Disconnect To Reconnect

I Turned My Phone Off And This Is What I Noticed.

I booked into a meditation retreat for 4 days. On making the booking I made a conscious decision to turn my phone off while I was on retreat. My phone allows me to do work from anywhere and stay connected to loved ones, however I often find its distracting and my phone use can be unhelpful. I wanted to be fully present and take a deep dive into meditation practise to support my healing and growth. In the lead up to the retreat I set myself personal goals on what I wanted to achieve.

I began my journey to the retreat venue, a 3-hour drive. On the drive I became aware of an uncomfortable feeling around switching my phone off. I sat in this feeling and began curious inquiry into where I was feeling uncomfortable in my body and what stories and scenarios, I was telling myself. What if I missed an important call?

I arrived, parked my car, expressed gratitude, took some conscious breaths, and switched my phone off.

The first day was quite challenging. I often noticed thoughts of what I might be missing, a pull towards my phone and a desire to share about my experience with loved ones. The feelings and thoughts dissipated on day two and by day four I discovered that I wasn’t looking forward to turning my phone on! Although I had disconnected from a technological perspective I felt deeply connected through the web of life. Being fully present cultivated a deep sense of belonging. I felt connected and in tune with my feelings, emotions, body, and surroundings. I felt connected with the spirit of my ancestors and I sensed their presence with me. I experienced freedom from the insidious habit of checking my phone, scrolling, and checking my phone again. I noticed how meaningful and satisfying my days were. Everything I did was with intention and awareness.

On the final day I felt uneasy because I didn’t want to go back to the unhelpful behaviours that I was noticing before I switched my phone off. The Irony! The same feelings I was experiencing about turning my phone off, I was now experiencing about turning my phone on. I wanted to stay with the awe and wonder of being deeply connected to the web of life. When I did turn my phone on, I learned that I didn’t miss anything.

On reflection, I am now more aware of unhelpful patterns and how they make me feel. I have set goals and boundaries around my phone use, and I am optimistic about changing my behaviours. It does take perseverance and courage, but change is possible through compassion, awareness, and wisdom.

Here are some of my tips if you are considering disconnecting to reconnect.

1. Set SMART GOALS. Four days may not be possible for many of us. I invite you to find what suits your situation, maybe start with a few hours.
2. COMMUNICATE beforehand by letting loved ones know you won’t be contactable. Tell them you plan to switch off your phone, where you will be or provide an alternative contact person.
3. Express GRATITUDE for your phone. There are so many wonderful things about the technology.
4. Use a MINDFULNESS tool to help you through difficult emotions. I like to use R.A.I.N. but it could be a simple breathing practise.
5. REFLECT on your experience and consider what might be helpful moving forward.