What I Did on My Digital Detox

    Tent home at the Omega Institute

    I spent two weeks recently volunteering (i.e. working) and living in a tent at the Omega Institute where one of my personal goals was digital detox. I’m apparently not alone because as I gave notice to certain business associates of what I was doing – living in a tent in the woods and staying away from email – their reactions spoke of longing.

    “Sounds like Heaven.” “Sounds divine.” “Tell me all about it when you get back.” “I need that.”

    This was not some whimsical escape from reality. I’ve been around the sun enough times to recognize when I need a break. Whether it’s adopting a “tone” in my emails — which are blunt enough when I’m relaxed —or snapping at my boss when frustration hits a peak, I was overdue to pause for some healthy detachment and self-care.

    In addition to the community I’m a part of in Rhinebeck, N.Y., many therapeutic benefits result from forest bathing, eating healthy, kayaking in the morning, and working a job with a start time, a finish time, and clearly defined tasks. Once again I reveled in sweeping the front porch of the bookstore, steaming clothing before putting it on the racks, gently wrapping the purchases of guests at the register, answering questions and meeting people from around the world plus faculty “celebrities” like mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    On the front lines at the Omega Store

    The universe conspired to help me at first when I managed to lose my phone on the way. I went for three days without but finally replaced it because I missed the camera and needed my GPS.

    I could not remain completely away from email, but it’s far different to read it on your own time and not be constantly checking, checking, and checking.

    Instead, here’s what I “did” during my two weeks:

    • Napped. A lot.
    • Watched for 30 minutes as the biggest spider I’ve ever seen crawled across the roof of my tent and smiled when I confirmed it was not inside, but instead between the tent and the fly.
    • Received wisdom from Pema Chodron.
    • Walked/climbed about two miles a day.
    • Laughed. A lot.
    • Visited friends who moved to Poughkeepsie and crossed the Hudson River Walkway for the first time.
    • Lunched on the Hudson.
    • Saw the movie “RBG” and learned many things I never knew about her.
    • Had a 90-minute phone conversation with a friend who I never have time to see.
    • Read a book about Pele and Hawaiian spirituality.
    • Meditated. A little.
    • Ate lentils for breakfast.
    • Breathed deeply. A lot.
    • Visited a health food store owner and learned about his business.
    • Practiced no yoga and didn’t feel guilty about it.
    • Ran some Amazon Prime cards through the checkout system.
    • Experienced a Traditional Chinese Medicine healing.
    • Took part in a sound healing.
    • Participated in my first drumming circle.
    • Hugged. A lot.
    • Outran a tornado.
    • Learned how to paint flowers in watercolor.
    • Had meaningful conversations.
    • Got some necessary perspective.

    If this sounds like something you’d find attractive, seasonal service opportunities remain at the Omega Institute. Learn more.

    Now the challenge is remembering to pause while I’m on deadline. Like now.