My digital break and time-off turned out to be more like Hurricane Iselle’s whirlwind visit to the Hawaiin Islands than the peaceful oasis I had longed for. Iselle left a trail of downed trees, damaged homes, and broken power lines. That’s how my life felt at times before, during, and after her appearance. Luckily, she spared our homestead, only bending a few banana plants.
Yes, external events often pulled me into the fray during my digital hiatus. But I wouldn’t have missed my digital sabbatical for the world. In between the chaos and hard work, I also enjoyed periods with:
- Less pressure
- Less stress
- More space
- More time
- More enjoyment
- More connection
- More self-reflection
Does the idea of a a month-long digital break seem impossible or insane? I understand; that's a very long time. And so much of modern life revolves around our digital devices.
But see if you could turn off your phone for an hour a day. Or forget social media for a few hours now and then. Dare to give yourself some well-deserved space. It's so worth it to break away from the digital pack to touch base with your inner self and most cherished dreams.
The Most Important Insights from My Digital Break
Insights naturally dawn when you create space in your life. Everyday, I found myself jotting new thoughts in my journal, ones I wanted to especially share with you. These are the most important ones.
What a relief to be free of (most) must-dos, pressures, expectations, and constraints - at least for stretches of time. Everyone deserves and needs to have a break from their responsibilities now and then.
What bliss to take the space to meditate and nourish myself with profound inspiration.
How fascinating to observe where my mind leans when it’s challenged by quiet. In stillness, it’s so much easier to see the obsessions, desires, and aversions that pull and push my mind into the unnecessary.
4. Letting Go
How good to know, I don’t need to cave into every whim of my mind.
5. The Backlog
I confess, I couldn’t stop entirely on day one of my break, but I did disconnect from social media. There were taxes to be done and unavoidable commitments to complete. They dragged on longer than I wished, taking almost a full week.
Here's my secret: I intermingled relaxation with tasks so it felt like my break had truly begun. And now I know I need to shrink the backlog by committing to less.
The backlog showed me there’s a week’s worth of too much constantly sitting on my shoulders. Do you have a backlog too? How long would it take you to catch up?
My initial fears - that nothing would change or that everything would change - disappeared immediately. I realized it didn’t matter. It’s better to simply be in this present moment, not wrapped up in these conceptual fears.
Boredom will likely arise when you take a break. Boredom may actually be the the first sign you’re going SANE. It might be one of the first times - in a very long while - when your mind stopped functioning as an overstuffed warehouse of thoughts and emotions with new stock coming in as soon as anything goes out.
Boredom offers a chance to just be: look at the sky, listen to the birds, be aware of your mind without following after every thought. Don’t run away from boredom! It could be the start of a new, more natural way of being.
Frustration could be my friend instead of my arch enemy. It shows me where I'm stuck, off-track, or pushing too hard. But only if I'm willing to see. I learned to stop when frustration appears and pull back. In that space, new solutions can appear.
9. Fickle Mind
Anything can suddenly come up in the mind. Here are a few of my unruly thoughts and their associated emotions:
- "I live in the east rift volcanic zone!" (Fear)
- "Who will take care of me when I’m older?" (Fear)
- "What's this sadness?" (Sadness)
Anything can bubble up and break through, but you don’t have to be ruled by it. Try to have a sense of humor when your mind does its habitual thing. If you can pull that off, gradually the habitual reactions will lessen.
10. A Retreat Hut
I really needed a retreat hut if I wanted to get away from the busyness of daily life. Or, I could have gone on a group meditation retreat. It can be difficult to fully retreat at home.
11. Dishonest People
Some people lie, cheat, and don’t care about you. That’s why I spent a good part of my break embroiled in complicated communications and cleaning up the ensuing mess. While I acted respectfully and with compassion as best I could, anger flared at times. Like a mirror, an angry person will reflect any unresolved anger within you. My recent experiences have made me even more committed to working skillfully with anger. I’ll be writing more about anger soon.
12. A Question of Words
I barely wrote a word this month, aside from jotting these insights in my journal. Occasionally, I felt like a fish out of water. But, mostly I didn’t notice at all.
I do worry about words at times. Is it the words that obscure true presence and keep me on the conceptual wheel? Often, my words flow spontaneously without much thought. So perhaps my concepts about concepts are just another way I keep spinning my mind.
13. How to Listen
Listen with your heart instead of your head, and life will be quiet different. It’s too easy to stay on the surface of your brain, but so much better to drop into your heart.
14. Simplify More This digital break showed me that I want to simplify even more, economize further, and ditch anything unnecessary.
15. Mindful Living
I need to amplify my practice of mindfulness in daily life. I practice on the cushion in the morning and in the evening, but true change comes about when we bring mindfulness and awareness into every moment of our life.
“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.” - Indira Gandhi
It takes time to fully restore yourself. It certainly didn't happen for me this month. But I'm not giving up! I'm committed to a 1:2 work to play ratio so bring the restoration on!
17. Digital Balance
I love writing for you and connecting on the web. But I know I waste too much time online. I'll continue to tweak my life until I find a balance of both effectiveness and ease.
You Get What You Need
You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need, or so the Rolling Stones have declared. I think they're right. My digital break and time off didn’t turn out to be the dream vacation I desired. But, the month gave me important insights, enough play dates to balance the demands, and a new swimming hole.
So what do you think? Did one of these insights resonate for you?
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra