year that will take me away from the studio I decided instead to take as much time away from external stimulus as possible over the new year period while I had a reduced teaching schedule and to retreat into my cave, spending quality time reflecting and planning for the coming year. As I currently sit here in my newly cleaned and organised office feeling good about 2018 after spending quality time with visiting friends and my Godson plus some needed solo time, I’m pretty happy with the decision.
Sometimes while doing nothing… Everything starts to happen. Don’t ever let someone tell you that sitting at a cafe, mindlessly sipping on a latte staring at the ocean for countless hours in your life is lazy or a waste of time. These moments may just be the most important moments in your life. Unfortunately with the rise of social media, and I am definitely guilty of it, we have lost a sense of this mindless wandering. This beautiful place of wonder that allows us space to be individually creative. Arianna Huffington in her book ‘Thrive’ describes Wonder, an important pillar of well-being as ‘our sense of delight in the mysteries of the universe, as well as the everyday occurrences and small miracles that fill our lives’. So many people throughout history including some of the greatest Greek philosophers have had massive creative ‘Aha’ moments during these random idle times when the mind is allowed to step away from the constant engagement, to slow down and to look up.
We instead now are constantly bombarded with external messages. We sit down to drink our coffee, a notification pops up on our iPhone and we get lost in the scrolling. Don’t get me wrong, I think modern technology and the ability that social media gives us to be inspired, to document important moments in our lives and to connect with some really amazing, like-minded humans is incredible and has its place. I have been provided with the most amazing experiences and opportunities in the past 12-18 months through the Instagram platform and I get to stay in touch and see important moments in the lives of so many people I have connected with around the globe. That in itself – Is amazing. But before I know it, my alarm is going off in the morning, I roll over to turn it off, I decide to switch off aeroplane mode instead of leaving it on until after my Yoga practice. Then, something pops up and 15 mins later I have used this hugely sacred time of day that I would normally use to set up my calm state of mind through meditation and morning routine on double tapping pictures of people doing cool shit. Or, I’m up late losing track of time in back and forth chat sessions with friends getting even less sleep in the already limited time I have to get quality rest. It’s when these habits that I can slip into start to creep back in, that I know I need a reset.
It is also when we are constantly bombarded with what everyone else is doing on a daily basis that we can lose connection and focus on what it is that we want to be doing ourselves. I really wanted to take some quality time to focus on what I wanted for the studio this coming year, and what experiences I wanted to provide for the students. It can become confusing with such easy access to knowing the ins and outs and the business of everyone else around you that you can easily start to second guess your decisions and goals and whether or not they are ‘good enough’. Disconnecting to reconnect and focusing on true self-knowledge is a key to thriving in this time. This is really important especially if social media gives you anxiety. I recently wrote a blog sharing a little about my Yoga journey. I received quite a few personal messages from people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in many years who thanked me for sharing, especially since I had apparently seemed so put together on social media over the years achieving goals and it was in a sense comforting to know that I too had struggles. Social media is most often a highlight reel. A very brief moment in time, often carefully curated. The part of a persons life they are comfortable with you seeing or want you to see. If you tend to get caught up in the trap of measuring yourself against others as you scroll through your feed, this is a really dangerous cycle. There will always be someone that appears to be more successful/thinner/fitter/wealthier/happier than you on instagram. It’s important to remember that we all have our struggles and our demons and these nine times out of ten definitely aren’t shown on social media to their full extent. Pictures say a thousand words. But unless they are written, those words are only what you perceive them to be. Instagram stories don’t display feelings. They don’t show the memory triggered by the pretty landscape, the tears in the eyes behind the camera or the illness someone might be dealing with as they click share. Be kind to yourself, take frequent breaks and follow people that inspire you. Of course if taking a quick peek at your feed before your practice at 5am really does inspire you to get moving then go ahead, but human nature tells us it’s probably not the best use of our time or the best for our adrenal health.
Habits that I find helpful (that I am often very guilty of not sticking to).
- Keeping your phone on aeroplane mode until after your morning Yoga/exercise/meditation/breakfast.
- Set times throughout the day to jump on social media platforms.
- Take frequent extended social media breaks for atleast a minimum of 24hrs.
- Slow down. Sit. Allow yourself time in nature to just be with you. Put up your Insta Story 😉 and then switch off. Look around. Observe. People watch. Wonder.
- Switch off/aeroplane mode your phone at night by a certain time to help with adrenal health and sleep hormones.
‘People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills… There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind… So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself’. – Marcus Aurelius.